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Victor Cordell

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  • Corpus Evita Front Page

    West Bay Opera Performs 2006 Grammy Nominee

    By: Victor Cordell - Feb 17th, 2024

    The composer and librettist both grew up in Argentina during Juan Peron's return to power and his third wife Isabel's ascension to the presidency on his death. Employing magical realism, the ghost of Evita, Juan's second wife beloved by the people, looms over Isabel, who fails to capture a similar relationship, despite the machinations of her advisor, Ministro. Lush neo-romantic music and Argentina's dramatic political events in the last half of the 20th century drive this beautifully produced rendition.

  • Rigoletto Front Page

    Opera San Jose's Powerful Production of Verdi Masterpiece

    By: Victor Cordell - Feb 15th, 2024

    The jester Rigoletto's life is dedicated to the care and safety of his daughter, Gilda. When she is kidnapped and compromised by his employer, the Duke of Mantua, he plans revenge but is also cursed by the father of another victim of the Duke's lechery. His plans backfire catastrophically. The glorious opera receives a powerful treatment.

  • My Home on the Moon Front Page

    SF Playhouse Dramedy About Soup and Artificial Intelligence

    By: Victor Cordell - Feb 06th, 2024

    A Vietnamese soup shop verges on closure when it "wins a grant" from a mysterious company that offers to pay to implement a new marketing strategy to revive the business. A consultant's program includes an unlikely and unseemly advertising campaign, but it works. Or does it?

  • Cult of Love at Berkeley Rep Front Page

    Awesome Treatment of Leslye Headland's Seventh Deadly Sin - Pride

    By: Victor Cordell - Feb 02nd, 2024

    The Dahls raised their children in the "Christian way," and Christmas homecoming celebrated by food and song is a great family tradition. But as adults the four offspring have deviated from the parents' hopes - among them a lesbian, a pathological believer, a recovering addict, and a lost sheep. When singing together, they seem the idyllic family, but when the music stops, the fractures appear. Despite the holiday setting, this is not a Christmas play.

  • Kimberly Akimbo Front Page

    A Teenage Girl With a Terminal Disease is Adult in the Room

    By: Victor Cordell - Jan 28th, 2024

    Doomed by progeria, a condition that ages the carrier at 4 1/2 times the normal rate, Kimberly turns 16. Her chronological age corresponds to age 72 given this condition, meaning that she probably has little time left in her life. Nonetheless, she attends to daily activities like any other school kid. But her working class parents are loose cannons, and a grifter aunt who insinuates herself into the household develops a get-rich-quick scheme that is anything but normal.

  • Miriam and Esther Go To The Diamond District Front Page

    A Mother's Death Brings Two Sisters Together

    By: Victor Cordell - Jan 21st, 2024

    Foraging through the belongings of their recently deceased mother, two middle-aged, somewhat estranged sisters learn more about their birth father and stepfather from a trove of letters and other documents. They also learn more about each other as they clash and bond over historical events that they either did not share or had seen from different perspectives.

  • Legally Blonde - The Musical Front Page

    Authenticity Overcomes Pampered Privilege

    By: Victor Cordell - Jan 15th, 2024

    Elle, a shallow but genuine and smart fashionista obsessed with the color pink, is dumped by her status seeking boyfriend who is off to Harvard Law School. Surprisingly (and true, except the law school was Stanford in real life), Elle insinuates an acceptance as well. Her presence provides humorous contrast to the staid environment.

  • Einstein at Princeton Front Page

    Opera Seen Through Domestic Prism

    By: Victor Cordell - Dec 08th, 2023

    In a compact manner, the libretto demonstrates the idealism of Einstein contrasted with the pragmatism of the women around him, while the story line covers political and social commentary; God and existence; the enormity of the creation of the atomic bomb; and more. Light touches and excerpts from other composers brighten the proceedings.

