Opened July 1997
Theatre: Opera Festival of New Jersey; Libretto: Gian Carlo Menotti; Conductor: Hal France; Director: Albert Takazauckas; Assistant Conductor: Richard Tang Yuk; Choreographer: Mary Pat Robertson; Production Stage Manager: Kent Loika; Set Designer: Karen TenEyck; Costume Designer: Baker Smith; Lighting Designer: Mitch Dana
Cast: Erika: Laura Tucker; Nicholas: Dominic Inferrera; Vanessa: Elizabeth Hynes; Anatol: Stephen Mark Brown; The Old Baroness: Rosalind Elias; The Old Doctor: David Evitts; A Footman: David Macaluso
Deb Sandler, the artistic director, asked me to come up with a phrase or a brief paragraph explaining my approach to the Barber/Menotti work: "As if Anton Chekov had re-invented the Ariadne legend (the way Sam Shepard reinvented Orpheus into "The Lie of the Mind") for an opera libretto by Richard Strauss". "But, Albert, who will understand that?" Bowing to higher wisdom, I wrote about the dreamscape world of this opera: a villa in a northern country, winter seems the perfect metaphor for Naxos where Ariadne, awaiting the return of the god who dumped her, is surprised by "Bacchus" who arrives instead, to take her to the most fashionable house in Paris. Perhaps Anatol's correct in his male viewpoint that Erika is a silly romantic and in our enlightened age we give no credence to such notion. How bittersweet, how Chekovian an argument. This opera, like the great Russian's plays, ends with the people saying goodbye forever. The characters that go on and the characters left behind.
I'm playing with time in this dreamscape because I saw certain parallels between the look and the feeling of the opera and the year in which it premiered. Structure had returned to clothing and a romantic revival was taking place. A time when in matters of relationships one was still "careful." The last gasp of a pre-pill world. The sexual revolution, the women's movement was still ahead, and no one had taken a snapshot of this planet from the moon.
Read the synopsis
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