#88 In Our Daughter’s Eyes

In Our Daughter’s Eyes was the last opera I saw from the Prototype festival and I think the strongest from a magnificent group of shows.

Michael Joseph McQuilken and Nathan Gunn created a complicated character who reminded me very much of men I have known. Truly flawed delinquents who became expectant fathers, a new role which brought out layers of maturity in them that I can hardly believe. Iit was a journey toward selflessness, innately understanding there new role is one of support and servitude.

photo credit: Maria Baranova

The composition from Du Yun is dynamically textured and put her on my radar as an artist to follow going forward. Kamna Gupta’s conducting of the orchestra technically merged the forms of classical, jazz, heavy metal, and noise all to the service of meaningfully developing the journey of this character who I felt like I was getting to know all over again.

A perk of the Prototype Festival has been discovering parts of the city I don’t normally frequent and allowing me to enjoy the likes of Doughnut Plant on Grand Street. The theater today is at Baruch, four stories down, and I can’t help but marvel that New York City goes as deep as it goes wide and tall.

I don’t always love video elements in opera, There inclusion at the Metropolitan Opera for instance feels like seeing my Grandpop in Yeezys and saying “bro.” I adore the Met but find when they try to be more current it feels a little forced and not quite themselves. In this smaller theater however I found the video elements very effective, or maybe the rules aren’t as established in experimental theater and I’m just more open minded here and maybe it’s just a space issue and here I’m close enough to feel immersed while at The Met I feel removed.

photo credit: Maria Baranova

The supermarket scene particularly made for a strong visual and funny punch-lines that capsulated the behavioral changes in the protagonist who is beginning to put the well being of others before himself.

In Our Daughter’s Eyes was not just technically successful, it had a spirit that theatre goers like my self live for showcasing a fully committed team creating in time a vital work they are clearly passionate about sharing. Nathan Gunn gave so much of himself for this performance it is one of the most memorable of the year.

After an emotional rollercoaster of an evening I found the final chapter to be so heart-rippingly complicated. Perhaps this is the birth of a modern archetype I’m witnessing. When the man is asked a final question, his answer just doesn’t make me cry, but simultaneously makes me smile. Brava!

So What’s In Our Daughter’s Eyes all about? A self centered man is expecting a baby and we watch over the months leading up to the birth him develop into a caring father and husband.

Notes on the Production:

Composer…………………………………… Du Yun
Libretto and Direction………………… Michael Joseph McQuilken
Co-Creator………………………………….. Nathan Gunn
Conductor…………………………………… Kamna Gupta

Man……………………………………………. Nathan Gunn
Set and Lighting Design………………… Maruti Evans
Video Engineering………………………… Asa Wember

Prototype
Baruch Performing Arts Center
1/15/23

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