Pygmalion: My Unfair Lady

Thu, May 13 at 7:30 pm
Leonard Nimoy Thalia
$30; Members, Students, Seniors $25; Day of Show $40

Why can’t a woman be more like a …statue?” asks Underworld Productions Opera in Jean-Philippe Rameau’s 1748 one-act. A dramatic twist featuring a “reverse striptease” will leave one wondering whether Pygmalion’s lady has indeed been unfair. This performance, in French with supertitles, is directed by Gina Crusco and features Nils Neubert, tenor and Sinfonia New York period orchestra. Curtain-raiser features transmedia performance artist Lynn Book in a scene from The Annotated Hippolyte et Aricie.

Rameau’s music stunned its original auditors with its dissonance and innovation. The quest to capture his daring for modern ears led to the creation by Crusco and Book of The Annotated Hippolyte et Aricie. In this trans-media treatment of the Prologue from Rameau’s Hippolyte et Aricie, Book creates an alternative narrative and sonic world to the opera scene that includes video by media artist Robin Starbuck and music composed by Katharina Klement.

Rameau and Rebellion, a short discussion between Book and Dr. Mark A. Pottinger, Professor of Music and Chair of the Department of Fine Arts at Manhattan College, will explore the issues of breaking the rules and iconoclasm in the 18th and 21st centuries.

The cast includes Nils Neubert, tenor (Pygmalion); Paige Cutrona, soprano (La Statue); and Casey Hutchinson, soprano (Amour). Additional collaborators include Edgar Cortes, choreographer; Carlo Adinolfi, set designer; Christina Watanabe, lighting designer; and Carol Pelletier, costume designer. Stage direction is by Gina Crusco.

Underworld Productions Opera Ensemble, Inc. was created in 2004 under the artistic direction of Gina Crusco. The ensemble’s Advisory Board includes Marcello Giordani, internationally renowned operatic tenor. The group made its impact on the cultural landscape in 2009 by using text messaging interactivity to determine Cosi fan Tutte‘s final pairings, an event recognized inMusical America‘s “Year in Music,” in a New York Times interview and first arts-page article; and in the blogosphere (Madison Opera blog: “This is genius!”). Past performances include the 2007 world premiere of Henry Papale’s JULIA: An Operatic Monodrama, based on the letters of Julia Ward

Sinfonia New York early music orchestra joins the ensemble to render Rameau’s work in its original tonal palette and period musical style. Sinfonia was founded in 2007 by two of New York’s most experienced and respected period instrument musicians, with a mission to present dynamic and innovative concerts of the baroque and classical repertoire. Since its debut on October 1, 2007 at Town Hall, Sinfonia has given four concerts in New York City. At Town Hall they highlighted Haydn, giving a “spirited” and “deft” reading of his “Harmoniemesse” (all quotes from The New York Times). In May 2008 they gave “lithe and gracious” performances of Mozart and Haydn at the Society for Ethical Culture. In October 2008 they joined the St. Thomas Choir for Mozart’s Requiem and the U.S. premiere of Franz Xaver Richter’s Mass in A – “a terrific concert.” In May 2009 they performed The Art of the Chaconnewith Baroque dancers at Ethical Culture – “impeccable, thoughtfully shaped, dramatically taut.”

Lynn Book’s 25 year history of interdisciplinary artistic practice cuts across boundaries between performance art, extended voice and new music forms, language and visual arts in hybrid projects which critics have called “bold and inspired.” The Chicago Tribune calledNotes On Desire “a beguiling thrill ride of a concept piece” andPaper Magazine called Book an “intelligent and influential performance artist.” Book’s work has received citations, fellowships, and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Illinois Arts Council, Franklin Furnace, and Mary Duke Biddle Foundation.

Nils Neubert, tenor (Pygmalion) recently made his debut at Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall as a First Prize Winner of the 2010 Barry Alexander International Vocal Competition. He was a finalist in the 2010 Liederkranz Vocal Competition, and a winner in the 2009 Friday Woodmere Vocal Competition, where he received the Barbara Leonard Award. Allan Kozinn of The New York Timeshailed him as one of a September 2009 performance’s “excellent vocal soloists.”

Paige Cutrona, soprano (La Statue) was described as ‘passionate’ and ‘vocally striking’ by the New York Times for her portrayal of Mimi in La Bohème in Amore Opera’s inaugural performance in December 2009. The year 2009 also brought her solo debut at Lincoln Center singing the soprano solos in Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, as well as her debut in Washington State singing Britten’s radio cantata The Company of Heaven with Mid Columbia Master Singers and orchestra.

Casey Hutchinson, soprano (Amour) sang the role of Despina in Underworld Productions’ Cosi fan Tutte in 2009, winning this praise from Sam Perwin in Opera News Online: “The standout was Casey Hutchinson’s Despina, sung with a bright, silvery soprano and just the right amount of sass for this saucy servant.” New York Times critic Anthony Tommasini noted her participation in the program “Women Extraordinaire,” writing: “The highlight was a performance of the ‘Flower Duet’…by Casey Hutchinson.”

Pygmalion: My Unfair Lady is made possible in part with public funds from the Fund for Creative Communities, supported by the New York State Council on the Arts and administered by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, and the Manhattan Community Arts Fund, supported by the City of New York Department of Cultural Affairs and administered by LMCC. Additional funding has been provided by Venable Foundation and the Joyce Dutka Arts Foundation. Underworld Productions thanks Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance, JP Morgan Chase, the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone, and the Dwyer Cultural Center for their support.

  1. 1 Pygmalion NYT Review « David Mimran

    […] triomphe – Bass part in Ensemble from Pygmalion, Jean-Philippe Rameau Underworld Productions, Symphony Space, NYC, 13 May 2010, Credits, NYT […]

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