Midas in Milwaukee

Kamran Ince conducting the premiere of Judgment of Midas, at UWM's Zelazo Center

Kamran Ince conducting the premiere of Judgment of Midas, at UWM’s Zelazo Center for the Performing Arts. All photos here by Susan Spangler.

Pan, sung by Jennifer Goltz  (to left of Kamran Ince), during the music contest

Pan, sung by Jennifer Goltz (to left of Kamran Ince – yes, the part was cross-cast), during the music contest.

Left to right: singers Gregory Gerbrandt and Abigail Fischer, Miriam and Kamran clapping for the orchestra

Left to right: singers Philip Horst, Gregory Gerbrandt and Abigail Fischer, Miriam and Kamran clapping for the orchestra. The projected image is by Crawford Greenewalt Jr., depicting the participants in the legendary music contest as an ancient mosaic.

Judgment of Midas premiered in Milwaukee last week, and I’m still buzzing. It was an incredible experience. Kevin Stalheim, who leads Present Music, and Jill Anna Polasek of Milwaukee Opera Theater, succeeded in making this wonderful production feel like an opera, even though it was “semi-staged.” Kamran Ince, the composer, conducted the Present Music ensemble, expanded to small orchestra size and including five Turkish musicians. The soloists lined up concert-style to sing, but each one created their characters in place: Franny and Theo, the contemporary couple visiting the ancient ruins of Sardis; the guide Melik/King Midas; and the Gods Apollo, Pan and Tmolus. Projected images and digital lighting on the Zelazo Center stage gave the performances a visual presence and operatic scale.

I felt the piece coming alive, and the audience being pulled in to it, as Kamran’s thrilling, high-octane music, the story and words, the beautiful singing and playing, and the visuals came together into a single whole. I’m so grateful to everyone who gave their best to this production. Both nights were captured on audio and video, and we are looking ahead, hoping Midas will continue to develop and be seen again.

About Miriam Seidel

Writer and librettist. Love Nikola Tesla, adventurous fiction, art and music.
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4 Responses to Midas in Milwaukee

  1. And don’t forget the full houses and standing ovations each night!

  2. Diane Pieri says:

    Thanks for the vivid description of opening night events. I could feel your buzz through the computer! Kudos to you and everyone for this fantastic creative vision and effort.

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