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Arts & Entertainment Preview - November 2000
B Y A U S T I N B A E
R & N A N C Y D A L V
Brecht and Weill wrote bigger and more-popular works for the stage than
The Seven Deadly Sins, but artistically this one's the bull's-eye. At
the start Anna I/II, from a Louisiana of the poet's fantasies, sallies
forth to the nightclub circuit. Some forty minutes later she has lived
through seven years in seven cities and scraped together the cost of a
new house for her selfish family. At the final curtain she is heading
home, spent in body and soul, her own dreams reduced to ashes. Anna's
personality was originally split between two performers: the practical,
goal-oriented Anna I, who cracks the whip and narrates, and Anna II,
the artist, who dances and ineffectually rebels. At the premiere,
in Paris, the part of Anna I fell to Lotte Lenya, Weill's wife, who -- both
in the tinselly soprano of her youth and the gravel baritone of
her later years -- realized Weill's intentions with complete authority,
even though she could not, in any conventional sense, actually sing.
Although stagings remain infrequent, one generation after another of
theatrically minded successors have "rediscovered" the score's pungent,
cabaret verve, quite a few even singing in the soprano range that Weill
had in mind. This month two reigning divas take their interpretations to
the concert hall: Germany's Ute Lemper, icy and acid, with the
Chicago Symphony Orchestra (November 9-14; 312-294-3000);
and Broadway's generous, impulsive Audra McDonald, with the
Los Angeles Philharmonic (November 30-December 3; 323-850-2000).
Weill fans, it's time to pack your bags. --A.B.
| Audra McDonald|
Dances From Down Under
The Sydney Dance Company, the highly acclaimed troupe from Down Under,
is celebrating the choreographer Graeme Murphy's twenty-fifth year as
its artistic director by barnstorming America with two of his evening-length
works. Murphy, who was named a living national treasure in Australia in
1997, has created dances for the repertoires of the Australian Ballet,
the Canadian Opera Company, the Netherlands Dance Theater, the Royal
New Zealand Ballet, and the on-ice duo Torvill and Dean. For his own
company he has choreographed more than forty dances. Stopping in New
Orleans (November 2, 4); St. Louis (November 10, 11); Amherst,
Massachusetts (November 14); and Stonybrook, New York (November 17),
on their way to a week-long engagement at The Joyce Theater, in New York City (November 28-December 3), the Aussies are alternating two very different pieces, though each showcases Murphy's longstanding commitment to collaboration with composers, in both of these cases with the Australian percussionist Michael Askill. Two percussionists are on stage for Salome, the more dramatic work, in which Murphy's retelling focuses on all four main characters (Herod, Herodias, John the Baptist, and Salome). The sounds of a Japanese bamboo flute add to the live
accompaniment for the more spiritual Air and other invisible forces,
a mosaic of solo, small-group, and ensemble dancing. Costumes for both
productions are the contribution of Akira Isogawa, Australia's fashion
designer of the year in 1999, who gives us a look at what's been hot on
the other side of the planet. --N.D.
|From Air and other |
A Moveable Feast
Summer music retreats are legion, but the Marlboro Music Festival is unique.
Yo-Yo Ma was speaking for multitudes when he said, "Marlboro was the place where I decided to become a musician. Living through these summers led me to a commitment to music that I could not have received from one school or one teacher." Every summer for the past half century, exceptional young talents and
seasoned masters have been making the pilgrimage to rural Vermont. There,
for a blessed spell, they relax their relentless pursuit of individual
perfection and devote themselves instead to the rewards of pure musical
exploration in the company of like-minded colleagues. Deadlines and hierarchy
are unknown, and inspiration flows in every direction. Concert programs at
Marlboro, assembled from material that has ripened to readiness in the
performers' own good time, are announced only days in advance.
During the regular season the "real" world gets to listen in on
the results via Marlboro Music concerts on the road, and for these
the repertoire is published in customary long-lead fashion. Half a
dozen events are scheduled this month for Boston, New York, Philadelphia,
and Washington, D.C. (for details call 212-581-5197). The pianists
Mitsuko Uchida and Richard Goode, the artistic directors of the festival
and stars in their own right, are scheduled to participate. For home
listening Sony Classical has issued a commemorative double CD honoring Marlboro's fiftieth anniversary. The music selections include historic
performances that exemplify to a tee the spirit of a miraculous place apart. --A.B.
| This way to Marlboro Country|
Austin Baer is a writer based in New York.
Nancy Dalva's essays appear in the magazine 2wice.
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Photo Credits -- Audra McDonald: Barron Claiborne. Air and other invisible forces: Branco Gaica. Marlboro Music Festival: Gayle Stockdale.
Copyright © 2000 by The Atlantic Monthly Group. All rights reserved.