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Victorian Virtue

Patience pays off for Lyric Opera Cleveland.


Lyric Opera's move from the Cleveland Institute of Music to the more conducive environs of the Cleveland Play House puts it several steps up the evolutionary ladder. With the better acoustics of the Drury Theatre, audiences can savor every pungent witticism that makes up Patience, the company's second production of the summer. Premiering in 1881, this comic operetta can be looked upon as a Victorian variation of Bye, Bye, Birdie, relating how two preening poets wreak havoc on the psyches of a coterie of corseted maidens. Just as Birdie encapsulated and skewered the swivel hips and foibles of Elvis Presley and his ilk, this Gilbert and Sullivan delight cunningly goes after the precursors to today's superstars -- those 19th-century, lilac-scented Oscar Wilde dandies. This production's greatest asset is Marian Vogel, singing gorgeously in the title role. The first act doesn't quite capture all the comic nuances of the text, but by act two, everything jells, becoming lucid and joyful. Philip Kraus's direction and Dennis Northway's conducting are exquisite in their detail. The cast does justice to Sullivan's music, which even after more than a hundred years lilts like a thousand butterflies. Audiences have only through Thursday to appreciate the virtues of Patience; next up is the modern opera I Was Looking at the Ceiling, and Then I Saw the Sky.

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