Oh, What a Lovely War
Theatre St. Thomas

 
…This show remains an anomalous musical because so many of the musical moments are fragmentary or appear as part of something else, and fade -- like the parody hymns or the snatches of trench songs -- instead of being full-fledged "numbers." But we were more likely to be moved or amused by Maureen Batt's "Keep the Home Fires Burning" or Kyla Wright's "Sister Susie's Sewing Shirts" because we expected the snatches of song to relate in significant ways to what we'd heard and seen before, and what we were about to hear and see…
 
…One of the interesting things about the Friday night show was that the audience almost never applauded an individual number, because the momentum of the show kept pushing us along. The only time I thought this was a problem was at the very end, when director Ilkay Silk, characteristically, didn't give us as long to applaud as we wanted. The final reprise of "Oh, What a Lovely War," during which we applauded, ended, the cast went off, and even though I think all of us wanted to show our gratitude even more, didn't come back. We had to be content to applaud the band, finishing their evening with a flourish . . . but I think all of us would have welcomed the cast back for a bit more applause. And Ilkay, too.  
 
 
 
The Caucasian Chalk Circle

by Bertolt Brecht
Theatre St. Thomas

 
…The music, performed by Doherty, along with sensitive and responsive piano and clarinet by Jane Bowden and Doug Vipond, shapes and colours the action, sets our responses, and occasionally comes to the fore, as the remarkable "chorus" of Maureen Batt and Sarah Jeffries sings -- with impeccable and effective musicality -- Doherty's original music to tell us, for instance, "what the girl thinks but doesn't say" as she faces the apparently corrupt judge, Azdak. The musicians play from under and behind a platform from which the narrator and the chorus observe and control the action, and the timing and sensitivity of the music is therefore seen, and felt, as part of the story-telling, and subtly shapes our responses to it…
…As so often, in a Theatre St. Thomas production, the real star of the show is the ensemble work, and The Caucasian Chalk Circle is no exception. It's possible to pick out particularly strong performances, but you're always aware that they depend for that strength on what's going on around them, on the way our attention is deliberately and consciously focused, now over here, now up there, by everyone involved acting in concert. I'm sure Brecht would have liked this production. And when does the CD of the original cast recording of that wonderful music come out?
 
 
Berlin to Broadway: A Musical Journey with Kurt Weill

book by Gene Lerner
Theatre Saint Thomas

 
…The main reasons the show is a triumph are local. Everything about it -- the set, the lighting, the music, the direction, the ten actor/singers -- is absolutely appropriate. It's as though these people, this space, and this moment had found exactly the right script to use their talents to the utmost…
…And the ten members of the cast inhabit Weill's unexpected, complicated, and tricky music with a remarkable, professional authority. This is not easy music, not least because it sounds as though it ought to be easy. Weill's genius -- especially in the early, Berlin-based shows -- was to take popular music and make it edgy, startling, new, to turn clichés inside out, to end songs where no one had ever ended them before, to take Brecht's complicated, darkly ironic language and echo its irony. All ten singers -- the cast is much larger than the show was written for, but there's never a sense of overcrowding, and there's not a weak link on stage -- not only hit the notes with authority (some of the notes are extremely hard to hit), but also, and at the same time, project with words with a clarity that I found astonishing. For Weill, it seems clear, the words were what it was all about, and this cast gives us the words…
…Because -- as is often the case in Theatre St. Thomas productions -- what's important is the ensemble rather than the individual, it's not very much use to pick out specific people as particularly effective: all ten are strong singers, focused actors, and disciplined ensemble members. There are moments that stick out in memory: the change in Maureen Batt's face as she goes from desolation that her boyfriend has enlisted, to joy that he's enlisted, in the space between two bars of music…
 
Russ Hunt Reviews
 
 
 
Reviews
 
 
The right recipe for comedic opera
 
Dal’s La Serva Padrona satisfying, fun    
 
By Stephen Pedersen
Arts Reporter, The Chronicle Herald
 
__________________
 
 
 
 
Soprano Maureen Batt and baritone
Justin Simard, with a little mute help
from actor John-Riley O’Handley, led
off the double-bill in the Sir James
Dunn Theatre on Thursday night for
the Dalhousie Opera Workshop.
 
Both gave first-rate comedic performances as the maid Serpina and her boss, Dr. Umberto, in Giovanni Pergolesi’s La Serva Padrona.
 
Irritated by Serpina’s bossiness and ridicule, Umberto thinks of installing a rich widow to keep her in line.
 
 
But he’s secretly attracted to her, and is unable to resist when she plots to make him propose to her with the help of the handy-man Scapin, who impersonates a swaggering lover, lured with a promise of access to the wine cellar.
 
Tightly directed by Dal vocal professor Marcia Swanston, the style of movement is angular and brisk. Umberto paces out rectangles, Serpina silences his protests over her slovenly service and brazen retorts with a sharply accented and unmistakable gesture meaning, “Speak to the hand!”
 
Enthusiastically at home on the stage, Batt’s interpretation is animated and endlessly energetic. (At intermission Swanston presented her with the annual Erik Perth Award to a female vocal student showing a special aptitude for opera). Well-deserved.
 

Maureen Batt, soprano
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Chérubin
Essential Opera
 
As Nina, Chérubin’s true love (for now), Maureen Batt was the other outstanding vocal portrayal, treading a fine line between pathos and comedy, particularly when she seemed bound for a convent in the last act.
 
Leslie Barcza
barczablog
November 2011
 
Don Giovanni
Maritime Concert Opera
 
The young and lovely Maureen Batt (Zerlina) handled her role with charm, humour and a captivating soprano.
 
OPERA CANADA
FALL 2010