Forum, Aug. 15: The Importance of Staging; Ovation for the Orchestra

An Omission in the Production

To the Editor:

Opera North’s performance of My Fair Lady at the Lebanon Opera House had all the virtues identified by Nicola Smith in her review: strong lead actors, familiar and evocative music, and a satisfying finish as a production (“Opera North Opens Season With a Sparkling ‘My Fair Lady’,” Aug. 7). What she hardly mentioned, except in passing, was the free flowing and seamless brilliance of the staging — the effortless way the eye was drawn to the center of action, the timing, and the way the scenes built to a satisfying whole. All these were the unmistakable mark of the director, Catherine Doherty, who for the past 10 years has been the producing director at Northern Stage.

Unfortunately, Catherine Doherty is no longer with Northern Stage. Her position has been eliminated. Meanwhile, Northern Stage has announced a multi-million dollar program to build, in White River Junction, a new theater whose financial and artistic success will depend on maintaining and expanding its audience. It is strange timing — to eliminate the gifted and effective theater veteran who has made Northern Stage one of the creative bright spots of the Upper Valley, just when she’s most needed.

If more evidence of the importance of effective direction were needed, Nicola Smith offered it in her recent review of Opera North’s production of La Traviata.

Although she praised the singing, Smith went on to explain how unfortunate staging severely detracted from the opera’s emotional impact. In other words, the absence of such excellent stage guidance as Catherine Doherty’s can undermine even Puccini’s glorious music.

Norwood and Joanna Long


Ovation for the Orchestra

To the Editor:

I second Clark Matthews’ comment on the hard work the musicians and conductor put into their part in any production (“Don’t Overlook the Orchestra,” Aug. 9).

Its amazing the teamwork that goes into these plays.

When I get to them, my ears and eyes are as much on the musicians, perhaps more than the stage. Keep up the wonderful sounds, rehearsals, etc.

Barbara Nielsen

White River Junction