Colorful Mini-Opera Cracks Jokes and Eggs

by Megan Meister

The cast of Doctor Miracle sign autographs after the October 30 performance at the Winspear Opera House. Photo by Luke McKenzie.

Colorful Mini-Opera Cracks Jokes and Eggs by Sally-Page Stuck

Just as a generous adult would share her opera glasses, the two-year-old opera patron to my left kindly offered to share her pacifier. Surely, she presumed opera could be intimidating and wanted to spare me distress. She needn’t have worried. The Dallas Opera’s production of Dr. Miracle was intended to be accessible to audiences of all ages. Gone are the intimidating, large sets and full orchestra.  A pint-sized, yet meticulous set gave just enough color and sense of place. Julian Reed elegantly played the entire accompaniment on a single piano. Only four singers performed an English-translated libretto.  There was nothing childish about the construction of the costumes. Tommy Bourgeois’ finely crafted costumes had the bright colors – chartreuse, peach, and maroon – which capture a child’s short attention. The house hummed with the well-behaved, excited murmurs of children eager to experience opera.

Only forty-five minutes long, Bizet’s one act opera is just the right length for introducing someone – child or adult -- to opera. Dr. Miracle is about a young man who goes to desperate lengths to marry his true love, outwitting her over-protective father.

Juxtaposed English libretto and classical singing emphasized the hilarious silliness of the text. An operatic quartet about an omelet received many giggles.  After considerable harmonizing over eggs and fresh butter, Veronica (Julie Ann Dieltz) finally stated the obvious; if they kept singing the omelet would get cold.

Julie Marx (Laurette) sang with crystal clear diction. Her voice was strong, delicate and beautiful, like fine bone china.

Zach Hess (Pasquin / Captain Silvio / Doctor Miracle) had the challenge of playing three characters, from grotesque to handsome. He did so with creativity and versatility. His voice had the smoothness and strength of fine vellum.

Njabulo Mthimkhulu played The Mayor as an overprotective, too-stern father. His slight African accent lent the character an even greater sense of authority. When he bellowed to his daughter, Laurette, “I’ll have a talk with your boyfriend,” it gets a laugh. Who hasn’t known a too-possessive father? Mr. Mthimkhulu’s comedic timing was on point. With a rich, velvet voice, great comedic timing and well-thought characterization, I expect great things from Mr. Mthimkhulu.

Produced in partnership with Dallas Children’s Theatre, SMU vocal Department and UNT Opera Program, the Dallas Opera’s Dr. Miracle runs through February with a varied cast.

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