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Wall Street Journal Reviews El Cimmaron

‘El Cimarrón’ and ‘Murasaki’s Moon’ Reviews: Opera in a Temple of Art

Henze’s 80-minute chamber piece for voice, flute, percussion and guitar was a tour de force for the mesmerizing bass-baritone Davóne Tines, who recounted Montejo’s story with a deliberate, matter-of-fact cadence that belied its horrifying content. Much of the text was spoken, and when, in moments of rage or other extreme emotion, Mr. Tines veered into song, it was often falsetto, as though the storyteller were somehow possessed. The musicians, Emi Ferguson, Jonny Allen and Jordan Dodson, built atmosphere under and around the voice. A huge percussion array, with dozens of instruments including marimba, steel drum, melodica and gongs, was used subtly for color and variety rather than as massed cacophony; the delicacy of the Spanish-style guitar and the multiple special flute effects contributed to a score that felt purposely fragmentary.

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