THE CRY OF THE BEAST
A review by Christopher Bernard
An opera written and composed by Peter Maxwell Davies
Produced by Opera Parallèle
April 29 – May 1, 2016
The Grim Reaper’s over-exercised blade this year – which has seen the loss of so many figures from popular culture, from David Bowie to Merle Haggard, from Patty Duke to Alan Rickman – has not spared high culture. The Hungarian writer and Nobel laureate (and Holocaust witness and survivor) Imre Kertesz died this spring, and also Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, arguably – or rather, inarguably – Great Britain’s most significant composer since the death of Benjamin Britten.
By coincidence, serendipity or synchronicity, Opera Parallèle (San Francisco’s production company of modern opera), was preparing a new production of Davies’ most popular dramatic work. And the fine results, a triumph of talent over budget, were on view this spring over a handful of performances in San Francisco’s Z Space at Theater Artaud. These were dedicated to his memory, and it’s a great shame he didn’t live to see them: I think it’s fair to say he would have been more than happy, not only from the point of view of musical integrity and skill, but also of inventive and satisfying staging.
We wonder, sometimes, about families we see,
Are they happy and content as they should be.
Behind their closed doors there may be strife
Affecting their home and always their life.
What makes a family so sad and despaired
There may not be enough love shared
That makes a person whole and happy and content
But that love has to be shown and really meant.
People yearn for a life that will bring the love they need
And, without knowing, we have planted the seed.
Heart and Soul of Atheism
Reviewer, Holly Sisson, MA
Patty Lesser’s newest novel, The Perfect Hand, appears for its readers as a reflection of our modern technological world where privacy is debatable, espionage is commonplace- both as harmless acts of social media stalking and more dangerous forms of mind control. And walking through the dangers of world domination begun while hiding behind invisible walls is just what you will get in this 1990s-Milennial mashup of dogma versus atheistic scientists. The plot spirals around how people respond to the hand of life they are dealt and is woven with by the courageous hearts and minds of five friends and their families willing to go the distance.
In contrast to some of her earlier novels Patty’s New Englander charm shows up in a writing style that is direct and to the point. Not a lot of fluff or buildup. Her character development is quick and she jumps right into the story with poker metaphors driven by morality for the greater good in society.