Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Michael John LaChiusa, Phylicia Rashad, Daphne Rubin-Vega|
Bernarda Alba (2006 Original Off-Broadway Cast)
Genres: Pop, Broadway & Vocalists
Listen to Samples
She's one scary mother...
Steven Valenti | Cleveland, OH | 07/11/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Michael John LaChiusa's "Bernarda Alba" is, at its core, a horror story. After the comparably good-humored "See What I Wanna See," this one finds the versatile composer diving into some pretty scary psychological territory. In fact, this is probably his darkest musical to date; it won't be for everyone, but there's no mistaking the artistry on display.
Based on "The House of Bernarda Alba" by Federico Garcia Lorca, LaChiusa's musical is essentially about a tyrannical mother (the title character, played by Phylicia Rashad) who, after the death of her husband, plunges her household into darkness, refusing to allow her five adult daughters search for love-- or more importantly-- sex. Of course, her denial of her daughters' desires is bound to cause some tension-- and LaChiusa exploits the tension effectively in a score that is uncommonly unsettling.
The music is Spanish-flavored to fit the setting and contains evocative orchestrations throughout by Michael Starobin. Essentially, the score consists of some very beautiful songs of yearning mixed in with a folksy sound and some unnerving abrasiveness as Bernarda's psychological stranglehold on her daughters threatens the household. As storytelling, the approach works really well-- the recording contains the palpable sense of beauty being smothered by a gathering dread. I find myself appreciating its effectiveness even more on repeat hearings (which is practically essential for a LaChiusa score, anyway).
I do wish the recording were a bit longer-- at only 50 minutes, it's pretty short. Some of the plot and character developments could be better represented in the music (and if they were, they should have been included on the recording). I really like what's here, but it feels somewhat incomplete, preventing it from ranking among LaChiusa's best. Still, this is certainly beyond most scores we get, and LaChiusa remains the most vital modern musical writer.
Two stars for the effort but there is an option: AINADAMAR
JLF | Manila, Philippines | 09/15/2006
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Ok,it is indeed a welcome effort to do a musical with Lorca's work as a basis. La Chiusa in the past used the classics as basis for musical (e.g. Medea, The Wild Party). however, in this one, it is completely unmemorable. the instrumentation is not good, singing and melody is not good. there are musicals that to have irregular melodies but works eventually. this is not one of them. the darkness of the material was more of an obstabcle rather than a facet of the material. it did not work here. A broadway "big bang" is so obvious even with the use of basic instrumentation. Bernarda Alba needs to be tight and cohesive so it would not be BORING.
There is a good modern opera based on lorca's life with margarita xiu as a central character (played by a wonderful DAWN UPSHAW). This is Golijov's Ainadamar. it has excellent performers, and fabulous orchestration. it is in spanish but the liner note has translation. i bought mine in itunes and i got together with the music a listener's guide. BUY THAT one rather than this recording. you would understand the material, enrich your knowledge, and enjoy the music."
Good that i own this record
Gloor Dieter | 07/16/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"it might not be kander & ebb's hispanic approach, it might not be glittering jerry herman sound, it might not be the big lloyd webber showdown - it's bleak, it's rough, and it's sad. it's not the record that i will listen to while having a nice evenig with friends around.
the music catches the drama of the action - which is the most important thing a theatre score must do - be it jerry herman, be richard rodgers, be it leonard bernstein, be it sondheim or lloyd webber - or lachiusa.
i'm just always happy when i can listen to a musical score which widens the boundaries of the genre.
musical theatre doesn't need the hummable melodies, and it doesn't need to have a happy ending - we've got that in hollywood and in the blockbuster shows, it needs daring scores.
and lachiusa's bernarda alba is one of those."