Where will the road take YOU?

Destination Diaries

Sweeney Todd

Opera Theatre of Saint Louis

By Angela Ash


The tale of Sweeney Todd is haunting all on its own.  A man's wife is taken by an evil judge, after he is sent away to prison for a crime that he did not commit.  While he is away, his wife poisons  herself, leaving her daughter as the ward of the man who drove her to this terrible act.  The man finally excapes, and returns to London to extract his revenge, meeting a fantastic conspirator along the way.

Can this possibly describe the macabre dance that is Sweeney Todd?  Not a chance, and especially when performed by the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis.

This is an absolute first rate company.  When attending a performance, all expectations are exceeded.  The props are creative and visually stimulating, the lighting is spot on, the costumes are extravagantly beautiful... and no seat is ever a stone's throw away from the stage.  No opera glasses are needed here!


The roles were wonderfully cast.  Rod Gilfry and Karen Ziemba were the best match of Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett that I have ever had the privelege of witnessing.  Whether it was a tragic moment or the merriment of singing about meat pies, their chemistry was simply electrifying!

Nathaniel Hackmann and Deanna Breiwick were mesmerizing as Anthony and Johanna.  The pain... the passion - they were both there, rippling across the stage.  The tender reprise of "Johanna" was absolutely beautiful.


The supporting cast were all equally as talented, with Tobias played by Kyle Erdos-Knapp, Judge Turpin by Timothy Nolen, the beggar woman by Susanne Mentzer, Beadle by Scott Ramsay, and the ever entertaining Pirelli by Anthony Webb.  I must also add that the ensenble was wonderful, appearing and then reappearing at just the right moments to add to the chilling narrative of Sweeney Todd.


At its best parts, Sweeney Todd is horrifying, and then a moment later will provoke tears of laughter.  To describe it as "brilliant" would be doing it a terrible dishonor.

I was so transformed by this performance that when walking away from my last flute of champagne and into the night, I thoroughly expected to see Tower Bridge in the distant horizon, or to hear wooden carts pushed haphazerdly across cobblestone.  "...And it goes by the name of London."


And as always, to complete your opera experience, box lunch and dinners may be ordered to be enjoyed in the beautiful tent on the lawn, and snacks, beer, wine, and other temptations are always available.


You may visit the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis to view next season's exciting lineup, and to begin making plans for an evening beyong compare!