The Kushner play made the leap from stage to screen in a recent Emmy Award-winning HBO Films version directed by Mike Nichols. Now, the epic drama is an opera.
Featuring a libretto by Mari Mezei based on Kushner's plays, Angels in America is an opera in two parts; Philippe Calvario directs. The Théâtre du Châtelet commission is compressed into a roughly two-and-a-half work to be sung in English.
"In the opera version, I put less emphasis on the political line than Kushner," stated composer Eötvös in production notes. "I rather focus on the passionate relationships, on the highly dramatic suspense of the wonderful text, on the permanently uncertain state of the visions."
The cast of Angels in America will feature Barbara Hendricks (as the Angel), Roberta Alexander (Hannah Pitt), Julia Migenes (Harper Pitt), Daniel Belcher (Prior Walter), Omar Ebrahim (Joe Pitt), Derek Lee Ragin (Belize), Donald Maxwell (Roy Cohn) and Topi Lehtipuu (Louis Ironson).
Eötvös will conduct his own score. The opera will feature choreography by Richard Peduzzi. The design team includes Richard Peduzzi (sets), Jon Morrell (costumes), Mark Grey (sound) and Bertrand Couderc (lighting).
Kushner's Angels in America interweaves the stories of a gay couple split apart by AIDS; a Mormon couple separated by their secret fantasies; and a legendary lawyer fading into history. Set against the backdrop of New York City in 1985, the "gay fantasia" includes mystical sequences filled with ghosts of ancestors and accused spy Ethel Rosenberg, a trip through a refrigerator to Antarctica and, of course, a visit from an angel.
Eötvös's previous operatic works include Three Sisters (based on the Chekhov classic) and Le Balcon (on the Jean Genet play). Other compositions include Chinese Opera, Psychokosmos, Atlantis, Shadows, Two Monologues, Replica, and zeroPoints. His Angels in America is also slated to play at Hamburgische Staatsoper, Probebühne in Hamburg, Germany June 23-July 2, 2005.
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