Going Nowhere and Loving It

Reviewed by Gerald Carpenter

Il Viaggio a Reims. Julie Davis-Ramsey, Sidney Outlaw,
Nicole Farbes-Lyons, Holly Boaz, Evan Hughes, and other Academy
Young Vocal Artists in a comic opera written by Gioacchino Rossini
and Luigi Balocchi, directed by Casey Stangl, with the Festival
Orchestra conducted by Christopher Larkin. At the Lobero Theatre,
Friday, August 4.

Viag-4.jpgAlthough I have had occasional recourse
to the word “charming” in reviews, I have seldom attended a show to
which it applied more perfectly. The young singers sang with
delightful purity and style, and fit their actions perfectly to the
mood and pace of the piece. Under the deft baton of Christopher
Larkin, the orchestra played brilliantly. The set sparkled, and
though the space restrictions of the Lobero prohibited much change
of scene, the sumptuous variety of the costumes more than made up
for the uniformity of the mise-en-scène.

The plot, if we can use such a definite term, is a potpourri of
romantic confusions and comic misadventures befalling a group of
upper-class ninnies traveling to Reims for the coronation of
Charles X as King of France. Meeting at the improbably large and
lavish inn, the Golden Fleur-de-lys (i.e., the “Gilded
, the travelers dash around, fall in love, challenge
each other to duels, and generally comport themselves in a PG-rated
version of what Georges Feydeau would later bring to naughty
perfection as the “French farce.” In the last act, there is a
Fledermaus-type gala, at which many of the participants express the
most fervent hopes for the peace and tranquility of Charles X’s
reign. Alas, it was not to be, and probably would not have been
even if Charles himself had not been an intransigent

Many of the numbers seemed designed more to display the
virtuosity of the singers than to touch deeper emotions (not
that there is anything wrong with that, since the singers are so
spectacularly gifted)
. The ensemble set pieces, while
exciting, also seemed written to a fixed plan.

There is a nice, almost Chekovian twist, too, in that the guests
never actually get to Reims. They, and we, had more fun than if
they had.


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