Whitebox Art Center's ORLANDO, Directed by R. B. Schlather, Begins Today
The Lower East Side is witnessing the emergence of a startling talent-opera director R. B. Schlather. Following his critically acclaimed opera installation of Alcina last year, Schlather returns to Whitebox Art Center from today, April 8 through April 27, 2015 with ORLANDO, the second in his trilogy of Handel operas that connect his passions for site-specific staging, baroque opera, and performance art.The trilogy is comprised of the three operas composed by George Frideric Handel-Alcina, Orlando, and Ariodante-based on Ariosto's epic poem Orlando Furioso.Orlando is about a chivalric knight who loses himself in an obsessive, unrequited love for a princess, and the violence that erupts out of his suffering. The trilogy concludes at Whitebox in late 2015 with Ariodante. Orlando's charismatic cast features countertenor and veteran Handel specialistDrew Minter (Orlando); fast-rising NY-based sopranos Kiera Duffy (Angelica) and Anya Matanovic (Dorinda); noted Baroque singer Hadleigh Adams(Zoroastro), a former model and ascending superstar baritone from New Zealand; and young American countertenor Brennan Hall (Medoro), who is also featured in Matthew Barney's latest film River of Fundament. Geoffrey McDonald, hailed byThe Philadelphia Inquirer as a "promising and confident" member of the newest generation of conductors, returns as music director. The production team also returns. After Alcina, The New York Times praised the sets (Paul Tate DePoo), costumes (Terese Wadden), and lighting (JAX Messenger) as "ingenious," "deceptively simple," "stylish" and "evocative."
The result is a heightened visibility of the craft of opera production and performance.
In R. B. Schlather's hands, Orlando will become a gallery-like exhibition in which the installation itself is the performance, and the entirety of the rehearsal period and evening performances free and open to the public. Passers-by may stumble in off the street, some returning each day for more, as they did for Alcina. The entire process is viewable online through live streaming (url TBA), and broadcast on a TV in the gallery's street-facing window.
Schlather's innovative series has quickly demonstrated enormous cultural and artistic currency. After Alcina, The New York Times declared it "a valuable project that deserves enthusiastic support."
R. B. Schlather's Handel trilogy is part of Whitebox Art Center's new program,WhiteboxLab: SoundLounge, which aims to create in-depth exposure for artists working in temporal mediums such as performance, sound art, and literary arts.
Photo Credit: Matthu Placek