On Wednesday night, February 10, members of our Live & About group attended the Dress Rehearsal of Washington National Opera’s production of Lost in the Stars, first produced in collaboration with Capetown, South Africa then to audiences who were moved to tears and then to cheers at the Glimmerglass Festival in 2012. Now WNO has reunited several members of the artistic team to remount the work at the Eisenhower Theater in Washington D.C.
There were some changes to this production from the original production launched n Broadway. A lot of the dialogue from the book by Maxwell Anderson was pared down, perhaps to show how music could effectively carry more of the story. Stephen Kumalo had a song restored, “The Little Tin God” and there is also the chorus song “Gold.” Most notably, the ending was changed by Director Tazewell Thompson, who brought back “Cry the Beloved Country” to end the piece.
I will return to the Eisenhower Theater to review the show on its official opening this Friday evening. In the meantime, I ruminate on a few things about this work and production and invite you to join me, either by responding to the questions directly or by sharing other impressions and ideas.
- There are several music idioms and styles of singing in the show, what was the intention do you suppose and how did these different styles coalesce in the production?
- Why does John Kumalo calls his brother Stephen, the parson, a “faker” in his adoptive faith? Do you think the creative team wanted the audience to consider this assessment seriously, and if not, why does Act I end with the song, “Lost in the Stars” and Act II bring in almost at once a song where Stephen calls out to the old African god Tixo?
- What’s the role that Tenor and Chorus Leader Sean Pannikkar plays in this production and what about his singing, costume, staging, and gestures that support your ideas?
- Why did Tazewell Thompson and South African Set designer Michael Mitchell create a corrugated metal box of a set, and how did it help tell the story?