For a festival that's no longer dubbed "Serious Fun," there's serious fun to be had at Lincoln Center Festival '98, including a marathon opera, an Israeli celebration, and a Nicholas Hytner Twelfth Night. The Festival theme this year is that Lincoln Center is "a trip," offering "a summer vacation to a new world" -- with 34 events and 110 performances.
Opera buffs will get to enjoy a 22-hour(!), six episode marathon of The Peony Pavillion, presented by Shanghai's Kunju Opera Company. A 400 year-old spectacle, Pavillion has a cast of more than 100 playing "Mongol invaders, bandits, Taoist nuns, scholars and courtesans." Also, American Opera Projects will mount a new folk opera, Patience & Sarah, by Paula M. Kimper and Wende Persons.
For ballet fans there's The Stuttgart Ballet (Cranko's Romeo and Juliet) and The Hamburg Ballet ("Bernstein Dances").
Theatre and music will cross with a mounting of Ordo Virtutum, a musical play composed by Hidegard von Bingen -- an abbess who lived in the 1100s! The early music group Sequentia does the honors, as they did in 1997 with the sold-out Beowulf.
Sequentia isn't the only team remembering von Bingen; a downtown troupe called "The Hildegurls" will do an electronic music rendering of the aforementioned "Ordo Virtutum." As for legit theatre, there's the Lincoln Center mounting of William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, to be directed by Nicholas Hytner (Carousel). Ubiquitous New York actor Brian Murray will star as Toby Belch. Rehearsals start in early May for June 18 previews and a July 13 opening.
Variety reported Mar. 6 that Hytner has landed Paul Rudd to star as Orsini and is in talks with Helen Hunt to play Viola during her hiatus from "Mad About You."
Also on the Lincoln Center bill is a return trip by the London-based Theatre de Complicite, who brought The Three Lives of Lucie Cabrol to the 1996 Fest. This time they're offering The Street of Crocodiles, about the writings of surrealist Bruno Schultz, a Polish Jew who died during the Holocaust.
Jewish themes continue when Israel's Gesher Theatre mounts two shows, K'far ("Village") and Adam Resurrected. The latter show is performed in a tent and approximates a macabre circus as a Holocaust metaphor. The Gesher troupe was formed by emigrees from the Moscow Art Theatre.
Israel's 50th anniversary is further celebrated by the premiere of an oratorio commissioned by the City of Jerusalem for its 3000th anniversary. Author Krzysztof Penderecki has titled it, Seven Gates of Jerusalem.
Lincoln Center Festival 98 runs July 7-26. Passports are available, allowing patrons to save up to 50 percent on tickets. In keeping with the "Trip" theme, the passport packages are labeled "Voyager," "Diplomat" or "Day Tripper."
For information call (212) 721-6500. You can also check out Lincoln Center's website at http://www.lincolncenter.org/toc.htm.
--By David Lefkowitz