New Year Message

Dear Friends:I make this extensive to all of you as a New Year message.

For all those people who love opera, music, singing, painting, theatre and/or all the arts…For all those of you out there, think of how the careers of great musicians like the Danish tenor Aksel Schiøtz and the Soviet artists Dmitri Shostakovich, Vsevolod Meyerhold, Mstislav Rostropovich, the American contralto Marie Powers, the Russian dancer Rudolf Nureyev, the composer Sergei Prokofieff, the Russian soprano Galina Vishnevskaya, the Cuban writer Reinaldo Arenas… so many of them were either brought to a halt or otherwise impaired by war, by intolerance, by political repression, by the brutality of man to man…

Remember Cheney’s comments on the pillaging of the Bagdad Museum of Antiquities? Some of those cuneiform tablets and vases will never glue together again, if ever they are found.

This year coming up, celebrate the arts: they are what gives our lives meaning, be we Gay or straight, Republican or Democrat, Black, Hispanic, Brown, Asian, Eskimo or White, Jewish or Muslim. Long after we have forgotten the name of the Moroccan King who invaded Spain in the Middle Ages, we will still be celebrating the wonders of the Alhambra and Cante Jondo.

I can’t think of what contributions Mad Ludwig of Bavaria made. I remember him chiefly because he sponsored a fellow named Richard Wagner who coined the word Gesamtkunstwerk and made history with a handful of operas.. The arts will win the wars.

Rafael de Acha

‘MENOTTI REMIXED’, A WORTHY HOMAGE

by Daniel Fernandez El Nuevo Herald

Lauren Levy and Martin Shalita, in a scene from Menotti’s Goya

In February of this year, a few months before his 96th birthday, the Italian-American composer Gian Carlo Menotti left us. His voluminous musical legacy has remained as a testament to his extraordinary creativity and energy, one that until the end has remained at the forefront of festivals such as the ones created in Spoleto and Charleston. Menotti is perhaps the most prolific opera composer of the twentieth century.From one of his first creations, Amelia Goes to the Ball (1937), success followed him with commissions for operas to be premiered on radio and television, something that now seems unlikely to us in these times where the media have failed to see the opera culture as something profitable.So it is a doubly meritorious and beautiful tribute that the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami presented on Thursday 1st in Menotti ReMixed, not only for recognizing the quality and timeliness of Menotti’s music — which should be more present in our culture — but as a reminder of his tireless work as a promoter of cultural and musical bridges between Europe and America.Under the musical direction of Alan Johnson and the theater direction of the spouses Kimberly Daniel and Rafael de Acha, the show was extremely vital, with a pace that did not wane at any time. A highlight was how the production showed the versatility and multiplicity of interests that the composer unfolds with the same security in dramas, comedies and even religiously themed works.

The selection included two Barber (1910-1981) operas to which Menotti contributed librettos: Vanessa (1958) and Hand of Bridge (1959), which was presented in its entirity. The sequence of arias and scenes started with the funny The Telephone (1947), which not only keeps up to date, but becomes even more caustic with use of cell phones.

After about two hours of extraordinary work on the part of teachers and students from UM, the night closed brilliantly with the final scene of The Consul (1950). A work that in these times, where so many want to flee tyrannies and totalitarian governments, retains its painful and sharp message to the democratic governments of the world of their human responsibility to the victims of those suffering from power.

Mandy Spivak was outstanding in the final aria, but she was not the only one who shone in the night’s selections. The duo of Nydia Noriega and Andrew York in L’ultimo selvaggio was also an exquisite gift. The same can be said of the aria of Sardula in the same opera sung by Juanita Marchand and of the Duchess of Alba Lauren Levy, in duet with Mr. Martin Shalita, in a scene from Goya.

The final scene of the science fiction comedy Help, Help, the Globolinks! was extremely funny. In fact all the singers deserve to be mentioned, even if I can not.

Finally, the costumes of Estela Vrancovich and lighting of Pedro A. Ramirez de Estenoz should be recognized.

Menotti ReMixed showed that a few resources can make a spectacle worthy and that the public — which nearly filled the hall knows how to appreciate the value of the more modern operas.

MENOTTI REMIXED

Gian Carlo Menotti

an evening of scenes from the operas of Gian Carlo Menotti  

The Frost Opera Theater begins its 2007-08 season with an evening of opera scenes by Gian Carlo Menotti on Thursday, November 1, 2007 at 8 pm.  Menotti Remixed will present traditional and rarely heard work by this iconic opera composer and his longtime partner, composer Samuel Barber.

