As much fun as comic opera can be, the laughs don’t always prevent productions from snoring along. Opera Company of Philadelphia director Robert Driver doesn’t have that worry with his two fleet single- act operas on the same program – Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi and Ravel’s ‘L ‘Enfant et Les Sortileges’ – inspired programming in the case by the lusty applause. Doubly fun with the appearance by AVA trained tenor Stephen Costello, fresh from 2009 Richard Tucker Award.
Driver turned Ravel into a high concept romp with interactive computer animation design by Lorenzo Curone, decorated by inventive choreography by Amanda Miller (co-director of Miro Ballet). Richard St. Clair’s vibrant costume design, as usual, is inspired. Yet, these elements do not overwhelm the star of this show- Ravel! annotated with sumptuous clarity by OCP orchestra & Corrado Rovaris.
Laren McNeese, a soprano with a wicked kick, plays ’L’enfant’ the boy who won’t listen to his mother and breaks up everything in his tuturial room. His tantrums provoke the armchair basso Jeremy Milner to trap him and Teapot David Portillo to box with him with his hangers. Jamie – Rose Guarrine is the lead flame (and her male flamettes) who steps out of the fireplace and menace him.
An inspired frog ballet is at the center, with Miller’s dancers taking over from the film projections. Miller often uses film elements with her company Miro Ballet and is equally integrating here.
Marion Pop, last year’s Cyrano, subverted his baritone as the surreal grandfather clock gone completely amok. He spazes out to his own time, later Pop is a sexed cat burgler who doesn’t change his prowl and growl. In his sailor pants, midnight shirt and beret, he was a Genet dream.