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Heartbeat Opera Presents Third Annual Spring Festival, 5/20-28

Heartbeat Opera Presents Third Annual Spring Festival, 5/20-28

After a wildly successful Halloween Drag Extravaganza at National Sawdust and a sold-out performance on The High Line, HEARTBEAT OPERA presents its third annual Spring Festival, this year at Baruch Performing Arts Center from May 20-28, 2017. Heartbeat will premiere 90-minute versions of two operatic masterpieces, both radically staged and re-orchestrated: Puccini's BUTTERFLY and Bizet's CARMEN.

The festival also includes an evening entitled COLLABORET (May 24 at 7:00 p.m.), with eclectic performances by guest artists that expand the definition of opera. It includes a workshop presentation of Marisa Michelson's new Sappho Fragments, a piece based on the Ancient Greek poet's words, sung in English and Greek with touches of the singer/songwriter, world/folk, and early music traditions.

The creators of last season's Dido & Aeneas and Lucia di Lammermoor will be at the helm: Heartbeat Co-Artistic Directors Ethan Heard and Louisa Proske and Co-Music Directors Jacob Ashworth and Daniel Schlosberg.

These four graduates of the Yale School of Drama and Yale School of Music founded Heartbeat Opera in 2014 and have since brought a number of great works of the operatic canon into the 21st century through visionary adaptations, unconventional chamber music arrangements, and intimate, visceral productions that put the singers and instrumentalists at the center of the work.

This year's festival presents two tragic heroines-Carmen and Cio Cio San-who reach across borders both personal and political. White male artists invented the tragic geisha, Madama Butterfly, and in so doing fueled a stereotype that has dominated Western imagination ever since. Heartbeat's daring adaptation of Puccini's iconic romance explodes that legacy of fetishization and exposes the sorrow left behind.

Carmen looks at the border as a place of intense turmoil. This adaptation strips down Bizet's explosive masterpiece to the four central characters as they hurl themselves against real and imaginary fences. Carmen's existential dare seduces the enemy in uniform, and the production asks the question, "In the game of sexual transgression, which lines cannot be crossed?"

Cantata Profana, Heartbeat's "crack chamber ensemble" (The New Yorker), will once again be playing the world premiere of Daniel Schlosberg's arrangements. Both Mr. Heard and Ms. Proske will work closely with Mr. Schlosberg to create original instrumental arrangements for these two iconic operas which are closely tied to their new visions: Butterfly will feature two violins, two cellos, viola, and harp; Carmen will feature piano, percussion, saxophones, bass, guitar, and violin, and the score will contain improvisational elements. Last year's arrangement for Lucia di Lammermoor was celebrated as "ingenious" (The Wall Street Journal).

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