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The Dallas Opera | Becoming Santa Claus (DVD)

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Classical: Opera Holiday: Classical Moods: Mood: Christmas
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Becoming Santa Claus (DVD)

by The Dallas Opera

Becoming Santa Claus is Mark Adamo’s enchanting answer to the question “Where did Santa come from?” This lively and poignant, tune-filled contemporary opera features colorful characters – both familiar and exotic – and a family doing its best to come closer together.
Genre: Classical: Opera
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1. Becoming Santa Claus (Live)
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Presence vs. Presents: Becoming Santa Claus
In a remote kingdom in the far, far North, four harried palace Elves are sweating the last details of the thirteenth birthday party of the notoriously picky Prince Claus. Queen Sophine cajoles her son into attending only with the promise that his uncles—the three Kings of Christmas legend—will appear. But at the last minute, they are called away by news of a mysterious star and a newborn baby destined to change the world. The stung Prince decides to make a trove of magical toys for the child and pay tribute his way: but it doesn’t work out quite as planned…
With his sparkling libretto and kaleidoscopically varied score, composer-librettist Mark Adamo (Little Women) invents a wise, witty holiday parable “likely to be a seasonal favorite of operas companies across the country” (Dallas Edge.) Experience this world-premiere performance from The Dallas Opera, with its “remarkably strong cast, visually stunning production, spectacular stage direction and fantastic conducting and playing from the pit” (D Magazine) and you may never think of Christmas the same way again.

Reviews:

A superbly conceived and crafted opera….Becoming Santa Claus is an impressive literary and musical accomplishment. In its score, Becoming Santa Claus offers dizzying complexity but produces constantly engaging, striking musical effects; and Adamo pulls off a remarkable literary trick in managing to absorb the Christian nativity narrative into a broadly universal (and post-Christian) fable, while opening yet another pathway on his remarkable exploration of what an opera and an opera libretto can be.
-Wayne Lee Gay, American Record Guide


A brilliant sensory onslaught.
-Scott Cantrell, Opera News

A delightfully inventive and over-the-top holiday show that explores Santa’s backstory with wit and whimsy.
-Catherine Womack, D Magazine

Enchanting and full of wonder…Mark Adamo’s charming Becoming Santa Claus is likely to become a seasonal favorite for opera companies across the country.
-Drew Jackson, Dallas Edge

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Reviews


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Joseph Newsome, Voix des Artes, December 16, 2017

Open-hearted amazement
“Like Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel, in which there are themes far darker than those explored in many productions, Becoming Santa Claus is not a pièce d’occasion to be performed only when the jingling of sleigh bells perforates the air. No: without eschewing the Technicolor pageantry of the season, Mark Adamo’s Becoming Santa Claus tells a very straightforward story—a boy destined to become a man of worldwide prominence must first grow into a man capable of understanding why the part that he plays is relevant—and Adamo produced a score in which the quest for individual purpose that is the soul of the story forms the foundation of the music’s structure; the development of thematic material in the music complements the interplay of ideas in the text, the musicality of the composer’s libretto meticulously matched with the poetry of his music… Both the vocal writing and the orchestrations in Becoming Santa Claus exude ingenuity, but the score’s complexities never mask the opera’s inherent simplicity. The operas of too few contemporary composers exhibit genuine affinity for writing for voices, and one of the greatest accomplishments of Becoming Santa Claus is the adroitness of Adamo’s vocal craftsmanship. Even when dizzyingly difficult, the angular vocal lines are singable and memorable—the hallmarks of effective opera whether composed by Mozart, Verdi, Gounod, Wagner, or Adamo… The Dallas Opera’s production of Becoming Santa Claus movingly affirms that, even for the most famous bringer of holiday joy, it is indeed a gift to be simple.”
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Arthur Anderson, Theatre Jones: November 15, 2017

An important premiere, a landmark performance, a great production
“I long ago resigned myself to the fact that I won't witness firsthand every important premiere, every landmark performance, every great production that lands within traveling distance. That's one reason why I so strongly welcome The Dallas Opera's publication of the Dec. 6, 2015, performance of Becoming Santa Claus.)

I was absolutely unprepared for how much I like the opera: it's anything but forced, and it's only a pastiche in theory. Adamo is remarkably skillful in the way he takes practically every aspect of the modern American celebration of Christmas—toys, the birth of Jesus, parties, toys, "the day off," toys, and a lot more—and weaves them into a story that is coherent, engaging, thought-provoking, and fun. We should also credit the composer/librettist for his refreshingly deep scrutiny of one custom in particular, and it's an examination of which Marcel Mauss would be proud: without undue moralizing, Adamo manages to throw light on disconcerting aspects of the practice of gift-giving, and he does so without resorting to the phrase "true meaning of Christmas…” I'm reluctant to use the word "singlehandedly" in this case, because there are so many hands that went into making this DVD, from the singers (Jonathan Blalock and Hila Plitmann stand out, particularly) to the WFAA production staff; and I mustn't leave out the handbell ringers, who provided one of the most enduring emotional punches of the performance. Nevertheless, here goes: Singlehandedly this DVD may have cured me of my tendency to shut my mind to anything new that takes aim at the true meaning of Christmas.”
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