Photo Journal: The U.S. Premiere of Gluck's L'Ile de Merlin

Classic Arts News   Photo Journal: The U.S. Premiere of Gluck's L'Ile de Merlin
While Kurt Weill's Sin City has been rising and falling in the center of old Charleston, a little utopia has sprouted up, in its topsy-turvy fashion, not far away: Merlin's Island. No, it's not another resort on the way to Myrtle Beach — it's the setting of Gluck's one-act comic opera L'Ile de Merlin (ou Le monde renvers_), now in its (belated) U.S. premiere run at Spoleto Festival USA.

Merlin's Island really is a "world upside-down," as the subtitle has it: rich women are required by law to marry poor men; the attorneys are all honest; spouses are always faithful; fighting is forbidden, so disagreements are settled by rolling dice.

Christopher Alden and Roy Rallo have directed a staging that one Spoleto insider calls "way outside the box ... incredibly odd and terribly wonderful." (Have a look at the photos below and see what you think.) Conducting is Harry Bicket, the Baroque specialist who takes over the directorship of the period-instrument ensemble The English Concert this year. Keith Phares and Eugene Brancoveanu play Pierrot and Scapin, the two guys who wash up on Merlin's Island after a shipwreck; Amanda Squitieri and Monica Yunus are Diamantine and Argentine, their potential mates. (Yunus's name may sound familiar: her father won last year's Nobel Peace Prize.) Constance Hauman is Hippocratine, the doctor who administers the blessed isle's health care system, and Richard Troxell plays six different roles in one.

L'Ile de Merlin (ou Le monde renvers_) has two remaining performances, tonight and June 9, at the Dock Street Theater in Charleston. For more information on this opera and the rest of Spoleto Festival USA (which closes on June 10), visit

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All photos by William Struhs for Spoleto Festival USA.

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