Review of “Ile” in Artsong Update


The final work was the most dramatic: Ezra Donner’s operatic adaptation of Eugene O’Neill’s Ile, about a ship and crew at sea for two years searching for a full cargo of whale oil. The impressive Kenneth Weber was the obsessed Captain Keeney, who puts down a mutiny (“I’m the law on this ship!”) by crewmen who want to turn the ship for home. As his wife, Signe Mortensen brought out the intense loneliness of a woman on a ship, hungry for the sound of a woman’s voice; she begged her husband to turn around or she’ll go mad. He promised to — and then reneged. She snapped, laughing crazily and, on the organ he brought aboard for her comfort, playing an insane mishmash of hymn tunes — including a brief snatch of the hymn tune known as the Navy Hymn — “for those in peril on the sea.” Both Weber and Mortensen had the power and skill to make every word count.

from a review by M.D. Ridge in Artsong Update, June 2012: