Thoughts on an intimate opera at Fringe

"A Childhood Miracle" runs through the weekend at IndyFringe Theatre.

At last IndyFringe has a venue it can all its own: The organization announced last week that it would be acquiring and making improvements to its longtime St. Clair Street theater space. Call it a celebration then that Intimate Opera of Indianapolis is using the newly-owned Fringe space to present two operas, "A Childhood Miracle" and "Three Sisters Who Are not Sisters," both with music by veteran Hoosier composer Ned Rorem (b. 1923). These are "fringe" operas in that they are not well known, are short and require minimum production effort, are in English and directed at younger audiences who are driven by newer arts genres and who don't wish to pay a ticket premium. Intimate Opera fills that bill nicely.

"A Childhood Miracle," the one I attended, lasts about 45

minutes, with lyrics by Elliot Stein and features a generic family with a

mother and father, an aunt and two sisters, the latter dominating the singing.

Of the two: Peony and Violet (flower children?), sung respectively by Danielle

Steele and Ellen Denham, Steele delivers the most controlled voice, but they

blend well in duet. Being lonely and desiring more attention, they build a male

snowman in their front yard; he comes to life, giving them much cheer and

comfort. The snowman is mellowly sung by Lucas Wassmer. Their father comes

home. Jealous of his girls' attention to the snowman, he brings him into the

house where he melts away. The girls run away - and apparently no one lives

happily ever after.

Those sensitive to cold might have

found the small auditorium a bit on the chilly side, especially with the front

door open in the half hour before the production started. Hopefully this is a

startup issue that will be resolved by the Jan. 13 and 15 productions.