Billed as a tale of "kidnap, sex and espionage," the opera - written during Weill's brief exile in Paris (where it premiered in 1934) - "centers around the innocent and tragic Marie, who is abducted in France and taken to South America by the lustful Captain Letuvier. Our valiant heroine scorns Letuvier's advances only to find herself abandoned in a strange and exotic land. Having turned to prostitution in order to survive, Marie plans for her return to Bordeaux, but is caught in a web of deception that ultimately leads to her demise."
Weill's score is informed by the passion and allure of 1920s French cabaret, foreshadowing the impending threat of Nazi Germany.
In a collaboration with the French Institute Alliance Fran‹aise, Marie Galante - based on an original play by Jacques Deval - is staged by the company's co-artistic directors Jean-Philippe Clarac and Olivier Deloeuil, with production design by Carol Bailey and lighting design by Rick Martin.
OFNY music director Yves Abel conducts the orchestra in his only New York appearance this season.
Singing the title role is internationally-renowned young soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian, a first prize winner in Plšcido Domingo's 2000 Operalia competition. A Canadian citizen of Armenian descent, Ms. Bayrakdarian's stage performances of note include Pamina in Die Zauberfl‹te at the Metropolitan Opera, Zerlina at the Salzburg Festival's celebration of Mozart's birthday, the title role in P_lleas et M_lisande at the Canadian Opera Company and Le nozze di Figaro at Covent Garden.
The Lebanese-born soprano also participated in the world premiere of Jake Heggie and Gene Sheer's one-act opera To Hell and Back alongside Broadway legend Patti LuPone and San Francisco's Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra. Cinematically, her voice may be heard on the Grammy-winning soundtrack for The Lord of The Rings: The Two Towers and in the celebrated Canadian film Ararat. She will next be seen in New York as Zerlina in the Met's April run of Don Giovanni- part of a strong company that features Barbara Frittoli, Peter Mattei and Samuel Ramey.
In another unique turn, Marie Galante will be sung in French with English dialogue and subtitles.
Part of the Florence Gould Hall 20th Anniversary Celebration, this rare operatic gem will enjoy three performances at the East 59th Street venue: November 13 at 8pm, November 15 at 8pm and November 16 at 3pm.
Tickets, priced at $60-$80 (or $50 for FIAF members), may be purchased by calling (212)307-4100 or at Ticketmaster. Discounted $40 tickets are available to students with valid ID.
Premier membership subscribers (packages priced between $250 and $1500) will receive prime orchestra seats at the first performance and an invitation to the special VIP wine and hors d'_uvres reception held in the exquisite Le Skyroom.
Roundtable Discussion - Kurt Weill in Paris
Friday, November 14, 2008, 4-6pm
La Maison Fran‹aise of NYU
16 Washington Mews, New York City
Op_ra Fran‹ais de New York, in partnership with La Maison Fran‹aise of NYU, presents a roundtable discussion investigating the life and artistic output of Kurt Weill during his 18-month exile in Paris. The panel includes Directors Jean-Philippe Clarac and Olivier Deloeuil, Music Director Yves Abel, and President of the Kurt Weill Foundation Kim Kowalke along with musical excerpts performed by members of the cast.
For more information visit La Maison Fran‹aise online at www.nyu.edu/maisonfrancaise.
French Institute Alliance Fran‹aise (FIAF) is a not-for-profit organization whose mission it is to promote and enhance the knowledge and appreciation of French and Francophone culture, to increase the knowledge of the French language, and to encourage interaction among French, Francophone and American people through programs in education and the arts.
Founded at the turn of 20th century, the French Institute and the Alliance Fran‹aise de New York operated as two separate organizations, the first promoting French arts, the second teaching French. In 1971 they merged to form what has become one of the largest and most respected centers of French-American activities in the U.S.
Op_ra Fran‹ais de New York (OFNY) was founded in 1988 by Yves Abel and Susan Melvoin. It began on a shoestring budget with the simple idea of presenting little-known French operas to New York audiences. Yves Abel's gifted leadership and inspired choices of collaborators quickly turned the little company into a valued constituent of the New York opera scene. Now in its 16th season, Op_ra Fran‹ais de New York has produced 29 operas in a large variety of performance styles ranging from fully staged works to concert versions.
Under the guidance of music director/conductor Yves Abel and co-artistic directors Jean-Philippe Clarac and Olivier Deloeuil, Op_ra Fran‹ais de New York focuses on innovative programming and the rediscovery of important neglected French operas. Future plans include musical programs that will help revitalizing the experience of live opera. Through this approach to French repertory and opera performance, Op_ra Fran‹ais de New York continues to develop creative methods and artistic collaborations which emphasize the theatricality of its productions.