Wednesday, November 18, 2009

BluePrint: L'Histoire du Soldat

BluePrint: Souls Adrift
The Soldier’s Tale, Igor Stravinsky
Saturday, November 14, 9:00 PM

San Francisco Conservatory of Music
American Conservatory Theater

The Narrator: Richard Prioleau
The Soldier: Patrick Lane
The Devil: Dan Wood Clegg
The Princess: Marisa Rachel Duchowny

New Music Ensemble
Nicole Paiement, conductor
Violin: Stephanie Bibbo
Clarinet: Paul Miller
Bassoon: James Onstott
Trumpet: Joshua Davis
Trombone: Andrew Bednarz
Contrabass: Megan McDevitt
Percussion: Jonathan Goldstein

This staged production of Stravinsky’s L'Histoire du Soldat was put on by students from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music & the American Conservatory Theater. Nicole Paiement & her ensemble brought out the biting sarcasm of Stravinsky’s score. The ACT students did a game job of acting within the artificiality of the text, though it was sometimes cumbersome to have the action both narrated as well as acted out. If there had been scenery, Dan Wood Clegg would have been chewing it up as the Devil. Good use was made of lighting effects & the full space of the hall. Ms. Paiement herself is a pixie-like presence. She was no doubt making fun of the choreography for the Princess when she kicked up her heel on her way off stage.

The venue was a small performance space at the SFCM. It seats perhaps 100 people on 2 levels. There is even a small pit. Perhaps because the space is high, the acoustic is extremely live. At times I could hear the clacking of the keys on the bassoon. At other times the small ensemble could be piercingly loud. It was also easy to hear someone behind us snoring during the epilogue. The otherwise well-behaved audience included a gentleman in a kilt. On my way into the theater, someone asked me if I was reading the London Observer. I was not.

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