Opera Philadelphia to Open Opera in the City Series with SVADBA-WEDDING, 11/2-7
Opera Philadelphia is once again expanding its civic footprint - and its 2013-2014 Season - by launching an annual series that will offer fully staged operas in unexpected venues around the city, diversifying operatic experiences for Philadelphia audiences.
Opera in the City, which brings the art form outside of traditional opera houses and into the community, will launch in November with the American Premiere of composer Ana Sokolovi?'s renowned Svadba-Wedding, in collaboration with FringeArts.Svadba-Wedding is a Serbian, a cappella opera fusing operatic and folk music and telling the story of Milica, a bride-to-be, and her five bridesmaids on the night before her wedding. The production, funded in part by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, will offer audiences an immersive operatic experience, as ticketholders will join in an authentic Balkan wedding celebration after the performance, featuring traditional cuisine and live Balkan dance music from the West Philadelphia Orchestra.
The one-hour opera and its accompanying 90-minute wedding reception will be presented at the new home of FringeArts, at the corner of Race Street and Columbus Boulevard in Philadelphia. The 1903 historic former pumping station is currently being transformed into a year-round center for contemporary performing and visual arts.
"Opera in the City is about getting outside of the usual and doing different things with opera, and to say this project is different would be an understatement," said David B. Devan, General Director and President of Opera Philadelphia. "This series will be another transformative initiative for the company and the city, bringing new audiences to opera in new and unexpected places. We thank Knight Foundation for making it possible for us to engage and enrich Philadelphia with this production; and big thanks to FringeArts for being such willing partners in bringing this opera to the stage of their amazing new space."
"In Philadelphia, our hope is that everywhere you go, you have an encounter with art - to experience a moment of inspiration that brings people together and helps strengthen a sense of community," said Dennis Scholl, vice president for arts at Knight Foundation. "By bringing artists out of the traditional performance hall and into new spaces, we hope that Opera Philadelphia will continue to engage new audience members."
Svadba-Wedding, commissioned and produced by Queen of Puddings Music Theatre in Toronto, is a raucous and intoxicating a cappella tour de force for six female opera singers. Sung in Serbian with English supertitles, it takes place the night before a wedding, when Milica (Jacqueline Woodley) and her five girlfriends (Shannon Mercer, Laura Albino, Virginia Hatfield, Andrea Ludwig and Krisztina Szabó) stay up all night long preparing for her impending marriage in a ravishing and cathartic Balkan rite of passage. Using existing Slavic/Balkan peasant folk tales, myths and traditions as her text source, Sokolovi? draws on her native Balkan folk music as a source of inspiration for Svadba-Wedding. She transforms the music and text into her own unique onomatopoeic language. The scenes unfold, not in a linear narrative, but in a playful interconnection animated through drama, distilling magic and fantasy from ordinary moments.
The new Delaware River waterfront headquarters of FringeArts, with its 240-seat theater and on-site rehearsal studio, is the ideal venue to launch Opera in the City. "The concept of bringing bold opera productions outside of the traditional opera house is in perfect alignment with FringeArts' mission to explore the boundaries of art and present high-quality new work that challenges expectations," said Nick Stuccio, President and Producing Director of FringeArts. "I look forward to working with the Opera to create something that is going to wow our audiences."
Performances take place at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 2; Sunday, Nov. 3; Wednesday, Nov. 6; and Thursday, Nov. 7. General admission tickets priced at $69 are on sale at www.fringearts.com or 215.413.1318