Long Beach Opera Presents THE FEAST This Month

Performances run May 20-21.

By: May. 05, 2023
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Long Beach Opera Presents THE FEAST This Month

THE FEAST is a world premiere reinvention of a baroque banquet inspired by G. F. Handel's opera Alessandro, featuring wide-ranging operatic and orchestral works from Handel's repertoire in an evening-length experience that merges opera, dance, theater, and cuisine.

THE FEAST celebrates the Southern California staged operatic and professional dance company debut of acclaimed Polish countertenor Jakub Jósef Orliński and launches the three-year collaboration between Martha Graham Dance Company and Long Beach Opera, the first of its kind between Martha Graham Dance Company and an American Opera Company.

Staged as an immersive, genre-defying experience between two locations, THE FEAST brings together seven of Greek mythology's most storied and volatile characters for a hedonistic banquet that reimagines some of antiquity's most enduring stories. As the master of ceremonies, King Agamemnon will bring together Alexander the Great with Clytemnestra, Cassandra of Troy, Theseus, the sorceress Medea, and Cleopatra as guests - all with very personal agendas.

These larger-than-life mythic figures will be brought to life by a cast of contemporary titans: superstar countertenor Jakub Józef Orliński will make his LBO debut alongside acclaimed soprano Anna Schubert (The Romance of the Rose, Giustino, and Les enfants terribles). Together they will lead the night's festivities alongside an ensemble of Martha Graham Dance Company members and actor Carlis Shane Clark (desert in). As the drama unfolds, audience members will be treated to a figurative and literal feast for the senses across two locations: a series of outdoor dance rituals performed at the Noguchi-designed sculpture garden "California Scenario," followed by an over-the-top banquet inside the acoustically celebrated Samueli Theater across the street on the campus of the Segerstrom Center for the Arts.

Director James Darrah and LBO, in collaboration with the Martha Graham Dance Company's artistic director Janet Eilber, has partnered with The Henry T. & Elizabeth Segerstrom Foundation to craft a performance that weaves together both new choreography and existing fragments from Graham's celebrated repertoire. Excerpts from Graham's archive, selections from the baroque works of G. F. Handel, and texts from Aeschylus' The Oresteia combine to form a completely new operatic production that draws a provocative, century-spanning parallel between the creative work of Handel, Noguchi, Graham, Eilber, and Darrah.

The performances are also the first collaboration between Long Beach Opera and James Darrah with Elizabeth Segerstrom, marking LBO's return to Orange County as part of the first season under new artistic director Darrah and music director Christopher Rountree. Andrew McIntosh, part of Rountree's LA orchestral ensemble Wild Up, leads the baroque orchestral ensemble Tesserae in his LBO debut as both music director and concertmaster.

The evening's time-bending examination of its mythic characters sheds light on the human elements that bind them, forcing us to reexamine our own notions of power, the patriarchy, and the enduring specter of fate. Themes of feminine power are conjured through dance, music, theater, and cuisine as the complexities of human desire, betrayal, and jealousy serve as a catalyst for darker consequences.

Handel wrote several operas in the 18th century that examined Cleopatra, Alexander the Great, Medea, and Theseus. Hundreds of years later, Noguchi and Graham collaborated on many works that explored the more human and feminine side of these exact same characters as well as Clytemnestra, Cassandra, and Agamemnon. For THE FEAST, Graham dancers will activate Noguchi's spectacular outdoor garden in Costa Mesa, paying homage to both Graham's collaboration with Noguchi as well as Henry T. Segerstrom's enduring friendship and collaboration with the architect. The dancers will then lead the audience in a choreographed processional to the Segerstrom Center for the Arts' intimate and acoustically sensational Samueli Theater, where food, wine, and sumptuous music will set the stage for an evening of bold, immersive artistry.


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