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Opera in the Rock's fully staged production of William Grant Still's opera Troubled Island (libretto by Langston Hughes and Verna Arvey) featured fantastic voices Friday night at the Center for Humanities and Arts at the University Arkansas-Pulaski Technical College. But the static staging undercut them.

The opera (in English with supertitles) involves the rise and fall of Jean Jacques Dessalines (fine baritone Ronald Jensen-McDaniel), leader of a 1791 Haitian slave revolt, becomes emperor and falls at the hand of jealous aide Vuval (skyscraping tenor Charles A. Moore).

The cast sings superbly but director Arlene Biebesheimer doesn't give them enough scope onstage -- too much "park and bark." Four dancers, choreographed by Lisa Harper, provide some help. Accompanying conductor Paul Dickinson: pianist Janine Tiner and some offstage drums.

All reassemble at 3 p.m. Sunday at Pulaski Tech, 3000 W. Scenic Drive, North Little Rock. For ticket information, visit oitr.org or at uaptc.edu/charts.

Metro on 05/05/2018

Print Headline: Opera voices fine but staging static

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