We Love Arts

We Love Arts: Showboat

Angela Renée Simpson as Queenie (center, in pink dress) and the company of Show Boat. Photo by Scott Suchman.

Angela Renée Simpson as Queenie (center, in pink dress) and the company of Show Boat. Photo by Scott Suchman.

The Washington National Opera’s production is a groundbreaking new work that challenges audience with a deep and nuanced examination of the many ways that racial politics and marital tensions intermingle across a complicated economic reality, eventually illuminating complex and crucial truths about -

No, seriously. It’s Showboat, the modern ur-musical, the production that was old when your mom first went to the theater. We’re not at its centennial yet, but we’re closer to the day “Ol’ Man River” turns 100 than we are to the 20th century. I’m sure we’ll see a revival then too. And every other year between now and then.

Which isn’t to say there’s nothing worth seeing here. Washington National Opera’s Showboat is a beautiful creature in every way. It’s well-acted, lovingly staged, and sung, at turns, competently and transcendently. It may not be new or different than any other of the thousands of times it’s been produced, but if you want to see the show that represented a pivot in Broadway musicals then this is as good a chance as any.

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The Features, We Love Arts

We Love Arts: Manon Lescaut

(l-r)  Patricia Racette as Manon Lescaut and Kamen Chanev as Chevalier des Grieux. Photo by Scott Suchman for WNO.

(l-r) Patricia Racette as Manon Lescaut and Kamen Chanev as Chevalier des Grieux. Photo by Scott Suchman for WNO.

If you’ve been wanting to try the opera, start with Washington National Opera’s Manon Lescaut this month at the Kennedy Center Opera House.

Puccini’s first real hit runs a mere two hours, 45 minutes including two intermissions. Within this tight time constraint, the epic love story comes nearly bite-sized.

Soprano Patricia Racette makes her role debut as the tragic heroine Manon Lescaut – a woman torn between her love for the finer things and her love for impoverished student Chevalier des Grieux. After she leaves des Grieux for the wealth of “that ancient dandy” Geronte de Ravoir, her conflicting loves torment her and lead to devastation.

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