Gotham Chamber Opera

Where opera gets intimate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Wall Street Journal Review: The Tempest Songbook
By: Heidi Waleson

Gotham Chamber Opera’s staging of “The Tempest Songbook,” performed in the Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium, alternated the songs of Kaija Saariaho’s 2004 cycle based on Shakespeare with pieces, attributed to Henry Purcell, that were written in the 1690s for a production of Dryden’s version of the play. Immaculately performed by soprano Jennifer Zetlan, bass-baritone Thomas Richard, and an eight-member period-instrument orchestra conducted by Neal Goren, it was remarkable how vigorously these very different musical languages spoke to each other.

Purcell’s Overture in G minor, which had the rhythmic weight of a processional, was succeeded by Ms. Saariaho’s “Bosun’s Cheer,” in which Mr. Richard’s clamorous Sprechstimme cries of a mariner trying to keep his ship afloat rose over the skittering instrumental evocation of the violent storm. It was a contrast, but somehow in the same family. Ms. Saariaho wrote a song for each of the familiar characters of the play—Miranda, Caliban, Ariel, Prospero and Ferdinand—and her densely harmonic, visceral style, with its dark, sensual intensity, perfectly captured the dangerous magic of the play. In “Caliban’s Dream,” the insinuating, slightly grotesque vocal line seemed as organic and connected to the earth as Caliban himself; in “Ariel’s Hail,” sliding, glistening violin solos contrasted with the thrumming of heavy bass notes on the archlute and the harpsichord to make Ariel a strange but alluring alien being.

Yet distinctively modern as this music was, the Purcell songs in between did not seem jarring at all. For the most part, their role was to bring a cheerier note to the story—“Halcyon Days” offered a vision of a happy future, for example—but their surface brightness and civility got an undercurrent of menace from the tangy, rhythmically articulate performances of the period instruments.

 

For the full review visit http://www.wsj.com/articles/reviews-of-the-tempest-songbook-and-la-celestina-1427839380

Photo: Thomas Richards, left, Jennifer Zetlan, center, and Abdiel Jacobsen,right
Credit: Richard Termine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The New York Times ReviewThe Tempest Songbook Closes Gotham Chamber Opera's Season 
By: Anthony Tommasini

Gotham closed its 14th season this weekend with a modest, though rewarding offering: “The Tempest Songbook,” which opened on Friday at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. A collaboration between Gotham and theMartha Graham Dance Company, this production was the brainchild of the conductor Neal Goren, Gotham’s artistic director, and the director/choreographer Luca Veggetti (director of “The Raven”). 

Juxtaposing Ms. Saariaho’s songs, which she rescored for a Baroque ensemble of eight instruments, with the songs by Purcell (for simplicity’s sake, let’s assume he was the composer), proved an inspired idea. So too was the concept of fashioning the music into an integrated piece for two singers and four dancers. The simple, bare set, on the stage at the museum’s Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium, was dominated by a grayish, earthlike orb hanging from a cord upon which atmospheric images by the video artist Jean-Baptiste Barrière were projected. Sometimes the globe became a swirling mass of abstract colors and shapes, suggestive of continental drift. During eerie stretches, murky images of the performers appeared on the orb, which periodically was raised, or spun, or pushed around. Gotham continues to stretch and grow artistically. As an offering in an opera season, “The Tempest Songbook” was fairly modest. Still, better to grow slowly and soundly.

For the full review visit http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/30/arts/music/review-the-tempest-songbook-closes-gotham-chamber-operas-season.html

 

Photo: Abdiel Jacobsen, left, and Thomas Richards 
CreditAndrea Mohin/The New York Times

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Voice, sound, and movement have been the basic elements of drama in every age; their mutual interplay is one of the most complex and challenging territories for every theater maker to venture in.

 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Tempest Songbook offers an extraordinary chance to bring together poetry, music, and dance in the singular form of a songbook. Stemming from Kaija Saariaho’s collection of songs, it allows a look at the poetic world of Shakespeare’s play through her suggested pairing with Henry Purcell. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moving away from the intention of expressing any plot or narrative outline, we find in each song a self-contained dramatic universe to explore, a metaphorical space through which characters wander, sing, and dance. 

 

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This edition of Meet the Artists features dancers Abdiel Jacobsen, Lloyd Mayor, PeiJu Chien-Pott and Ying Xin of Gotham Chamber Opera's production of The Tempest Songbook, presented March 27, 28 & 29, 2015 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, a co-production with The Martha Graham Dance Company.

 

PeiJu Chien-Pott (Principal) joined the Company in 2011 and performs lead roles in Graham’s iconic repertory, such as Chronicle, Errand into the Maze, Cave of the Heart, as well as in new contemporary works. Ms. Chien-Pott received a B.F.A. from Taipei National University of the Arts and was a Merce Cunningham Studio scholar. She has danced with Taipei Royal Ballet, Taipei Crossover Dance Company, Buglisi Dance Theatre, Korhan Basaran Artists, Morphoses and Nimbus Dance Works, directed by her husband Samuel Pott. Ms. Chien-Pott was honored with the Positano Premia La Danza -Léonide Massine 2014 for “Most Outstanding Female Dancer on the Contemporary Scene.”

Lloyd Mayor (Dancer) joined the company in 2012 and performs lead roles in Appalachian Spring, Diversion of Angels, Echo and in Richard Move's The Show (Achilles Heels), first danced by Mikhail Baryshnikov. Mr. Mayor has a background in Hip-Hop and Gymnastics and trained at the Rambert School of Ballet & Contemporary Dance. In 2014 Mr. Mayor was honored with the Clive Barnes Dance Award recognizing young emerging artists.

 

 

 

Abdiel Jacobsen(Soloist) joined the Company in 2011 and performs lead roles in Graham’s iconic repertory, including Errand into the Maze with prima ballerina Diana Vishneva, as well as in new contemporary works. Mr. Jacobsen received a B.F.A. from the University the Arts in Modern Dance performing works by Roni Koresh, Scott Jovovich, Christine Cox and Louis Johnson and was a company member of the SLJ Arts Initiative, directed by Zane Booker. He is also a Professional Competitive Ballroom and Latin dancer/instructor, and a guest artist with the Cecilia Marta Dance Company.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ying Xin (Dancer) joined the Company in 2011 and performs lead roles in Chronicle, Diversion of Angels, Echo, Errand into the Maze, Satyric Festival Song among others. She received the 2008 China Dance Lotus Award. She has been faculty at Sichuan College of Arts&Culture and a guest teacher at the Beijing Dance Academy and Nanjing University of Arts. She was awarded a full scholarship to the Graham School, and was a member of Graham 2.

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