Saturday, September 14, 2019

6 of VIII at Casa Feliz

As I approached Casa Feliz there was plenty of activity. A photographer as shooting photos of a wedding couple on the back  patio so I walked around the front of the building. Several ladders and a trampoline were set up in front of the entrance. I still don't know what the trampoline is for, but I suspect it might play a part in a production of a pre-show presentation of On the Balcony, a mash-up of  Gounod's Romeo et Juliette and West Side Story Gabriel Preisser the Orlando opera executive and artistic director welcomed me.

In the living room of Casa Feliz, Opera Orlando will remount the 2019 Critics Choice for Best Musical 6 OF VIII this weekend at the beautiful Casa Feliz Historic Home Museum. There will be  food, wine, and an evening of stellar theater featuring The Helena Collective. it would make for a  perfect date night.

 There were 5 minutes before a full run through of the show, so I started sketching the set quickly in pencil waiting for the actresses to take to the stage. The room grew dark and the women in long white robes came down the aisle ringing bells and carrying candles. As they glided down the aisle, a large bang echoed through the empty historic home. There was nervous laughter from the cast. It was a foreboding start to he show.

This original work about the 6 wives of Henry VIII expands the song cycle Try Me, Good King by Libby Larsen, with original monologues, madrigals, and other music to give voice to Henry’s dead wives. The result is an atmospheric snapshot into the unique lives of history’s most famous wives.

One opera singer, Sarah Purser Bojorquez, I have met before. She sang about how women risk their own lives willingly to bring new life into the world. Sarah has just given birth to a baby in her own life so the song seemed quite prescient. Each woman was a former bride of Henry the VIII who is best known for beheading his brides when they displeased him. Each woman's story was unique. Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived. 

I was particularly take by the story of a young 16 year old girl who was in love with another man but was used like a pawn by her father to wed a man much much older than herself. She regretted not marrying the boy she loved and died a the tender age of 17, beheaded by the king.

The room in Casa Feliz where this show is being staged is quite small so the audience is right on top of the action. Seated in the front row I feared I might trip up an actress, but they adjusted to the tight stage. The show is mysterious and somber. There are few happy endings for the women who knew King Henry VIII.

Tickets are $77.25
The show is sung in English so you will not have to read subtitles.
Adaptation created by Sara Catherine Barnes
Special pre-show presentation “On the Balcony” featuring selections from Gounod’s Romeo et Juliette and Bernstein’s West Side Story along with pop-up performances by the ConVivo Madrigal Singers.
Friday September 13 at 7:30pm
Saturday September 14 at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday September 15 at 2:00 p.m.*
*This performance is currently sold out, to be placed on the wait list please email or call 407-512-1900

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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