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Romeo and Julia Kören

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Read my review published today on the Washington Post Web site:

Charles T. Downey, Rethinking early music, theatrically
Washington Post, April 15, 2010

Romeo & Julia Kören (photo courtesy of Strathmore)
Romeo och Julia Kören, an innovative vocal ensemble and theatrical troupe from Sweden, launched its first U.S. tour on Tuesday night in the Mansion at Strathmore. Founded in 1991 and based at the Royal Dramatic Theater of Stockholm, the group uses the performance of early music to weave new stories, staged mostly with pantomime, dance, and slapstick movement. As they showed in two productions, experimental theater is an ingenious way to bring largely forgotten music back to life.

The cast seemed selected more for acting ability than quality of voice, which could be disappointing for anyone familiar with the musical selections, especially in the first work, “Zefiro torna,” which stitched together nine madrigals and opera excerpts by Claudio Monteverdi. Ensemble intonation and accuracy in complicated runs, written by Monteverdi for virtuosic singers, were less than elegant in this performance by eight singing actors, a lutenist, and director Benoît Malmberg. If you let that concern go, the story of love’s travails – attraction, rejection, jealousy, despair, ecstasy – was entertaining and presented with plenty of good humor, although it occasionally undermined the tragedy of the music and its texts by juxtaposing it with comic action. [Continue reading]
Romeo & Julia Kören
Zefiro torna and Beauty and Burlesque
Launch of first U.S. tour
Mansion at Strathmore

Ground, American Opera Theater (Ionarts, July 1, 2006)

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