ryan macpherson

Ryan MacPherson (l) and the rest of the ensemble cast of Postcard from Morocco. Photo: Cory Weaver.

Ryan MacPherson (l) and the rest of the ensemble cast of Postcard from Morocco. Photo: Cory Weaver.

by KATIE TAYLOR

For about the first 15 minutes, I was prepared to hate Postcard from Morocco. But thanks mostly to fresh, spontaneous sounding performances, and to composer Dominick Argento’s inability to tolerate writing obscure atonal music for very long, it won me over. You get the strong impression of a composer who wants his performers and his audience to enjoy themselves.

Still, this Postcard didn’t win me to the extent that I now understand why it is so frequently performed. Both musically and as a piece of theater, it feels very dated to its self-consciously cryptic early ‘70s origin — the beginning of the seemingly endless trend in the arts toward throwing something on the stage and expecting the audience to accept it as meaningful even if you haven’t the first idea what you meant by it. I’m willing to climb on board if I receive early evidence that I’m in good hands — that the librettist/playwright/painter, etc. is crazy like a fox rather than lazy like a fox. Librettist John Donahue falls into the lazy camp, Argento into the crazy — and that’s what makes this opera work to the extent that it does.

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