Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Francesca Zambello Ready to Remodel the American Musical

Directress Zambello (Photo: Daniel Chavkin)
"Opera companies are running out of popular operas to put on the stage. Luckily, there are plenty of popular musicals available to produce instead. Musicals are becoming a bigger part of the operatic repertoire: the Vancouver Opera produced a fully staged version of West Side Story last month, American opera diva Deborah Voigt appeared in a fully staged version of Annie Get Your Gun at the Glimmerglass Opera this past summer, and in early 2012, the Chicago Lyric Opera will present Show Boat. James Wright, general director of the Vancouver Opera, says that opera companies “need to be less rigid than we’ve been in the past.” In some cases, that means putting on a Broadway show instead of another La Bohème. Leonard Bernstein, the composer of West Side Story, was one of the first to suggest that musicals were the true American opera, and some opera houses have done musicals in previous decades. But the musical temptation has become greater for classically oriented theatres, even overseas: the Théâtre du Châtelet, a house known for operas and operettas, has recently brought material like The Sound of Music to Paris. It helps that these shows sell; West Side Story did well for Vancouver, and Chicago Lyric Opera general director Anthony Freud says that 'when we surveyed our subscribers, almost 70 per cent were very enthusiastic about Show Boat.'....One thing that still distinguishes musicals from operas is that musicals aren’t reinterpreted and updated the way operas routinely are; Francesca Zambello, the director who did the Glimmerglass Annie and the upcoming Chicago Show Boat, experiments more with operas than she does with musicals. 'As long as a work is under certain copyright restrictions,' Wright explains, directors 'won’t be able to do much. But when those run out, these works are going to be fair game.' When directors start deconstructing Les Misérables, we’ll know musicals have really arrived in the opera world." [Source] More about some of the above-mentioned productions is after the jump.

Opera singers Deborah Voigt and Rodney Gilfy were directed
by Francesca Zambello in Annie Get Your Gun for the
Glimmerglass Opera. (Photo: Julia Cervantes)

Colin Ainsworth as Tony and Lucia Cesaroni as Maria were the only two opera singers
cast in the Vancouver Opera production of West Side Story. (Photo by Tim Matheson)

Promotional ad for the Sound of Music that will be presented by Théâtre du Châtelet
at the end of December 2011. Watch a video trailer for the production by clicking here.

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