Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Canadian Opera Co takes Robert Lepage's Nightingale to BAM

The reviews are in - get your tix as soon as you can: the New York Times describes the effect of The Nightingale’s palace scene as “more splendid than the Imperial Palace scene in the Met’s popular production of Puccini’s ‘Turandot,’ a Zeffirelli extravaganza;” that “the Canadian Opera Company’s orchestra and chorus were vibrantly conducted by its accomplished young music director, Johannes Debus,” and remarks “the first half of the program employs nimble acrobats and the most affecting and intricate puppetry I have ever seen.” The New York Post says that The Nightingale and Other Short Fables “confirms why [Robert Lepage is] one of the most imaginative directors currently active” and has created a show full of moments of “pure magic” and “childlike wonder.” The Associated Press praises the production’s “terrific” cast, singling out for praise soprano Olga Peretyatko (the Nightingale) for a “fresh, silvery sound” that “easily negotiates the tricky coloratura flights Stravinsky has given his heroine. Tenor Lothar Odinius is a warm, sympathetic presence as the Fisherman; bass Ilya Bannik makes a pitiable Emperor; and mezzo-soprano Meredith Arwady is commanding as Death.” Time Out New York proclaims the production “theatrical and operatic bliss.”

From a media release:

The Canadian Opera Company & Robert Lepage US Premiere
The Nightingale and Other Fables
at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) - March 1-6

"...illusionist Lepage has succeeded in the space of an evening in giving back to adults...a capacity for enchantment reserved for children" - Le Figaro

Following a sold-out world premiere engagement in Toronto and standing ovations at Festival d'Aix-en-Provence, Robert Lepage's critically acclaimed The Nightingale and Other Short Fables makes its anticipated US premiere at BAM. This production, called "nothing short of brilliant" by Opera (UK) marks more than 20 years of groundbreaking LePage Productions at BAM as well as the Canadian Opera Company's return following it's 1993 presentation of Lepage's double-bill of Bluebeard's Castle and Erwartung.

Igor Stravinsky‘s The Nightingale is a Russian conte lyrique based on the tale by Hans Christian Andersen. Under the direction of Lepage the opera is transformed into a magical chinoiserie centered around a moonlit lake-created by filling the orchestra pit with nearly 12,000 gallons of water. The musicians and chorus are placed onstage, allowing the audience to see and hear the various musical layers that make this production so entrancing. Traditional pan-Asian water puppets, created by Tony and Emmy award-winning designer Michael Curry, float and are manipulated by the same singers whose roles they represent, telling the tale of the ethereal nightingale who persuades Death to spare the Emperor.

The program opens with Stravinsky's short vocal and instrumental pieces: the jazz-tinged Ragtime, Pribaoutki, Two Poems of Konstantin Balmont, Berceuses du chat, Four Russian Peasant Songs, and Three Pieces for Solo Clarinet. The program continues with the satirical one-act opera-ballet The Fox, brought to life through shadow theater-an expressive and acrobatic art form drawing from Asian and African traditions-and concludes with The Nightingale.

The international Nightingale cast includes soprano Laura Albino (The Cook), contralto Meredith Arwady (Death), tenor Lothar Odinius (Fisherman), soprano Olga Peretyatko (Nightingale), bass Robert Pomakov (Chamberlain), and bass Michael Uloth (Bonze). The ensemble also features bass Neil Craighead, mezzo-soprano Wallis Giunta, baritone Adrian Kramer, tenor Adam Luther, and soprano Simone Osborne. The cast of The Fox includes baritone Peter Barrett, Adam Luther, and tenor Lothar Odinius.

Versatile in every form of theater craft, Robert Lepage is a director, scenic artist, playwright, actor, and film director. His creative and original approach has won him international acclaim, numerous awards, and has shaken the dogma of classical stage direction to its foundations, especially through his use of new technologies. Inspired by contemporary history, his modern and unusual work transcends all boundaries. Lepage founded his Production Company, Ex Machina, in 1994. He is currently working on a production of Wagner's Ring cycle for the Metropolitan Opera.

• Olga Peretyatko as The Nightingale and Ilya Bannik as The Emperor - Photo Credit: © 2009 Michael Cooper
• Michael Uloth as The Bonze, Robert Pomakov as The Chamberlain and Laura Albino as The Cook (in water) and Olga Peretyatko (above, right)  - Photo Credit: © 2009 Michael Cooper

• Ilya Bannik as The Emperor and Maria Radner as Death - Photo Credit: © 2009 Michael Cooper

The Nightingale and Other Short Fables
By Igor Stravinsky
Conducted by Johannes Debus
Directed by Robert Lepage
Set design by Carl Fillion 

Costume design by Mara Gottler 
Lighting design by Etienne Boucher 
Puppet design by Michael Curry
In Russian with English titles
Co-produced with Festival d'Aix-en-Provence, Opéra national de Lyon, and Netherlands Opera in collaboration with Ex Machina (Quebéc)

• BAM Howard Gilman Opera House (30 Lafayette Ave)
• Mar 1, 3 & 4 at 7:30pm Mar 6 at 3pm
Tickets start at $35

American Express is the presenting sponsor of The Nightingale and Other Short Fables. BAM 2011 Spring Season is sponsored by Bloomberg.

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