It is in Louisiana, just prior to the French Revolution, where we meet the nobleman Robert Mission who is himself on a “mission” to start a new life and a new society of a quality, fraternity, and liberty. There, he disguises himself as a person of humble birth as he paradoxically falls in love with the aristocrat Marianne. With revolutionary zeal, he organizes a group of “stout hearted men” who share his ideals and will sail with him on the ship, The New Moon, to the Isle of Pines to start a new egalitarian society. This is a plot with heady themes but is greatly lightened by comic relief.
…outstanding…do not “miss the boat” on this production. It will satisfy both the opera lover and the fans of Broadway musicals.
This is particularly true of Victorian Lyric Opera Company’s outstanding production of Sigmund Romberg’s “The New Moon.” Talented actor, Scott Nunn as Alexander, and gifted actress, Carla Rountree as Clotilde, perform comic duties including slapstick, superb timing, and humorous wordplay of dialogue and lyrics. While not a comic character, Vicomte Ribaud is played with delightful arrogance by Gary Sullivan.
The operetta, directed in fine form by company director Catherine Huntress-Reeve, is situated on a middle ground between European operetta and the American musical, and this is one of the distinct pleasures of the Romberg work. The composer was, after all, a European who immigrated to the U.S. and was thus uniquely poised to offer such a harmonious mélange. The VLOC stage performers, singers, and orchestra, directed wonderfully by Joseph Sorge, do justice to both aspects of “The New Moon.”
“Marianne,” sung brilliantly by Zachary Bryant as the hero Robert, is in a bright, musical mode. The excellent choreography by Cheryl Stafford here, and elsewhere, is reminiscent of a Broadway production. On the other hand, there are melodies such as “One Kiss,” sung sonorously and operatically by Danielle Bendjy as Marianne Beaunoir, which recall the Viennese operetta of Franz Lehár. Two songs—“Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise” and “Lover Come Back to Me”—are sung beautifully by the revolutionary Brynn Farlow as Phillipe and Bendjy. These are special melodies which inhabit their own special world of light classics.
The sets, designed by Bill Pressly, are as one would wish them for a Sigmund Romberg operetta. Lavish and lush, they transport us into a romanticized past, and yet restrained and subdued, so as not to dominate the production and take away from the serious themes of tyranny, revolution, and freedom. The same may be said of the sumptuous costumes designed by Denise Young and Sarah Robinson.
“The New Moon” sets sail again this weekend, so do not “miss the boat!” This production will satisfy both the opera lover and the fans of Broadway musicals.
Running time: Three hours and 30 minutes with one intermission.
“The New Moon” runs through March 5, 2023 at the F. Scott Fitzgerald Theatre, Rockville Civic Center Park, 603 Edmonston Drive, Rockville, MD 20851.For more information and tickets, call the Box Office at 240-314-8690, Tuesday-Saturday, 2 p.m. – 6 p.m. and two hours before every ticketed performance or go online. Masks are optional.