Visit BLO.org

In the Wings

Backstage glimpses with Boston Lyric Opera

Dr. von Lyric: Epic Lizzie

Nov 13, 2013 2:21:00 PM
By julia

It seems a bit strange that the epically received and enduringly  notorious real life crime of Lizzie Borden has not had more  significant reverberations in the arts. No movies of any consequence (Hitchcock,  where were  you?) There is of course Jack Beeson's opera which BLO is about  to present in a new one act version.  Premiered at NYCO ( alas - of  fond memory - ) in 1965 (there is a CD of that production ) and was revived very successfully  in a completely different production  at Glimmerglass and then again at City Opera. It is that full length production that is linked below. The title role is portrayed by Phyllis Pancella ( in a decidedly  more malevolent mode than her crisp Despina in the recent  BLO COSI) . The set is by BLO's Artistic Adviser John Conklin  
  LIZZIE BORDEN NYCO 1999]

Perhaps the most famous of the Lizzie re-tellings is the Agnes de Mille ballet FALL RIVER LEGEND - first performed by Ballet Theater at the Metropolitan Opera House in 1948  The Youtube link below is to a performance by the Dance Theater of Harlem in 1989 (this also exist on a DVD) The score by Morton Gould suits the telling of the story  without having much personality of its own.  The de Mille version is to my taste a bit too full of jolly townspeople in hoedown mode (shades of last week) - de Mille had just done OKLAHOMA. Likewise the striking and very atmospheric sets  by Oliver Smith (based on the original designs) also seem more  redolent of the expansive west with their stormy skies and endless horizons rather than the claustrophobic atmosphere of a small  New England town. But the piece has moments of real power (as well as some excessive melodrama) and Virginia Johnson gives a powerful and eloquent  portrayal of Lizzie expressed in pure movement
DANSE THEATRE OF HARLEM "FALL RIVER LEGEND"

There are some quite interesting Youtube postings relating  to  aspects of the Lizzie legend

       a good  documentary


         and two alternative theories as to the real killer
           [ embedded YOUTUBE     ARNOLD BROWN'S THEORY OF THE LIZZIE BORDEN CASE]

Topics: Dr. Von Lyric, lizzie borden

BLO 2017-2018

Subscribe to Email Updates

BLO