BARD COLLEGE PRODUCTION OF MONTEVERDI'S OPERA L'ORFEO PREMIERES ON SATURDAY, MAY 6
ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.—The Theater Program at Bard College presents Claudio Monteverdi's opera L'Orfeo from Saturday, May 6, through Wednesday, May 10. Performances begin at 8:00 p.m. each evening, except on Sunday, May 7, when there will be a matinee at 2:00 p.m.; there will be no performance that evening. The opera will be presented in the Scene Shop Theater at the Avery Center for the Arts. Admission is free, but reservations are necessary, as seating is limited. Call 914-758-8622 for information.
The production features Bard College students who "not only sing, but really act," according to director Jeffrey Sichel, assistant professor of theater at Bard. This is the fourth opera that Sichel has directed at the college. The previous three, Pelleas and Melisande, Don Giovanni, and The Magic Flute, were so well received that each sold out, and Sichel had offers to restage Pelleas off Broadway in Manhattan. He declined the offers, stating that he did not want the "students prematurely exposed to a commercial venture." Nearly half the available seats for L'Orfeo have already been reserved, he says, so those planning to attend should make reservations promptly.
For this production, Sichel will transform the intimate black-box theater into a kaleidoscopic underworld into which the audience will literally enter as the opera progresses. L'Orfeo is Monteverdi's mythic tale of a passion that defies death and finds immortality in true love, set in a nether world between life and death. Orpheus embarks on a quest to retrieve his beloved Eurydice from the underworld after a premature yet fated death. Sichel aims to evoke the magical and mystical creation that Monteverdi envisioned.
Scenery for the production was designed by Jeff Cowie, costumes by Arden Kirkland, and lighting by Andrew Hill. Arthur Burrows, associate professor of theatre and music at Bard College, will conduct the orchestra. The performances will be in Italian with an English libretto provided for each audience member.
Jeffrey Sichelhas taught at Bard since 1997. He received his undergraduate degree from Skidmore College and an M.F.A. degree from Columbia University. "I taught at Columbia before teaching here," Sichel says. "Without a doubt, Bard students surpass the quality of those at Columbia in terms of theatrical ingenuity. I'm fascinated by the energy that the students bring to their projects here." Sichel was founder and artistic director of his own off-Broadway company, the Empty Space Theatre Company. He has been a musical collaborator with Gordon Gano of the band Violent Femmes and has worked with the New York Theatre Workshop. Formerly assistant director of the Obie Award-winning En Garde Arts, Sichel also has worked with Julie Taymore, director of The Lion King; the producers of Rent; and The Knitting Factory.
Sichel sees opera at Bard as a true integration of a variety of curricula, thus fulfilling the goals of liberal arts education. The students who are involved in the productions, he notes, are extremely dedicated and have made a year-long commitment to bring this opera to fruition, through a process of learning and rehearsing in a mixture of classroom and rehearsal time. He notes that production of opera on this scale is "extremely ambitious and unique for a small liberal arts College."
For further information about and reservations for the production of L'Orfeo, which is co-sponsored by the President's Office of Bard College, call 914-758-8622.
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