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Musical Arts Center - Indiana University
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Indiana University Opera Theater's "The Last Savage" a must see

by Rita Kohn
November 14, 2014
Musical Arts Center - Indiana University
101 North Jordan Ave
Bloomington, IN 47406
(812) 855-7433
This review was originally published in NUVO Newsweekly, Indianapolis, IN.

Rita Kohn is a member of the Board of the Dance Critics Association.
Menotti's "The Last Savage" is delightful and insightful in the sense that Gilbert & Sullivan operettas make us laugh at our foibles and help us see why. Set in early 1960s, Menotti shows us in the midst of taking ourselves very seriously in perfectly silly situations. Kitty, a pretentious Vassar student is chasing after academic fame based on an airy anthropology premise, her billionaire father (Mr. Scattergood) is panicked a Democratic party sweep in upcoming elections will lessen the hold of the wealthy, an equally wealthy Marajaha of Rajaputatana needs to balance his holding with an American liaison, his Maharanee, with an obvious past pulls the strings and a quartet of young people are mashing up love in the making. It ends unpredictably predictable and along the way we get to enjoy a lot of fine singing, excellent acting and dancing, and production elements right out of TV kitsch. Matching up 50 years ago stuff we watched on the tube and jet setters we followed in tabloids is a bit of an audience parlor game; it feels like the Flintstones are sitting alongside us. The setting and costumes dazzle with an inside joke about signage. Menotti unabashedly skewers every aspect of society in the US and India. The large cast delivers an impeccably campy production, never losing sight of what makes funny fun. Director Ned Canty obviously loves this work that pleased audiences at its 1964 premiere but earned the scorn of critics. Timing was a factor when fluff wasn't in tune with unsettling national and world events. Nearly fifty years later, Canty says it's timely to revisit our take on civilization and high society—and lo and behold, here we are at the cusp of 2015 pushing hard to go back to simpler ways of life—farm to table being but one aspect of restructuring. You'll be touched by Scattergood's sharply edged patter about the plight of a billionaire, Abdul's anthem to his natural surroundings as the so-called 'last savage' in India, Prince Kodanda's ballad of love for the servant girl Sardula and Kitty's soliloquy of awakening to reality. Kyle Lang's choreography is part impish, part Martha Graham-like. Constantine Kitsopoulos conducts with a sure hand to showcase Menotti's subtleties to define characters. Based on the production originally designed for and created by The Santa Fe Opera in 2011, this is a don't miss, must see IU Opera Theater production. Catch the joy Nov. 20 at 7 p.m. and Nov. 21 at 8 p.m. at the MAC in Bloomington.
Photo Courtesy of Indiana University Opera Theater.

Photo Courtesy of Indiana University Opera Theater.


Photo Courtesy of Indiana University Opera Theater.

Photo Courtesy of Indiana University Opera Theater.


Photo Courtesy of Indiana University Opera Theater.

Photo Courtesy of Indiana University Opera Theater.

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