by Ron Cohen · October 6, 2015
The title of this show is The Lost Voice in French, but Bridget Hogan nevertheless brings a dazzling display of vocal dexterity and frequent musical gorgeousness to La Voix Perdue, an operatic monologue in which she portrays a once famous opera singer being interviewed about her life and career. In this piece featuring music by Peter Skoggard and a libretto by David MacFarlane, “the diva,” as the character is identified in the program, tells -- or rather sings -- of her impoverished childhood, her quick success in the opera world and her feelings about performing. “Every time I was on stage, I was a stranger here myself,’’ she reveals to the unseen interviewer.
Her career, however, came to an abrupt end with the faltering of her voice. As a narrator tells us in a prerecorded prologue, the diva has seen “a meteoric rise and a catastrophic fall.“ And she reflects provocatively on that as well: “What if silence is real?’’
Except for a few spoken lines of dialogue, the piece has Hogan singing just about non-stop for some 40 minutes, admirably accompanied by pianist and musical director Charles F. Prestinari, placed unobtrusively at the side of the stage.
The singer brings fierce conviction to MacFarlane’s text as well as noteworthy diction. (Farin Loeb is the acting coach.) But I‘ll have to admit that even I listened with the most intense concentration I could muster, I often lost the thread of the story or thought as the singer negotiated the compellingly thorny paths of Skoggard’s score. This, of course, is not an uncommon element in opera, where the music is the major force. And it is the major force here as well. Hogan’s performance is sometimes mesmerizing, sometimes awe-inspiring. Her dramatic soprano can sweep from angry low notes to shimmering stratospheric strains of near-angelic beauty. There are also some lovely moments when the music offers samplings from such pillars of opera as Puccini and Verdi. There’s also a touch of Kurt Weill.
Still, with all the music, there is quite enough drama in concept and performance to emphatically classify La Voix Perdue as an enthralling piece of musical theater, rather than a concert or recital.