Amelia al Ballo, Maria Golovin,The Consul; The Last Savage; Vanessa (music of Samuel Barber, words by Gian Carlo Menotti); A Hand of Bridge (music of Samuel Barber, words by Gian Carlo Menotti); Help! Help! The Globolinks!; The Medium; The Telephone, and Goya.

 With a cast of students of the 2006-2007 Frost Opera Theater. 

As composer, librettist, director and producer, Menotti forged new operatic alliances on Broadway, radio, and television, twice receiving the Pulitzer Prize.   

This one-night performance is under the stage direction of Frost School of Music Associate Professor Kimberly Daniel de Acha and Rafael de Acha. 

Frost Opera Theater Music Director Alan Johnson is the evening’s musical director. 

It will be held at Gusman Concert Hall on the campus of the University of Miami in Coral Gables. Tickets are $20, $10 for seniors, free to UM students, faculty and staff.  For more information, call 305-284-4886.  

Please attend a 7:15 pre-concert interview (free for all ticket holders) with UM professors  Ivan Davis and Alan Johnson.

BILL IN THE BLOGOSPHERE

Aside from the many, many hours that Bill hung out with me at the tiny office back in those days in the 90’s at 65 Almeria Avenue, drinking coffee and talking about a wide ranging panoply of subjects, from astronomy to zebras, was always a delight, a needed break in the middle of many a long day, and an ongoing series of lessons in living and the power of knowledge and inquisitiveness. Bill’s familiarity with all sorts of things, art, music (classical and jazz, instrumental and vocal), theatre (of course) and goodness knows what all else was staggering, entertaining, never pedantic. Bill’s curiosity was insatiable and he could ask and listen with the best. He – wonder of wonders – was one of the easiest and most “director-friendly” actors with whom I ever worked. A gentleman through and through, he had a wicked sense of humor – never at the expense of another actor. On the rare occasions when I saw Bill cry foul, I remember that his anger could be Olympian. Bill never suffered fools well.

All directors have favorite stories and favorite moments and, of course, favorite actors. I list him as one of mine in my own blog. His attention to minutiae was the stuff of legend, and his capability to act with his whole being was awe-inspiring.

One of many such Hindman moments took place at the end of Clarence Darrow, when the aging and, for the first or, if not the first, then one of the very few times in his career, Darrow is so roundly defeated that he confesses he is ready to give up the practice of law. Bill played a simple, clean, thoughtful series of actions: clearing his desk, neatly putting a pencil on a pencil holder, rolling back his chair and then rolling it back under his desk, putting his files inside his briefcase, putting on his jacket, then his topcoat, then his hat, then looking around his office, then walking away with the weight of fifty plus years of trial and tribulations on his broad back. Man! That was amazing acting: pure, cleanly executed, emotionally-charged, eloquent with no need of words.

Another such moment occurred at the end of Mark St. Germain’s Camping With Henry And Tom, in which Bill played Thomas A. Edison. Bill and I were not sure of how to do Edison’s final exit, which was sort of written as a throw-away kind of thing. In the play Edison mentions a real-life occurrence: while swimming in a pond with another boy in his teens, Edison failed to save his drowning friend. I asked Bill to make a so-called “false” exit, leaving behind on stage some prop or other, then come back, pick it up, and look at the “pond” that lay across the “fourth wall” that divided stage from audience. Bill, in his inimitably casual way said something to me along the lines of “Alright… let me try it. ..that’s a good idea…” Again, what Bill finally delivered was another moment of “this is the way to do it!” I loved that man!

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About Miami’s Performing Arts Center

About Miami’s Performing Arts Center

Lord knows I have earnestly tried not to be among those who negatively comment on Miami’s Carnival Performing Arts Center and knit-pick at this, that, and the other. But there has been a great deal of complaining. And I have had kept my peace. Until now…

There has been a lot of complaining about the horrible parking situation that often causes concerts and operas to start as much as 45 minutes late. Those who make the effort to get there on time have to put up with the rudeness of the many latecomers, not to mention the endless and loud arguments between ushers and patrons.

There has been a lot of complaining from the orchestra musicians who are told to park several blocks away in a rock-strewn lot, with no security, and then expected to trek through no-man’s-land, dressed in long gowns or tuxes, carrying a horn or fiddle worth thousands of dollars.

There has been a lot of complaining about the many panhandlers that accost patrons as they try to get across a busy intersection, having just left their car parked in an unpaved parking lot, with a couple of elderly attendants working part time to look after their vehicle. And this only costs $15 or $20 a pop. Or you are told that you have to have a parking reservation.

