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VIDEO: Preview Heartbeat Opera's Radically Staged Versions Of Two Classics - DON GIOVANNI And FIDELIO

VIDEO: Preview Heartbeat Opera's Radically Staged Versions Of Two Classics - DON GIOVANNI And FIDELIO

After last season's much-buzzed-about Butterfly and Carmen, HEARTBEAT OPERA-the daring young company whose unconventional orchestrations and stagings of classic operas have been called "a radical endeavor" by Alex Ross in The New Yorker-returns to Baruch Performing Arts Center with its fourth annual Spring Festival May 2-13, 2018. Heartbeat premieres adaptations of two operatic masterpieces, both radically staged, trimmed down and re-orchestrated: Mozart's DON GIOVANNI and Beethoven's FIDELIO.

Once again at the helm is Heartbeat Co-Artistic Directors Louisa Proske and Ethan Heard 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, offbeat chamber music arrangements, and visceral productions that put the singers and instrumentalists at the center of the work.

Cantata Profana, Heartbeat's "crack chamber ensemble" (The New Yorker), performs Daniel Schlosberg's new instrumental arrangements, which have been called "ingenious" by The Wall Street Journal. Schlosberg works in tight communication with Ms. Proske and Mr. Heard to create original arrangements that are closely tied to the directors' visions of these iconic operas. DON GIOVANNI'S WOMEN The three women of DON GIOVANNI will be brought into new light by director Louisa Proske as powerful, diverse, and complex people. Donna Elvira is portrayed by the young emerging singer Felicia Moore; Donna Anna is Berlin-based Met cover Leela Subramaniam; and Zerlina is Puerto Rico's Samarie Alicea, who played the lead of Figaro 90210! off-Broadway.

MOZART'S CLARINET The novel element in Mozart's original orchestration of DON GIOVANNI is the prominence of the clarinets, which at that very moment were coming into their modern form as the primary voice of the winds. After a life-long fascination with the clarinet, Mozart finally had access to good players with remodeled instruments, giving him new coloristic expression for a group of late works that peaked with his iconic chamber music masterpiece, the Clarinet Quintet. Daniel Schlosberg's new orchestration of DON GIOVANNI-for clarinet, string quartet, bass, and harpsichord-takes Mozart's lead in his own Quintet to cast the clarinet, like Giovanni himself, as the outsider. The clarinet has a unique capacity to be both the loudest sound, impossible to ignore, and to blend in almost to the point of being imperceptible. Like Giovanni, the clarinet is a shapeshifter.

A FIDELIO FOR 2018 In Heartbeat's version of FIDELIO, Leonore is now "Leah," a young black woman, and her husband Florestan is "Stan," a Black Lives Matter activist who has been wrongfully incarcerated. Leah dreams that she becomes "Leo," a butch female prison guard who attempts to rescue Stan from death in prison. Together with playwright Marcus Scott, Ethan Heard has made the dialogue fresh and American, eliminated two major roles, and altered the ending.

Among the four black leads is Angolan immigrant Nelson Ebo, who plays the imprisoned Stan. Born in 1984 during the civil war, Ebo watched nine of his siblings and both parents die due to illness and war. A U.N. representative heard a teen-aged Ebo sing and helped him emigrate to receive formal opera training. Singing literally became his way out of Angola, which had become a virtual prison.

FIDELIO is known for its stirring "Prisoners' Chorus," an ode to freedom, hope, and the human spirit. Heartbeat invited six prison choirs to learn and record a new version of this hymn. All six recordings will be layered and combined so that the audience hears the voices of people in prison in Ohio, Iowa, Minnesota, and Kansas, singing together in harmony.

Schlosberg's new orchestration of FIDELIO-for two French horns, two cellos, two pianos, and percussion-will channel the emotional core of the opera. The instruments reflect Leah's hope and struggle, from the deep expressivity of the cellos to the bold resolve of the horns. Bolstered by a battery of pianos and drums, the instrumentation pulls listeners through a vast yet intimate journey into Leah's psyche. Heartbeat Opera's

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