Sunday, April 6, 2014

Florida Opera Theater

Tonight is your chance to see that Opera is very much alive in Central Florida. I went to a dress rehearsal for "Opera's Greatest Hits" and "Trouble in Tahiti" at The Venue (511 Virginia Dr, Orlando, FL). The first half of the evening was a recital of incredible music by Rossini, Mozart, Donizetti and Bizet. Robin Stamper, the music director, accompanied every song on piano. I focused in on a performance by Morgan Davis from Carmen. Terry and I used to attend every Opera production when large productions were staged at the Bob Carr. That company went bankrupt but even this small recital brought back all the grandeur of what opera could be. My book light unfortunately died, so I struggled to sketch in the darkness.

There was a short intermission which I used to start painting while the house lights were up. Trouble in Tahiti began with a smiling jazz trio singing about the perfect life in suburbia with its little white houses and perfect loving families. It was an advertiser's ideal with Crest white cleanliness.  This musical by Leonard Bernstein centers around a couple who are not living the ideal. Every discussion becomes a drawn out argument. Dinah (Rachael Marino) suspects Sam (Gabriel Preisser) of having an affair with his secretary which he denies. They live separate lives yet long for their lost happiness.

Scene six was hilarious. Dinah (Rachael) went to the cinema alone to see "Trouble in Tahiti". She dismissed it as sentimental drivel but as she recounted the plot, she became caught up in the South Seas romance musical number, "Island Magic." The Greek jazz trio would back her up with their shining enthusiasm. What made me laugh out loud was the way Rachael recreated the villagers dance. She recreated their music with a nasal whining drone and waved two handkerchiefs to simulate their dance. She was hilarious! The chorus put on sailor's caps as the saluted during the patriotic finish to the movie. Dinah, is suddenly embarrassed because she realizes she was swept away by the imagined romance. She catches herself and resumes cooking diner for Sam.

The trio sings of evenings of domestic bliss but the couples talk about their relationship once again results in an argument. Sam suggests they go see "Trouble in Tahiti" which is the movie  Dinah just saw and hated. The "bought and paid for magic" of the silver screen is a substitute for love lost. "Before there was 'Mad Men' there was... 'Trouble in Tahiti."

Mark your calendar! There are two performances TODAY, at 2pm and 5pm at The Venue (511 Virginia Dr, Orlando, FL). Tickets are $30 at the door.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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