  • The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee Front Page

    A Lighthearted Look at the Obsessiveness of Middle School Geeks

    By: Victor Cordell - Dec 04th, 2023

    We meet a diverse group of young teens bound by a common skill – spelling - and a common goal – winning.  Spelling excellence is a grinding and lonely pursuit.  All who compete in this Bee are nerds, but each in their own way, and each is motivated by a different set of circumstances.  The audience will recall kids they’ve known and enjoy a light-hearted and entertaining look at growing up.

  • Dragon Lady Front Page

    Enrapturing Tales About a Philippine Family Unlike Yours

    By: Victor Cordell - Nov 30th, 2023

    Who would have thought that a solo performance about a family on the seedy edge of society as told by one of its descendants would captivate a theater audience? Sara Porkalob writes, tells, and sings stories of surviving entertainingly and with consummate magnetism and conviction.

  • Guys and Dolls Front Page

    World of Damon Runyon, Music and Lyrics of Frank Loesser

    By: Victor Cordell - Nov 25th, 2023

    The musical gives a peek into the marginalized world of gamblers and performers around Broadway during the Depression. While running floating craps games as a profession, Nathan Detroit has eluded marriage to nightclub singer, Adelaide, for 14 years. Out-of-towner Sky Masterson is an occasional participant in Nathan's games. Needing $1,000, Nathan bets the bet-on-anything Sky that he can't induce a certain woman to go to Havana (Cuba!) with him for dinner. That woman happens to be Sarah, a uniformed member of the Times Square Save-a-Soul Mission, so Nathan feels comfortable with his bet. Well.....

  • The Elixir of Love Front Page

    Donizetti's Frothy Comedy at San Francisco Opera

    By: Victor Cordell - Nov 21st, 2023

    Poor Nemorino is in love with his employer, Adina, but she has other things in mind. Along comes Dr. Dulcamara, an itinerant snake oil salesman, who has just the love potion that will make Nemorino irresistible to Adina. Of course, it's really red wine. Frivolity ensues and all live happily ever after.

  • Omar Front Page

    Giddens and Abels' Pulitzer Prize Winning Opera

    By: Victor Cordell - Nov 17th, 2023

    In this fact-based story, a Muslim scholar is captured and enslaved in South Carolina. After various travails, he is purchased by a relatively humane master who encourages his writing and religious thinking, even while arguing that he prays to a false God, believing the Muslim Allah to be different from the Christian God.

  • Four Plays From Broadway And Beyond Front Page

    Premieres and Revivals

    By: Victor Cordell - Nov 15th, 2023

    These were seen by the reviewer on a trip to NYC for the American Theatre Critics Association conference. Each of the four is worth seeing with history and music being common threads. Supported by excerpts of period music, "Spies" tells the true story of a 17th century friar who was charged with preventing what would become the 30 Years War. The dark "Watch" uses operatic form and modern dance to tell a story related to the real-life mass murders in a Charleston church with a black congregation and a Pittsburgh synagogue. "Wholesale" is a heavily adapted revival of the 1962 musical that launched Barbra Streisand's career. "Love" tells the story of former Philippine First Lady Imelda Marcos in sung-through immersive disco fashion!

  • Bulrusher Front Page

    Relationships and Mysticism in the California Redwoods

    By: Victor Cordell - Nov 03rd, 2023

    A black foundling with a gift for reading the future is raised in a seemingly color-blind community. The people relationships that surround her are sometimes complicated and opaque. And when the niece of the only black man in town arrives, the horizons of the now 18-year old, Bulrusher, expand.

  • The Emissary Front Page

    Opera Parallele's World Premiere of Hands-On-Opera With Environmental Focus

    By: Victor Cordell - Oct 28th, 2023

    In this family-oriented opera, Japan has endured an environmental catastrophe that isolates it from the rest of the world. Children are more feeble than the aged. Despite his prognosis, the young Mumei is optimistic and gives cheer to his great-grandfather Yoshiro.

  • Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley Front Page

    First Sequel to Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" at Altarena Playhouse

    By: Victor Cordell - Oct 22nd, 2023

    The homely but whip smart Mary is the middle sister of five. Unmarried; without a dowry; and at risk of being dispossessed from her family home when her father dies, a suitable marital match would be welcomed. Newly title young duke, Arthur de Bourgh, is visiting for the holidays. While he and Mary share interests, he does have baggage.

