Monday, July 31, 2017

GRAND OPERA DIMITRIJ at Bard Summerscape: Review by Polly Guerin

Antonin Dvorak's DIMITRIJ, Grand Opera on an epic scale of monumentality, has arrived at Bard, Annandale-on-the-Hudson's spectacular Fisher Center. designed by Frank Gehry.  It is this year's SUMMERSCAPE festival's long overdue American premiere performance of Antonin Dvorak's opera in an original new staging by award-winning director Anne Bogart.  For opera aficionados this is a rare opportunity to see the remaining performances,  Wednesday, August 2 at 2 pm,  Friday, August 4 at 7:30 pm and Sunday August 6 at 2 pm.  Summerstage coach from New York City August 6. Reservation required: 845.758.7900. 
Quite frankly, the opera, if only it was possible, deserves an extended run. 
 INNOVATIVE PROGRAMMING: Since the opening of the Fisher Center at Bard, Leon Botstein, principal conductor of the American Symphony Orchestra has been responsible for championing and restoring to the stage a growing number of important, but long-neglected operas. He combines his conducting career with his work at Bard College, where he has served as president since 1975. Botstein's unique approach to programming gives audiences opportunities to encounter neglected, but brilliant works which he performs alongside standard repertoire masterpieces, often enhancing the experience, as he did at the July 30 performance, with a preconcert talk that augmented the opera experience. 
     Dimitrij introduction at Bard stands as a testament to recognizing Dvorak's genius; the recognition of his lyricism and masterfully stirring chorus and brilliant soloists singing with such synergistic resonance that brought the July 30th audience to a standing ovation. With rising young tenor Clay Hilley's heroic performance in the title role and the captivating soprano Melissa Citro as Marina, Dimitrij's Polish wife, and the resonant, bright voiced Russian soprano, Olga Tolknit as Xenia completed their fatal love triangle. it was a breathtaking grand opera performance with others as talented too numerous to mention here.  Set design by David Zinn and costumes by Constance Hoffman make this thrilling new production a "must see" on your list of cultural interests.
THE STORY: Based on events of 17th century Russia, Dimitrij seemingly resumes where Mussorgsky's Boris Gudunov leaves off.  It vividly depicts the struggle for power during the "Time of Troubles" that ensued in the wake of the Tzar's death. Mistakenly supposing himself to be Dimitrij, the murdered son of Ivan the Terrible, Dvorak's protagonist believes he has a legitimate claim to the Russian Throne.  When he falls in love with Godunov's daughter, however, he decides to divorce his own Polish wife, he unwittingly triggers the chain of events that will result in his demise. Ultimately tragic, the story of the false Dimitrij pits Orthodox Russia against Catholic Poland. Bard's historic presentation also features Dimitrij's rarely heard, full-length overture and original brutal conclusion. The final scene's frozen-in-time tableau of the entire cast and chorus filling the stage with their omnipotent presence resembled an unforgettable work of masterful artistry.   
Melissa Citro as Marina, Dimitrij's Polish Wife
Dvorak's Dimitrij (1882) is rarely staged outside of he Czech Republic, and was acclaimed for its strong dramatic moments, original melodies and masterful choral work and was widely regarded as one of the most significant works created for the Czech operatic stage. It only received its United States concert premiere in 1984, more than a century after its composition. Bogart said,                  "The more I look at the opera-the architecture of the piece and the absolutely gorgeous music-the more I am completely bewildered why it's not done all the time, why it's not a stable part of the repertoire in the opera world."

     Ta Ta Darlings!!!   I was overwhelmed by this powerful performance and the captivating orchestration of Dimitrij. The stellar performance still resonates with me. Fan mail welcome at  Visit Polly's Blogs at