There has been a lot of complaining about the ineptitude of the ushers at the PAC, who can’t seem to learn the seating layout.

There has been a lot of complaining about the poorly-marked aisles and steps in both the opera house and the concert hall. During the Rolando Villazón concert this past year, there were two accidents in one evening at the Knight Concert Hall. I was there that night.

There has been a lot of complaining about the very limited choice of restaurants at a walking distance from the center.

There has been some complaining about the lack of a decent café in either facility. In the studio theatre, where I saw King Lear, you couldn’t even get a cup of coffee to help you through Shakespeare’s longest tragedy. And the least said the better about those seats that will cause you to rush for the next available appointment with your chiropractor.

There has been some complaining about quite a few of the selections of performers presented by PAC. But then, you can’t please everybody. One event this season announced three Latin pop divas under the title (in Spanish) of Three Women with Balls. They quickly changed that. But there still was some complaining about it.

There has been complaining about the cramped lobbies in both facilities, with precious few lobby benches to sit on. There has been complaining about the questionable acoustics in the opera house, especially in the rear of the orchestra, under the overhang of the first balcony. There has been complaining about the ergonomically tortuous seats that force one to crank one’s neck when seated on one of the side sections of the concert hall.

Some have even complained about the glasses of champagne at $15 a pop.

But my biggest complaint is that I am deeply disappointed by the outcome of this 470 million-dollar project, underwritten, by and large, the tourist tax – not tax payer’s dollars – but dollars, nevertheless, some of which could have been allocated to any number of worthy projects in our community.

A front page article (http://www.miamiherald.com/460/story/47862.html) by Herald classical music critic Lawrence A. Johnson and reporter Daniel Chang, posted on the Herald’s website on March 21, titled “Miami arts center is $3 million in red,” and the facts that it details, point to a financial catastrophe-in-the-making. This is something that many have been predicting, and which could certainly be averted.

South Florida’s largest arts organization, top-heavy with staff, consultants, political clout, and plenty of community support, manages to make a mess of things barely one year out of the gate.

Our only large institutional regional theatre – the Coconut Grove Playhouse, and before it, the Florida Philharmonic Orchestra, both met ignominious and premature demises. The Playhouse did so just last year – largely due to the ineptitude and callousness of their boards, and the general indifference of this community to anything resembling the home-grown. That scenario threatens to happen once more.

The list of mid-size and smaller arts organizations that have perished in this community through the indifference of our very few, very select, and not so very selective arts supporters is long and saddening. Twenty-five years in South Florida have proven to me again and again that Miami-Dade has a long way to go before it is ready for its close-up.

Miami-Dade and, to a great extent, South Florida at large has a voracious appetite for the glitzy, the latest, the New York based, and all that which is canonized elsewhere. In so doing, the community largely ignores extraordinary home-grown artists. And it evidences a deep level of insecurity.

Ask many a self-defined arts supporter in this community if he or she has heard of community jewels such as GableStage, Actor’s Playhouse, Maximum Dance Company, Momentum Dance Company, the Lowe Museum, the Bass Museum, the Miami Art Museum, the Contemporary Arts Museum, the Miami Light Project, the MDC Cultura del Lobo series, Seraphic Fire…The list can go on for a long time, as there are many arts organizations in this community. You will most likely get a vague “Yes, I think I have…” or, worse, a quizzical look.

As for the Herald article itself, there are items in it that could make you weep:

“Despite its artistic successes, Miami’s Carnival Center for the Performing Arts has rung up a $3 million deficit in the five months since it opened — a period when the center (emphasis mine) was expected to be only $150,000 in the red.”

Expected” did they say?

Expected” by a much-heralded A-team that had several years to map out their best laid plans of mice and men? Anyone that runs a small, medium, large, or huge arts organization of the presenting and/or the producing kind will assure you that you do not budget with the expectation to be 5% in the red. That’s low-balling it.

$3 million deficit for the first 3 months? How much red ink will that add up to by year’s end? Good luck.

You do not budget to have 4.99 million in ticket sales with the expectation that your “artistic successes” will put bottoms on seats, and then end up with a 2.2 million (-44%) shortfall. If you do, you need a reality check.

The article, again: “Hardy (Michael Hardy, the Center’s CEO) said that, ‘in hindsight, those centers (Broward, Palm Beach) should have been considered more closely. But the Carnival Center is larger, and its state-of-the-art acoustics and other amenities are more expensive to maintain than administrators expected,’ he said.”

