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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Festival Preview: 2017 Prototype Festival

Femme fatales, infidelity, gross anatomy and yes...opera!
by Paul J. Pelkonen
This conceptual image for Julian Wachner's Rev. 23 promises a hot two weeks
of avant-garde opera at the fifth annual Prototype Festival.
Image © 2017 Prototype Festival.
New York's celebration of avant-garde opera in the dead of winter returns for its fifth season with the eagerly awaited New York premiere of Breaking The Waves as the marquee event. There are six new works being performed, plus one being workshopped. In addition, the Festival offers pop-up concerts, music, dance, multimedia presentations and the odd swanky soirée.

The slate:

Mata Hari at HERE (Jan. 5-7, 11-14)
Mata Hari was a real-life femme fatale, a Dutch courtesan and dancer who doubled as one of the true heroines of the First World War. Matt Marks brings the legendary super-spy to life with this new opera, kicking off the Festival on Thursday January 5 at HERE. Mata Hari incorporates electronic and acoustic instruments, dance and projections in an exciting new take on a familiar story.

Breaking the Waves at NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts (Jan. 6, 7, 9)
This co-production with Opera Philadelphia opened to acclaim in that city last fall. This production by James Darrah brings the story (first presented as a film by Lars von Trier) to life. The music of composer Missy Mazzoli delves deep into this psychological drama dealing with questions of faithfulness and love, in one of the most explosive operas of this decade.

Secondary Dominance at HERE (Jan. 6, 7, 11-14)
Sarah Small's 13-part work uses a vast sweep of musical influences to synthesize a ferocious multimedia experience. This new work finds the creator of The Delerium Constructions incorporating music, dance and even that decidedly unoperatic form, the music video in this new work.

anatomy theater at BRIC House (Jan. 8, 10-14)
A New York premiere of any new composition by David Lang is always cause for excitement. His latest work is a collaboration with Mark Dion, tracking the last days of an unfortunate woman who confesses to murder. Follow her grim path from the gallows to the dissecting room, where it becomes a deep exploration of the nature of evil and the cruelty of humanity in the search for medical knowledge. There will be blood.

Funeral Doom Spiritual at National Sawdust (Jan. 13-14)
Set 100 years in the future, this is a performance piece for male soprano, electronics and piano. M. Lamar's new work is at once elegy and eulogy for the African-American experience and a national psyche scarred by the horrors of slavery.

Rev. 23 at National Sawdust (Jan. 14, one show only)
This Work-in-Progress concert offers a first look at this new work by Julian Wachner, best known to New Yorkers from his work with Trinity Church and the Trinity Choir. This piece is an exploration of the last (missing) chapter from the Book of Revelation that ends the New Testament of the Bible. Here, the last battle of good and evil has a new player, the Greek goddess Persephone, who enters the fray on the side of Lucifer. Who will triumph?

Silent Voices at French Institute/Alliance Francaise (Jan. 14-15)
The Festival ends with a choral concert featuring the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, performing works by Sahba Aminikia, Jeff Beal, Mary Kouyoumdjian, Shara Nova, Toshi Reagon, and DJ Spooky in a bold exploration of vocal textures and new horizons.

When does the Festival start?
The Prototype Festival opens Jan. 5 with the first performance of Mata Hari and concludes Jan. 15 with the final performance of Silent Voices. Tickets are available (forgive the pun) here http://prototypefestival.org/shows/calendar/

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Since 2007, Superconductor has grown from an occasional concert or CD review to a near-daily publication covering classical music, opera and the arts in and around NYC, with excursions to Boston, Philadelphia, and upstate NY. I am a freelance writer living and working in Brooklyn NY. And no, I'm not a conductor.