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Turner, Acosta, Thurman, and Jeremiah impress in Virginia Opera "Fellow Travelers"

"The focus on facilitating character development and comprehensible storytelling apparent in Turner’s conducting of Virginia Opera’s 2016 production of Wagner’s Der fliegende Holländer was heard to even greater advantage in this performance of Fellow Travelers. The sequence of scenes advanced with cinematic efficiency, each thread of the plot carefully spun and woven into the fabric of the story via tempi that suited indivudual scenes and the work’s cumulative flow. The Virginia Symphony Orchestra musicians played wonderfully under Turner’s leadership, realizing the gravity that the conductor sought to achieve in passages like the pulsing ostinato at the opera’s start. . . The caliber of the vocal ensemble engaged by Virginia Opera for Fellow Travelers reflected the meticulous attention to musical and theatrical values with which the production was planned. . . Lending gravity to each word of the parts entrusted to him, baritone Joshua Jeremiah keenly differentiated his depictions of Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy, Estonian Frank, and the Interrogator, seeming to bring a unique, apt voice to each of them. The quintessential office gossip who makes all of her colleagues’ affairs her business, the secretary Miss Lightfoot was given unexpected depth by soprano Katrina Thurman, whose singing glistened even when the text that she sang was repulsive. . .

In every scene in which he appeared, tenor Andres Acosta sang Spears’s music for the endearingly naïve writer Timothy Laughlin with youthful exuberance and technical fluency, his timbre sparkling throughout the rôle’s broad compass. Drinking milk and swinging his feet on the bench on which he first meets Hawk, Acosta’s Tim was sweetly boyish, his shy nervousness trembling in the voice. The contrast with the cascading passion of the Bermuda duet with Hawk and the resolve of his voicing of ‘Forgive me, Holy Father’ in the fifth scene was therefore all the more telling. Tim’s adoration of Hawk having supplanted his faith, his journey from infatuation to disenfranchisement and enlistment in the Army was gutting, Acosta’s unaffected singing of ‘I wasn’t enough’ in the rooftop scene devastating. The crying heard in the auditorium when Tim uttered ‘I feel like I never existed’ in the final scene was earned, the tenor’s voice colored by excruciating uncertainty. In truth, Acosta articulated Tim’s every word with clear emotional intent, though there were instances in which enunciation was sacrificed to emoting. Acosta’s performance was as much felt as it was sung and was felt as mesmerizingly as it was heard by the listener."

"The 22-piece orchestra, led by Adam Turner, provided a full, rich sound throughout and succeeded in bringing out the details of Spears’ score. . . Like the score, Pierce’s libretto provided full portraits of the major characters, as well as telling vignettes for the supporting players. Among the latter, bass Joshua Jeremiah stood out as Senator McCarthy and the Interrogator, as did Katrina Thurman as the unpleasant Miss Lightfoot."


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