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Concertina In The Opera House


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Rehearsals are underway for L’Epreuve Villageoise (The Village Trial), a french comic opera by Grétry, written in 1784. The producing company, Opera Lafayette http://www.operalafayette.org/ has invited me to join their 25 piece period orchestra, 4 principal vocalists and chorus as an on-stage concertina player where I will be squeezing out tunes and songs on the Anglo (and dancing too!) in this highly amusing production.

 

Opera Lafayette’s 20th anniversary season closes with an opera that delighted audiences during the early 19th century, not only in an opera-rich Europe, but also in the young American cities of New Orleans and New York.

With an extraordinary cast hailing from the three nations whose cultures animated New Orleans at the time – France, Spain, and the United States – Opera Lafayette re-imagines a performance by the storied Théatre d’Orléans.

Grétry’s L’Épreuve Villageoise depicts the trials and tribulations of a small country town. The rustic story and charming musical composition blend beautifully, emphasizing an essential aspect of Grétry’s operas that helped ensure his place as one of the 18th century’s most admired composers.

Duration of the show is one hour and 30 minutes without intermission. In French with English supertitles.

 

NYC shows are at Florence Gould Hall:

Wednesday, May 27, 2015 at 7:30pm

Thursday, May 28, 2015 at 7pm.

 

Washington D.C. shows are at the Terrace Theater:

Saturday, May 30, 2015 at 2:00 PM

Saturday, May 30, 2015 at 7:30 PM

 

Tickets are still available for all shows, but if you want to attend, act fast... some of these dates have only a few available seats left.

Edited by Jody Kruskal
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I've just returned home to Brooklyn, NY after spending the week rehearsing with the cast and orchestra in Washington D.C. at the Washington National Opera facilities in Takoma Park. One final rehearsal this Wednesday in New York and then, on with the first of four performances of our show. Even though L’Epreuve Villageoise was written in 1784 there is nothing stilted about this lively and fresh production that is full of laughs, dancing, flirting and fun.

 

The principal singers from France, Spain, Belgium, Montreal, and the US are amazing as both vocal musicians and actors. Yes, they chat together in French off-set and have developed a fine chemistry together. The production values are very high in all regards and it's a pleasure to work with professionals at their craft. As for the concertina portion of the extravaganza... it's really a very small part of the whole. I have this unique opportunity because an on-stage musician is required by the text and because I can realize the music in polyphony on the Anglo in harmonic play, thereby standing in for a quartet of violins and oboes that would cost an arm and a leg. Also, I have a long standing musical relationship with the artistic director from previous smaller productions. Though the concertina is something of an an anachronism in this context (by 30 years or so, as the show is set in New Orleans, 1825), the concertina does reek of antiquity in a vague sort of way, and that's more than good enough for the needs of this show.

 

Wish me well! I certainly do get to "break a leg" as I lead the chorus bows after the finally.

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Sounds like a dream gig Jody and a great opportunity to showcase the anglo in an unfamiliar and discerning environment. Good luck with the performances - it sounds like you're going to have a lot of fun doing them… Any chance someone can sneak a video recording of the concertina moments - it would be great to have a record of an opera house performance for posterity?

Adrian

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I really wish I could attend, but aside from the cost of a transAtlantic flight, I'll be busy in Scotland and Sweden on the below dates. I do hope they'll be making a video recording of it for posterity. (I wonder if it's possible to change my name to "Posterity". ;))

 

Rehearsals are underway for L’Epreuve Villageoise (The Village Trial), a french comic opera by Grétry, written in 1784. The producing company, Opera Lafayette http://www.operalafayette.org/ has invited me to join their 25 piece period orchestra, 4 principal vocalists and chorus as an on-stage concertina player where I will be squeezing out tunes and songs on the Anglo (and dancing too!) in this highly amusing production.

 

Opera Lafayette’s 20th anniversary season closes with an opera that delighted audiences during the early 19th century, not only in an opera-rich Europe, but also in the young American cities of New Orleans and New York.

With an extraordinary cast hailing from the three nations whose cultures animated New Orleans at the time – France, Spain, and the United States – Opera Lafayette re-imagines a performance by the storied Théatre d’Orléans.

Grétry’s L’Épreuve Villageoise depicts the trials and tribulations of a small country town. The rustic story and charming musical composition blend beautifully, emphasizing an essential aspect of Grétry’s operas that helped ensure his place as one of the 18th century’s most admired composers.

Duration of the show is one hour and 30 minutes without intermission. In French with English supertitles.

 

NYC shows are at Florence Gould Hall:

Wednesday, May 27, 2015 at 7:30pm

Thursday, May 28, 2015 at 7pm.

 

Washington D.C. shows are at the Terrace Theater:

Saturday, May 30, 2015 at 2:00 PM

Saturday, May 30, 2015 at 7:30 PM

 

Tickets are still available for all shows, but if you want to attend, act fast... some of these dates have only a few available seats left.

 

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The first performance in NYC was a hit. A full house, ready to laugh at the jokes and many French speakers in the audience at the French Institute Alliance Française . My wife and grown son attended and declared the show utterly charming and well worth attending. English supertitles helped the French-impaired to comprehend the meaning of the text.

 

I did not mess up my cues and did my best to blend in with this period orchestra. This is a stretch as the concertina definitely has a timbre that sticks out in a mostly string ensemble of period instruments with the addition of a handful of period brass and woodwinds. My attempts to do this live, while acting and moving about the stage and even dancing have been quite a challenge... but delightful fun.

Edited by Jody Kruskal
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It's a great picture. If you click on it, you can see it in more detail. I just did and noticed something curious. The concertina Jody is holding is metal-ended with natural wood framing. I thought both (all?) of his concertinas were all black, wooden ended.

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Jody has as well a metal ended Hohner/Stagi as a metal ended Jeffries as I seem to recall. However this concertina has a special pitch (in order to fit with the orchestra) and had thus very likely to be newly acquired for the opera project.

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Yes, it is an Edgley Ab/Eb on loan from a friend in the UK. Without it, I would not have been able to do this gig. The orchestra (you can see the back of the conductor's head in the photo) was willing to adjust their low period tuning to exactly a semi-tone flat. This section is in A, so the Ab concertina did the trick, though I thought of the music as being in G.

 

The opera was great fun but now it's over. I wish I could keep my costume.

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