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Lincoln & Booth "Well Worth The Risk"
The Ark Beat
March 22, 2012
By Carol Benet, Arts Writer

artist "New operas are a rarity. New operas in Marin and by Marin composers are more of a rarity."

The Golden Gate Opera's founder artistic director and general manager, Roberta Wain- Becker, is a brave woman in staging a new one. Since 2005, she has produced many of the old chestnuts that are a natural for bringing in local audiences, but a new opera such as "Lincoln & Booth," no matter how historical it is, is a hard sell. Yet historical operas are a way to entertain and instruct, as Horace declared. Much of Italian opera is historical and all was new at one point.

Wain-Becker's genius in choosing a fine cast and technical team is one of the ingredients for success. The conductor, Geoffrey Gallegos, the young cast of excellent singers and concert pianist Temirzhan Yerzhanov, who played the only accompaniment over the three hours, are important finds.

"Lincoln & Booth" was created by Mill Valley composer John Cepelak and his wife, librettist Christina Rose. The story puts a new light on the Lincoln-Booth saga by taking well-known sequences from the life of President Abraham Lincoln and wife Mary Todd, two of their sons, the conspirators and a few of the other politicians and workers - and by adding little-known vignettes.

Starting with the Lincolns entering the White House for the first time, one of Mary Todd's (Jacqueline Goldgorin) tasks is to meet with Elizabeth Keckley (Alexandra Sessler), her black decorator. Both the Lincolns were accepting of others no matter what their race or position. This was a theme repeated during the opera, especially in the bits about Lincoln insisting that his aide, Sam Everyman (Jason Sarton), call him "Abe."

Tiburon residents ably performed in the work. Noah Griffin played the part of Frederick Douglass, while two boy sopranos, Bel Aire Elementary School students Jack O'Neill and Bobby MocInerney played the roles of Lincoln's sons Willie and Tad, respectively. Tiburon's Dr. Gideon Y. Sorokin was one of the sponsors of the opera.

Stage director Edna Garabedian and costume designer Wendy Kauffman provided a colorful action-filled show. Set designer Amilocar Farraro and his crew did a miraculous job of creating the White House, the gala ball and the Ford Theater on the large, barren stage of Angelico Hall at Dominican University, where the opera had just two public performances on March 10-11. To its credit, Angelico Hall - another good choice by Wain-Becker - is an acoustically excellent music venue.

Watch for the Golden Gate Opera's productions and programs in the schools. For more information, visit www.goldengateopera.org.

Arts writer Carol Benet, a Belvedere resident since 1969, earned a Ph.D. in comparative literature from UP Berkeley. She has been with The Ark since 1975.

Check out some of our other reviews for Lincoln & Booth
Social Scene 1
Social Scene 2
Independent Journal - February 7, 2012
Independent Journal - February 24, 2012
Independent Journal - March 1, 2012
Independent Journal - March 8, 2012
Independent Journal - March 13, 2012
Marin Scope - February 29, 2012
San Francisco Chronicle - March 8

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