An Evocative Score for Mikael Karlsson’s The Echo Drift

23/01/2018

Karlsson, The Echo Drift: Blythe Gaissert and John Kelly (singers), Aaron Likness (pianist), International Contemporary Ensemble / Nicholas DeMaison (conductor), Mallory Catlett (director), Elle Kunnos de Voss and Kathryn Walat (libretto), Elle Kunnos de Voss (environment designer), Simon Harding (projection designer). PROTOTYPE Festival. Baruch Performing Arts Center, New York. 13.1.2018 (DS)

Blythe Gaissert in The Echo Drift (c) Maria Baranova

Mikael KarlssonThe Echo Drift (2014)

A one-act opera for two singers and small chamber ensemble, The Echo Drift did not need a large space to share its grand scale, and thrived at the Baruch Performing Arts Center. As with other productions at the fifth annual PROTOTYPE Festival, creative staging of small-scale operas and theater performances is part of the appeal, and this was no exception.

Blythe Gaissert robustly sang the part of Walker Loats, a female murderer in solitary confinement. Her cubicle was stunningly recreated by an open-sided, free standing cube that housed a bed, table, mechanical clock, and raised platform from which she sang out to the audience. The expanse of the prison itself was dramatically projected at various moments by black-and-white films of hand-drawn architectural renderings that flew by Loats’ cell, cleverly placing her three-dimensional environment into a two-dimensional perspective drawing. John Kelly performed the second role of Governor and Moth (as in, an insect), and also acted as stage hand. At times he turned Gaissert’s open cube to face different directions of the theater, fostering a visceral relationship between audience and performers.

The libretto, by Elle Kunnos de Voss and Kathryn Walat, evoked an unexpected blend of styles – think Ingmar Bergman meets The Matrix – while following a rather typical trope of how humans deal with isolation, the passage of time, and self-reflection. Though not groundbreaking in itself, the opportunity it provided for the score, composed by Mikael Karlsson, stole the show. Performed fluidly by the International Contemporary Ensemble under the baton of Nicholas DeMaison, The Echo Drift struck an admirable balance between evocative score and creative composition, and is easily worthy of a pure listen without the staging. Karlsson’s subtle but crucial electronic elements were particularly noteworthy, threading through the live performers with magnetic textures.

Much of the beautiful balance was due to DeMaison’s unwavering ability to connect singers, staging, film, and score. No one sound was either overbearing or too weak – singers and musicians alike made this small chamber opera a grand production.

Daniele Sahr

Comments

Leave a Reply

Recent Reviews

MW

Facebook-button-1

Season Previews

__________________________________
  • NEW! Bampton Classical Opera’s 2019 Performances of Stephen Storace’s Gli sposi malcontenti __________________________________
  • NEW! Nevill Holt Opera’s 2019 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! 2019 Aldeburgh Festival at the Snape Maltings in June __________________________________
  • NEW! Garsington Opera’s 2019 30th Anniversary Season __________________________________
  • NEW! Clara Schumann Festival at St John’s Smith Square – 22 to 24 February 2019 __________________________________
  • NEW! Venus Unwrapped: Kings Place’s Year-Long Focus on Women Composers __________________________________
  • NEW! Opera Buenos Aires in 2019 – Largely Traditional __________________________________
  • NEW! Looking Ahead to the 2019 Lucerne Festivals __________________________________
  • NEW! Opera Holland Park’s 2019 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! The Met: Live in HD in 2018/19 __________________________________
  • NEW! The Royal Opera House’s Exciting 2018/19 Cinema Season __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Zurich Opera in 2018/2019 and Beyond __________________________________
  • NEW! Salzburg Whitsun Festival 7 – 10 June 2019 __________________________________
  • NEW! Bolshoi Ballet 2018/19 UK Cinema Season __________________________________
  • NEW! 2018-2019 Geneva Grand Theâtre Season __________________________________
  • NEW! 2018/19 Hallé Season in Manchester __________________________________
  • NEW! 2018/19 Tonhalle Orchestra Zürich __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Review Summary Newsletter

    Reviews by Reviewer

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • NEW! Arthur Butterworth and David Jennings Premieres in Lancaster on 1 March __________________________________
  • NEW! Ivan Putrov’s Against the Stream Ballet Gala Night on 7 April __________________________________
  • NEW! English Symphony Orchestra Bring Music from Wagner’s Epic Ring Cycle to the Swan Theatre __________________________________
  • NEW! London To Hear Long-Overdue Revival of Parry’s Oratorio Judith in April __________________________________
  • NEW! Russian Ballet Icons Gala 31 March 2019 at the London Coliseum __________________________________
  • NEW! PIANIST MARC-ANDRÉ HAMELIN IN CONVERSATION WITH GEOFFREY NEWMAN __________________________________
  • NEW! Ik zeg: NU: I say now, now … an interview with Richard Causton __________________________________
  • NEW AND UPDATED! SOME OF SEEN AND HEARD’S REVIEWERS LOOK BACK AT 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! CONDUCTOR ÁDÁM FISCHER IN CONVERSATION WITH MICHAEL COOKSON __________________________________
  • NEW! SOPRANO ELENA MOȘUC IN CONVERSATION WITH CASEY CREEL __________________________________
  • NEW! MAESTRO RICCARDO FRIZZA IN CONVERSATION WITH MARGARIDA MOTA-BULL __________________________________
  • NEW! A Q&A WITH GERMAN SOPRANO PETRA LANG __________________________________
  • NEW! TENOR NICHOLAS PHAN IN CONVERSATION WITH CHRISTOPHER SALLON __________________________________
  • HOW TO CONTACT SEEN AND HEARD INTERNATIONAL __________________________________
  • Search S&H

    Archives by Week

    Archives by Month