Dancing in the opera
By Joseph Yeh and Kevin Goetz, The China Post
August 31, 2012, 5:06 pm TWN
Taipei Symphony Orchestra (TSO, 台北市立交響樂團) is soon to present a never-before-seen version of the classic "Cav & Pag" double-bill feature.
The TSO show marries two 19th century Italian operas, Leoncavallo's "Pagliacci" and Mascagni's "Cavalleria Rusticana." That's a traditional pairing in the opera world, but there's a twist: dance.
Speaking at a press conference to announce next month's upcoming shows, TSO conductor Hwang Wei-ming (黃維明) said that this version of "Pag & Cav" is special for combining the art of opera with the art of dance.
"We added dancing to the opera so that we can use the dancers' body movements to demonstrate stronger and deeper emotions to audiences that music alone cannot show," said Huang.
The TSO production will feature 13 vocalists from both sides of the Taiwan Strait. A chorus consisting of Taiwanese aboriginal children will also join the production while the dancing will be brought by Taiwan's Century Contemporary Dance Company (世紀當代舞團).
Other than these local talents, the TSO has also invited experts from abroad to join the latest venture, Huang said. The guests are Johannes Wildner from Vienna, who is the conductor of the production, and stage director Thilo Reinhardt from Germany.
"For me it's a fantastic challenge to join this kind of production because it is totally new to bring modern style to the stage with the combination of voice and dance," Wildner said.
"It gives us the chance to express voices together with dance," he added.
Echoing Wildner's view, stage director Reinhardt said he is happy and excited about the combination.
"In this experience we have a chance to create a new and deeper expression of human feelings. The dancers and the singers influence each other and we walk into a new room of expression and explore the nature of human beings and the soul," Reinhardt said.
Universal Human Conflicts
According to Reinhardt, "Pagliacci," which means "the clowns," is a piece about a man who kills his wife out of jealousy. "Cavalleria Rusticana," on the other hand, explores the power of love and the destructive power of desire.
He said the two main themes, jealousy and desire, in this pair of Italian opera masterpieces are "universal human conflicts" that one can find in every society at any time.
"And it's very relevant today; even in Taiwan there was a recent article where this occurred. It's the same everywhere," he said.
Staging these two pieces in Taiwan is very stressful, Reinhardt confessed, because the two pieces are the most typical Italian operas that exist. "Everything in this play is very Italian: the talking, the behavior."
But he said it is also very rewarding and exciting for him to take on the task and make the production in Taiwan a success, which enables him to enjoy the clash of both European and Asian cultures. ■
'Pagliacci & Cavalleria Rusticana' (歌劇人生 丑角與鄉村騎士) ► 7 p.m. Sept. 6 ~ Sept. 8 (Thurs. ~ Sat.) / 2:30 p.m. Sept. 9 (Sun.) / Metropolitan Hall (城市舞台) / No. 25 Bade Rd., Sec 3, Taipei (台北市八德路三段25 號) / NT$500 ~ NT$2,000 /
TSO's 'Pagliacci & Cavalleria Rusticana' is a lively update on a classic opera pairing. (Wang Chien-yu, The China Post)