L'arbre Enchanté, Starring David Pittsinger and Amy Justman, Will Premiere at Fire Island Opera Festival
By Carey Purcell
David Pittsinger and Amy Justman will be featured in the Fire Island Opera Festival's production of L'arbre Enchanté.
Held Aug. 23-25 in The Pines, a gay summer vacation destination off the coast of Long Island, the festival will include a number of ancillary "warm-up" events that lead up to the production of L'arbre Enchanté (The Magic Tree). The opera will be presented in the newly rebuilt Pavilion nightclub Aug. 24 at 10 PM and Aug. 25 at 2 PM.
Directed by Edwin Cahill, L'arbre Enchanté, a rendition of a piece commissioned for Marie Antoinette and last performed in Versailles in 1775, will feature Pittsinger and Justman as well as Matthew Morris and Will Ferguson.
Pittsinger, whose stage credits include South Pacific, is one of the few singers to perform at The Met, City Opera and on Broadway in the same season. Justman was seen in Irving Berlin's White Christmas and Company and recently played the role of Clara in the Classic Stage Company's production of Passion. Morris performed at New York City Opera in La Perichole, and Will Ferguson was featured in the American premiere of The Tempest at Santa Fe Opera.
"We wanted to stage one-act operas based around contemporary themes," Cahill said in a statement. "We adapted this particular story to relate to the Pines audience. The arias will be sung in the original French, while the play is in 'American.' There is a troupe of half-deer/half-human bouffant satyrs representing the spirit of Fire Island who will help tell the story through pantomime and movement. The young female protagonist has been rewritten as a beautiful young man, and there is a twisted love-triangle between him and two other men. It is a sexy opera for sure, and demonstrates that even traditional love stories are adaptable and timeless."
The festival was created by Cahill and music director Bradley Moore, who were inspired by the Fire Island Dance Festival.
"We went to the [Fire Island] Dance festival last year, and it got us thinking about why there isn't more for artists and theatre on the island," Cahill added. "This community is full of talented, creative people who are interested in the arts, and we wanted to give them something completely over-the-top and different to experience, something we could do year after year."
The creative team includes Dustin Cross (costumes), Charles Mary Kubricht (set design) and Bradley Moore (conductor).
The festival will also feature several other "pop-up" performances, including classical music on the boardwalks, and a Friday evening event for VIP ticket holders called "Bon Appetit," an operatic rendition of Julia Child baking a chocolate cake.
Part of the proceeds from the festival will go to the Sea Shore Defense Fund, an emergency funding mechanism of FIPPOA (Fire Island Pines Property Owners Association) that allows for immediate action when catastrophe faces Fire Island Pines' beaches.
Tickets and more information are available by visiting fireislandopera.org.
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