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The Boston Globe on I Am A Dreamer Who No Longer Dreams:

  • White Snake Projects’ immigration opera is a timely tale haunted by American dreams.   Jacobs’s collaboration with Mexican-born composer Jorge Sosa might be White Snake’s least logistically complex affair to date. It’s also the best.
  • The cast [of I Am a Dreamer Who No Longer Dreams] was — as per usual for White Snake — top-notch.
  • As Rosa, mezzo-soprano Carla López-Speziale spent most of the opera confined to a small raised square representing her prison cell, and she owned every inch. With immaculate coloratura chops and nuanced acting, soprano Helen Zhibing Huang illustrated Singa’s transformation from American Dream almost-believer to awakened ally. Soprano Kirsten Chambers covered all the other adult roles with chameleonic style.

    Singa (Helen Zhibing Huang) and child Singa (Amy Li) in I Am A Dreamer Who No Longer Dreams. Photo by Kathy Wittman/Ball Square Films
    Singa (Helen Zhibing Huang) and child Singa (Amy Li) in the 2019 production of I Am A Dreamer Who No Longer Dreams. Photo by Kathy Wittman/Ball Square Films

The Boston Musical Intelligencer on I Am A Dreamer Who No Longer Dreams:

  • I Am a Dreamer Who No Longer Dreams, which premiered on Friday at the Emerson Paramount, is timely, poignant, and artistically satisfying.
  • Local impresario Cerise Jacobs developed her libretto in collaboration with Mexican-born, New York-based composer Jorge Sosa to contextualize some of Boston’s best up-and-coming female voices in an exploration of dislocation and transformation in America.
  • Since Dreamer features a cast mirroring the ethnicities of the women depicted, it is a huge bonus that the production team is “intentionally diverse” and mostly female, reflecting the ambition of Jacobs and White Snake Projects to integrate original opera with social activism.

Opera News on PermaDeath:

  • “Visconti and Jacobs have made an exciting new work brimming with new ideas and possibilities.”
  • “[…]a powerful synergy arises from combining videogame animation with opera. After all, both revel in an exaggerated and otherworldly beauty; neither has a completely comfortable relationship with realism.
  • “Composer Visconti seems inspired by this chimerism. He supports his singers with a modern, eclectic sound palette. Like video games themselves, which often construct their stories from a potpourri of influences, Visconti utilizes a wide range of tonal languages, from “ancient” modal laments to more contemporary atonal writing. He instinctively finds the right balance between the weird and familiar. Visconti’s musical adventurism mirrors the careening vignettes onstage: one particularly memorable sequence begins with Artemis’s pet boar MiniB, played deliciously by countertenor Patrick Dailey, challenging the demigod Adonis to a hunt. The music is physical, infectious, even saucy.”

    Apollo Avatar in PermaDeath
    Sonny (Maggie Finnegan) and Apollo (Josh Quinn) in the 2018 performance of PermaDeath. Photo by Kathy Wittman/Ball Square Films

Boston Classical Review on PermaDeath:

  • PermaDeath premiere finds new life in fusion of opera and video gaming”
  • “Cerise Jacobs’ slick libretto tells a convincing and engaging tale of friendship and loss through eight scenes that span one hundred minutes.”
  • “Through sparse textures, thorny dissonances, and driving rhythms that would be at home in a jug band jamboree, Visconti weaves musical tapestries that are equal parts Webern, Morton Feldman, and Blind Lemon Jefferson.”

The Boston Globe on PermaDeath:

  • “Local impresario and librettist Cerise Lim Jacobs’ … most technologically ambitious production to date”

The Boston Musical Intelligencer on PermaDeath:

  • “PermaDeath [is] a vehicle for inventive music and staging.”
  • “Visconti’s setting of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Sonnet 43 (How do I love thee? Let me count the ways) for two sopranos is a standalone masterpiece.”

The Boston Globe on REV. 23:

  • “Wachner’s protean score deftly employs a grab-bag of 20th-century operatic and musical-theater styles to hold a mirror to the libretto….Sunday’s audience rose to its feet.”

