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Intimate Opera: Hoosier Connections 

***1/2
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Intimate Opera's Opera on Demand program, presented last weekend at IndyFringe Basile Theatre, featured five short operas (total running time: 1 hour) with the theme of "Hoosier Connections"; with the exception of one, all were by living composers with an Indiana connection.

The oddball of the night started things off: Samuel Barber's A Hand of Bridge, about two married couples playing bridge together, and their unspoken thoughts during the game. Detra Carter, Emmi Malcolmson, Blake Kendall, and Christopher Parker all sang their roles well, with the able accompaniment of pianist Hidetaka Niiyama.

In keeping with the strong start was Mariela Gonzalez' performace as Sarah, in John Chittum's Cake. The plot finds Sarah going to a store to order a cake, but there's much more happening than that, namely all manner of internal struggles. Gonzalez nailed the part of the conflicted woman with intensity and power. Pianist Pat Rozenboom (who also played the rest of the evening) had an equally intense part.

Peter Reynolds' Sands of Time, about a feuding couple (a well matched Sarah O'Brien and Thom Brown), sounded like it almost came out of the classical era, making the couple's arguments sound nearly charming at times.

Taking on a much more serious tone was Scott Perkins' Charon. Jerome Sibulo sang the title character with conviction and intensity fitting the story, about the ferryman in the underworld, ushering people on to his boat.

The evening ended on a much lighter note with Bill Kloppenburg's Fear Not the Robot, which included all the evening's performers. A puppet work, with small traffic cones on hands decorated as robots and posters describing each scene, it was comical across the board - in terms of the piano part, the story and stage direction.

The evening may have been short, but the Intimate Opera covered quite a bit of operatic ground without overwhelming the audience, and did so with conviction and integrity.

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