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Greenwich Music Festival 2011 - Greenwich, Connecticut, USA PDF Print E-mail
Written by Debra C. Argen   
The Lady and the Unicorn - Greenwich Music Festival, Greenwich, Connecticut The Greenwich Music Festival 2011, in Greenwich, Connecticut, USA, featured Poulenc's opera, The Human Voice (La voix humaine) starring mezzo-soprano Laurie Rubin, a new dance, The Lady and the Unicorn (La Dame a la Licorne), based on the scenario Cocteau wrote for the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo featuring Juilliard dancers Alex Hille, Breanna O'Mara, and Casia Vengoechea, and The Indifferent Lover (Le Bel Indifférent) featuring Meow Meow.

"The Greenwich Music Festival is a performance company committed to both classic and new works founded in 2004 by conductor Robert Ainsley, stage director Ted Huffman, and the festival's first Board Chairman, Patricia Chadwick. Every spring the festival produces a week-long series of public performances, including staged work, chamber music concerts, lectures and educational outreach programs. The festival begins when performers and artists from around the world arrive in Greenwich to spend a month living and working in the community. For the artists, this residency is an opportunity to explore new repertoire and collaborations. Rehearsals are opened to the public and local students participate as interns, assistants and stage crew."   

The 2011 festival held in Greenwich, Connecticut featured works by Jean Maurice Eugène Clément Cocteau (1899 - 1963) and Francis Jean Marcel Poulenc (1899-1963), comprised of a lecture by Robert Ainsley on Cocteau and Music, Chamber Music: Music of Cocteau's Circle (Francis Poulenc, Louis Durrey (1888-1979), Germaine Tailleferre (1892 - 1974), and Igor Stravinsky (1892-1983) performed by ICE (International Contemporary Ensemble, a ballet - The Lady and the Unicorn (La Dame a la Licorne), a libretto - The Human Voice (La voix humaine), and a cabaret performance, The Different Lover (Le Bel Indifférent.  

I attended the opening night of the double-bill featuring Poulenc's opera, The Human Voice (La voix humaine), The Lady and the Unicorn (La Dame a la Licorne), and on another night I saw The Different Lover (Le Bel Indifférent).   

The Lady and the Unicorn (La Dame a la Licorne)   

The Lady and the Unicorn (La Dame a la Licorne) by choreographer Zach Winokur was based on a choreographic scenario that Cocteau wrote for the Ballets Russe de Monte Carlo in 1953, with music by Giya Kanchelli.  
 
The Lady and The Unicorn - Greenwich Music Festival - Greenwich, CT
The Lady and the Unicorn
Alex Hille, Casia Vengoechea, Breanna O'Mara

 
Music Ted Huffman
Scenario Jean Cocteau
Choreography Zack Winokur
Dancers Alex Hille (Knight), Breanna O'Mara (Unicorn), Casia Vengoechea (Lady)
Light/Stage Design Marcus Doshi
Costume Design Austin Scarlett and Marion Talan

The ensemble piece featured the very talented Julliard dancers Alex Hille as the Knight, Breanna O'Mara as the Unicorn, and Casia Vengoechea as the Lady, who brought the ballet to life. In Zach Winokur's notes, he writes "The Lady and the Unicorn is my complete re-imagining of a ballet scenario that Cocteau wrote for the Munich-based choreographer Heinz Rosen in 1953. The piece was later picked up and performed by the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo until 1959, when it seems to have disappeared completely. I am thrilled to bring this story - which struck me by its quintessentially Cocteau mix of the medieval and modern, fantasy and reality - to new life here in Greenwich." 

