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The Opposite of Love Is Sausage: A Sneak Peek at Gloria – A Pig Tale

Gloria - a Pig Tale NY Philharmonic

Preparations for HK Gruber’s Gloria – A Pig Tale — the story of a lonely pig looking for love — are in full swing. Here's a sneak peak of costume sketches and stage design from director Doug Fitch and producer Edouard Getaz of the production company Giants Are Small.

Stage model:

NY Philharmonic 

Sausage sketch:

 

NY Philharmonic 

 

Pig sketch:

NY Philharmonic

Bull sketch:

NY Philharmonic

Bird sketch:

NY Philharmonic

Catch the staged presentation of HK Gruber’s Gloria – A Pig Tale — conducted by Music Director Alan Gilbert, and featuring soprano Lauren Snouffer, mezzo-soprano Brenda Patterson, tenor Alexander Lewis, baritone Carlton Ford, and bass Kevin Burdette along with Juilliard’s AXIOM ensemble — on May 29–30 & June 1 at Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium at The Metropolitan Museum of Art as part of the inaugural NY PHIL BIENNIAL.

Alan Gilbert on Multimedia Concerts: 'This Is Our Identity'

Alan Gilbert and Doug Fitch 

Music Director Alan Gilbert was recently featured in a Washington Post article by Anne Midgette on multimedia performances by orchestras. As Midgette notes, interdisciplinary performances through collaboration with other institutions and artists are one way in which Gilbert has brought a fresh approach to music-making. (Above, Gilbert works on one such project with director-designer Doug Fitch.) She writes:

In 2008, I reviewed a U-Md. concert called “The Petrushka Project.” [James] Ross and the director/puppeteer Doug Fitch, who are old friends, teamed up to create a performance of Stravinsky’s “Petrushka” that had the orchestra musicians wearing bits of costume, stomping their feet, drinking tea, and performing other stage business. It seemed a worthy one-off experiment.

Description: Description: http://articles.washingtonpost.com/images/pixel.gifBut lo and behold, the “Petrushka Project” has come to the New York Philharmonic. Paired with another Stravinsky work, it closed the orchestra’s 2012-13 season and was filmed for distribution in movie theaters this month under the title “A Dancer’s Dream.” Alan Gilbert, the Philharmonic’s music director, is planning to take it on tour.

“I couldn’t have imagined this five years ago, when I was asked to be the orchestra’s music director,” Gilbert said by phone last week.

In his four years at the Philharmonic to date, Gilbert has been an active champion of alternative forms of concert performance. In addition to its traditional diet of symphonies and concertos, the orchestra has offered semi-staged opera productions (directed by Fitch), theatrical presentations of contemporary music, and, yes, film-score accompaniment. “After four years,” Gilbert said, “it’s possible to say it’s not just an aberration. . . . This is our identity, not something we’re pasting on.”

Gilbert’s motivation is not to reach new audiences or find ways to make music more approachable. “I don’t buy that you need to juice up the concert experience with visuals to continue to be relevant,” he said. “I think sitting in a hall where music is being created live, in front of your face, is one of the most meaningful experiences you can have, still. That said . . . orchestras as institutions have to be more than just concert-producing mechanisms.” He added, “I am very interested in showing connections between what we do and what other cultural institutions and forces do.”

The Price of Being an Artist

Ice Maiden Video Shoot

Opening tonight, A Dancer’s Dream is what director/designer Doug Fitch calls an “über Fairy Tale,” combining Stravinsky’s disparate ballets The Fairy’s Kiss and Petrushka to create a new narrative.

Here’s the story: a young woman, played by ballerina Sara Mearns, sits entranced at a Philharmonic concert. She is “kissed” by the passion to become an artist and drawn into the performance, dancing to the complete score of The Fairy’s Kiss. By the second act, she has completed her transformation into an artist, becoming Columbine in Petrushka. But becoming an artist has consequences. As Giants Are Small detailed in a production plan, “she loses her ability to have an ordinary life as the demons of ambition and love claim her as their plaything.”

The real Sara Mearns can relate. As she told The New York Times, "It's kind of true that you have this massive dream to be this ballerina, to be out there onstage performing, and you pour everything into it. Then there is a point where you feel like you are trapped in it and cannot get out. And that is the curse.”

Stravinsky meditated on this theme in The Fairy’s Kiss, which he dedicated to Tchaikovsky, an artist who paid this price (“Tchaikovsky’s personal life was a mess,” Mr. Fitch says in the Times). As Stravinsky inscribed in the score: “I dedicate this ballet to the memory of Pyotr Tchaikovsky by relating the Fairy to his Muse, and in this way the ballet becomes an allegory, the Muse having similarly branded Tchaikovsky with her fatal kiss, whose mysterious imprint made itself felt in all this great artist’s work.”

Extra! Extra!

New York Times A Dancer's Dream

“It’s kind of true that you have this massive dream to be this ballerina, to be out there onstage performing, and you pour everything into it. Then there is a point where you feel like you are trapped in it and cannot get out. And that is the curse.” — Sara Mearns

Dance writer Gia Kourlas presents a peek behind the curtain of A Dancer's Dream in this past Sunday's New York Times. Sara Mearns, Doug Fitch, and Karole Armitage spoke with Gia about all-things Dream, including the narrative that will tie together Stravinsky's The Fairy's Kiss and Petrushka.

(Photo: Sara Krulwich/The New York Times)

Deciphering the Dream

Deciphering the Dream

"Tonight, our story unfolds as a kind of über Fairy Tale, connecting two great ballets by Stravinsky,” explains  Doug Fitch,  director/designer of A Dancer's Dream, in a note for Playbill: “The thread that weaves them all together takes the form of a young woman who slips into the world of her own imagination and is swept away by muses to become a ballerina.

"The Fairy’s Kiss is based on a haunting story by Hans Christian Andersen (The Ice Maiden) and was composed by Stravinsky as an homage to Tchaikovsky. Stravinsky saw the ‘kiss’ as a metaphor for the artistic gift — that mysterious, intangible phenomenon that can bestow immortality, but not without extracting its human price. We have merged these into a kind of daydream — a reverie induced by the seductive and transformative power of great music…. She then enters into the world of the Shrovetide Fair-setting of Petrushka and becomes the puppet ballerina character Columbine. Things in this daydream seem to have real consequences and it is hard to distinguish the artifice from the reality it is designed to imitate.

"After its premiere, Stravinsky said that dance is not applied arts — it is a union of arts; they strengthen and complement each other. It is in this spirit of developing a union between artistic media — some old, some new — that we have pursued this project…. We invite you to enter this world with us — to put together the pieces in your own mind and to weave your own stories as you watch and listen. You are very much a part of this collaboration."

(Photo of A Dancer’s Dream rehearsal courtesy of Giants Are Small)

SLIDESHOW: A Dancer's Rehearsal

Exactly two weeks before A Dancer’s Dream, we found New York City Ballet principal dancers Sara Mearns and Amar Ramasar hard at work rehearsing and preparing with choreographer Karole Armitage and director/designer Doug Fitch with his Giants Are Small crew.

Photos by Chris Lee.

VIDEO: Choreographing A Dancer's Dream

Choreographer Karole Armitage says that she and Giants Are Small detailed a “second-by-second action plan” for A Dancer’s Dream, which uses Stravinsky’s The Fairy’s Kiss and Petrushka as the foundation for a new narrative about a young woman (played by New York City Ballet principal dancer Sara Mearns) and her dream of becoming a dancer. Check out this video of moments from a recent dance rehearsal. Read More...

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