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Steven Levenson’s “If I Forget” began its Off-Broadway run a year ago, closing just six weeks before the now 33-year-old playwright won the Tony Award for writing the book of the acclaimed musical “Dear Evan Hansen.” Cut to February 2018, and South Florida already has its own exquisite production of “If I Forget,” thanks to GableStage artistic director Joseph Adler. Levenson’s fun..

In a career that continues to soar two decades after his first play was produced, Michael McKeever has premiered his dramas, comedies and short plays at theaters all over South Florida. Nearly always, he’s involved in those productions as the author, sometimes as an actor, at times as a set designer. The plays get their start here, then go on to productions (sometimes multiple product..

When M. John Richard decided to leave the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in late 2008 to become president and chief executive officer of Miami’s Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, he arrived in South Florida with a vision, myriad ideas and a long-term exit strategy. “I knew in 2008 that I had a 10-year run in my tank,” says Richard, 65, who plans to retire from his Arsh..

Friendships can bring seemingly unlike people together to sometime form a strong bond. Such is the case in Walter Dean Myers’ coming of age novel, Darius & Twig. According to the summary notes of the book “Two best friends, a writer and a runner, deal with bullies, family issues, social pressures, and their quest for success coming out of Harlem.” It’s a tale of endurance, perseverance, an..

Kristoffer Diaz’s searing, hilarious and all-too-resonant play “The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity” isn’t new to South Florida. The 2009 script, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, made its area debut in 2012 in a fierce and fine production at Boca Raton’s Caldwell Theatre Company just a few months before the long-running regional powerhouse folded. Now “Chad Deity” has ret..

“This is no camera, nothing cut. This is real," says Tranee Wallace, whose story is one of three live radio plays in Dan Froot and Company's "Pang!" at Miami Light Project's Light Box at the Goldman Warehouse. Hers is one of a triptych of oral histories adapted into plays of families facing adversity: A Los Angeles single mom who loses the home she and her nine children live in after..

When it comes to farces, Michael Frayn’s “Noises Off” is one of the great ones. The 1982 comedy has made it to Broadway three times, and American audiences all over the country have embraced it in countless regional productions. Actors’ Playhouse is having a go at “Noises Off” as the second show of its 30th anniversary season. The play fits like a period glove on the main stage at the..

The intricate alchemy of inspired theatrical art is on full display in Zoetic Stage’s darkly hilarious, gripping world premiere of Christopher Demos-Brown’s “Wrongful Death and Other Circus Acts.” Demos-Brown, a rising theatrical star whose play “American Son” will open on Broadway in November, has drawn on his experience as a lawyer working on wrongful death cases to create a savage exami..

My Barbarian wanted to take Miami on a boat ride. “We wanted to interact and be out in the public,” Alex Segade reveals over the phone from Los Angeles, where he just got out of rehearsal for My Barbarian’s first Miami show, coming up this Saturday at the Miami Light Project, as part of Miami-Dade College’s Museum of Art and Design’s “Living Together” performance series this season. ..

The time seems right for Karen Finley to be visiting Miami, to be performing in the black box space of the Miami Light Project at the Goldman Warehouse, and to present her latest performance-art manifesto about the current political landscape, “Unicorn Gratitude Mystery.” In the show, which she began developing as a response to the U.S. presidential election in 2016, Finley plays a unicor..

When the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater returns to town this week, Miami native son Jamar Roberts will take center stage. As one of the company’s star dancers, he has long shined as a performer. B..

He says his dance comes from his dreams. French-Algerian choreographer Hervé Koubi’s most recent work, “What the Day Owes the Night” combines Sufi rhythms with cutting edge b-boy moves, class..

A world premiere always comes with a drum roll. And, throughout the years, Miami City Ballet has brought to light its fair share of resounding new works. Still, Brian Brooks’ freshly-minted O..

Wednesday night at the Arsht Center’s Knight Concert Hall the South Florida Symphony Orchestra in collaboration with the Martha Graham Dance company presented “Appalachian Spring Suite” and “The R..

