The Little Opera Theatre of NY Presents THE REFORMED DRUNKARD, 3/16-24
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by BWW News Desk
The Little Opera Theatre of NY announces its spring 2013 production of Christoph Willibald Gluck's tragi-comic opera The Reformed Drunkard. Eight performances will be presented from MARCH 16-24 at 59E59 Theaters (59 East 59th Street, between Park and Madison Avenues). Performance times are 8:15 pm for Fridays and Saturdays, including March 16, 22, and 23; 7:15 pm for Tuesday-Thursday performances, March 19-21; and 3:15 pm for two Sunday matinees, March 17 and 24. Tickets are $35 ($24.50 for 59e59 members), and can be purchased online at TicketCentral.com; by phone at (212) 279-4200; or at the 59E59 Theaters' Box Office.
The production is directed by Philip Shneidman, conducted by Richard Owen, with set design by award-winning designer Neil Patel, costume design by Lara de Bruijn, and lighting design by Nick Solyom. The double cast for The Reformed Drunkard features BrIan Downen/TBD, tenors (Mathurin); Teresa Bucholz/TBD, mezzo-sopranos (Mathurine); Candice Hoyes/Jessica Sandidge (Colette); Jonathan Winell/Michael Boley, tenors (Cléon); and Ron Loyd/Matthew Singer, baritones (Lucas). Sung in English, the original adaptation and translation is by the director and Ivana Mestrovic.
The Reformed Drunkard (1760) is a comic opera by Christoph Willibald Gluck (1714-1787) written two years prior to his celebrated work on Orfeo ed Euridice (1762). The opera is originally titled L'ivrogne corrigé, with a libretto by Louis Anseaume and Jean?Baptiste Lourdet de Santerre, and is based upon a fable of La Fontaine.
In a state of inebriation, the drunkard Mathurin decides to marry off his niece Colette, who loves someone else. Colette, her aunt Mathurine, and her true love Cléon hatch a plan. When Mathurin passes out from too much drinking, they create a hallucinatory trip to the underworld. Disguised as Pluto and Two Furies, they place the marriage contract and their uncle's reckless ways on trial.
Gluck's first opéras comiques were imported from France to Vienna in the 1750s. The composer would replace the typically French ariettes with his own melodies, more to the taste of Austrian audiences. Over the next decade, Gluck contributed more to the pieces, rewriting them wholesale rather than revising them. Before long, Gluck's writing was less adaptation, and more his own creation. The playful, inventive stories, and the corresponding dramatic structure were a strong departure from the prevalent opera seria. Gluck's eight comic operas, dating from the middle of his career, helped to expand his musical vocabulary and lead to the operatic reforms of his later works.
The Reformed Drunkard, one of the most charming in the genre, premiered at Vienna's Burgtheater in 1760. Gluck mixed buoyant folk tunes, comic trios, and heartfelt melodies. A tenor aria for the young lover Cléon is a sketch for Gluck's celebrated "Che faro senza Euridice?" The nearly through composed scene in underworld presages his writing for Orfeo. Performed with some frequency during his lifetime, The Reformed Drunkard disappeared from the repertoire following Gluck's death. It was rediscovered by Vincent D'Indy in France in 1922, and then staged in Berlin in 1943. The first known American performances were at Tanglewood in 1953 with piano. LOTNY's presentation will use an intimate chamber ensemble and focus the attention on the five principal characters.