Friday, April 11, 2014

Opera Parallèle Preview

Wednesday evening Opera Parallèle previewed their up-coming double-bill of Weill's Mahagonny Songspiel & Poulenc's Les Mamelles de Tirésias, which will have 3 performances at YBCA, April 25 - 27. Conductor Nicole Paiement enthusiastically gave a slide talk about the 2 composers, arguing that they go well together because of their shared sense of aesthetics. Both drew from popular music, excelled at melody & experimented with the boundaries of tonality & dramatic structure. 7 singers were on hand to perform excerpts from both works, accompanied by industrious pianist Keisuke Nakagoshi. The young cast all sounded fresh & strong & dropped into their scenes with ease. Mezzo Renee Rapier was wonderfully sultry demonstrating the contrast between sprechgesang & singing in the Alabama Song, & soprano Rachel Schutz was such an engaging actress as Tirésias that I was ready to hear the rest of Les Mamelles right then. John Bischoff was standing in for just this performance, but his orotund bass voice was striking.

Director Brian Staufenbiel explained the production's "Überstory," which amalgamates the 2 works. First we'll hear Mahagonny, set in a dystopian future, where nomads search for water in a world where natural resources have been depleted. A theater troupe, dragging a boat on wheels across dry land, stops to perform Les Mamelles, followed by a "retrograde reprise" of Mahagonny. According to blogger SF Mike, who's a super in the show, we'll see a real decomissioned boat on stage. SF Mike's determined face can also be seen in the show's publicity photos.

Opera Parallèle PreviewThe Poulenc will be presented in a re-orchestration for smaller orchestra, which has its US premiere at these performances. Members of the San Francisco Girls Chorus are participating as well. When Maestra Paiement momentarily lost her place during her talk, she let out a "Merde!", which she translated for us as "that means a flower." "I forgot!" During the Q&A, Mr. Staufenbiel hinted that Tirésias would get rid of her breasts in a surprising manner quite different from what is in the libretto. A wine reception with the musicians & Opera Parallèle administration followed the preview.

§ Kurt Weill's Mahagonny Songspiel
Francis Poulenc's Les Mamelles de Tirésias

Opera Parallèle
Nicole Paiement, Artistic Director / Conductor
Brian Staufenbiel, Stage Director / Concept Designer

Rachel Schutz: Jessie/tirésias, La Cartomancienne
Gabriel Pressier: Bobby/le Mari
Thomas Glenn: Charlie/lacouf, Le Journaliste, Le Fils
Daniel Cilli: Billy/presto, Le Directeur
Hadleigh Adams: Le Gendarme
Aleksey Bogdanov: Jimmy/ Le Monsieur Barbu
Renee Rapier: Betty/ La Marchande De Journaux

§ Sneak Preview
Sol Joseph Recital Hall, San Francisco Conservatory of Music
6 p.m. April 9, 2014
Free and open to the public
Handouts:  Les Mamalles, Mahagonny

§ Open Rehearsal
Town School for Boys (formerly the Exploratorium) 2750 Jackson Street
4 p.m. to 6 p.m. April 19, 2014
Free and open to the public

§ Performance
Yerba Buena Center for the Performing Arts’ Lam Research Theater
8 p.m. April 25, 26, 2014 and 2 p.m. April 27, 2014


Michael Strickland said...

Way to use the scariest shot of me you could find. And I believe that Nicole translated "Merde" as "that means a flower." A pleasure seeing you.

Axel Feldheim said...

Oops, thanks for correcting my translation. I must have been sitting too far back to hear rightly!

Thank Kristin, not me, for supplying the dramatic publicity photo.