Francesca Zambello has had considerable success staging the piece for other notable companies, and as evidenced by this richly detailed production, she has honed her insights to a finely polished interpretation. Ms. Zambello occasionally likes to flavor her operas with musical comedy flair and it does not go amiss here.
When appropriate, she enlisted choreographer Eric Sean Fogel to lighten up the mood with well-considered moves that emerge organically from exuberant revelers. Mr. Fogel’s staged movement was not only entertaining in its own right, but also greatly deepened the violent, tragic moments by providing good contrast. The only false move was the series of woozy cakewalk kicks at the climax of There’s a Boat That’s Leavin’ Soon for New York. It seemed out of character to have a weakened, drugged up Bess this frolicsome as she is slimily lured against her will by the pimping Sportin’ Life.