You're probably familiar with the story of The Gift of the Magi, first published in 1905. Della and Jim are a poor young couple in love who sacrifice to buy a gift for each other - she sells her long beautiful hair to buy a chain for his watch, he sells his watch to buy her combs for her hair. The opera tells the story in four scenes over about 75 minutes. First we see the couple preparing for Christmas and promising not to buy each other gifts, then we see each of them discussing breaking that promise with a friend, and finally - the reveal of the gifts and what they cost. It's succinctly and beautifully told, along with interludes by the three magi, who create a bit of magic along the way.
The show was performed in the intimate Lowry Lab Theater at the St. Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists, which is a perfect space that is filled with music from the unmiked performers and six-piece orchestra (led by Skylark's Artistic Director James Barnett on piano). The modern yet traditional score is so lovely, with lyrics sung in English and easily understood, the musicalization heightening the emotional impact.
|"do you still love me with short hair?"
(Siena Forest and Anthony Potts, photo by Jeff Newcomer)
Skylark Opera Theatre specializes in small-cast, intimate, usually modern operas sung in English, which is exactly how I like my opera. The Gift of the Magi is a beautiful example of that, for those of us lucky enough to catch it last weekend. Follow Skylark on Facebook for news of upcoming shows.
*Read about all of the holiday shows I've seen this year here, and listen to the Twin Cities Theater Bloggers holiday preview episode of our podcast Twin Cities Theater Chat here.