We discover that they all seem to have interesting back stories and personalities, which they express through the songs. Versions of tunes like “Mack the Knife,” “Alabama Song,” and “Yukalai” are impossible not to like here in lively, emotional performances that resonate as part of a mini-narrative.
Eventually the star does arrive, and on some nights that star is none other than renowned mezzo-soprano Jennifer Larmore (She performs the role Oct. 3 and 5. Atlanta Opera Studio Artist mezzo-soprano Gina Perregrino performs the role Oct. 4 and 6). Larmore is best-known for her performances in coloratura and bel canto roles (she is making her role debut as Anna I with the Atlanta Opera) but one of her many strong qualities is the ability to truly act in a theatrical sense, an often all-too-rare quality in bel canto singers. It serves her especially well here. She’s intense as Anna I, the absolute center of the show, and her lush voice sounds splendid in the intimate setting. She brings out fascinating, sinister qualities of introspection and confession in the piece. Her arrival is certainly worth the wait.
Dancer Meg Gillentine performs as Anna II, and director Brian Clowdus effectively uses her to play with the idea of doubling, dressing the two lead performers identically and using full-length mirrors on wheels as moving set-pieces throughout the show. Gillentine’s interesting choreography integrates the show’s song and story, sound and visuals, one of the most challenging aspects of staging “Sins,” I would imagine.
Conductor Rolando Salazar’s musical world is effective, if sparse; by the end, I found myself longing for more intricacy and detail from more instruments than the small, pared-down venue provided. And performing the show in English certainly makes it more accessible, but the original language would better suit the production’s sinister, surreal vibe.
Although “The Seven Deadly Sins” is not technically an opera, the production is certainly operatic in a significant way: What Clowdus and the performers evoke is opera’s ability, through a synthesis of music and theater, to create a weird, hallucinatory, immersive world. Ticket-holders who get the chance to experience it should count themselves lucky: The remaining performances are nearly all sold out.
Atlanta Opera presents “The Seven Deadly Sins”
$50. Through Oct. 6. Le Maison Rouge at Paris on Ponce, 716 Ponce De Leon Pl NE