THEATER REVIEW: ‘Wreckers,’ rare opera penned by woman,

opens at Bard

July 27, 2015 by MARION HUNTER

“The Wreckers” / Opera by Ethel Smyth (1858-1944) / Bard SummerScape

“Visually the production is stunning (design by Erhard Rom). The opening set features the mast of a destroyed ship, which leans into the blue-gray space like a wounded crucifix. Giant human shadows on the back wall hover over scenes. Rectangular, slatted cargo boxes are piled into the sky, offering limitless levels for the cast to use. The boxes, with their vertical slats, create a flexible pallet of lines (sometimes internally lit). The boxes, along with long boards, bring to mind a Braque painting. They morph into a mountaintop, a storm cloud, a cave with boxy stalactites and stalagmites, and finally into a giant wave that descends over the ill-fated lovers. The lovers are each bound to—what else? A cargo box. Exquisite, emotional lighting bathes every scene and clarifies who, among the crowd, is singing.”



Ethel Smyth’s The Wreckers thrillingly staged in

New York

**** By Robert Levine, 27 July 2015

“Erhard Rom’s sets for Bard’s production, abetted by Hannah Wasileski’s projections and JAX Messenger’s lighting, evoke the coastline well; crates, planks of wood and sheets standing for sails litter the stage, a broken mast is seen in Act I and the projections give us the feel of the dreadful weather and harsh coast. We see the villagers plundering and murdering their latest victims during the overture – a good directorial touch by Thaddeus Strassberger – who also manages to convey the town’s desperation well. With its piles of crates, the set is an obstacle course, but it helps Strassberger keep the choral formations interesting. The acting of the soloists is natural..“


Time Out New York 

New York

By David Cote

Weekend getaway: SummerScape presents opera

rarity The Wreckers

“Erhard Rom’s unit set is built of dozens of crates littering the stage and stacked up high, forming towering grim cliffs, seashores, or suggesting church and town square. Actors step carefully from crate to crate in the downstage area, as if navigating steppingstones by the sea. The lighting by JAX Messenger was appropriately grisly red at times, shadowy at others. Hannah Wasileski’s video projection added textures of rippling water and flame as needed…. Strassberger’s staging is gently abstract but grounded in a persuasive psychological reading and maintains the period.”



Heidi Waleson

July 27, 2015 6:30 p.m. ET

Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y.

The Wreckers  Bard SummerScape

 “Erhard Rom’s set, a beach packed with towering piles of crates, presumably representing many years’ worth of spoils, made movement precarious, but Mr. Strassberger’s direction kept the energy high and the villagers in a permanent state of fury and exaltation. Even the muscular Act I prelude was staged as an orgy of pillage and murder, and the act’s choral finale—an enthusiastic expectation of more of the same—had the look of Broadway’s “Les Mis.” Kaye Voyce’s period costumes were properly bedraggled, and the lighting by JAX Messenger was alternately creepy and drenched in red.”