R. B. SCHLATHER: OPERA: ALCINA George Frideric Handel, 1735
Open rehearsals | September 6-17th
Free and open to the public daily except for Thursdays | 11am-6pm
General Rehearsal | September 19th | 7pm
Performances | September 20th & 21st | 7pm
Talk back after performance on September 21st
Music Director | Geoffrey McDonald
Stage Director | R. B. Schlather
Costume | Terese Wadden
Scenography | Paul Tate DePoo
Lighting Design | JAX Messenger
Hair and Makeup Design | Dave Bova
Titles | Steven Jude Tietjen
Stage Manager | Audrey Chait
Interactive Media Design | Igor Molochevski
Assistant Director | Emily Cuk
New York Times, A Sorceress Stirs Up a Sense of Adventurousness by Zachary Woolfe
Frankfurter Allfemeine Blog, Im weißen Zauberschuhkarton steckt die Zukunft der Oper by Patrick Bahners
Parterre Box, About Last Night by John Yohalem
IMBY (In My Backyard), Hudson’s Schlather Directs Handel’s “Alcina” in New York by John Issacs
IMBY (In My Backyard), Open house: Opera at Whitebox > SoundLounge by Whitebox Art Center
New York City – Whitebox Art Center is pleased to present the work of opera director R. B. Schlather as part of WhiteboxLab>Sound Lounge, a series of unconventional works. For two weeks, Whitebox’s main exhibition space will be a laboratory for the rehearsal and performance of an operatic score, culminating in two performances of George Frideric Handel’s Alcina, an 18th century baroque opera. This theatric installation uses the opera seria, or “serious opera”, Alcina (1735) as source material. The libretto, L’Isola d’Alcina (1728) is by Riccardo Broschi, based off of Ludovico Ariosto’s epic poem Orlando Furioso. Alcina is a story of love and illusion that premiered during Handel’s remarkable hit season at the Covent Garden Theatre in London in 1735, and is regarded as one of his most inventive and melodic musical scores.
WhiteboxLab>Sound Lounge and R. B. Schlather respond to the changing landscape of operatic performance in New York City and around the world by staging this work in an untraditional opera venue. As a laboratory, WhiteboxLab>Sound Lounge is delighted to open all musical and staging rehearsals, September 6 – 17, prior to the General Rehearsal on September 19th at 7pm and the final productions on September 20th and 21st at 7pm, with a Talkback after the performance on the 21st moderated by Joseph Cermatori. This program will be free and open to the public daily, except for Thursdays, from 11am to 6pm. For the final performances, the opera will be enacted live with an orchestra, in Italian, utilizing new technologies with projected English subtitles.
The opera is set on the island of the enchantress Alcina, and explores themes of identity, illusion, and transformation. This island exists as a beautiful landscape in the middle of the ocean, where Alcina culls her powers to create a paradise, only to lure and seduce the knights that wash up on her shore, one of whom is the heroic Ruggiero. Alcina’s magic causes Ruggiero to fall under her spell and, in doing so, he forsakes his duty as a knight and forgets his fiancée, Bradamante. The opera develops as Bradamante disguises herself as a male warrior her brother “Ricciardo” and sets out on a mission to recover her love.
Accompanied by Alcina’s guardian, Melisso, the two are shipwrecked on Alcina’s island by fate. Imminent danger awaits Ruggiero, as Alcina possesses the power to transform her foes and lovers of whom she tires into rocks, trees, and wild beasts. The already heavily dramatized plot is further complicated by the integration of different characters who all, in their own right, act on emotions of love and jealousy. In portraying Alcina’s thickened plot, Schlather’s production brings to life a story of enchantment, folding into it classic operatic moments of romance, betrayal, violence, unrequited love, and magic.
R. B. Schlather is an opera director based in Manhattan, NY. Schlather’s recent credits include Werther for Opera Company Brooklyn, Treemonisha for New York City Opera, and Some Call Refuge at Vaudeville Park. Additionally, Schlather has directed The Arianna Project for lauded early music group Musica Nuova, a concert with Nico Muhly and Gotham Chamber Opera at the multimedia art cabaret (le) Poisson Rouge . He is also accredited for I. Were., a pastiche created with countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo and dramaturge Joe Cermatori for the Salon/Sanctuary Concerts. He regularly assists Christopher Alden, most recently at the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Boston Lyric Opera, English National Opera salon and sanctuary concert, New York City Opera, and the Canadian Opera Company. He has assisted Kevin Newbury at Bard Summerscape and Central City Opera. In the near future, Schlather will be directing opera productions at Tanglewood Music Festival and at the Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona.
R. B. Schlather’s production is part of Whitebox’s new program, WhiteboxLab>Sound Lounge, which aims to create sustained and in-depth exposure for artists working in temporal mediums such as performance, sound art, and literary arts, while providing a platform for audiences to experience artist practices.
Synopsis: The sorceress Alcina lives on an island in the ocean, and enchants the knights that arrive on her shores. When tired of her lovers she transforms them into rocks, trees and wild beasts. The heroic knight Ruggiero has fallen under her spell, and forgotten his fiancée, Bradamante. Bradamante, in male disguise as her brother “Ricciardo,” has set out with her guardian, Melisso, to recover Ruggiero, and the two are shipwrecked on Alcinaʼs island by fate. There they encounter Alcinaʼs flighty sorceress sister, Morgana, who instantly falls in love with “Ricciardo.” They discover Ruggiero in Alcinaʼs embrace, with no memory of his betrothal. He angrily rebukes “Ricciardo” as competing for Alcinaʼs affections. Alcinaʼs general, Oronte, in love with Morgana and stung by her sudden infatuation with “Riccairdo”, arrives to challenge “him” to a duel. This dramatic scenario of identities and transformations plays out until the source of Alcinaʼs magic power is broken, and all, including Alcinaʼs transfigured lovers, are returned to human shape and sanity.
R. B. Schlather 2014
This opera is made possible by Felicia Blum, Allen R. & Judy Brick Freedman, Stephanie French and Charles Klein, Sherwin M. Goldman, Nancy Henriksson, Graham and Susan McDonald, Roy Niederhoffer, Nowick Taylor Trust, The Alfred & Jane Ross Foundation and Karen R. Schlather
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The programs of Whitebox Art Center are made possible in part by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.