TALE OF SERSE Comes To Baltimore, Blending Poetry Of Rumi And Music Of Handel
Timothy Nelson, a gradute of Peabody conservatory, forged his opera-directing career in Baltimore as founder and head of American Opera Theater (2001-2008). After pursuing a career overseas in London and Amsterdam, he returned to the Baltimore-Washington region in August of 2018 to become Artistic Director of the In Series, a DC based opera-theater company sharing his long-held commitment to innovating the art form and reaching new audiences. With this production, touring to the Baltimore Theatre Project for three performances, Nelson returns to the city he considers home and brings innovative staged opera-theater back as well.
The In Series 2018-2019 r(E)volution! season exemplifies this company's commitment to challenging operatic conventions, exploring with intensity other ways of experiencing classical works. We end the season with our most innovative production yet: THE TALE OF SERSE radically rethinks how opera can be presented, using Handel's lightest, most lovely and beloved opera as the raw material with which to build a new type of musical-dramatic performance.
Handel composed SERSE in 1738, at a time when opera had lost its popularity and direct audience appeal. With SERSE, he was attempting to revolutionize the art form and re-popularize opera by adapting it for his contemporary audiences. To do this, Handel repurposed the libretto of an older opera, deconstructing and reconstructing it to make a new type of opera that was fast moving, surprising, and utterly charming. This project approaches Handel's opera in the same way, deconstructing and reconstructing it to reach today's audiences. The plot here is streamlined into a simple story of love and presented in the style of a Persian folk story. A spoken narration, crafted from the poetry of Sufi mystic poet Rumi, honors the story's Iranian roots. In this way, the In Series continues to innovatively blend spoken and lyric texts to reveal new ways of experiencing the canon.
This project features a unique collaboration with the Iranian-American Community Center. The curator of its art gallery, architect and artist Parinaz Bahadori, is acting as cultural advisor to the project. Her large-scale calligraphy paintings, inspired by the poems of Rumi, will become the backdrop to these performances, which will also feature the famed whirling dervish. Handel's SERSE is perhaps the most iconic example of Western budding-colonialist art, containing great beauty while steeped in a tradition with a darker exploitative side. In response to this history, it is blended here with the rich traditions of Iranian and Eastern aesthetics to place it in a syncretic context that seeks to celebrate the cultures from which it is drawn. With THE TALE OF SERSE, the In Series also launches its own period instrumental ensemble Innov ti , which will bring Handel's iconic score featuring the beloved largo Ombra mai fu to life, led by harpsichordist and In Series Artistic Director Timothy Nelson.
Tickets may be purchased online at www.theatreproject.org, or by calling 410-752-8558.