With zombie themed horror rising to popularity in recent years, and opera fading away from the mainstream of pop culture, how can such a small production claim relevance?
Well, philosophically, the concept of Maelstrom, alone, has exactly the kind of intention behind it that the world could use more of. Maelstrom manages to take the extremely powerful, yet very old art form that is opera and reintroduces it to the viewer by use of familiar themes.
In the horror genre, when you experiment with contagious viruses you’re just asking for zombies. In the opera genre, when you have a love of music you’re just asking to feel the emotions.
This production has all of the classic zombie themed elements and all of the classic opera themes that could be expected. The zombies are a more original kind; they are born of a tampered with infectious virus on the loose. They walk slowly and have strength in numbers.
Opera, the other half of this coin, pays tribute to it’s roots.
The original score is reminiscent of Verdi, Beethoven and Zeppelin. What I did not expect was to find that the two could be paired like wine and cheese or tomato soup and grilled cheese or cheese and anything. But which is the cheese in this analogy? The zombies or the opera? Well thankfully, neither one came off as cheesy.
That being said, the gore was a bit weak. But to be fair, how well could someone realistically portray one person ripping out the internal organs of another on a live stage?
They did the best that they could with the budget that they had and they made up for it with the blood that flew all over. So there really was no shortage queasy cannibal action.
The venue implied an element of community theater but I could tell that the show was not just slapped together. It is clear that Opera Bend isn’t messing around. The musicians’ pit and the four primary roles were all filled by hired professionals, and the director’s eye for detail is keen.
Maelstrom is a lot of things. It’s darn funny, it’s dramatic, it’s bloody gruesome, and it has original music. Those are not the reasons that make it great though. Any two bit production could have some combo of enjoyable themes. What makes Maelstrom great is the abundant love of it expressed by those involved.
The director and co-writer of Maelstrom, Ben Larson, had many high reviews from cast members who felt he had poured his heart and soul into this show. And, the whole cast seems to be genuinely enjoying themselves.
COCC music major, Gracie DeWilde said that she, “Loved working with Ben”. She’s not the only one, Larson’s awesomeness, genuine kindness, and immense passion for his art was expressed by almost everyone that was spoken with. The way that everything is so precisely orchestrated and directed causes the show to flows nicely. Also the manipulation of time has an interesting effect on the viewer; it feels as if you’re a part of what is happening.
Producer, Jason Stein said it best, “opera is great art”.
The show was very entertaining, and fun! I thoroughly enjoyed Maelstrom-The Zombie Opera, I give my compliments and best wishes to all involved.
Larry Farrington | The Broadside