Starring Emily Atkinson, Scott Belluz, Tracy Smith Bessette. Libretto by Deborah Pearson. Music by Handel. Directed by Ross Manson. Gladstone Hotel, to Aug. 31.
If you’re looking for a music/theatre experience that’s moving—literally—then truck on down to the Gladstone Hotel for Volcano Theatre and Classical Music Consort’s peripatetic production A Synonym For Love. Baroque chamber opera meets contemporary love triangle in this recasting of George Frideric Handel’s early pastoral cantata, Clori, Tirsi, e Fileno, as a torrid tryst in the funky Queen West hotel. The audience, split into three groups, follows either bisexual Clori (Tracy Smith Bessette), her straight boyfriend Phil (Scott Belluz), or her lesbian life partner Theresa (Emily Atkinson), as their lives entwine in rooms, corridors, and stairwells of the Gladstone. The three singers give passionate performances of Deborah Pearson’s frank modern lyrics, set to Handel’s elegant music as played by Ashiq Aziz’s CMC ensemble on ancient instruments. The collision of old and new is entrancing.