That statement makes no sense to me.

The center has spent $175,000 on extra or off-duty cops, who only work during shows. Hardy again: ”We didn’t budget anything for that…Nobody told us we were going to have to pay for that…” Only a mere half a million per year, plus an additional $522,000 – compared with a budgeted $125,000 – for security… what now?

The budget posted in the Herald article shows that the administration of PAC had not budgeted for either parking services or stage hands. No stage hands? Perhaps they expect the audience members to troop on stage and change the set of Aida? Maybe they were expecting the Boy Scouts to provide security?

The sad outcome of all of this has yet to be seen.

Hardy attempts to placate concerns and allay our fears by assuring us that he “questions whether anyone could have accurately predicted the expense of running a center unlike any Miami has ever had…” and later he adds, in exquisite double-speak: “We said . . . to our board and to the county financial analysts . . . We’re not going to know what the building costs until we know what the building costs…”

But hope blooms eternal. Hardy assures us that, for next year, he will schedule less Carnival Center events and rent the halls to more commercial acts. Should we expect to be seeing more rock and pop concerts in our 470 million dollar jewel?

Enlarging the audience or shrinking the hall?

Drew McManus’ Adaptistration, is an excellent blog that deals with music and related issues. You can visit Drew at drewmcmanus.net, and that will connect you to his blog.

The Utah Symphony Orchestra has announced that it plans to deal with their dwindling audiences by blocking off a number of seats in Abravanel Hall, their main performance venue. This has caused quite an outcry among their subscribers. This post of mine is a response to a posting on this very subject in Adaptistration:

“Good morning, Drew. Interesting and all too true. Outside of major metropolitan centers where classical music is well-established, such as New York, Chicago, and Boston, audiences for classical music are shrinking. This is not statistical data, but first-hand experience. Concert halls in many major European capitals, as well the vast majority of opera houses in mid-size cities in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, and France are much, much smaller than their American counterparts. And we all know they have – halls, music, musicians, audience – been around for much, much longer than their American counterparts.

The size of most halls in mid-size American cities, such as those mentioned in your article – Salt Lake City, for example- is much too capacious. While marketing ploys, such as twofers and giveaways might crack open the doors to the concert halls, only a radical re-invention of the traditional symphonic concert, as we know it, will truly throw those doors wide open and begin to expand the audience that now stays away in droves.

This season I have been to approximately forty musical performances between September and now. Even with a brand-new performing arts center and all the accompanying hoopla, I have seen an alarming number of empty seats in concert after concert and opera after opera.

Only the New World Symphony – which performs in the intimate Lincoln Theater in Miami Beach, does regularly fill the house. Part of that is programming that assures the concertgoer that classical music is not a soporific 19th century (and earlier) art form.

The way those programs are presented also makes them much more accessible, and by that I mean casual, with spoken introductions by the conductor, projected program commentary, and so forth.

My good wishes go to the management and musicians of the Utah Symphony Orchestra for their efforts to enlarge their audience.”

More age footnotes

On a post dated March 4, 2007, Greg Sandow, one of my favorite bloggers and an insightful writer on music, classical and otherwise, wrote with his usual perspicacity about the positive state of audience development at the “new” Met in New York.

As we often do, we had a pleasant exchange by way of the Internet. For more on and by Sandow, visit him at: www.gregsandow.com

Here’s his post and our ensuing exchange

More age footnotes

Here’s something I’m told (by a highly reliable source) that Peter Gelb said, at the press conference last week, at which he announced what the Met will do next season. He said that when he started his job, the Met’s subscribers were 65 years old — and that this age this age had shot up from 60 in the five years before that. This, Peter said, he took as a wakeup call. The audience was aging, rapidly; something had to be done.

For those who are finicky about statistics (as we all should be) I don’t know whether Peter was talking about the average age, or the median age. Nor, of course, did he confirm what I’ve been saying here, that in past generations the classical audience used to be drastically younger. But he did give us this — the experience of seeing someone who runs the biggest classical music institution in America say that his audience has been getting older, fast, and that this is a serious problem. Bravo, Peter. Especially since he’s really doing something about it.

As a further footnote, I might say that I continue to be amazed when people take the old line, and confidently state the audience has always been the same age it is now. This is the conventional wisdom, I know, and conventional wisdom is hard to change. But there isn’t any data supporting it! Or at least none that I’ve found, or that anyone has been able to find for me, even the people who say the conventional thing most strongly. So I’m going to post a challenge to everyone who still says the audience has always been the same age. Either support what you say, with solid data, or stop saying it.

