Dance Mogul: What is the inspiration behind The Tempest Songbook?
Luca Veggetti: Inspiration often operates on multiple and different levels, but inevitably the work to be staged itself has to be for me the source from which imagination springs. In this case, the form is as singular as it is powerfully suggestive: a songbook, ready to be expressed through dance and movement. Exploring musically the same poetic content centuries apart, it strives to find an expressive balance, humbly, through the “art of the theater” rather than operatic conventions.
Dance Mogul: What do you want audiences to be able to take away from this production?
Luca Veggetti: Hopefully some questions about the nature and meaning of a musical and theatrical experience, as well as a moment of concentrated time through images, poetry, song, music and dance.
Dance Mogul: What are some of the challenges of combing high level singing in dancing with out over doing either?
Luca Veggetti: Simply challenges that have always embodied my interests and aspiration as a theater maker. I see the arts of singing and dancing as “naked arts” that need no instrument other than the body itself, as such; they can complement and enrich each other when put in the right relation to one another. The reference to very ancient forms, or ones such as the Masque, to which Shakespeare’s The Tempest relates, or of course many of the Asian theatrical traditions where that relationship is as natural as it is significant, points us towards the universality, power and relevance of the two arts joined together.
Dance Mogul: Is there anyone you would like to thank for assisting with production?
Luca Veggetti: Firstly Kaija Saariaho who has not only composed a sublime series of works, but also generously created an extraordinary structure for us and Neal Goren who will bring it to life, but naturally the extraordinary team of artists that are behind this production, and with whom I have often the chance to collaborate, from Jean-Baptiste Barriere, responsible for the video creation, to Clifton Taylor, my lighting designer and co-scenic designer, to Peter Speliopoulos for the costumes.
Gotham Chamber Opera presents the final production of the 2014/2015 season, The Tempest Songbook, comprised of incidental music for The Tempest composed in 1695 and attributed to Henry Purcell and Kaija Saariaho’s 2004 Tempest Songbook for soprano, baritone and period instrument ensemble, in its U.S. and World Stage Premieres.A co-production with The Martha Graham Dance Company, The Tempest Songbook will be performed in The Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, with three performances from March 27 – 29, 2015. Performances: Friday and Saturday at 7pm, Sunday at 3pm. Tickets range from $30 to $175 and are available at metmuseum.org/tickets.
The Tempest Songbook will explore the themes of William Shakespeare’s The Tempest through dance, movement and song. The singers and dancers will express the words and actions of various characters, resulting in a lyrical vision of Shakespeare’s play. The production is also notable for the video creation of celebrated multimedia artist Jean-Baptiste Barrière.
“I am thrilled to be invited to share my vision for The Tempest Songbook with Gotham Chamber Opera,” said director and choreographer Luca Veggetti. “Through my association with Kaija Saariaho, I became acquainted with her Tempest Songbook and her suggested pairings with Purcell, which serves as the starting point for the production.”
“Last season’s production of The Raven, conceived by Luca Veggetti, was a tremendous success,” said Neal Goren, artistic director of Gotham Chamber Opera. “We are eager to embark on another journey led by Luca as we explore his conception of The Tempest Songbook with these fabulous singers and dancers.”
The Tempest Songbook will be conducted by Neal Goren and directed and choreographed by Luca Veggetti, with scenic design by Clifton Taylor and Luca Veggetti, costume design by Peter Speliopoulos, lighting design by Clifton Taylor, and video creation by Jean-Baptiste Barrière; and will feature Jennifer Zetlan, soprano, Thomas Richards, bass-baritone, and dancers from the Graham Company: Peiju Chien-Pott, Abdiel Jacobsen, Lloyd Mayor, Xiaochuan Xie.
The company’s2014/2015 season began with Alexandre bis & Comedy on the Bridge in October and El gato con botas in December 2014.
Gotham Chamber Opera is the nation’s leading opera company dedicated to vibrant, fully staged productions of works intended for intimate venues. Its high quality presentations of small-scale rarities from the Baroque era to the present have earned Gotham an international reputation and unanimous critical praise.
