Wednesday, August 20, 2014

FringeNYC benefits: "La Donna Improvvisata"

Lisa Flanagan (photo: Michael Kroll)
Improvised by Lisa Flanagan
Improvised Music by Frank Spitznagel
Directed by T.J. Mannix

"A witch!" cries a man to my rear, without hesitation, choosing one of fifteen possible operatic roles. "A condescending witch," another audience member quickly elaborates. Similarly, four specific musical notes are selected my fellow viewers. 

And so begins an hour of opera improvised, from start to triumphant finish, by soprano Lisa Flanagan and pianist Frank Spitznagel. It might sound like a gimmick--and one with no guarantee of success--but it turns out to be one of FringeNYC 2014's most innovative theatrical formats. 

When you see La Donna Improvvisata this Friday or Sunday, it will be completely different. Spitznagel's thunderous, threatening opening from this afternoon will be replaced by something new. Casually-dressed and ponytailed Flanagan will embody a different central archetype--perhaps Sorcerer or Maiden, Soldier or Temptress--crafting a plot that arcs from problem to resolution with a whole lot of song and physical action in between. She will move from character to character, mood to mood, cleverly rhyming lyrics on the fly. She will do this with nothing but her agile imagination and a trio of plain black boxes for a set.

This woman's opera auditions must be interesting. (Er...what's that she's singing?) If her voice gets a little tiring after about a half-hour or so, her chipper, sunny smile and undeniable gutsiness maintain their appeal. And that melodic, Broadway-ish number she whipped up late in today's show--call it "Quiet Little Street," perhaps--could be a viable thing. Lisa, I hope you remember what you made up there. It's good.

Remaining shows:

Friday, August 22, 7:30pm
Sunday, August 24, 3:30pm


The White Box
440 Lafayette St, 3rd Floor (Astor Place and East 4th Street), Manhattan

For all things FringeNYC, click below.

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