Academy of Music, Northampton, MA
by George Frideric Handel
directed by Eve Summer, music director Ian Watson
lights Michael Wonson , costumes Kathleen Doyle
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The all-purpose set, designed by Julia Noulin-Mérat and identified as “King Serse’s Palace,” consisted of a vegetation-less outdoor blue terrace (A backdrop of blue sky with clouds was behind it.) three steps up from the stage on which were perched a blue bench left of center and a blue three-tiered fountain with white interior and a rim that served as an alternate seat on the right, with a J-shaped white pergola draped with grape vines wrapping around behind, toward the left It was simultaneousyl Italianate, Mediterranean, and desert-like, with the colors perhaps intended to suggest Moorish tiles, practical, effective, and attractive in its simplicity.
Handel’s Xerxes Updated for 21st Century
by Marvin J. Ward

Summer maintains her ties with 
Watson and the Academy and brought several of the same talented crew to Xerxes, including accomplished stage designer Julia Noulin-Merat....Irrepressible color, visual and vocal, made the piece a delight and a testament to Summer's gift for banishing stodginess from an art form too often seen as fossilized and elitist.

Street-Smart Handel- A gifted director offers a version of Xerxes that's eye-poppingly contemporary.
Thursday, June 30, 2011
By Stephanie Kraf