Fire Island Opera Presents L'arbre Enchante at the Pines, 8/24
"The Pines," the gay summer vacation destination off the coast of Long Island, is usually known more for groovy disco or throbbing dance music than for Opera, but August 23-25 that will change when the Fire Island Opera Festival touches down in the whimsical beach community.
The festival will take place over three days, with a number of ancillary "warm-up" events leading up to the pièce de résistance, a production of L'arbre Enchanté ("The Magic Tree") to be staged in the newly rebuilt Pavilion nightclub at 10pm on Saturday (August 24) and 2pm on Sunday (August 25).
The festival is the brainchild of theater and Opera director, Edwin Cahill, and music director, Bradley Moore. They got the idea while attending the Fire Island Dance Festival together. "We went to the [Fire Island] Dance festival last year, and it got us thinking about why there isn't more for artists and theater on the island," explains Cahill. "This community is full of talented, creative people who are interested in the arts, and we wanted to give them something completely over-the-top and different to experience, something we could do year after year."
Cahill - who spent 10 years as a performer in the Broadway and regional theater world - will direct the show, a rendition of a piece commissioned for Marie Antoinette and last performed in Versailles in 1775. This performance will be the show's "New World" premiere.
"We wanted to stage one-act Operas based around contemporary themes," Cahill explains. "We adapted this particular story to relate to the Pines audience. The arias will be sung in the original French, while the play is in 'American.' There is a troupe of half-deer/half-human bouffant satyrs representing the spirit of Fire Island who will help tell the story through pantomime and movement. The young female protagonist has been rewritten as a beautiful young man, and there is a twisted love-triangle between him and two other men. It is a sexy Opera for sure, and demonstrates that even traditional love stories are adaptable and timeless."
The music will be conducted by Bradley Moore. Moore recently performed with Renée Fleming and Susan Graham at Carnegie Hall and on a national tour. His other credits include conducting Il Barbiere di Siviglia at Opera Colorado, and work as a conductor and coach at the Metropolitan Opera, the Salzburg Festival, Opéra National de Paris, the Canadian Opera Company, and the Los Angeles Opera, among others.
The stars of the show include a varied cast of acclaimed theater and Opera performers, including David Pittsinger (one of the few singers to perform at The Met, City Opera, and on Broadway in South Pacific in the same season); Amy Justman (starred in Company on Broadway, and most recently played "Clara" in the Classic Stage Company's production of Passion), Matthew Morris (New York City Opera, La Perichole), and Will Ferguson (American Premiere of The Tempest at Santa Fe Opera). Their costumes will be designed by Dustin Cross (Zelda at the Oasis; Cougar the Musical).