Von Rhein writes:
Mark DeChiazza’s fluid staging, set on a mostly bare stage hung with light bulbs on ropes, added its own layer of surreal ambiguity. A dancer, Elyssa Dole, interacted with the reciter, soprano Lucy Shelton, and both women interacted with the musicians as they moved around the space, performing the intricate score from memory, as did Shelton. The definitive “Pierrot” reciter of our generation, Shelton nailed her mime gestures as superbly as she nailed the score’s jagged intervals.
Manning, under the complimentary but predictable headline “Eighth blackbird flies high,” writes:
Director Mark DeChiazza’s spare, onstage tableau of constant movement allowed musicians and dancer Elyssa Dole to slither around at will in this surrealistic nightmare akin to a flickering silent film. Ensemble percussionist Matthew Duvall mimed the role of Pierrot with perfect detachment, giving the old Frenchman a Mr. Bean-like demeanor. By designing sets to include only hanging light bulbs, chairs and a ladder, DeChiazza wisely let the drama emerge from Schoenberg’s smoky atonal score. Living up to its title, “Paradoxes and parallels,” this was one of eighth blackbird’s smartest programs yet.
A more mixed review comes from Gerald Fischer in the online blog, Chicago Classical Review:
The New York diva has the measure of this melodrama, and it was marvelous to hear her fierce attack on the German text. She clearly has a real feeling for the dark Expressionistic poetry and the sprechstimme style … All this excess fripperie was completely unnecessary because the performers were uniformly so superb and could have carried the show on the music alone.
Majel Connery on her blog, Consider the Lillies, writes:
I don’t expect someone to literally stage “He stuffs a little parcel / Of fine tobacco, with finesse, / Into Cassander’s shiny skull.” That’s not the point. But do stage something that suggests a logic of its own. Do create a stage language that’s coherent unto itself and do give the people on stage a deep understanding of how to communicate in that language … Unless you convince your actors of the value of what they’re doing, the risk is that they look like so many automata in a series of rotating positions.