Cooking may be Dan Froot’s favorite thing. This is saying a lot since Froot is also a composer, a dancer, a sax-player, a play-wright, an oral-historian -- an all-around performance artist an..

With the closing of Tigertail Productions last year, Miami lost one of its preeminent artistic champions. Under the direction of founder Mary Luft, Tigertail brought an endless parade of boundary-..

Anytime would be a good time to devote a dance program to the works of Jerome Robbins, our most versatile and celebrated American-born choreographer. But, given that 2018 marks the centennial..

Due to winter storms in the Northeast impacting travel, with great regrets the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company announced the cancellation of the Saturday, Jan. 6 performance. At age..

It is fitting at this time of the year that our thoughts often turn to what connects us not what divides us. Whether we are driven by religious or secular motives, many of us are in the spiri..

FGO Gets Intimate with ‘Eugene Onegin’

Photo: A dramatic moment in Florida Grand O’s Eugene Onegin. Photo Courtesy of Florida Grand Opera
Written by: Celeste Landeros
Article Rating

“Heaven sends us habits in place of happiness,” two women of a certain age observe in a famous line from Tchaikovsky’s opera Eugene Onegin. Yet the new Florida Grand Opera production makes the case that habit, or at least experience, might actually be the source of happiness.

In Onegin’s opening scene at the Arsht Center,two sisters sweetly sing of love’s sighs and sorrows. Soprano Dina Kuznetsova has a ruby-toned voice perfect for the role of the bookish, lovelorn Tatyana. Her tone blends nicely with the contralto of Courtney Miller, as her younger sister, Olga. But as their mother, Madame Larina, who recalls her own youthful folly, the more seasoned soprano Robynne Redmon brought greater confidence and power to the stage.

In the relatively minor role of Madame Larina’s servant Filipyevna, bona fide diva Denyce Graves sent a wave of excitement through the hall. The mezzo-soprano, famous for her turns as Carmen and Delila at the Met, outshined the rest of the cast, despite her gray wig and drab uniform.

But this was not an occasion for star power. As director Jeffrey Marc Buchman explains in his program notes, the FGO production rejects the typical operatic drama and spectacle to achieve what Tchaikovsky considered an even deeper human feeling: intimacy.

Though an opera hall is hardly an intimate space, a simple set of columns suggesting a natural birch tree forest gave even the ball room scenes a sense of nature and peace. This is the peace that Tatyana finally finds in her duty as a wife, but that forever eludes the title character, the careless and thoughtlessly cruel, Onegin.

As Eugene Onegin, looking very much the part with top hat and cane, and moving with the grace of a dancer, the dashing baritone Franco Pomponi could have stepped out of a Jane Austen novel or one of the romantic bard Byron’s poems. His voice has a sweet tinge that could easily seduce an impressionable girl, with none of the gravel often heard in this role to insinuate Onegin’s dissolute character.

Kuznetsova captured the wonder of first love in a famous scene where Tatyana writes Onegin a letter confessing her feelings. Her gorgeous, floating high notes ached with desire.

But if Onegin steals Tatyana’s heart, it is his faithful friend -- and Olga’s childhood love -- Lenski, who stole the show. Tenor Chad Johnson conveyed the pathos of a young man whose jealously has lead him to likely death in a duel with his best friend in a voice tremulous, but controlled.

In another opera, perhaps by an Italian composer, this tragic death might be the story’s end. Following his source, the Russian novelist Pushkin, and Chekhov after him, Tchaikovsky finds tragedy not in dramatic death, but the mundane persistence of life. As Prince Gremin, capably voiced by bass-baritone and FGO Young Artist Alex Soare, intones “all ages surrender to love.”

Unfortunately, conductor Alexander Polianichko did not surrender much to the cast. Tchaikovsky’s music is so full of feeling that the orchestra could tell the story all by itself, but the singers could have benefited from more sensitive pacing as the orchestra crowded even the most poignant moments.

Florida Grand Opera presents Eugene Onegin on Thursday, February 9 and Saturday February 11 at the Broward Center; tickets $21-$139; Fgo.org.

 


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