Opening Night at the Oregon Bach Festival: Pretty Music, Then A Half-Wild Yawp

The Oregon Bach Festival usually kicks off with a great deal of excitement and buzz, at least for aficionados: Helmuth Rilling is back! Look, there’s our favorite OBF oboist! And oh, what a superb chorus!

The Bach Festival this year started not with a bang, but with a soft ramp up, an easy path that became more varied and interesting as the evening went on. But if not for a post-intermission piece of rather surprising programming, the entire thing could have been a particularly decent night at a (top) city symphony.

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Play On: Oregon Shakespeare Festival Summer Season, Part II

Archbishop of Canterbury (Richard Howard) assures Henry V (John Tufts) that there is no bar to his claim to France. Photo by T. Charles Erickson.

So I started off yesterday (well, Wednesday) with the Greeks as a theme, but Medea/Macbeth/Cinderella segues perfectly into the next two themes:

Music and Marriage

That bwessed awangement, that dweam wifin a dweam

Right, that, but I want to start with the food of love: music.

Oregon Shakespeare Festival artistic director Bill Rauch has never hidden his love for musicals; 2009’s Music Man was one of his first smash hits as artistic director, and he’s had a surprising number of live musicians onstage for many plays since. But I have noticed an uptick in music within the plays that aren’t musicals since Rauch came on board permanently in 2008.

Shakespeare, as I was told by my high school “Shakespeare on Stage” teacher (Ms. Berit Lindboe, if you ever read this, this entire thing is your fault, and by “thing,” I mean my life as a Shakespeare addictnerd), liked to put songs in his comedies. Thank god our high school class never had to make up tunes to go along with the lyrics. But I digress: The point is that under Rauch, the festival has gone hog-wild with the music. Continue reading