Bon Appetit! by Lee Hoiby, Long Leaf Opera, 2009
Classical Voice of North Carolina, June 19, 2009, Ken Hoover
“The final opera of the evening was a bon-bon of delight with music by one of America’s most respected composers, Lee Hoiby, and librettist Mark Shulgasser. Bon Appétit is a comic reworking of one of the inimitable Julia Child’s early black and white television cooking shows. The French Chef shows us how to put together a classic French chocolate cake. In this performance, Barbara DeMaio Caprilli sang as Julia Child, her gestures quite convincing and her voice wry and witty as the original. The score was played by Carmine Mann, and Benjamin Keaton was the music director. Randolph Umberger was the stage director and set designer.
The piece begins with a repeated major scale that put me in mind of Saint-Saens’ Carnival of the Animals, and shortly into the work there was reference to “La Marseillaise.” The music moved the production along with wit and whimsy, the singing was charming, and the timing was just right. So many of the clichés were there, like tapping the excess flour from the cake pans on the floor, picking up the hot pan, forgetting the hot pad, and much more. It was a charming piece of nostalgia and a delightful ending for a very enjoyable evening.”
Chapel Hill News and Observer, June 20, 2009, Roy C. Dicks
“The established piece comes from esteemed composer Lee Hoiby, whose works have featured prominently in previous LLO seasons. His 1986 “Bon Appétit” is a cleverly conceived 20-minute entertainment, taken from a Julia Child cooking show episode in which she makes a chocolate cake. Hoiby’s music perfectly reflects each instruction, ingredient and comment, bubbling along agreeably in the capable hands of pianist Carmine Mann.
Barbara DeMaio Caprilli brings a sassy character and a vibrant voice to her portrayal of the famous TV cook, gamely tossing off references to egg whites and melted butter while dealing with numerous pans, bowls and dishes. Although slight, the piece brings a smile and ends the program on an upbeat note.”