BY YOU THAT MADE ME, FRANKENSTEIN (Philadelphia Opera Collective): Fringe Review 51

Staged in the parlor of the historic Franklin Inn Club, BY YOU THAT MADE ME, FRANKENSTEIN—a site-specific period piece inspired by the dark and stormy night that gave birth to Mary Shelley’s famous Gothick horror story—is another success in a growing catalogue of original world-premiere works by the dazzling Philadelphia Opera Collective. The English-language narrative opera is set in Geneva, Switzerland in the summer of 1816, when the eighteen-year-old Mary (portrayed by Kristy Joe Slough) and her libertine circle of Romantic poets and friends–Percy Bysshe Shelley (Joseph Cianciullo), Lord Byron (the deliciously taunting and seductive Brendan Norton), Jane Clairmont (Crystal Charles), and Dr. John Polidoro (William McGlone)—entertained themselves with drink, drugs, free love, and ghost stories, in accordance with Byron’s hedonistic belief that “The best of life is but intoxication.”

Philadelphia Opera Collective, BY YOU THAT MADE ME FRANKENSTEIN (Photo credit: Harish Pathak)
Photo credit: Harish Pathak

The compelling two-act opus, directed by Brenna Geffers (who also served as lead writer of the spoken and sung libretto), appeals to both long-term opera aficionados and new Fringe audiences by capturing the historic characters, events, and mood with passion and clarity. It is at once intimate and operatic, interweaving facts with fantasy and a salient message about the monster that lies within us. The expressive music by Josh Hartman and Reese Revak, performed on piano by Maestro Gabriel Rebolla, is a perfect vehicle for the resonant, mellifluous voices of soprano Kirsten C. Kunkle (as a female Dr. Frankenstein), tenor Michael A. Lienhard (as her monstrous but sympathetic creation), and the rest of the engaging ensemble in this opera-for-everyone. [Franklin Inn Club, 205 S. Camac St.] September 12-21, 2014;

4 Replies to “BY YOU THAT MADE ME, FRANKENSTEIN (Philadelphia Opera Collective): Fringe Review 51”
  1. Avoid this company like the plague. This is the most unfriendly company I ever experienced in my fifteen years in Philadelphia. In the past I was wondering why few people support the arts. But after my experience with this company I can understand it. One, the spectator, is not welcomed, but just a necessary evil. If all companies would behave like this one, I would have no problem to cut all arts support would. If they do not want spectators, why should we support them.

    1. I’m sorry you had an unpleasant experience, but I’ve never found the members of this excellent company to be anything other than gracious and welcoming, and I don’t think it warrants a call to cut support and funding for the arts!

    2. Out of respect to the audiences, this production and venue cannot accommodate late seating. The show would literally have to stop for late audience member through the playing space. Patrons who come after 8pm can choose to accept an apology and a ticket to another performance, or they can choose to curse at the person at the door and threaten to track them down online. We respect whatever choice the patron makes.
      Rolf, if you would still like to accept tickets to another performance, please contact the company. We welcome you and hope to see you in our unique venue before 8pm!

  2. It seems like I hit a nerve and I have to respond. Debra, I never said I want to cut all my support to arts. My statement was “If all companies would behave like this one, I would have no problem to cut all arts support “. In reality I support several artists/groups with donations every year. One thing is sure: Opera Collective Philadelphia will not be one of them.
    Brenna’s response is a lame one and supports my notion that this company does not care about their spectators. We were one minute late (8:01 pm), and the show had not started yet . There were still people on the stairway inside the building. There would have been no disruption of the performance. The company chose a location which is not easily to reach coming from outside of the city, and parking is a hassle in Philadelphia. Yes, there are arts lovers outside of the city, who work during the day. We came from Pottstown and we were in Center City around 7:40pm, but it took us 20 minutes to find parking. The company knew very well that there some people still coming, as we had already tickets. But Opera Collective Philadelphia does not care about their customers, but has no problem to take their money (without delivering).
    We have seen about 20 shows at the Fringe so far and never had this problem. They all started a little bit late or let latecomers in. But it looks like Opera Collective Philadelphia considers itself something special. A lot of more important venues, e.g. Annenberg Center, have a more lenient latecomer policy.
    In regards of tickets for another performance this was not an option. We have tickets for other shows every night. Fringe schedule is always tight. Luckily the other groups are not as unfriendly and snotty as Opera Collective Philadelphia.
    As mentioned before I will advice all my friends to avoid this company, except they enjoy to be treated badly.

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