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Gotham Chamber Opera: Sexy Stars Headline 2015 Season

Lee Fryd

Gotham Chamber Opera's "The Tempest" cast in rehearsals. (Photo: Julieta Cervantes)

Don't wait for a fat lady to sing at Gotham Chamber Opera...unless she's in her 20s. These sexy operas feature rising stars, intimate stagings, and interdisciplinary collaborations. Artistic Director Neal Goren has staged them in the Planetarium and the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, reimagined "The Princess and the Pea" as a Kardashian Reality Show, and worked with Diane Paulus, Mark Morris, and Moises Kaufmann.

Now, he will present a co-production with the Martha Graham Dance, based on Shakespeare's "The Tempest," featuring the world debut of Finnish Composer Kaija Saariaho's 2004 Tempest Songbook and incidental music composed in 1695, attributed to Henry Purcell, that she selected. It will also include the abstract videos of celebrated Parisian Multimedia/Computer Artist Jean-Baptiste Barrière. The Tempest Songbook will be performed in The Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, March 27 - 29, 2015.

"It's going to be a very abstract, musing on "The Tempest," Goren told us. "The singers sing for different characters and the dancers reflect both the text, the characters and the singers themselves. The singer might start a gesture and the dancers continue on with that."

Director and choreographer Luca Veggetti, who returns to collaborate with Goren after last season's production of "The Raven," brought Saariaho and husband Barriere in to meet Neal. "And I jumped at the chance to get us the world premiere of the song cycle," Goren told us. "She'd be on any critic's list of the five most important composers in the world today." She will be the first woman composer to have her work performed by the Met in more than 100 years. "To do a premiere of hers is big news," Goren said. He claims a bottle of champagne sealed the deal. But, in the 14 years since GCO's inception, no artist has ever said "no" to Neal Goren. Partially, he feels, "because when I have someone brilliant to work with, I give them a lot of creative control. I get a lot of inspiration from collaborating with artists whose work I love." Among the cognoscenti, Gotham Chamber Orchestra has the buzz.

It was Saariaho's idea to mix her composition for period instruments with other songs based on the Tempest by the 17th Century composer Purcell. "The new pieces speak to the old pieces in a very interesting way, using a lute, harpsichord and early strings."

Gotham Chamber Orchestra casts each production with new, rising stars. Goren finds them by judging competitions all over the country, and from his large network. "When they hear someone they think is really going places they contact me," he says. "I help them go places. I bring them here."


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