5 Things To Expect When You See Oscar at Opera Philadelphia

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David Daniels in “Oscar.”


It’s the opera that has the entire city buzzing, and clearly theres a reason: Oscar is probably the largest production Opera Philadelphia has staged in some time—at least as far as it’ talent and technical elements are concerned—and it generally is a major home run for the company. You still have a few chances to catch the staging at the Academy of Music before it fades away on February 15th. Here are some things you can absolutely count on as you take in the performance.

1. The Second Act is Far Better Than the First: Much of this has to do with the pacing of the libretto that really drags down some very long scenes in the first half of the opera. The part of Walt Whitman as a “frame narrator” doesn’t work, despite the powerful voice of accomplished baritone Dwayne Croft. However, after you return from intermission, the piece soars to new, almost dangerous, heights. You almost wish the show started from Act Two.

2. Don’t Expect This to Be Happy: I’m not going to give away too much of the show, but if you know anything about what happened to Oscar Wilde, don’t expect to be all smiles when you leave the Academy. This opera doesn’t sugar coat anything about Wilde’s decline, and the depiction of his devastation is moving and quite disturbing.

3. Oscar is the Best That David Daniels Has Performed: The world-renowned countertenor who takes on the title role is in peak form. I’ve seen him in several productions at the Met (The Enchanted Island, Giulio Cesare) and this is the strongest I’ve heard his voice in years. Part of this clearly has to do with his own passion and love for the score and the work. He received thunderous applause at his curtain call. Read our recent interview with the opera star here.

4. David Daniels Isn’t the Only One Giving a Killer Performance: I was particularly struck by Heidi Stober, a Met and San Francisco Opera vet, playing Ada, Wilde’s friend. Her voice was clear, stunning, and carefully sung. Dancer Reed Luplau who played Bosie, Oscar’s young love interest, performed with gusto throughout the nearly three-hour evening.

5. There’s A Lot of Talk About Absinthe: This Oscar loves his anise-flavored liquor, so much that he claims that it “makes the heart grow fonder … After the first glass, you see things as you wish they were. After the second, you see things as they are not. Finally, you see things as they really are, and that is the most horrible thing in the world!” If you need to muse on that a little more, head over to a.bar where they have mixed up a drink (with absinthe) in honor of the opera.

For more information on Oscar and Opera Philadelphia, click here.