Don Davis: Río de Sangre
Top Customer Reviews
Don Davis is a highly accomplished and respected composer with an impressive body of work including the Matrix movie trilogy and much more, but this opera is, in my opinion, his masterpiece. From dark and foreboding to emotionally gripping to gut wrenching to majestic, the music reveals Davis's artistic influences including Witold Lutoslawski and Dmitri Shostakovich (except of course in the salsa "source" music).Read more ›
I've been aware of Mr. Davis' work for a number of years. He's a composer who has displayed the formidable span of his talents both in the world of contemporary chamber and orchestral works and in music for television and film. His music for film has benefited generously from this bifurcation of expertise, with his scores for the "Matrix" trilogy reflecting the pioneering breath of innovation typically reserved for more "serious" music. I was, therefore, eager to see what he had done in his first full-blown opera.
I wasn't disappointed. Mr. Davis exploits a wide-ranging wealth of musical techniques to create coherence and unity in his opera Rio de Sangre, and although the musical style is at times challenging, the intricacy and depth of the work easily bears repeated listenings and yeilds ample rewards for doing so. A propulsive three-act libretto builds a tale incorporating the familiar Shakesperian thematic foci that explore the problematic nature of power, ambition, corruption and betrayal, offering a splendid exposition of the disjunction between aspiration and reality.Read more ›
The joy does not last long. While there is a good dose of merengue music performed by a cantina band whenever Christian visits a local bar as well as the romance of Blanca and Igneo, Río de Sangre is a slow ride down the road of madness, treachery, and shattered dreams. Soon to come are an earthquake, a cholera outbreak, rioting, kidnapping, subterfuge, mistakes, misunderstanding, murder, hysteria - and yes, lots of blood. And this descent to hell is highlighted by some amazing vocal performances as well as by the talents of the composer, Don Davis. The score is modern - you are not going to hum any tunes afterward - and yet it is continually engrossing and vibrant.
Early in Act 3 there is a memorable scene in which mother and daughter, Antonia and Blanca, both sing of their collapsed worlds. It is a dreamy scene in which time seems to slow way down and first Blanca, then Antonia, and then Blanca sing in long, poetic phrases. It is the calm before the inevitable storm - the time after tragic events and before even more tragic events.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Much of opera, like all the best art of any kind throughout history, has dealt with issues of the human heart; and occasionally that falls into politics, whether it is in the high... Read morePublished on May 9, 2014 by Erik North
I have been listening to Rio de Sangre for a year now, just to make sure the effect wouldn't wear off. Read morePublished on May 5, 2014 by Arnie Rodriguez
Composer Don Davis and librettist Kate Gale spent years writing this opera, about political turmoil in an unnamed Latin American country, and the result is a stirring and emotional... Read morePublished on May 2, 2013 by Dan G.
Don Davis is a criminally under-appreciated, under-discovered, and unused composer, whose gifts for melody, textured writing, and classically-informed orchestration found their... Read morePublished on April 16, 2013 by Timothy Greiving
Hold on to your hats! This opera takes the listener on a immensely fascinating musical journey. Other reviewers have ably summarized the plot and commented on the outstanding... Read morePublished on March 11, 2013 by Douglas F Hedwig