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The Toledo Opera’s I Dream World Premiere Astounds, Delights Audiences

By Fletcher Word
Sojourner’s Truth Editor

During the intermission for the opera I Dream, which had its world premiere last weekend, courtesy of the Toledo Opera and the Valentine Theatre, audience members could be overheard marveling at how wonderful the production had been in the first act – the music, the singing, the choreography, were all praised effusively. Then the unexpected happened in the second act – the opera got better.

There is, in fact, a scene in the second act that takes place in a jail cell occupied by Martin (Derrick Davis), Hosea (Victor Ryan Robertson) and Ralph (Ken Overton) and that occurs after the Selma march. The scene might well be the highlight of the show. The three argue about the tactics being employed in the voting rights fight. Hosea, who is never totally convinced of the merits of non-violence, expresses his doubts that love will conquer all in an aria that Robertson delivers in his wonderful tenor that seems to settle the question. Martin, not to be second-guessed in his view that non-violence is the answer, then replies in an aria that allows Davis’ voice to soar to the heavens ending with the phrase “let freedom ring.” The audience had expressed their approval of the Hosea aria enthusiastically but the Martin reply brought the house down.

I Dream is a triumph. The music is delightful, powerful, expressive and left this audience member wondering where a recording could be found. The story of the last 36 hours of King’s life as he reflects back on his childhood, his college days, the triumphs of the Montgomery bus boycott and the Selma march, the disappointment when he feels that his life has lost meaning, is mesmerizing, and the pace of the opera is breathtaking with not a dull moment in the production, it just moves smartly along.

The five guest artists are fabulous – Davis, Overton and Robertson, as noted. Laquita Mitchell as Coretta is a soprano whose voice has power and warmth. Mitchell has become a regular visitor to the Glass City. Two years ago she sang Bess in the Toledo Opera’s Porgy and Bess and last year in The Marriage of Figaro, she sang the role of Countess.

Rounding out the slate of guest artists is Krysty Swann, an acclaimed mezzo-soprano who sang the role of Grandma, appearing in Martin’s early and late reflections on his life.

The guest artists are indeed fabulous but kudos also to the local singers and dancers who were critical parts of the show’s success, a number of whom sang a variety of roles.

The Toledo Opera’s production of I Dream, the creation of composer/librettist Douglas Tappin, directed by Daniel Goldstein and conducted by Carl Marsh, is a remarkable production but not without a major flaw – it’s over. Gone after one short weekend, leaving thousands of Toledoans without the opportunity to see and hear, leaving many of those who did see and hear it wishing they could do so again.





Copyright © 2018 by [The Sojourner's Truth]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 08/16/18 14:12:11 -0700.

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