  • Without You Front Page

    A Memoir of Love, Loss, and the Musical "Rent"

    By: Victor Cordell - Oct 20th, 2023

    Anthony Rapp revives his 2013 one-man show, supported by a five-piece rock band. He shares vignettes about the launch of the 1996 rock musical "Rent," singing songs from the musical as well as his own compositions. But his real emphasis is on the deaths of two people close to him. The creator of "Rent," Jonathan Larson died unexpectedly after the dress rehearsal to "Rent," while Rapp's loving mother suffered decline before her death from cancer.

  • Lohengrin Front Page

    A Compelling but Foreboding Realization by San Francisco Opera

    By: Victor Cordell - Oct 17th, 2023

    Within Wagner’s canon, "Lohengrin" represents the apotheosis of his Romantic period and the launch point for his magnum opus, the four-opera music drama, the Ring Cycle.  As with much of the composer’s output, “Lohengrin” draws from Norse-Germanic mythology with strong fairy tale elements and moral-religious overtones.  The libretto is considered by many to be to be his best plotted.  Its breadth is breathtaking with themes of love, fidelity, trust, belief, misogyny, sacrifice, betrayal, revenge, tribalism, militarism, and more.

  • Of Mice and Men - Opera Version Front Page

    Livermore Valley Opera's Compelling Production

    By: Victor Cordell - Oct 09th, 2023

    Composer/librettist Carlisle Floyd drew on Nobel Laureate John Steinbeck for one of his most successful operas, “Of Mice and Men.”  It hews closely to the simple plotline of the novella, which is one of America’s distinguished, if controversial literary works, locally banned on various grounds, including sex, violence, racism, and euthanasia.

  • Ivanov - An Immersive Adaptation Front Page

    Classic Chekhov as Basis for Stylized, Interactive Performance

    By: Victor Cordell - Oct 09th, 2023

    Santa Fe based Exodus Ensemble has introduced theater that has become about as immersive as possible, short of the patrons spontaneously driving the narrative.  Performed by a troupe of talented and committed actors, this new form of entertainment already has a track record of delighting those who value youth, spontaneity, innovation, audience participation, and rule breaking.  Those preferring more established modes may be split on whether this kind of entertainment works for them.

  • Nollywood Dreams Front Page

    A Riotous Look at Making It in the Nigerian Film Industry

    By: Victor Cordell - Oct 06th, 2023

    Set in Lagos in the ‘90s, the story centers on a young woman who hopes to break into show business by responding to an open audition for the lead in a movie. Many universal issues arise, but with the addition of West African context and characters.

  • The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs Front Page

    Technology Scores Big in the Storyline and the Score

    By: Victor Cordell - Sep 26th, 2023

    Composer Mason Bates and librettist Mark Campbell strike gold with this focused bio that should find a place on the opera circuit. San Francisco Opera's stunning production along with superb performances make it even better. The title character is portrayed with all of his positive and negative complexity, and even operagoers who learn nothing new about Jobs will find the opera highly involving and entertaining.

  • POTUS: Or Behind Every Great Dumbass Are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive Front Page

    A President's Improprieties Trigger a Zany Cavalcade of Events

    By: Victor Cordell - Sep 22nd, 2023

    The subtitle of the play suggests where it’s going.  But if you think that it may simply be misandristic, that wouldn’t be correct.  Given the crazy antics of these females who are close to the president, you could just as easily add the word dumbass in front of the word women.  In any case, the result is “POTUS,” a farce that had Berkeley Rep’s opening night audience laughing with glee from start to finish. But it's not for everyone.

  • Il Trovatore Front Page

    One of Verdi's Most Challenging and Emotional Operas

    By: Victor Cordell - Sep 19th, 2023

    The title character is Manrico, a troubadour and leader of a Roma troupe.  Unbeknownst to anyone but his adoptive mother, he is of noble blood and the brother of his arch enemy, Count di Luna.  They contest not only in the communal and political world but for the love of a woman, Leonora.

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