In Review > North America

Pygmalion

NEW YORK CITY
On Site Opera
6/21/14

Molding its productions to off-beat locales, the innovative On Site Opera placed Rameau's Pygmalion in Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum and at Lifestyle, Trimco & Viaggio, a mannequin showroom in Chelsea (seen on June 21). If your Ovid is rusty, think Frankenstein or My Fair Lady, stories about an artist's creation coming to life with disturbing consequences. Now imagine a sculptor's studio strewn with unfinished projects — mannequins surrounded the audience in the 6000 square foot showroom — and a gorgeous female figure captivating its maker, whose real-life relationship is on the rocks.

While Rameau's short acte de ballet ends with Pygmalion spurning his demanding girlfriend and dancing off with the less challenging statue, here director Eric Einhorn explored a deeper lever, where obsessing about art is a copout for dealing with difficult human relationships. The tortured artist, his girlfriend Céphise, the adored statue, and plot-spoiler Cupid achieved a dramatic intimacy that was beautifully detailed and effective. Hidden in an alcove, the eleven-member New Vintage Baroque Orchestra, led by Jennifer Peterson at the harpsichord, contributed stylishly, while the four-member chorus, jumping up from their seats among the audience, enthusiastically distributed Cupid's press cards.

Rameau's many instrumental pieces were handled cleverly by choreographer Jordan Isadore and his dance partner Eloise DeLuca, with a romp through dance history wittily referencing the French Baroque. The happy ballet finale is only achieved after struggle, as the tortured and obsessive Pygmalion integrates art with reality, opting for the real-life Céphise over his attractive doll. 

Emalie Savoy's delicate, affecting portrayal of the heart-broken Céphise was as eloquent in silence as in her sweetly clear singing. Although some high notes went astray, Camille Zamora brought the statue to life with consummate physical control and a richly attractive voice. Justine Aronson played Cupid as an obnoxiously triumphant brat, with high energy and a well-projected voice, if not much linguistic point.

In the title role Marc Molomot embodied a gently forlorn quality that matched his impeccably stylish singing. Although the tenor took awhile to gain control of vocal registers in this high-lying part, Molomot delivered the final, virtuosic "Règne, Amour" with an attractive ease that suited Einhorn's happy real-life ending.

In collaboration with Figaro Systems, On Site Opera offered supertitling with GoogleGlass, the first ever such use, as well as the customary projections. spacer

JUDITH MALAFRONTE

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