Stravinsky: The Soldier's Tale - L'Histoire du Soldat (1918) part of the Greenwich Music Festival 2012 "All Things Stravinsky" held in Greenwich, Connecticut proved its inherent relevance to today with its deft adaptation by Jack Ferver, Ted Huffman, Justin Sayre, and Zack Wintour, of the original story by C.F. Ramuz.
Founded in 2004 by conductor Robert Ainsley, stage director Ted Huffman, and the festival's first Board Chairman, Patricia Chadwick, the Greenwich Music Festival, held annually in June has grown into a highly acclaimed event, where artists, musicians, actors, and dancers have the opportunity to expand their repertoires with "out-of-the-box" theatre that challenge and engage their audiences.
For 2012, they chose the theme, "All Things Stravinsky" dedicating the festival to the works of the iconic composer, Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky (1882 - 1971) with lectures, music, dance, and theatre.
We attended the June 22, 2012 performance of The Soldier's Tale - L'Histoire du Soldat (1918), held at Greenwich Academy, billed as, "A musical fable about a man, a violin, and a deal with the devil; Stravinsky's effervescent score for instrumental ensemble with actors and dancers, in a new production conceived and adapted by Jack Ferver, Ted Huffman, Justin Sayre, and Zack Winokur, and featuring the Deviant Septet."
Justin Sayre in The Soldier's Tale
Igor Stravinsky composed the work in 1918 while he and his family were living in Switzerland, where they took shelter at the beginning of World War I. He described The Soldier's Tale, as a work to be "read, played, and danced," with minimal set pieces and a small company of musicians." The work premiered just months before the end of the war.
The Soldier's Tale was directed by Ted Huffman and Zack Winokur, with Stage and Light Design by Marcus Doshi, Costume Design by Austin Scarlett, Associate Stage Design by Edward Morris, and music by the talented, Deviant Septet: Bill Kalinkos: Clarinet, Mike Gurfield: Trumpet, Courtney Orlando: Violin, Shelley Monroe Huang: Bassoon, Brian Ellingsen: Bass, Shayna Dunkelman: Percussion, and Sean Scot Reed: Trombone.
Set in 1918, the engaging Justin Sayre as the narrator tells the tale of a young, poor soldier who bravely sets off to fight the wrongs of the world in the war. Brilliantly choreographed and directed, the very talented Percevale Perks, Tyler Phillips, and Zack Winokur play the three aspects of the soldier.
Three Aspects of the Soldier - The Soldier's Tale
To escape the horrors of the war, the soldier plays his violin, which is much a part of who he is and what he loves. Along the way, he is seduced by the devil, captivatingly played by Jack Fervor, who tempts him to sell his soul for a book of knowledge that foretells the future of the stock market. As a compromise to his future success, the soldier must first give up what he loves, the violin, for the prospect of wealth. This is just the beginning of what he will ultimately lose throughout his life.
With each misguided decision he makes in his life, the soldier loses a part of himself (one of the dancers), until there is only one aspect of himself left, greed and his continual thirst for more money.
The Soldier's Tale
Self-absorbed with making money, he neglects his parents, later marries and then neglects his once beloved princess bride and his young son. Years pass, his wife dies, his son grows older, and as hard as he tries to turn away from the powerful seduction of money to spend time with his son, the lure of making even more money is something he can never escape.
Soldier takes a Bride - The Soldier's Tale
The son, not wanting to end up like his money-driven father, becomes a soldier and goes off to fight. It is not long though, that like his father, he too, is tempted by the devil with the promise of knowledge and money. The play ends with the son holding the book of "knowledge" with the devil looking on, leaving the audience to wonder what will be the fate of this soldier.
Son Tempted by the Devil - The Soldier's Tale
"The Greenwich Music Festival is a performance company committed to both classic and new works. Every spring the festival produces a month-long series of public performances, including staged work, dance, chamber music concerts, film, 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."
Greenwich Music Festival
P.O. Box 75
Greenwich, CT 06836
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