Reviews

Beautiful Princess Available for Rescue
Doña Ana Lyric Opera, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Forget what you know about opera. The usual expectations simply don't apply to the Doña Ana Lyric Opera's latest offering, the world premiere of Randall Shinn’s “Beautiful Princess Available for Rescue.”

While he certainly hasn’t abandoned all of the conventions of opera, Shinn has given the medium something of an overhaul, integrating modern music and language with more familiar classical styles to create a sound that is uniquely his.

While the plot and themes of the opera have the timeless quality that is crucial to any successful story, it is the presentation that sets this fairy tale apart. Anachronistic dialogue (featuring such gems of modern slang as “well, duh!”)...charmingly accessible and up-to-date.

—Amanda Husson, Las Cruces Sun-News, February 27, 2004

Excerpts from reviews of a production of this opera’s shorter prototype at Lyric Opera Theatre, Arizona State University:

“Amazingly, his libretto is just as good as his score. Throughout, light fun is poked at perceptions and stereotypes, and real drama is evoked both dramatically and musically...lyrical and melodic...approachable by neophytes and interesting to more knowledgeable listeners....lusciously beautiful.”—Anne Bendheim, Phoenix Gazette, April 30, 1986

"loud cheers...social standards are toppled and timely issues are handled with absurd, common-sensical humor."—Dimitri Drobatschewsky, Arizona Republic, April 30, 1986

Sara McKinnon
University of Colorado Opera, Boulder

composer Randall Shinn and librettist Mark Medoff have created a work that unites story, music, costumes and sets with stunning success.

“Sara McKinnon” is rich in local color—both in story and music. A square dance, a bit of ragtime, a dash of Latin—like Copland at his best, this is a living slice of Americana.

The opera, however, is more than that; it rises above local color to achieve universal appeal.

Shinn’s score is often spell-binding; the audience is involved in every minute of the 2 ½-hour show.

Shinn’s idiom is his own. His music is easily accessible—as long as one does not define “accessible” as something that one can whistle after a single hearing.

This is a sophisticated score, yet it is never merely for the sake of sophistication. Every measure has meaning and function.

—Wes Blomster, Boulder Daily Camera, April 25, 2003
Complete review

Doña Ana Lyric Opera, Las Cruces, New Mexico
passionate, engrossing...a stirring multicultural score...lush and moving...lyrical...filled with great lines and lyrics...the story is terrific—S. Derrickson Moore, Las Cruces Sun-News, Friday, July 27, 2001

Midnight Dances
Phoenix Symphony
“Latin rhythms overlaid a sense of longing, almost pathos. Genuine lightness is notoriously hard to achieve. Brahms sought it all his life, in vain. Shinn has achieved it with this spinning sonic wheel of dancey tunes and plaintive atmosphere.”—Kenneth LaFave, The Arizona Republic, November 9, 1996

ProMusica Chamber Orchestra of Columbus
“imaginative, fun.”—Barbara Zuck, The Columbus Dispatch, February 10, 1997

Family Letters
ProMusica Chamber Orchestra of Columbus
“lyrical...warm-hearted”—Barbara Zuck, The Columbus Dispatch, October 16, 1995
(This piece was reworked into Five Sketches)

Devices and Desires
Arizona State University Orchestra and Choruses
“a work of aural beauty, filled with smooth melodic inventiveness...compelling”—Dimitri Drobatschewsky, The Arizona Republic, September 29, 1989
(This work became the prototype for a more concise and intensely driven work, Unshorn Apollo.)

Make Much of Time
Flagstaff Symphony and Chorus
“memorable and stunning...rich in melody and harmony...refined, intimate feeling and a beautiful sensitivity...a work founded on passion, grand passion... standing ovation...a roar of appreciation”—Paul Sweitzer, Flagstaff Sun, April 30, 1987

Suite for piano trio
“the highlight of the evening”—Kathy L. Nail, Flagstaff Times, October 23, 1985
“the charmer of the evening”—Paul Sweitzer, Flagstaff Sun, October 18, 1985

Cortège
Flagstaff Symphony “a short, moving symphonic work ...bittersweet...gentle and tender melodies...long-haunting”—Paul Sweitzer, Flagstaff Sun, February 21, 1985

Two Still Lifes
University of Miami
“the most potent piece on the program...was Randall Shinn's Two Still Lifes, light-textured lyrical studies, transparently scored...as background for Janet Walp's serene soprano”—James Roos, The Miami Herald, March 24, 1978

Work as a whole
“lyrical...expressive...contrapuntally and harmonically rich. Much of Shinn's music has a sensation of physical motion and a sensuality not unlike rock or folk music.”—Torey Malatia, Phoenix New Times, July 6, 1983

Shinn’s interest as a music listener are broad—he might dance to a blues band one night and attend an opera production the next. So he finds it natural to write music with unexpected combinations of material. The influences on his music are just as broad, and his manner of dealing with these multiple influences has become a distinctive musical fingerprint.—Peter Laki, program notes for the Phoenix Symphony, 1992.