At the center of the opera are three ballads, which the keepers sing to keep their boredom and their private terrors (in the form of the malignant Beast — think Curse of the Demon) at bay. The knotty vocal line suddenly becomes simpler, with actual, memorably parodic tunes. Blazes sings a kind of chanty about the murder of the old lady, accompanied by banjo (Aaron Larget-Caplan) and fiddle (Sandra Kott). Sandy sings an Edwardian parlor ballad to an out-of-tune upright piano (Allen Perriello) and gluey cello (Alexei Gonzales), which turns into a ribald trio (the off-color sexual puns are the words I most regret missing). And Arthur sings a dissonant, increasingly demented Salvation Army song to a tambourine (Dean Anderson, who also played in the 1983 production) and nasty trumpet (Jesse Levine). Scratchy tam-tam, pounding drum, and flashing red lights bring the opera to its terrifying climax.
This is one of the most adventurous and viscerally charged productions the BLO has ever given us. It’s almost more what we might have expected from the late Opera Boston (BLO’s production, of course, was planned long before that company’s unfortunate demise). Wouldn’t it be wonderful if BLO continues on that path of true daring?
The Lighthouse continues through this Sunday, February 12.
, Peter Maxwell Davies, boston lyric opera, The Lighthouse