In Review: McIntyre, Wood, and Riesen in UrbanArias "Glory Denied"

01.25.2020

 

"stage director Kristine McIntyre has kept the story-telling as fluid as possible. Although written in two acts, she quite rightly, I think, has chosen to align the work into one seamless and dizzying trajectory. McIntyre keeps the characters on stage most of the time so they are all relating to each other, pushing and challenging one another and at other times just looking back at themselves . . .

 

John Riesen as the Younger Jim went the distance to portray the fear, humiliation, and pain of the soldier’s harrowing nine-year ordeal. Opera is a great medium for showing people in emotional extremis, and Riesen knows how to deliver vocally that kind of tenor heartbreak. . . 

 

Wood has always had a special affinity for working with the fine Inscape Chamber Orchestra. For this performance, he has never driven the nine-person ensemble with greater energy and sure headlong pace. But then he pulls back to let the piece breathe. I would wish there might be more such moments.

Wood has brought together a terrific team of singers, musicians, designers and director, and never a better production has been produced by this strong, lean and exciting contemporary opera company. Glory Denied is a piece that had me riveted to my seat, unable to clap or break the mood but only gasp silently.

-DC Theatre Scene

 

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"Tenor John Riesen as the younger Jim Thompson, easily goes from the lyricism of a father who hung onto the mail from his family in his pocket when he was captured, including a misshapen paper star cut out by one of his children, to the dark tonelessness of a man kept in a tiger cage who creates the blueprint of a house in his mind to try to stay sane. . . 

 

Projection/Lighting Designer Kathy Maxwell contributes to every aspect of Glory Denied. For projection, she's selected news footage of soldiers humping through the jungle, home movies from the 60s when men had crew cuts and women looked after children while wearing day dresses and plastic earrings, the infantry in the rain in their ponchos, Viet Namese vegetation, the text of the 1973 treaty that ended the conflict, tiger cages, that blueprint, those stars. Set Designer Adam Crinson hung the sky onstage with those same misshapen stars, put up the walls of a Hanoi prison compound onto which Maxwell could project things, and stepped out of the way: less is more. Thank you to him, and to director Kristine McIntyre. Everyone connected with Glory Denied knows how to allow documentary content to speak for itself without imposing their own "concepts." Conductor Robert Wood leads the splendid nine-piece orchestra."
- Broadway World

 

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"If your parents taught you that opera is the ultimate blend of words and music, where both elements are dependent on the other and that the end result is far more than the sum of its parts, and if you have since developed a taste for chamber opera, then you must hurry to see Tom Cipullo’s opera Glory Denied. Currently being given a magnificent production by UrbanArias at Keegan Theater, all the necessary elements of Glory Denied coordinate smoothly and precisely . . .

 

John Riesen’s substantial tenor remains strong through all the scenes in which he appears as Younger Thompson: from being kicked on the ground by his jailer to seeing the jungle for the first time at the end of the war with wonder and joy. . . 

 

The conductor of Glory Denied, Robert Wood, is the founder of UrbanArias. He leads
the opera with tremendous clarity and sensitivity, making sure the orchestra moves easily from the lyrical to the intense. In this production, Wood directs members of Inscape Chamber Orchestra, a nine-piece orchestra that sounds like twenty. . . 

 

The opera’s director, Kristine McIntyre, keeps the action moving swiftly in the small space of the Keegan Theater. . . Just like those classic operas your parents taught you about, the total worth of Glory Denied is far more than the sum of its parts."

-DC Metro Theater Arts

 

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