And of course if anyone has such data — please let me know! I’ll post it here immediately.

About the distant past, by which I mean everything up through the 1950s…there’s a lot of anecdotal evidence that the audience used to be younger. Just recently, for instance, in the first of Geraldine Farrar’s two autobiographies (Geraldine Farrar: The Story of an American Singer, published in 1916), I came across a very satisfying story — satisfying to herself, I mean –about how in her early days, when she became a big star in Berlin, young men flocked to the opera house to see her. Would they have done this, if they weren’t going to the opera anyway? They came more often when she was singing — but they were there in any case.

And the same must be true of the “gerryflappers,” the girls who came to scream for Farrar later on, when she sang at the Met. They can’t have been the only young women in the opera house. Could we imagine such a thing today? The Metropolitan Opera, full of 65 year-old subscribers, and suddenly, when Cecilia Bartoli comes on stage, the house is full of women in their 20s, shrieking? That just doesn’t compute. The gerryflappers weren’t the only women their age at the Met; they just were more than usually enthusiastic.

To these stories I could add E. M Forster’s famous account of Beethoven’s Fifth, in Howard’s End, in which he describes the reactions of six people who hear the symphony, five of whom are in their 20s. He was imagining a concert given at the time he wrote the novel, in the early years of the last century. Would the people he describes have been the only people their age at the concert? Forster doesn’t even hint that their presence was unusual.

These examples could be multiplied. (If anyone has more of them, please tell me.) And they pose yet another problem for people who believe the classical audience has always been middle-aged. If it was younger than that in the 1900s, and the 1910s, and the 1920, when did it get older? There’s absolutely no account, at least that I’ve ever seen, of such a thing happening. Compared, for instance, to right now, when the painful absence of younger people is so widely lamented.

Hello Greg. In 1920, the great Italian tenor Enrico Caruso came to Havana to sing Aida at the Teatro Nacional. When the performance was about to start, Caruso ordered the doors of the theatre open so that the crowd that had congregated across the street could also enjoy the performance (Peter Gelb was not the first populist!) Among the crowd gathered just outside the theatre along the Paseo del Prado in Central Havana, was my late father- age 16 – getting his free opera experience.

Years later, he and my mother met at the Sociedad Pro-Arte Musical, next to the Auditorium in the Vedado section of Havana, and there joined the guitar ensemble led by the late Abel Nicola.  Still more years later, when I had grown up to be a young teen about town, I got my first taste of live opera at that same theatre, hearing Tebaldi in La Traviata. I don’t think I was the younger member of the audience, nor was my late father the youngest member of the crowd standing outside the Nacional in 1920. It really was a younger audience then, Greg

Thanks, Rafael! No, Peter is hardly the first populist. And in past eras, populism in the arts didn’t have the special meanings it does now, either positive (we need a new audience) or negative (we’re dumbing the music down). Caruso recorded pop songs; Lauritz Melchior made films in Hollywood. There was a much easier exchange between classical music and popular culture.And your story is lovely. Thanks. I went to the Met for the first time in the ’50s, when I was a teenager (“Die Meistersinger,” with a standing-room ticket). I wish I could remember how old the audience was!

Hazardous Work

Two young musicians with the Eugene (Oregon) Symphony – Kjersten J. Oquist, 36, and Angela Svendsen, 31 – were killed on February 11 of this year in a car crash caused by a driver heading down the freeway in the wrong direction as the women drove home after a rehearsal. Kelly Gronli, 28, was in the back seat and suffered minor injuries. All three played with the Eugene Symphony and worked on a free-lance basis with the Oregon Ballet and the Portland Opera orchestras.

Theophanis Dymiotis, 41, a violinist, composer and music professor died in a car crash on March 12, as he returned from Wilmington late at night after a performance with the Delaware Symphony Orchestra. The driver of a northbound car crossed the center line, attempting to pass a tractor-trailer, and the resulting collision killed Mr. Dymiotis.

Drew McManus, author of many books on orchestra management and music, and blogger par excellenc, weighs in eloquently on the subject. Make sure to visit his blog at (www.artsjournal.com/adaptistration/archives/2007/03/another_driving.html)

“Although this could simply be terrible timing, these two fatal accidents may indicate a disturbing trend in the world of low to mid-budget size orchestras…the musicians died while traveling more than 70 miles one way to earn money as an orchestra musician…Most musicians in this business refer to such jobs as ‘Driving for Dollars”‘or performing in ‘Freeway Philharmonics.’ Nevertheless, it looks as if the quantity of musicians and the distance they are willing to travel for these organizations is on the rise…Perhaps it is also time to begin considering whether or not the personal safety for musicians who are required to travel long distances in order to cobble together a living wage is something ensembles need to acknowledge.”

