A stunning opera for Spoleto: Lavish 'Louise' (updated)

Image by Geoff Marshall/TheDigitelImage by louise1.jpg

Update May 25: Spoleto asked The Cut Company to go to a show, and the group has reported back with this video of the show and crowd reactions.

Update May 21: The Post and Courier went to Wednesday's dress rehearsal and shares a write-up.

Update May 22: The Charleston City Paper has their own photo-oriented preview. Go take a look.

First reporting:

Don John aside, one of the hottest tickets this season is the French Opera "Louise" which plays for four nights during Spoleto 2009.

Read more stories on this subject in our Spoleto special section.I got to catch up with director Sam Helfrich and set desginer Andrew Holland at a sneak preview of the stage on Monday -- and it looks stunning.

What starts out as a somewhat plain looking setting, soon revolves to a plush and beautifully lit set complete with the Sacre Coeur Basilica looming high up in the rafters.

Louise tells the story of the love between Louise and Julian,
Parisian artists, and the complications is has on her life with her family. Sam explained, "It's a classic case of her parents not
approving, because they simply want what they think is best for their daughter."

With a cast of 48 -- 31 of those named roles =- it's certainly a complicated production, and one of the main reasons why it's so infrequently performed. The musical parts too are vocally demanding, but when they get it right -- and they did beautifully in the Tuesday night rehearsal -- it sounds awesome.

Even this this tech-savvy multimedia nerd actually enjoyed the finer points of opera. So, prepare to be dazzled.

Check out our Flickr gallery for a complete behind the scenes look at the stage setting.

Louise plays on Fri May 22nd, Mon May 25th, Sun May 31st and Sat Jun 6th. Tickets cost between $20 and $130.