Ocean Aires Rated X – Ten Times is Better
Text and Photos by Sherri Rase
photo by Joe Saporito
Cast L to R. Back Row: Christopher Vassiliades, Eric Martin, George McGarvey, Marlena de la More, Clarence Perry
Middle Row: Sherri Rase, Rosemary Palladino, Jacqueline Jonee, Isaac Steven Vaughan, Valerie Kuehne, Katherine McHale, Arun Bordoli
This past Saturday evening saw the return of Isaac Steven Vaughan to the Cherry Grove Community House to produce and perform in Ocean Aires: Rated X. The “X” is actually a pun on the ten years Isaac has been producing this classical tour de force that is one of the highlights of the Arts Project’s Summer Season. The Rated X theme was further enhanced by Isaac’s request that all feel welcome to dress for the boudoir.
Philomena again hosted this marvelous evening, her Act I outfit a sassy little black number – bra with sheer baby-doll drop to raven black, iridescent feathers dancing at mid thigh. Mrrrowwwrrr!
Opening with a spirited rendition of “God Save the Queen”, Eric and Isaac were clad in tuxedo shirts and matching silken formal black and white check boxers. Soignée and naughty at the same time! As it happened, Queen Margo was actually visiting her interests overseas and sent a Blackberry message (modern equivalent to a telegram) and Queen Coco graciously stepped in to open the show. Modern life!
Taking us back a few hundred years before Blackberry or telegram, handsome baritone George McGarvey sang “Where’er you walk” from Handel’s Semele. George led Christopher Vassiliades, clad in leather shorts, harness and vest, to the piano. Quite the interesting pairing, with George clad in a tuxedo. Excellent both visually and musically.
John Nieman’s arrangement of Chopin’s “Elegy” based on Valse Opus 64, No. 2 and Prelude Opus 28, No. 10 was an excellent show of John’s virtuosity. His deft touch with the keys and thoughtful interpretation guaranteed enjoyment.
Marlena de la Mora and Eric Martin joined forces for “Casta Diva”, from Norma. Marlena’s powerful voice and Eric’s bravura accompaniment wrung further passion from the work. The title role is considered one of the most difficult in the soprano repertoire.
Next up, dashing leatherman Clarence Perry, a Grove favorite, graced us with Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in G# minor, Opus 32, No. 12, then closely on it’s heels, the Prelude in D Major, Opus 23, No. 4. These pieces are technical brilliance, especially in Perry’s hands.
Rosemary Palladino, contralto, gamboled through Gilbert & Sullivan’s “A Wand’ring Minstrel I” from The Mikado, accompanied by appropriately clad Mr. Fire Island Leather 2008, Isaac Steven Vaughan. A graceful pairing, Rosemary’s joyful lilting voice and Isaac’s lightness on the keys were an excellent match.
Eric Martin returned to give us Debussy’s “L’ile joyeuse, Isle of Joy”, as a fitting contemplation to close Act II. One of Debussy’s most important works, it presents a musical picture of Watteau’s L'Embarquement pour Cythère, wherein pilgrims appear to be embarking for a trip to the birthplace of Venus. It takes a great deal of technique and skill to play Debussy well. Eric has an abundance of both.
Act II opened with Philomena literally in a hot little number – black bra and panties with a gorgeous sheer, red sequin-embellished peignoir. And hearts embellishing the black under ensemble. Well done!
A sassy arrangement of “La donna e mobile” from Verdi’s Rigoletto opened Act II featuring Arun Bordoloi on violin, Clarence Perry on piano and Isaac on accordion?!? It’s a fact that this arrangement is one not experienced before! Isaac’s trademark blend of tongue in cheek genius and musical acumen brought the house down.
Delibes Flower Duet from Lakme was introduced with a Soap Opera digest interpretation of the French libretto that released the tension of expectation from this piece featured variously in “The Hunger”, Virgin Airways commercials and Season Three of “The L Word”. Marlena de la More with Sherri Rase making her operatic soprano debut, rendered this duet to the great pleasure of those listening. Ringing the rafters with the sweet harmonies brought contrast to the lowering weather outside. Thunder and lightning only served to heighten the passion.
Jacqueline Jonee, Clarence Perry and Isaac played the six-handed Rachmaninoff Romance, Opus 11, No. 5. Jacqueline was radiant in her chartreuse flowing dress, a delicious contrast with the leather in abundance around her. A trio of virtuosi and a wealth of enjoyment.
Ernst von Dohnanyi’s Serenade in C Major, Opus 10 and V. Rondo (Finale) brought Arun Bordoloi back to the stage, with Katherine McHale on viola and Valerie Kuehne on cello. Dohnanyi’s approach to music is classical in its European roots, but shows influences of Hungarian folk music. Influences from Brahms are also in evidence, with a modern approach to musical structure, with this being a work from earlier in his career.
Finally, of course, after all this foreplay, Eric and Isaac returned to the stage to close the show in custom made robes of Chinese silk with matching boxer shorts. Sexy and sleeveless, it was easy to see the muscles at work as the two played Ravel’s “Bolero” for four-handed piano. Or at least, that’s what they told us…the robes could have been obscuring some secrets.
Isaac promises Classical Music in Hollywood movies as the theme for Ocean Aires 11. You will be amazed again and again at the talent and genius that surrounds us on our Fire Island.