Sunday, August 3, 2008

A new home and hard at work!

I have been a bit out of commission, though I've had lots to say, for the past week. That's because straight out of Santa Fe, I had one day to pack everything up and move to our new place in Leuven, Belgium - a beautiful town very close to Brussels.

Much to report though:

First, I had a wonderful time with members of the AOT Board of Directors at Santa Fe. Last Friday we attended the new production by Paul Curran of Billy Budd. This is an amazing piece that doesn't get done often enough. One of the biggest problems with it is the all male cast. The lead role is really Captian Vere which was written for Peter Pears, Billy Budd it a vital large, but dramatically not central role. In the Santa Fe production Billy was portrayed to great effect by Teddy Rhodes (it helped that he looked the part). The set was beautifully done and played ideally against the Santa Fe desert backdrop. I was a little dissappointed with what I saw to be a rather two-dimensional interpretation of the piece, particularly in the characterization of Claggart. It was a little black in white for a piece that can have greater depth I thought. Still, a wonderful evening in the warm desert air with beautiful Britten.

The real excitement was the next day's "Adriana Mater" which I had already seen in rehearsal. It was even better the second time. The music, particularly orchestration, is ravishing. It is a slow piece and both music and plot move in slow steps over little but substantial terrain. If one is willing to let go of the need for action it is a very powerful evening. The normal Sellars team of set and lighting designers really stole the spotlight. The after party was a great treat spending time with all the creative parties involved, the Santa Fe management team, and most of all Peter. He is a tremendous force of energy, ideas, and spirit.

The move to Leuven has been smooth, which is a good thing since I'm hard at work on numerous AOT projects and other projects as well. These include the upcoming "Cabaret de Carmen" at Baltimore Theatre Project, "Hydrogen Jukebox" at Georgetown, a new piece called "A Pilgrime's Solace" for a theater here in Belgium, the Britten church parables (fantastic pieces!), and finally a production proposal for "Einstein on the Beach". AOT has recently received grants for to further projects so work will begin on those soon.

I look forward to expounding on all these projects, probably starting with the "Carmen", in the near future. As for now, I am off to Barcelona tomorrow for a meeting and a visit with friends, and then a slew of concerts this month in Venice and Florence, and finally a meeting in Paris to plan the new piece to which I'm very much looking forward.


Clayton Koonce said...

Hello, Tim. It's great to see your posts, and I love your photos. I'm just back from my own operatic trip -- I went to see "King Roger" and "Harnasie" twice at Bard College and hope to write about the experience soon. Washington National Opera did "Billy Budd" a few seasons ago (Zambello directed). The problem of all-male voices was addressed in accompanying literature, too, but Britten seems to have handled it expertly, and maybe it shouldn't be considered a "problem." I'd like to put in a word for the 1962 movie version of Melville's story with Peter Ustinov as Vere and some hints at the sexual tension, which seem quite surprising for the date of the production.

Timothy Nelson said...

I love the film version as well. I am hoping that Willy Decker will do a stage version that I can see soon. His Britten is amazing. I have seen his Peter Grimes and his Death in Venice. On DVD he has an incredible Don Carlos (with Villazon) and also a fantastic Boris Godonov from Liceau.