I posted my comments on Drew’s blog a couple of days ago:

“Drew, Last Sunday my wife and I drove from Miami – where we live – to Boca Raton, FL, for dinner with friends. We took I-95 North, and, on a weekend mid-afternoon, what should have taken one hour took two going, over two coming back after 11 PM, as they were doing work on I-95.

“Going through all of that made me think of how often former members of the now-defunct Florida Philharmonic had to do put up with this so as to make a living. Their orchestra – a tri-county one – came to be nicknamed ‘The I-95 Philharmonic.’ Yet, travel they did, and continue to do now, as the finest of our players ‘gig’ all over South Florida to eke out a living. “

“The old Philharmonic Board, like most arts boards in this area, was completely clueless, and looked out neither for the institution they allowed to die nor for the artists who served it so long and so well, including its Music Director. Sadly, the Eugene and Delaware tragedies could occur again. The same goes for free-lance actors and other professional theatre artists in South Florida who must be willing to travel hundreds of miles each week to make Equity minimum in most, if not all, of our regional theatres.”

 

I can’t get the subject off my mind as I think about so many friends in theatre who would think nothing of driving one hour or more one way (make that two hours round trip or more) five or six times a week during the rehearsal period, as many during the run of the play, to work at their chosen profession.

While some people may cynically object with the observation that many folks, other than performers, also drive long distances to work, I maintain that the average actor or musician consumes a higher level of adrenalin during a rehearsal or performance than, for example, the average office worker. Simply put, an actor or musician is damned tired after work, be it a show, a concert, or a rehearsal.

Compound that with another fact of life: your average musician or actor plays, rehearses, and performs in the evening, often at the end of a long day of teaching or working in a “regular” job. He or she then goes to a theatre or concert venue to make art happen with his fiddle, his horn, or his body and soul. And, to get to that privileged moment, that artist will have spent many, many years and dollars preparing for it.

I call that hazardous work.

Blind Date by Mario Diament getting productions around the world

 

 

With the exotic-sounding titles CITA A CIEGAS (Spanish), and LÁTATLAN TALÁLKOZÁSOK (Hungarian), Mario Diament’s play, BLIND DATE, which premiered at New Theatre in 2004 and went on to win the Carbonell Award that year for Best New Work, is getting productions all around the world.

The Miami-based Argentine playwright and wife Simone recently returned from Hungary, where they attended the European premiere of his play at Hungary’s largest state theatre: Miskolci Nemzeti Színház (http://www.mnsz.eu) on February 16. The cast featured five of Hungary’s most respected actors – GYÖRGY BŐSZE, GYÖRGY SZATMÁRI, BERNADETT SZIRBIK, SZILVIA VÁRKONY, and ÁGI MÁHR – under the direction of ADINA LÉVAY.

 

The play had a sensational success in this city – Miskolci – which boasts the largest institutional theatre in Central Europe, founded in 1823. The playwright told me over lunch the other day that the company – employed as State Artists year-round – worked on the play for two months!

 

There is already a commission in the works from the Miskolci Nemzeti Színház for the season 2008-2009. I can’t help but express astonishment at and admiration for the breadth and depth of the season of this European theatre, with an Opera and Operetta branch, a main stage, and a second stage where tragedies by Shakespeare and plays by Hungarian authors, adaptations of novels by Kipling and Daniel Defoe, and a play by Miamian Mario Diament, coexist with Bizet’s Carmen and Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann.

 

Meanwhile, there are upcoming productions in Bogotá, Colombia at the Teatro Nacional (http://www.teatronacional.com.co), Lima, Perú at the theatre of the Alliance Française (http://www.alianzafrancesalima.edu.pe) and one in the works in Spain (Barcelona and Madrid.) There is even a film deal being discussed…

All that success comes on the tails of the publication of Mario’s first novel, Martín Eidán, (Editorial Sudamericana, ISBN 950-07-2783-8) which has had terrific reviews in the Latin American press and which will be introduced to a wider public with a book signing by the author at the upcoming Feria del Libro in Buenos Aires.

Like the villain Dapertutto says in Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann, “Scintille Diament!”