Free Labs of Mardi Gras and The Last Word Will Feature Jason Mills, Rebecca Pitcher, Tom Souhrada
By Michael Gioia
The York Theatre Company will present a free developmental lab of two short operas, Mardi Gras and The Last Word — both composed by Mildred Kayden and exploring her view of relationships — Feb. 2-3 in New York City.
Directed by Bill Castellino with music direction by Christopher McGovern, the three-member company will feature Jason Mills (The Phantom of the Opera), Rebecca Pitcher (The Phantom of the Opera) and Tom Souhrada (Mary Poppins).
Performances will be offered Feb. 2 at 2:30 PM and 8 PM and Feb. 3 at 2:30 PM at The York Theatre Company in Saint Peter's.
Mardi Gras, last performed in NYC in 1959, "combines the formality of opera, the beat of Dixieland Jazz and the style of Commedia Dell'arte," according to the York. "Commissioned by WNYC's Young Artist Series in 1958, it was suggested by Carl Carmer's verse play Pierrot Grows Up and is based upon a true story from the Mardi Gras of 1872. A Russian Grand Duke hears a Burlesque Queen sing and falls head over heels; the smitten Duke loses her to Joe, an American millionaire. The hilarious love triangle (with disguises, hiding places, duels, amorous looks, and lots of high notes beautifully sung) has a surprise ending and a delightful, tuneful score."
The Last Word, with libretto by the late poet James Broughton, premiered in Philadelphia in 1961 at the countrywide Synod of the United Church of Christ. According to the York, "As the recent date of the Mayan end-of-the-world recedes into history, this riveting duet exposes the complex feelings of a husband and wife moments before Armageddon. This piece approaches its subject matter with humor, irony and compassion; the work suggests that, for modern man, the idea of the apocalypse is most easily grasped with a touch of wit."
These two half-hour operas were first presented in tandem in West Hampton, NY, in 1961. Kayden is best known to NYC audiences as the composer of Ionescopade, revived at the York Theatre last year.
The York Theatre Company is under the producing artistic direction of James Morgan and executive direction of Andrew Levine.
The York Theatre Company in Saint Peter's is located at East 54th Street (just east of Lexington Avenue). For reservations and more information, visit YorkTheatre.org.
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