“Manchester, England, England!”

Early last evening, C.C. hit a little cocktail party/press conference at the W hotel in Union Square for the second Manchester Festival, an original-work biennial festival taking place in the jolly old town of Manchester UK.

This year’s festival, taking place over two weeks in July, features a pretty serious 17-day performance art attack on the Whitworth gallery, led by the “grandmother” of performance art, Marina Abramovic.

Abramovic will conduct one-hour training sessions for the audience, who will have to sign contracts to stay for all five hours of any performance they select. Says Abramovic, “Life is going faster and faster, so art should be getting longer.” Not everyone is likely to sympathize, but for work that is largely about endurance, it makes sense.

Also notable will be the first time ever that Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson have shared a stage [update: in the UK] , in a performance of old and new works.

prima-donna1

But the big cahuna here, is the premiere of the new opera that The Met’s otherwise business-savvy director, Peter Gelb, let get away. That would be Rufus Wainwright’s “Prima Donna,” an unabashedly romantic work about the attempt by an aging opera diva to revive her career.

At the press conference/cocktail hour, a short excerpt of the overture was played to a quietly attentive audience of journalists (hey T-Bone!), admirers (Roselee…), and a priest (?).

Personally, I just wanted to hear what this would sound like. And while it’s pretty near impossible to judge an entire opera by it’s overture alone–much less a small excerpt from a crappy recording made during a rehearsal–it’s safe to say that the music is rich, romantic, French, and pretty, but didn’t seem nearly as beautiful or daring (even lazily daring) as some of Rufus’ song work (can I call you Rufus?).

Here’s hoping that our favorite forlorn French/Canadian troubadour isn’t falling prey to that nagging impulse to write what he thinks opera should sound like; in other words, a cliche of opera.

Rufus wasn’t shy about hoping the work would one day reach the stage of The Met. If the opera is a success, and The Met, as Rufus predicts, “will be sad,” I have a feeling Peter Gelb will once again have yet another “Prima Donna” to manage.

Oh, and they’ll probably do the opera.

How Does NYCO Spell Relief? O-R-C-H-E-S-T-R-A A-I-S-L-E-S

Holy fuck balls! Change has come.

On the heals of its image redesign, New York City Opera has unbelievably announced (although the link to the press release doesn’t appear to work) that the State Theater is getting…aisles in the orchestra!!! And Peter Martins is cool with it!

I don’t know how long the dispute between NYCO and the New York City Ballet has been waged, but at last it seems they’ve come to a logical and long awaited solution.

Two “side aisles” will be added to the orchestra level, making it more convenient for audiences to get to their seats, but preserving the center section for ideal Balanchine viewing. Also, new seats will be installed.

For those of you who’ve had to shimmy past twenty pairs of knees only to get locked into the middle of the orchestra with not hope of escape should you either A. hate the production, or B. catch a sudden case of IBS, you can probably already feel the relief.

You’re welcome again. (See Step 10)

state-theater

Someone took our advice…

I knew there was something going on–finally–over at NYCO, when I got a press release about NYCO’s upcoming semi-staged production/workshop of The Magic Flute from Lisa Lori.

Lo and behold, that wasn’t the only change-up at the company: Mama got a facelift!

newyorkcityopera

Isn’t she handsome with her new font and her Flash features?

You’re welcome. (See step 9)

TO DO: Michael Hart, “Portraiture and Performance: 2003-2009″

"The Field" Photo by Michael Hart

"The Field" by Michael Hart

For those of us privileged to know him, Michael Hart is a godsend, and a fiercely dedicated artist and advocate. He may probably be the very lifeblood of the new dance scene. If that is an overstatement, then at least it is fair to say that Mr. Hart has been a steady force behind dozens of dance and other performance productions for the past few years, assisting not only with Chez Bushwick events and related artists, but also reaching out to other performers with an urgency and generosity that really seems to have one aim: To help give a push to anyone who wants it, and to anyone who needs it, in order to be the fiercest, fearless, and most fabulous version of who they are.

Not unrelated to these activities, Michael Hart has been stealthily documenting not only performances, but performers themselves–along with a host of other subjects–in kinetic, imaginative and subversive portraits. You may very well have beheld one of his images on any number of 4over4 flyers that get strewn around downtown dance venues. (You’ve also seen his work a’plenty on this site…)

Now, at long last, you can view this work in a public showing at Chez Bushwick tomorrow night (Wednesday, 18). There will also be live performances. Details are below.

Don’t miss this, the first solo showing of a photographic talent who is as deeply involved in the world he captures as he is highly invested in seeing that world thrive.

Portraiture & Performance: 2003-2009
Photography by Michael Hart

Hosted @ Chez Bushwick
Wednesday, March 18, 2009, 7:00PM
$10 Suggested Donation

Dual-Channel Slideshows Projected on the
The Twin Marquis Noodle Factory Façade
across the street from Chez Bushwick

*With Improvised Performances*
Beverages Served

purdy

James Purdy (1914/23-2009)

Opera…In…Spaaaaace….

wooster_didoneMy crew over at the New York Press/Manhattan Media have come out with City Arts, a new monthly arts insert (expansion during a recession!!??) that you can find sandwiched in The Press. (It’s already been lampooned by a snarky renegade blogger…)

For it’s maiden voyage, our very own Ryan Tracy offers a little preview of The Wooster Group’s new opera, “La Didone,” probably the most exciting event in new opera this season.

Get your tickets now. It’s going to be the coolest.

Where No Opera Has Gone Before, by Ryan Tracy

After over 30 years of voyaging into forbidden territory, the Wooster Group, New York City’s cornerstone avantgarde theater company, is finally ready to venture into a new and alien universe: opera.

Its latest work, La Didone, opening at St. Ann’s Warehouse March 17 (after having premiered at the Edinburgh Festival in 2007), is a resuscitation of Francesco Cavalli’s Baroque epic that surrounds the Greek love tragedy of Dido and Aeneas. True to form, Elizabeth LeCompte and her rock-star thespians have added their own special twist, colliding the musical work with “Terrore nello spazio,” Mario Bava’s 1965 Italian sci-fi horror flick about a spaceship crew that becomes marooned on a planet of zombies. Awesome.

(Read the full article…)

Grab Bag

A few things worth noting…

Right now, there’s a pretty raging debate over the use of animals in performance over at L. Ro.’s Performance Club. C.C. is like “umm, dogs can’t consent to making art,” and others are like, “well, he’s having fun, so chill the fuck out!”

People are also commenting about other aspects of National Theater of the U.S.A.’s latest offering at P.S.122.

Also, here’s a little lag-time for you.

After C.C. posted this piece of arts news gossip here, and this one here, The Times decided to cast the official seal of approval on these days later.

Here’s Dan Wakin’s take on the Brooklyn Philharmonic “belt tightening.”

And Roslyn Sulcas confirms our blind item about 3 dancers being “fired” from a major NYC modern dance company, which turns out to be Merce Cunningham.

I guess when The Times reports on something stat, it’s breaking news. But when they drag their heels it’s responsible journalism.

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