Frank Martin
The Love Potion (Le Vin Herbé)

About

Performed at the Musicbox Movie Theater in Chicago 

The Music Box Theatre [600-seat space] with its somewhat faded grandeur, made an inviting and congenial home. The movie house acoustic proved superb, with voices and instruments emerging vibrantly with striking clarity and immediacy.

As director and production designer, Mitisek brought the story to surprisingly vivid life in a theatrical manner that still respected Martin’s rather ascetic score. The inventive production made a virtue out of scant resources with spare, effective lighting and evocative projections on the large screen of castle ruins, turbulent ocean waves and decayed statues, nicely painting the gloomy Celtic milieu of the doomed lovers. Stage monotony was avoided by having the chorus frequently reposition themselves to act out the narrative, wielding what looked like wooden closet rods, which doubled as oars, spears, bare trees and a cross for the dying Tristan. –– Chicago Classical Review 

Reviews

The production by COT artistic director Andreas Mitisek... was an object lesson in resourceful use of limited means. The youthful ensemble was clad in black body suits, complemented by a cape here or a helmet there for character designation. All carried long wooden staffs which, when combined with evocative projected images of seascapes and medieval stonework, variously served as weaponry, a thicket of sheltering trees, or the oars of a majestic ship. A storm at sea was cleverly achieved as each held their staff horizontally, and swayed rhythmically to and fro while raising and lowering each pole in a carefully calibrated wavelike motion. One could almost feel the force of the ocean beneath them. The effect was spare and straight to the senses, much like the music itself. This mounting represented Mitisek at his innovative best.

'Love Potion' casts a haunting spell... poetic production directed and designed by Mitisek cast a spell of their own, Mitisek's austere production is like a mystical ritual that exists beyond time. The singers, garbed in simple modern attire, bear wooden poles that suggest variously spears, oars, trees and a headboard for the dying knight Tristan. The performers rise from seated positions to voice their parts, while video projections of sea, sailcloth, forest and storm play across the theater screen behind them.

Mitisek's judicious use of video projections on the theater's big screen added a welcome bit of depth and color, keeping our eyes alert to settings of castle, forest and ocean.

Long sticks carried by singers were used to suggest oars or a dense forest or turbulently rolling waves.... One effect called for the sticks to be dropped into a campfire-like pile, with reddish lights suggesting the couple's smoldering passion. It also conjured an aura of storytelling itself, returning this legendary tale to its roots.

A Marvelous'Love Potion'... COT’s general director Andreas Mitisek is both stage director and production designer. The staging is simple and to the point with the set dressing as minimal as it comes, ...In addition, each cast member is given a long, solid rod about eight feet long. ...the rods are used as oars, swords, trees and the like. One of the most visually evocative moments is during a battle where the sticks are the weapons and the lighting casts big shadows, creating a splendid heightening of tension. Throughout the evening there is video projected against the back of the stage. This is tremendously effective and a welcome part of the production.

...director and stage designer Andreas Mitisek imaginatively presents the story with simple yet effective images (a starry sky, the ocean, a forest) projected on a screen behind the performers, and the cast use long poles in unison as an almost architectural form of choreography that frames the actions onstage.

Credits

Chicago Opera Theater  2016 

Musicbox Movie Theater, Chicago

Tristan/Ensemble: Bernard Holcomb
Isolde/Ensemble: Lani Stait
King Mark/Ensemble: Nicholas Davis
Brangane/Ensemble: Brittney Loewen
Isolde's Mother/Ensemble: Cassidy Smith
Isolde White Hands/Ensemble: Kira Dills-Desura

Conductor: Emanuele Andrizzi
Lighting Design: Davi Bradke

Long Beach Opera  2018 

Warner Grand Theater

Tristan/Ensemble: Bernard Holcomb
Isolde/Ensemble: Jamie Chamberlin
King Mark/Ensemble: Bernardo Bermudez
Brangane/Ensemble: Alejandra Villarreal Martinez
Isolde's Mother/Ensemble: Lindsay Patterson
Isolde White Hands/Ensemble: Kira Dills-Desura
Kaherdin​/Ensemble​​​​​​: Gibran Mahmud
Duke Hoel​​​​​/Ensemble: Scott Ziemann
Ensemble: Alexandra Martinez-Turano, Danielle Corella, John Kun Park ​​​

Conductor: Ben Maino
Lighting Design: Dan Weingarten

Photos

Chicago Opera Theater 2016

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Long Beach Opera 2018

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Photographers: Dan Weingarten / Keith I. Polakoff