Yesterday we took a day trip to West Stockbridge, Massachusetts, lured by the chance to hear two of our favorite singers, Lucy Dhegrae and Ariadne Greif. Well, OK, also, we’d missed earlier performances of The Drumf and the Rhinegold, and it was way past time to make up for that cultural lack.
Greif reprised her role as Melania (a role she was born to perform), and Dhegrae took up the role of Marla. I bet, without much more information, you have an idea where this is headed, and you likely wouldn’t be wrong. But just in case, here’s the gist:
Having stolen the magical Rhinegold, which grants world domination to its owner, the sinister Drumf is now poised to become leader of the free world. The gold’s guardians, the beautiful Rhinemaidens Ivana, Marla and Melania, race against time to reclaim their gold from his grubby clutches. After the consecutive failures of Ivana and Marla, can Melania succeed in wresting the gold from Drumf before her time runs out?
For the creation of this uproarious 15-minute opera, we can thank composer Mátti Kovler; Tasha Gordon-Solmon, Kovler, and Gil Varod (book); and Gordon-Solmon, Kovler, Varod, Matthew Shifrin, and Toby Lightman (lyrics).
Each singer’s performance—Greif, Dhegrae, Casey Keenan (Ivana), and Matthew Shifrin (Rhinegold)—was delicious, fully inhabiting the opera’s subversive wit. Doug Fitch directed. The staging was ingenious, with audience, singers, and musicians moving in tandem as the opera proceeded through its three mini-acts. Alyona Gomberg, Tommy Nguyen and Misha Igoshin concocted the inspired costumes and set. The terrific musicians included Contemporaneous members Kate Dreyfuss (violin), Cameron West (French horn), and Fanny Wyrick-Flax (flute), as well as Evan Primo (bass) and several others whose names I wish I knew. These are musicians who take in stride everything thrown at them—including moving their music stands and instruments to new locations—without missing a beat.
Everyone in attendance left grinning like maniacs, with random bursts of laughter breaking out. This was aided and abetted by Greif. Without once breaking character, she swanned around, conveying essential information in her Slovenian accent (“I speak five languages, you know”) and directing photo shoots, like this:
The performance took place on the grounds of a quarry, now repurposed as Turn Park Art Space.
Before the performance, we stopped in at No. 6 Depot for an early lunch, where we met up with one of our favorite composers, Shawn Jaeger. We’d spotted a bookstore, Shaker Mill Books, across the street, and Jaeger confirmed it was as good as it looked. Needless to say, that’s where we headed after lunch. J picked up a book about Dunkirk to add to her vast collection; I resisted temptation this time, but it wasn’t easy, and a return visit is on our bucket list.
If you haven’t yet seen The Drumf and the Rhinegold, you must (as a friend of ours who, as it happens, just saw a stunning Ring in Budapest, is wont to say). Toward that end, a performance, complete with subtitles, is included in this post, below.
The Drumf and the Rhinegold, as performed on Halloween eve and Halloween, 2016