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High tech offsets opera's low budget

Philadelphia Inquirer
David Patrick Stearns

(April 23, 2009) - Backstage, the Academy of Music is a wide-open space that should be stuffed with scenery. Opera Company of Philadelphia is mounting the last large-theater production of its season - one that should be especially busy in the scenery department: L'Enfant et les Sortileges, a high-style 1925 fantasy.

The production has been cut back to accommodate a shrinking budget. But looking backstage, one wonders: Has the production disappeared altogether?  Actually, the void is filled by technology. What scenery exists also needs to be cleared out of the way for giant, rear-projected, computer-animated images.

Dreams and fantasies aren't easily conjured in live theater during the best of times - much less those in which Opera Company's L'Enfant budget was cut from $250,000 to $150,000 in mid-season. But at a time when fantasy should be less practical than ever, theatrical capabilities have caught up with the imaginations of some of the 20th century's most fantastical minds. More...