Is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI).
All authorized performance materials are also supplied by MTI.
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This production of Sweeney Todd was dedicated to the memory of Mark Lewis, a beloved performer and teacher and a great loss to the arts community in Eugene. Mark posed as Sweeney Todd in the images used to publicize the production.
Equally at home on Broadway and on major opera stages worldwide, this darkly comic thriller tells a richly textured story of the abuse of power, revenge, and the redeeming power of love.
On March 13 and 15, 2015, Eugene Opera performed Sweeney Todd — a spectacle of sight and sound that (as Todd’s rival Pirelli puts it) “once seen, cannot soon be forgotten.” Alison Kaufman’s review in The Register Guard said “The Eugene Opera’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street captivated a Hult Center audience Friday evening….” She described the cast as “magnificent,” “comedic timing was impeccable,” “moving and disturbing,” “hilarious,” and praised the “incredible ensemble work.”
Take a sneak peek at Sweeney Todd rehearsals.
Set in 19th century England, the story is about Benjamin Barker, aka Sweeney Todd, who returns to London after 15 years in a penal colony on trumped-up charges. When he finds out that his wife poisoned herself after being raped by the judge who sentenced him, he vows revenge. As Todd exacts his revenge and seeks to reclaim his daughter from the grasp of corrupt Judge Turpin, he encounters those who stole his peaceful life from him, with dire consequences — for them. His interactions with the madcap Mrs. Lovett and her fateful pie shop provide a darkly comic counterpoint. The love between Todd’s daughter Johanna and young Anthony shines like a ray of hope in what Hal Prince has called an allegory of Capitalism’s selfish qualities.
Sweeney Todd won the Tony Award for Best Musical in 1979. A musically sophisticated work, it has found itself as much at home on the opera stage as in musical theater, from the Houston Grand Opera and New York City Opera productions in 1984 to the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Royal Opera in London, and numerous other companies around the world. The work is perhaps Sondheim’s most popular in a 50-year career during which he has won an Academy Award, eight Tony Awards, eight Grammy Awards, a Pulitzer Prize and the Laurence Olivier Award. The 2007 movie adaptation with Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter won the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy. Eugene Opera presented the complete work, including the intense chorus music omitted from the movie version.
The outstanding cast was headed by stars known and admired from previous Eugene Opera productions: Christopher Burchett (Don Giovanni, Le nozze di Figaro, and Nixon in China) as Sweeney Todd, Anne Allgood (The Pirates of Penzance) as Mrs. Lovett, and Jake Gardner (La Traviata) as Judge Turpin.
Other principals included Stephen Lancaster (who appeared here in Carmen) as the young sailor and lover Anthony Hope, Emma Grimsley as Todd’s daughter Johanna Barker, and John Coons as Todd’s competitor Adolfo Pirelli.
Eugene is fortunate to be home to the remarkable talents who appeared in three other leading roles: Alex Mentzel as Tobias Ragg, David Gustafson as Beadle Bamford, and Janene Nelson as the Beggar Woman.
Our strong local talent also provided the “Greek chorus” ensemble that commented on the action throughout this work: soprano Brooke Cagno, alto Alyse Jamieson, tenor Al Villanueva, baritone Sandy Naishtat, and bass Bill Hulings.
And, of course, the Eugene Opera chorus and orchestra — under the baton of guest conductor Adam Turner. Maestro Turner recently conducted Sweeney Todd for Virginia Opera, where he is Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor.