Opera : Jealousy, deceit, love and laughter at The Yard
This weekend The Yard is making its first foray into opera with the presentation of two classic comic works featuring some of New York's most in-demand young opera performers. Whether you're an impresario or just enjoy music and farce, The Yard artistic/executive director Wendy Taucher promises an evening filled with great voices, theatre and laughter.
Accompanied by conductor Elizabeth Scott of the Bronx Opera, Ms. Taucher will direct and choreograph Il Segreto di Susanna by Wolf-Ferrari and the first act of Rossini's masterpiece, L'Italiana in Algeri. Performances are scheduled for Friday through Sunday, August 15-17, at 8 pm. The Friday evening performance includes an opening night Champagne Benefit and an opportunity to mingle with the cast. All performances will be preceded by a discussion at 7 pm.
The evening of "Jealousy, Deceit, Love and Laughter" opens with Wolf-Ferrari's 1909 one-act piece that combines all elements of farce - suspicion, confusion, comic timing, and a happy ending. Performed in English, Il Segreto di Susanna (Susanna's Secret) concerns a count's fear that his beloved wife is an adulteress and the comedy of errors that results from his attempts to catch her in the act. Although Wolf-Ferrari's work is not performed very widely, he is generally thought to be the finest writer of Italian comic opera of his time.
Rossini's L'Italiana in Algeri (The Italian Girl in Algiers) was first performed in Venice in 1813 and was written when the Italian composer was just 21. Ms. Taucher chose the piece, set in Algeria at the seaside palace of a wealthy ruler, because it builds to a famous finale showcasing the operatic talents of seven singers who strive to sing as many notes as loudly and as fast as they possibly can, simultaneously, and in Italian. The piece will be performed in Italian with actors providing comic narration in English.
Since taking the helm at The Yard three years ago, Ms. Taucher has expressed a commitment to expanding the facility's emphasis from that of strictly dance to one that embraces a full breadth of performing arts.
"I'm excited to bring opera to The Yard for the first time," she said. "We're hoping that just as great dance can appeal to non-dance enthusiasts, our night of comic opera can attract both opera buffs as well as people who simply enjoy wonderful theatre."
Photos courtesy of The Yard
Both she and Ms. Scott commend the cast for their top-notch acting and singing talents. Ms. Scott said: "Because The Yard is such an intimate venue, it challenges the artist. There are few places that offer audiences this opportunity for intimacy and accessibility."
Ms. Taucher and Ms. Scott have extensive backgrounds in opera. They will be assisted by acclaimed vocal coach Marni Nixon, known as "The Voice of Hollywood," for her many behind-the-scenes performances for leading ladies in films such as "West Side Story" and "My Fair Lady."
Nestled in a bucolic 2.5-acre wooded setting on Middle Road in Chilmark, The Yard has quietly helped launch the careers of many world-class choreographers and dancers over its 36-year history. While The Yard is known in New York circles as the country's premier residential colony devoted to the development of new dance, many Vineyard residents and visitors neglect to make the scenic trek to this 100-seat jewel of a theatre. Ms. Taucher hopes that "Jealousy, Deceit, Love and Laughter" will prove to be a powerful incentive.
Comic Opera, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, August 15-17, 8 pm, The Yard, Chilmark. Yard Arts! presents opera in English and Italian by rising stars from New York; dessert reception follows Friday night only: $100; $50; $25 for seniors and under 30. Sat. and Sun.: $50; $25; $15. 508-645-9662. For tickets or more information, call 508-645-9662 or visit dancetheyard.org.
Karla Araujo is a freelance writer who lives on Martha's Vineyard and Washington D.C.