Lyric Opera’s One-Acts Connect with Audiences

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Laura Sage in “The Human Voice” by Francis Poulenc.

Combining two one-act operas that deal with communication and relationships, The Lyric Opera of Los Angeles’ presentation at the Fremont Centre Theatre features a stylish and creative production filled with excellent singing. While the two musical works are over 50-years-old, their focus on connecting and communicating are very much relevant today as society deals with the rudeness of interrupting people to answer cellphones.

“The Telephone” by Gian Carlo Menotti examines how a constantly ringing phone interrupts the important question a man (Jay Stephenson) is trying to ask of his sweetheart (Laura Sage). Both singers give expressive, animated performances revealing as much in their bodies and facial expressions as their voices. Stephenson possesses a fine baritone that explodes with frustration at his girlfriend’s constant chatting. While her voice is a little thin, Sage’s singing perfectly captures both the gossipy and flirty sides, trilling and gliding out runs.

Sage also stars in “The Human Voice” by Jean Cocteau and Francis Poulenc, playing a woman carrying on her last telephone conversation with a former lover as he prepares to marry another. She coos, pleads, and cries with frustration very well, but the act tends to drag a little. The music is reminiscent in parts to Poulenc’s “Gloria.”

Musical director and accompanist Robert Sage superbly supports the singers, while adding nice color of his own.

Josh Shaw’s set design is a witty and elegant presentation of later art deco, and Maggie Green’s and Sage’s beautiful vintage clothes complete the spot-on look.

The Lyric Opera of Los Angeles presents “Comedy or Tragedy: It All Depends on Who’s Calling! The Telephone/The Human Voice” on Friday and Saturday nights at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. through Feb. 5 at the Fremont Centre Theatre located at 1000 Fremont Ave. in South Pasadena. Tickets cost $25; $20 for students/groups/seniors. Please call (866) 811-4111 or visit www.lyricoperala.org.

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