Salvage Vanguard Theatre The Cry Pitch Carrolls (Salvage Vanguard Theater)
The Cry Pitch Carrolls (Salvage Vanguard Theatre)
Reviewed by Greg Beets, Fri., May 25, 2001
Salvage Vanguard Theatre
The Cry Pitch Carrolls (Salvage Vanguard Theater)Losing your bearings on reality in a darkened theater is one of life's great treasures. Being in the moment with the actors, close enough to reach out and touch it, can never be replicated. Herein lies the challenge of listening to the Salvage Vanguard Theater's live cast recording of Ruth E. Margraff's opera The Cry Pitch Carrolls, produced locally in the fall of 1999. Set in the snow-blanketed town of Ishpeming, Michigan, this Christmas tale follows three widows through their transforming encounter with the Amazing Bible Smuggler's Wife (April Matthis) and her fully grown son, Small Christus (Joseph Meissner). The sometimes-lilting, sometimes-brutal score is provided by Austin's multi-media savvy Golden Arm Trio. Their overture, which contrasts light vibes with dark strings, deftly conveys the conflicting emotions that come when the joy of Christmas is overshadowed by loss. Matthis' deep, sorrowful vocal on "Road to Emmeus Carroll" is equally moving. Unlike a typical studio cast recording, The Cry Pitch Carrolls was recorded live as it happened, revealing both intimacies and imperfections in the environment. While this gets you as close to the action as any CD possibly could, the ever-present knowledge of unseen visuals, expressions, and movements can be quite frustrating at times. In this respect, knowledge of the opera's content is a helpful prerequisite. On the other hand, perhaps this aural souvenir serves its optimal purpose by not giving it all away. The only way to know is to be there next time.