The Boston Musical Intelligencer on REV. 23:

  • “Wachner’s REV. 23 sounds as broad, interesting, and brightly colored as the characters and plot of Jacobs’ libretto.”
  • “Friday evening’s performance buzzed with wit and energy. “
  • “Director Mark Streshinsky’s vision for the opera, in collaboration with choreographer Yury Yanowsky and dramaturg Cori Ellison, teems with a distinctive sophisticated style.”
  • “Lidiya Yankovskaya led a fully committed pit orchestra that met the challenges of Wachner’s wide-ranging vision with ease,”
  • “An eccentric vision of a world before the Beginning, REV. 23 received an eager standing ovation from an ecstatic audience.”
  • “to interpret everything in REV. 23 as a lighthearted stunt is to ascribe no meaning to the work at all; to delve instead into the libretto’s politics requires careful attention all of the details. The audience left wondering how seriously to interpret Jacobs’ farcical drama.”

    The Furies in REV. 23
    The Furies (Jamie-Rose Guarrine, Melanie Long, and Nora Graham-Smith) in the 2017 production of REV. 23. Photo by Kathy Wittman/Ball Square Films

Classical Voice North America on REV. 23:

  • “Wachner’s endlessly creative score moved with integrity and versatility among styles, not only rock, jazz, and bluesy settings, but affecting chamber music. Yankovskaya worked it assiduously, keeping a firm grip on the activities in the pit and the sometimes hectic action onstage.”
  • “The singing was first rate.”

La Scena Musicale on REV. 23:

  • “The city of Boston recently got a privileged, early glimpse of the Apocalypse – and beyond – courtesy of resident visionary, opera-maker, and eschatologist nonpareil, Cerise Lim Jacobs”
  • “Wachner’s score thus amounts to a broad-board conspectus of historical styles, tics and tricks, rendering it quite appropriate as the music of a post-modern opera about a post-historical universe. Everything is equally at hand, equally valid, equally susceptible of repurposing and imitation – Monteverdi, Gluck, Wagner, Hindemith, Britten, Led Zeppelin, Stephen Sondheim, Metallica, Adele.….Wachner, it goes without saying, knows his voice types and mixes styles and production practices artfully.”
  • “ as William Blake famously observed of Milton, Jacobs might be considered “a true Poet and of the Devil’s party without knowing it.”
  • “Jacobs’ literary and imaginative feracities are prodigious. Companies large and small each year award commissions, and jockey to produce the next big, popular, audience-enhancing operatic phenomenon.     Is anyone looking toward Boston?”

The New England Theater Geek on REV. 23:

  • “This is easily the most yuppie punk show I’ve seen all year. Librettist Cerise Lim Jacobs and director Mark Streshinsky are not messing around with their work. Rev. 23is an opera firmly rooted in the 21st Century. Lidiya Yankovskaya’s vivacious conducting might as well have been head banging for all her hard work corralling Julian Wachner’s magnificent beast of a score. Add to the mix the tarted up Furies (Nora Graham-Smith, Melanie Long, Jamie-Rose Guarrine) flitting around Hell like deranged pixies at a bacchanal, and you’ve got one wild ride.”

Opera News on the Ouroboros Trilogy:

  • “imaginative and often dazzlingly three-dimensional”
  • “combines delicacy, lyricism, and power with a patina of exoticism”

The Boston Musical Intelligencer on the Ouroboros Trilogy:

  • “Simply said, a true opera event happened right here in Boston. The music should be heard, the production should be seen, and there is wisdom in the text.”

La Scena Musicale on the Ouroboros Trilogy:

  • “a treacherous, beautiful reptilian playground”
  • “The technological ingenuity and sophistication – not to mention sheer imagination – of Counts’ design cannot be overstated.”
  • “compelling and transformative”

    Madame White Snake. Photo by James Matthew Daniel
    Madame White Snake (Susannah Biller), Xu Xian (Peter Tantsits), and Xia Qing (Michael Maniaci) in Madame White Snake performed as part of the Ouroboros Trilogy in 2016. Photo by James Matthew Daniel

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