Nancy Allen (photo: Tim Matheson)
by Jay Catterson
It was hard to not notice the empty seats after intermission
But amongst all this artistic razzle-dazzle, the production fizzled into a disappointing, and at times laughable, drone. The libretto is so steeped in metaphor that any ounce of narrative and plot development gets lost entirely. Heck, I kind of wish that there was a "Crouching Tiger"-esque flying battle scene to fend off attacks from those painful metaphors! And what might have sounded elegant or mysterious in the beginning simply became onerous, not to mention deplorable; for example, during a ridiculous love scene (complete with flashing strobe lights and glitter, mind you!) in Act II, laughable lyrics such as "rubbing the oolong" incited uncomfortable giggles and groans from the audience. Alas, even the dramatic fight scene in Act III abandons all logic in a hilarious attempt to regain the audience's focus. And at two hours, the production felt like it ran three times as long. For traditional opera fans raised on Puccini and Verdi, the sheer lack of memorable arias (well, quite frankly the lack of arias, period) amidst the endless references to - you guessed it - tea will easily turn them off. And that's what "Tea" did. It was hard to not notice the empty seats after intermission, and even the lowly cellphone that was ringing in the second half seemed more memorable than the drudgery that emanated from the stage.