New York Times
"Directed by Mallory Catlett and conducted by Nicholas DeMaison in its world premiere at the Prototype festival, the production puts music, by Mikael Karlsson, on an equal footing with design, seeking multidimensionality on both fronts. Stark and intricate, propulsive and a little film-noir, “The Echo Drift” is most exciting when it is fast and cacophonous, nearly overwhelming the senses."
“a startling science fiction conceit kickstarted the gripping one-act The Echo Drift. In this world premiere work, an inmate in a futuristic prison gets a visit from a talking moth that tries to persuade her than she can escape by rejecting her conventional sense of time and space. Everything about this presentation was virtuoso, from the psychedelic snarls and slithers in composer Mikael Karlsson’s orchestra writing to the sly, ironic whispers of actor John Kelly as the Moth. But the heart of the piece was the bravura singing of Blythe Gaissert as the panicky prisoner, her smoky mezzo biting into the wide-ranging and relentless vocal part with the violent abandon of a starving shark.”
I Care If You Listen
Seen and Heard International
Feast of Music
“a totally original and stunning, immersive piece… with a scintillating score composed by Mikael Karlsson, and a brilliant environmental production by Elle Kunnos de Voss in their first collaboration. … Gaissert is wonderful as Loats, giving herself over totally to the fantasy world that the creators have presented to her, more than holding her own vocally in the powerful and audacious orchestral setting–by turns jazzy, acoustic, electronic, melodic, atonal, soothing, blasting–that the composer has devised.”
“seventy immersive minutes of six-channel surround sound and projected animations … The score was modest, absorbing, and lush … For a story about a convicted murderer in solitary confinement, The Echo Drift is surprisingly accessible and apolitical. … Gaissert and Kelly fully embraced the sophisticated score and meta set, and The Echo Drift balanced an immersive multidimensional experience with a refreshing affirmation of human solidarity.”
“Nicholas DeMaison conducted with unwavering clarity, helped by seven superb musicians from the International Contemporary Ensemble. Levy Lorenzo’s electronics wizardry—effectively an eighth instrument—creates unusually vivid textures, such as the complex, machine-like chords repeated near the end, tolling like otherworldly bells. … It is hard to sufficiently praise soprano Blythe Gaissert as Loats, singing tirelessly over the course of the opera’s 70 minutes.”
“The Echo Drift struck an admirable balance between evocative score and creative composition, and is easily worthy of a pure listen without the staging. Karlsson’s subtle but crucial electronic elements were particularly noteworthy, threading through the live performers with magnetic textures… singers and musicians alike made this small chamber opera a grand production.”
"In the central role of Walker Loats, Ms. Gaissert gave a tour de force performance, using her powerful mezzo to great effect despite the unwelcome presence of a pin face mike and unnecessary amplification in the small black box space. Mr. Kelly was an able foil, speaking his responses with a tense urgency that did nothing to dispel the taut atmosphere. In the climax of the opera, he also played the Governor.
Stationed at the left side of the stage, conductor Nicholas DeMaison led the International Contemporary Ensemble(winds, low strings, harp and piano) as the soundtrack for this tale of incarceration and claustrophobia. The music did everything to ratchet the musical texture up to the tightest possible setting. This is a taut, interesting work that should appear on a future bill of chamber operas, and a worthy entry in this year's Prototype Festival."
"For a world premiere opera, The Echo Drift had a remarkably polished feel: from the industrial stage design (Elle Kunnos de Vos, who also wrote the libretto), to the Tron grid-like light projections (Simon Harding), to the always excellent International Contemporary Ensemble, which dispatched Karlsson's electro-acoustic score with total command. But, it was Gaissert who ran away with the show, with a fierce, defiant performance that grabbed my attention all the way in the back row. I'm sure we'll be seeing more of her on NY stages in the months and years to come."