Monday, July 17, 2017

World Premiere A PINK CHAIR (In Place of a Fake Antique at BARD

"Tadeusz Kantor was to Poland what Any Warhol is to America: an iconic postwar artist." It might be best to be open-minded to fully appreciate the avant garde performance of The Wooster Group's A PINK CHAIR (In Place of a Fake Antique). The experience is mesmerizing, an experimental performance incorporating video in the theatrical landscape that pays tribute to to the late visionary, Polish artist and director, Tadeusz Kantor. 
     Annandale-on-the Hudson, NY:  This summer, the Bard SummerScape 2017 festival presents the world premiere of a new theater production from The Wooster Group, the internationally recognized Obie and Bessie Award-winning experimental theater company. Each Scene in the piece, there are five, is a re-imagined installment of Kantor's work, revisiting as it does his previous pieces, Case in point, Part  III: A Miserable and Suspicious Inn (The Company encounters the film of I shall Never Return), and then in Part V: The Return of Odysseus, the Company reenacts the Odysseus Story From Kantor's I Shall Never Return with Some Disruptions. Haunting musical accompaniment included Ani Ma'amin a Jewish prayer set to music, an Argentinian tango a work by Chopin, a song from the Warsaw ghetto and others.
     It is interesting to note that  this new work by the Wooster Group not only pays homage to  Tadeusz Kantor, but his daughter, Dorota Krakowska serves in a spellbinding presence as A Pink Chair's dramaturge. Then too, the piece is directed by Wooster founding member, Elizabeth LeCompte, whose string of honors include prize recognitions and a National Endowment of the Arts Lifetime Achievement award.
    This innovative work is performed in the LUMA Theater of the Frank Gehry-designed Fisher Center on Bard's Hudson Valley campus.  Remaining performances include the following: Wednesday, July 19 at 2 pm, Thursday, July 20 at 7:30 pm, Friday, July 21 at 7:30 pm, Saturday, July 22 at 2 pm, Saturday July 22 at 7:30 pm and Sunday, July 23 at 2 pm.
     TADEUSZ KANTOR (1915-90) the stage director, set designer, creator of happenings and writer, was the artist behind such revolutionary theatrical works as The Dead Class (1975) . He founded the Independent Theater in Poland , and served as well as a director of the experimental theater in Krakow from 1942 to 1944.  WWII influenced his work and he is best known for his "Theater of Death" a series of surrealist works in which the shadow of Poland's experience of war and totalitarianism, he sought to create what he called "a bridge between the audience and the kingdom of death. The presence of  pink chair at the end of the performance alludes to the title of Kantor's piece and perhaps is a harbinger of "hope" in the aftermath.
   Ta ta Darlings!!! BARD'S SUMMERSCAPE 2017 FULL SCHEDULE OF PERFORMANCES CAN BE ACCESSED AT  Fan mail welcome at pollytalknyc@gmail.
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Monday, July 10, 2017

Patek Philippe's "Art of Watches" Grand Exhibition: Opens July 13 at Cipriani

Whether you are a watch aficionado or not, here is your chance to enter the splendid hallowed halls of the former Bowery Savings Bank building across from Grand Central Terminal to view the Patek Philippe's tradition of high-precision watch manufacturing as well as the company's 178-year history and its heritage in the domain of Haute Horlogerie. Located in Geneva, Switzerland and the Vallee de Joux, Patek Philippe designs and manufactures timepieces and movements, including some of the most complicated mechanical watches, and many experts and aficionados consider Patek Philippe to be one of the most prestigious watch manufacturers. Owners of their time honored watches have included kings and queens. In 1851 Queen Victoria wore an exclusive Patek Philippe timepiece, a watch suspended from a diamond enamel brooch.  Patek Philippe popularized the perpetual calendar, the split-seconds hand, chronograph, and minute repeater in watches and modern captains of industry own such watches for their status and unique appeal.
Cipriani former  Bowery Savings Bank ballroom interior
     The 11-day exhibition, THE ART OF WATCHES GRAND EXHIBITION, running from July 13-23rd, is free and open to the public at Cipriani 42nd Street, 110 East 42nd Street and will be open to the general public from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm. Here is a rare opportunity to discover the world of the last privately family owned watch company from the inside featuring a curated selection of luxury pocket watches and wrist watches, from new ones to styles dating back to 1530. Rather than selling watches, the exhibition format is meant to educate visitors about the historical significance of time-keeping and the awe-inspiring ingenuity of the watches. 

    A UNIQUE STRUCTURE: For the first time ever, a two-story structure has been created within Cipriani, the former Bowery Savings Bank building, to accommodate the square footage required for an exhibition of this scale. Ten specific rooms include the Theater Room, Current Collection Room, Museum Room, US Historic Room Rare Handcrafts Gallery and Grand Complications Room. All have been created to showcase unique environments.
    DEMONSTRATIONS: As a way to educate visitors on the inner-workings of fine watchmaking, watchmaker and Artisan demonstrations are among some of the interactive activities taking place during the exhibition. After visitors have concluded their tour they are welcome to rest in the Patek Philippe Cafe. 
George Washington Pocket Watch 
COMMEMORATIVE CATALOG: A one-of-a-kind commemorative catalog available for purchase at a nominal fee during the storied exhibition, will highlight the historical timepieces, current novelties, rare handicrafts and grand complications showcased during the exhibition. 

And, did I mention Patek Philippe will donate 100 percent of the proceeds from the catalog to The Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club, which offers innovative after-school and enrichment programs for more than 10,000 youth, ages 6 through 18, in ten locations throughout the Bronx. Daniel Quintero, Executive Director of the Kip's Bay Boys & Girls Club said, "We are honored to be partnering with Patek Philippe during this exhibition, and grateful that they have chose our organization as the recipient of the catalog's proceeds."
       THE ART OF WATCHES, GRAND EXHIBITION is like a gift to New York and revers the memory of its founders (Antoni ) Patek and (Adrien) Philippe who landed in New York in the 1800s when they began to explore the new world.  Today The Henri Stern Watch Agency manages all of the business operations for Patek Philippe in the United States. 
     Ta Ta Darlings!!! I look forward to seeing you at Cipriani and delve into the unique world of watchmaking history. Fan mail welcome at  Polly's Blogs on fashion, visionary men, women determined to succeed and poetry can be accessed on, just click on the links to the Blogs that resonate with your interest.