The Lady and The Unicorn - Greenwich Music Festival - Greenwich, CT
The Lady and the Unicorn
Casia Vengoechea, Breanna O'Mara
 
Cocteau's synopsis accompanying his premiere performance slightly modified to fit the GMF version, wrote, "The famous wall tapestries with the red background - the so-called "with the Unicorn" - inspired this ballet. Its theme is virginity. According to the legend, he unicorn accepted its food only from the hand of a virgin ... (The knight enters) ... who brings her profane love. The unicorn sees this and dies. The knight meanwhile does not remain faithful. He repents his inconstancy and returns, but the lady will not look at him any more. She mourns her unicorn. The knight forsakes her forever. Without the unicorn and without the knight, the lady remains alone - with her famous, puzzling "motto" - "Mon seul desir" (my sole desire)."   

The Human Voice (La voix humaine) - Music by Francis Poulenc, Libretto by Jean Cocteau  

Poulenc's The Human Voice (La voix humaine) takes Cocteau's seminal monologue as its libretto featuring mezzo-soprano Laurie Rubin in the role of Elle (She) with pianist Djordje Nesic (GMF 2009).  
 
The Human Voice - Greenwich Music Festival - Greenwich, CT
The Human Voice
Laurie Rubin

 
Production Ted Huffman
Direction Ted Huffman and Zach Winokur
Choreography Zack Winokur
Light/Stage Design Marcus Doshi
Costume Design Austin Scarlett
Projection Design Caite Hevner
Hair and Makeup Mieke Aangeenbrug Knight
Elle Laurie Rubin
Piano Djordje Nesic
Dancers Alex Hille, Breanna O'Mara, Casia Vengoechea

The setting: a dark apartment in 1930 Paris illuminated solely by flashlights of the three dancers, Elle (Laurie Rubin) lies crumpled on the floor next to her mink coat. The telephone rings, it is her ex-lover.  

Talented Laurie Rubin deftly portrayed the challenging role of the woman left behind; singing in French with English sub-titles projected on a screen, with the audience in the role of voyeur as we listened to her side of the conversation with her ex-lover, a man who has clearly moved on with his life, and is to marry another woman.

The Human Voice - Greenwich Music Festival - Greenwich, CT
The Human Voice
Laurie Rubin
 
 
Over the course of the conversation, often interrupted by the poor telephone service reflective of the period, we learn about the characters' lives, their lies to one another, and about her past suicide attempts when she felt that she could no longer go on without him. Laurie Rubin triumphed, bringing depth and nuances to the role with her impressive vocals and acting, ultimately winning the audience's empathy.     

The Indifferent Lover (Le Bel Indifférent)  

The Indifferent Lover (Le Bel Indifférent) is Cocteau's one-act 1940 play that he wrote for Édith Piaf (1915 - 1963), in which she starred and was enormously successful during her many years of performing it. Based on Piaf's life, the play enfolds as a monologue of noir drama and song.   
 
Meow Meow - The Greenwich Music Festival, Greenwich, CT
Meow Meow
 
Director Ted Huffman
Light/Stage Design Marcus Doshi
Costume Design Austin Scarlett
Sound Design Florian Staab
Projection Design Caite Hevner
Piano Recording John Thorne
Performer Meow Meow

Internationally acclaimed Australian performer, Meow Meow, in the role of Édith Piaf, moved seamlessly between French and English song and dialogue. She has a rich, powerhouse of a voice, and she successfully captured the multi-faceted Édith Piaf, from Piaf's aura as the Cabaret diva enchanting her audiences, to a lonely woman waiting for her man to return to their hotel after his night of carousing, and his total indifference towards her.  

Meow Meow - The Greenwich Music Festival, Greenwich, CT
Meow Meow

I thoroughly enjoyed experiencing the Greenwich Music Festival, and I look forward to seeing what they will plan for next year.  

To learn more about the Greenwich Music Festival, please visit their website: www.GreenwichMusicFestival.org. The dates for the 2012 Greenwich Music Festival are June 4 - 10, 2011.     

Greenwich Music Festival
P.O. Box 75
Greenwich, CT 06836
United States
Telephone:    +1-203-637-0536 
Email:            This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it      
Website:       www.GreenwichMusicFestival.org
 

© June 2011. Luxury Experience. www.LuxuryExperience.com All rights reserved.

 
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