Reviews

Critical Acclaim

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED The River Styx has come to West Town ...so brilliantly conceived and so beautifully executed that it transcends the composer-lyricist's often overly simple 55-minute song cycle and takes its poolside audience back to the depths and richness of the original myth of love, death and longing on either side of that dreaded waterway.

Andrew Patner Chicago Sun-Times

...a radicalized version of Luigi Cherubini’s “Medea”. The setting is an indistinct postmodern time zone. Jason, in a white dinner jacket and loose tie leaves Medea for Dirce, a Paris Hilton-like party girl -- the daughter of a creepy Creon, king of Corinth. Medea is a sorceress, one arm snaked with sinuous tattoos, in a modern gown.

The production begins with an excerpt from Euripides as prologue before the overture. And Mitisek had the brilliant stroke to use the orchestral introduction of Act 3 as background music for a vivid description of Medea’s exploits of destruction taken from Corneille and devastatingly declaimed by Southwell (her eyes penetrating like lasers) and Dirce’s two serving maids (Ariel Pisturino and Diana Tash).

Mitisek conducted his fine small orchestra with exactly the right combination of classical discipline and dramatic fire.

★★★★...based on an inspired idea of general director Andreas Mitisek...brilliantly carried out, in a sparing staging and production design by Mitisek that are pure theatrical magic.

John von Rhein Chicago Tribune

...stunning new production of Astor Piazzolla and Horacio Ferrer’s “Maria de Buenos Aires. A 70-minute tour de force. The unity of conception is everywhere. Long Beach Opera has another hit on its hands.

Philip Glass’s “Akhnaten” yet another exciting success for Long Beach Opera...[the] superlative creative leadership of Andrea Mitisek, whom, it seems, is increasingly impossible to over praise. He is conductor, production designer and stage director, and it would be difficult to claim he handled one department less well than another.

David Gregson Opera West

Mitisek's concept was to view both operas as interior dramas by self-destructive men. For Copeland's half-hour "Tell-Tale Heart", Mitisek littered the stage with litter, homeless people, hookers and (get it?) the police (including a fat one munching on doughnuts). The production turns Copeland's literal retelling of the short story into a flashy, grisly, sexy saga of a serial-killing Poe in a wheelchair.

Smart direction and production design by Mitisek, the company's man-of-all-trades, offered one startling tableau after another. Having Lorca crowd-surf on a sea of dead partisans was brilliant, if grotesque. An aesthetic and musical success, offering a strong artistic vision and sound execution throughout. More to the point, it illustrated in stark relief the clearly defined role LBO plays in the Southern California cultural landscape.

The production by COT artistic director Andreas Mitisek... was an object lesson in resourceful use of limited means. The youthful ensemble was clad in black body suits, complemented by a cape here or a helmet there for character designation. All carried long wooden staffs which, when combined with evocative projected images of seascapes and medieval stonework, variously served as weaponry, a thicket of sheltering trees, or the oars of a majestic ship. A storm at sea was cleverly achieved as each held their staff horizontally, and swayed rhythmically to and fro while raising and lowering each pole in a carefully calibrated wavelike motion. One could almost feel the force of the ocean beneath them. The effect was spare and straight to the senses, much like the music itself. This mounting represented Mitisek at his innovative best.

★★★½ With Mitisek's incisive direction and austere but imaginative production design emphasizing the expressionistic aspects, one is swept up in the action and held at rapt attention for the duration. Through skillful editing and eliminating intermissions, COT's "Macbeth" runs a taut two hours. ...a gripping production.

The ‘60s visuals continued into the Puccini, as “Elle’s” solitary apartment gave way to a swirling projected environment of psychedelic pink, orange, and lime green with groovy period couture to match. This all created an ambiance of kaleidoscopic chaos as the Donati family squabbled greedily away. One occasionally had the impression the cast had wandered onto the set of The Dating Game, but it was colorful and funny, and framed the mounting’s over-the-top characterizations delightfully. COT’s double bill was a diverting and very creative theatrical evening.

'Love Potion' casts a haunting spell... poetic production directed and designed by Mitisek cast a spell of their own, Mitisek's austere production is like a mystical ritual that exists beyond time. The singers, garbed in simple modern attire, bear wooden poles that suggest variously spears, oars, trees and a headboard for the dying knight Tristan. The performers rise from seated positions to voice their parts, while video projections of sea, sailcloth, forest and storm play across the theater screen behind them.

Long Beach Opera's 'Fallujah' tackles the Iraq war with authentic anguish. In almost every way "Fallujah" is Long Beach Opera at its unique best, bringing awareness through heightened emotion in ways only opera can. Its theatrical immediacy can leave you numb, and suffering well served is no small thing. You exit the armory shaken and righteously angry.

...exuberant production, directed and designed by COT general director Andreas Mitisek... If all this sounds like an edgy contemporary cross between "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Cabaret," you'd be right. Chicago Opera Theater's reimagining of Henry Purcell's 1692 masque "The Fairy Queen" is perhaps the gayest show in town, and may just be the silliest as well, with laughs and elegant baroque tunes in abundance.

John von Rhein Chicago Tribune

A gamble pays off: Long Beach Opera transports 1692 'Fairy Queen' to modern-day Vegas. Mitisek’s invention is not so much to take what he wants from Purcell’s score where and when he wants it, which of course he does do, but to let the nature of Purcell’s music lead him into new theatrical solutions.

Thanks to conductor Andreas Mitsek, the company’s artistic and general director, Glass’ score retained its commanding vitality...

Mark Swed LA Times

Glass' score, with its trademark pulsing ostinatos and swirling arpeggios — brilliantly played by a 40-piece orchestra and firmly conducted by Mitisek.

John von Rhein Chicago Tribune