BY SANDY STAGGS
Closing out Glow Lyric Theatre’s 8th Summer Festival Season is Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Fidelio” and this production is a triumph on all levels.
Stage Director Jenna Tamisiea has transported the action in this rarely produced work from a 1790s Spanish prison to a Nazi prison in1945 Germany on the eve of the invasion by the Allies.
Ahead of its time, “Fidelio” has a strong-willed heroine as the protagonist, Leonora, sung here with bravura by soprano Jessica Luffey. In an attempt to find and free her husband, Florstan (Colin Markey) who has been imprisoned by the corrupt Nazi officer Pizarro (Glow regular Jeremiah Johnson who injects gravitas and gusto with his powerful baritone voice and presence.
To get access to the prison, Leonora transforms (in front of the audience) from a beautiful woman into a boy she names Fidelio. In disguise, she ingratiates herself into the warden Rocco’s (bass Ryan Allen) inner circle as his latchkey, and ultimately into his home where Rocco’s daughter Marcelline (the enthusiastic and sublime soprano Danielle Knox who also plays the leading lady Josephine in Glow’s “H.M.S. Pinafore”) immediately falls in love with Fidelio, much to the chagrin of Rocco’s smitten assistant Jaquino (tenor Justin Boazman).
Ms. Luffey carries the opera effortlessly and with an uncanny focus as she switches personas between Fidelio and Leonora. In essence, Luffey kicks some ass with a Wonder Woman perseverance and even physically sensibility in one scene fighting over a gun and overpowering the much larger Pizarro, all the while maintaining a tenderness and passion for the man she loves.
Markey, albeit he is off stage for most of the opera, trades in his comedic timing and sunny disposition from “H.M.S Pinafore” for a compelling dramatic turn as the broken, but not weak, Florstan, dirty, starved and in tatters.
The staging is absolutely thrilling from the opening sirens and red roving red lighting by Maranda Debusk to the finale with the full chorus of prisoners in shackles rejoicing after their freedom and being saved by the Allied troops.
Glow co-founder Christian Elser conducts the small orchestra and achieves a rich full sound from his ensemble that sounds much more majestic and robust with the hard acoustics in in The Warehouse Theatre space.
“Fidelio” continues through August 4 in repertory with “H.M.S Pinafore” and “In the Heights” at The Warehouse Theatre, 37 Augusta Road in Greenville. For tickets, visit http://www.glowlyric.com.