Review: "Stonewall" at the New York City Opera

NYCO Stonewall #1770 - credit to Sarah Shatz WP.jpg

David Roberts, Chief New York Critic, Outer Critics Circle/Drama Desk Member

To celebrate its third year of presenting an LGBTQ+ opera in the month of June – and the 50th Anniversary of the Riots at Greenwich Village’s Stonewall Inn - the New York City Opera commissioned the opera “Stonewall” currently running at The Rose Theater in Jazz at Lincoln Center for five performances through Friday June 28, 2019. The one act opera in three parts celebrates the lives of ten disparate and, in a variety of ways, desperate characters who, having each reached their tipping points, decide to visit the mob-owned Stonewall Inn which is about to reach its own tipping point during the pre-ordained and politically motivated raid on the only “safe haven” for the members of the LGBTQ+ communities.

Although Mark Campbell’s characters are “fictional,” each is authentic and embodies believable and recognizable conflicts that drive “Stonewall’s” compelling dramatic arc to its cathartic resolution. in Part I, “Clothed” in Iain Bell’s prescient orchestrations, the ten City residents introduce themselves and share their reasons for heading “downtown” on this some to become iconic night at the bar. While heading to the Village on the subway, a “micro-dick” straight man calls butch lesbian Maggie (mezzo-soprano Lisa Chavez) a “cock-sucking dyke” and spits in her face. Although Maggie manages to deck him, the police have no interest in apprehending him. Undeterred by the abuse of the stranger and the shame her father feels for her, Maggie heads downtown to hit “the dance floor, chug a couple of brews, let it all hang out, and [be herself].” Ms. Chavez tackles the text with the same bravado and strength her character summons to subdue her attacker.

Under Leonard Foglia’s powerfully spiritual direction, the remaining nine “Stonewall” characters describe in chilling detail their stories of “profligacy” and persecution. Their distinctive voices display strong interpretive skills, exquisite tonal quality, and controlled vocal modulation. Carlos’s (a passionate baritone Brian James Myer) “lifestyle” results in his termination from a Catholic all-boys school. Andy (seductive tenor Andrew Bidlack) is a teenager who is punched in the face and kicked out of his Buffalo home by his parents and now embraces the life of a hustler on the streets of New York City. Troy (bass-baritone Joseph Charles Beutel) is straight go-go boy at the Stonewall, a hustler and a drug addict who with the help of

 

NEW YORK CITY OPERA’S STONEWALL

New York City Opera's “Stonewall” plays at The Rose Theater in Jazz at Lincoln Center (Time Warner Center at 10 Columbus Circle) for only five performances. For more information about New York City Opera's “Stonewall,” including the cast, creative team, and ticketing information, please visit https://nycopera.com/stonewall/. Running time is 75minutes without intermission.

Photo (From L to R): Brian James Myer, Jessica Fishenfeld and Liz Bouk. Credit: Sarah Shatz.