Bl­itzstein

BBC Music Magazine - - Opera -

The Cra­dle Will Rock

Gin­ger Costa-jack­son, Keith

Jame­son, Christo­pher Burchett;

Nina Spin­ner, Larry Fore­man,

Andy Pa­pas, Efraín Solís, Dy­lan

Elza, Jorge­an­drés Ca­margo, Justin Hop­kins, Scott Pur­cell, Michael An­der­son, Eric Mccon­nell; Opera Saratoga Orches­tra/john Mauceri Bridge 9511A/B 111:26 mins (2 discs) Mark Bl­itzstein’s ‘play in mu­sic’

The Cra­dle

Will Rock was in­tended to rat­tle po­lit­i­cal cages, and it did just that. Days be­fore the piece was due to open in 1937, the gov­ern­ment agency which had funded it with­drew sup­port, cit­ing fi­nan­cial dif­fi­cul­ties. In re­al­ity Bl­itzstein’s sub­ject mat­ter was sim­ply too con­tro­ver­sial – The Cra­dle had a fer­vently pro-union, anti-big busi­ness sto­ry­line, at a time when Amer­ica was fo­ment­ing para­noia about Com­mu­nism and anti-cap­i­tal­is­tic in­flu­ences.

The premiere went ahead, with Bl­itzstein re­plac­ing the orches­tra on pi­ano, and that is how the work has of­ten been per­formed since. This live per­for­mance from Opera Saratoga is the first com­plete record­ing of The Cra­dle with Bl­itzstein’s orig­i­nal or­ches­tra­tions. It makes a punchy, highly colour­ful im­pres­sion. Bl­itzstein’s orches­tra in­cludes an ac­cor­dion, ★awai­ian gui­tar, mara­cas and sax­o­phones, and con­duc­tor John Mauceri rel­ishes the ex­tra tang and siz­zle that they bring the mu­sic. ★is pac­ing is ex­cel­lent, and he flips seam­lessly be­tween the songs, recita­tive, spo­ken di­a­logue, and un­der­scor­ing used in the mo­saic-like struc­ture.

The cast is large – 27 solo parts plus cho­rus – and full of fine young voices, all sharply schooled in the bit­ing, satir­i­cal flavour of Bl­itzstein’s writ­ing. Among them Au­drey Bab­cock as the va­pidly philis­tine Mrs Mis­ter, Matt Boehler as her rob­ber-baron hus­band, and Justin ★op­kins as the the­o­log­i­cal­lyflex­i­ble Rev­erend Sal­va­tion are es­pe­cially im­pres­sive.

Bl­itzstein’s mu­sic is a teem­ing mix of jazz, Broad­way and op­er­atic in­flu­ences. It siz­zles in this ex­cel­lent per­for­mance of a work long over­due an au­thor­i­ta­tive record­ing. Terry Blain

PER­FOR­MANCE

RECORD­ING

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