Dog Days was to have opened at the Scott Theatre on Friday evening. A storm forced a cancellation, so Sunday afternoon’s performance became the local premiere.
Dog Days is an opera in three acts by composer David T. Little and librettist Royce Vavrek, based on a short story by Judy Budnitz. It tells the story of a family — husband and wife, two sons, one daughter — caught up on the edges of an apocalyptic war. Hanging around is a man in a dog suit.
The situation for all becomes increasingly dire as the opera progresses, until at the end it turns downright gruesome (the ending will not be revealed here).
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The tone of the piece is established right at the beginning. James Bobick, as the father, comes onstage shouting his lines. He’s amplified, so the decibel level is highly elevated.
It went this way for most of the two-hour, 15-minute performance. The few softer-level episodes were few and far between. Mostly the cast shouted — or rather, shout-sang — at a 4-ffff level. Those planning to see Dog Days would be well advised to go to a gun shop and buy ear protectors. They’ll be needed if you don’t want to walk out with your ears ringing.
The text is sprinkled with obscenities and profanities. The number of “f-bombs” tossed may have set a record for the operatic stage. So be warned: This is not an opera for children, no matter how much (or especially if) they love dogs.
Bobick, and Michael Marcotte and Peter Tantsits as the two brothers, have the unpleasant task of portraying three thoroughly despicable characters, which they do well.
Marnie Breckenridge and Lauren Worsham as the mother and daughter, respectively, are more likable (they also have the most pleasant voices). Worsham had one of the few scenes in the opera that genuinely moved me; she’s a superb actress.
Conducting the chamber orchestra, which made effective noises, was Alan Pierson.
I’ll have to admit that I was so repelled by the opera that halfway through, I had stopped caring what happened to the characters, and the ending — which I assume was meant to horrify — instead veered toward high comedy for me.
But if gruesome and high decibels are your thing, have a go at Dog Days.
Dog Days repeats 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday and 2 p.m. Saturday.
Fort Worth Opera Festival
▪ Through May 10
▪ 817-731-0726; www.fwopera.org