Founded by conductor and Artistic Director Neal Goren, Gotham debuted in 2001 with the American premiere of W.A. Mozart’s Il sogno di Scipione. In subsequent seasons, the company has produced many more local and world premieres, including Bohuslav Martinu’s Les Larmes du Couteau and Hlas Lesa (U.S. premiere 2002); Heinrich Sutermeister’s Die schwarze Spinne (U.S. premiere 2004); G.F. Handel’s Arianna in Creta (U.S. stage premiere 2005); Ottorino Respighi’s La bella dormente nel bosco (U.S. premiere 2005); Ariadne Unhinged, with music by Claudio Monteverdi, Joseph Haydn, and Arnold Schoenberg (World premiere 2008); Hadyn’s L’isola disabitata (New York stage premiere 2009); Xavier Montsalvatge’s El Gato con Botas (U.S. stage premiere 2010); Nico Muhly’s Dark Sisters (World premiere 2011); Lembit Beecher’s I Have No Stories To Tell You (World premiere 2014); and Toshio Hosokawa’s The Raven (U.S. premiere 2014).
Gotham has partnered with notable New York and national institutions, including Lincoln Center Festival and Spoleto USA (La bella dormente nel bosco) in 2005; the Morgan Library and Museum for Scenes of Gypsy Life (an evening of song cycles by Janáček and Dvořák) in 2008; the American Museum of Natural History and the American Repertory Theater for Hadyn’s Il mondo della luna (2010); Brooklyn Botanic Garden and the Broad Stage, Los Angeles for Daniel Catán’s La hija de Rappaccini (Rappaccini’s Daughter, 2013); Trinity Church Wall Street for Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s La descente d’Orpheé aux enfers (2013); The Metropolitan Museum of Art for Monteverdi’s Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda and Beecher’s I Have No Stories To Tell You (2014); and the New York Philharmonic for Hosokawa’s The Raven (2014).
Gotham has earned a reputation for showcasing outstanding young singers alongside established directors and choreographers such as Mark Morris (the 2009 production of Hadyn’s L’isola disabitata), David Parsons (the New York stage premiere of Astor Piazzola’s tango opera, María di Buenos Aires), Karole Armitage (the world premiere of Ariadne Unhinged), Basil Twist (La bella dormente nel bosco), Robin Guarino (Gioachino Rossini’s Il signor Bruschino and Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda/I Have No Stories to Tell You), Christopher Alden (Il sogno di Scipione and Arianna in Creta), Diane Paulus (Il mondo della luna), Moisés Kaufmann (El gato con botas), and Rebecca Taichman (Dark Sisters and La hija de Rappaccini.)
In recent years, Gotham Chamber Opera has been recognized as a pioneer in creating opera productions in alternative venues, beginning in 2010 with its production of Haydn’s Il mondo della luna at the Hayden Planetarium, followed in 2013 with the U.S. professional stage premiere of Francesco Cavalli’s Eliogabalo at New York’s notorious late night club The Box, Catán’s La hija de Rappaccini on the Cherry Esplanade of Brooklyn Botanic Garden and at the Greystone Manor in Beverly Hills, and the double-bill of Monteverdi’s Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Bloomberg Arms and Armor Gallery and Beecher’s I Have No Stories to Tell You in the Medieval Court.
For more information, visit www.gothamchamberopera.org.
The Martha Graham Dance Company has been a leader in the development of contemporary dance since its founding in 1926. Today, the Company is embracing a new programming vision that showcases masterpieces by Graham, her contemporaries and their successors alongside newly commissioned works by contemporary artists. With programs that unite the work of choreographers across time within a rich historical and thematic narrative, the Company is actively working to create new platforms for contemporary dance and multiple points of access for audiences.
Since its inception, the Martha Graham Dance Company has received international acclaim from audiences in more than 50 countries throughout North and South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. The Company has performed at the Metropolitan Opera, Carnegie Hall, the Paris Opera House, Covent Garden, and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, as well as at the base of the Great Pyramids in Egypt and in the ancient Herod Atticus Theatre on the Acropolis in Athens. In addition, the Company has also produced several award-winning films broadcast on PBS and around the world. More information can be found at www.marthagraham.org.