Music Appreciation 101
July 9, 2010
Opera Idaho heads outdoors this summer with a new kind of performance. Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “South Pacific” will come alive under the stars at the Botanical Garden this weekend. The original Broadway production of “South Pacific” debuted in 1949 and is based on the Pulitzer Prize winning novel by James A. Michener, entitled Tales of the South Pacific. Opera Idaho’s adaptation stars soprano Leslie Mauldin as nurse Nellie Forbush while baritone Brett Hamilton plays her love interest, Emile De Beque. “South Pacific” tells about loves, losses and challenges of American servicemen and servicewoman stationed on a small island during World War II. Its themes of war, racism and love are still relevant today.
This was my first experience seeing any adaptation of the musical “South Pacific”, so I was quite surprise that most of the songs were very familiar. I was also surprised when I arrived at the dress rehearsal and recognized the lead, Leslie Mauldin, as the mother of one of my sons’ classmates. The performance is backed by a full orchestra which provides a deep, rich and thick textured sound. At first, the dress rehearsal appeared to be disorganized and I worried that I would not be able to get a true representation of the performance. But, not to worry, after about 30 minutes, the cast began their complete run through. The rehearsal opened as a naïve young nurse from Arkansas (Nellie) meets a French plantation owner (Emile) at the Officer’s Club. She sings the song “A Cockeyed Optimist” which is likely to be the least recognizable song of the production. Of all the songs the cast performed, the ones that were most appealing to me were “Some Enchanted Evening”, “There is Nothin’ Like a Dame” and “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair”. In “Some Enchanted Evening”, Emile recalls fondly his first meeting with Nellie at the officer’s club dinner. Brett Hamilton...