Monday, May 14, 2012

From The House of Mirth: Song, Music, and Dance

Dance review

From the House of Mirth: A tragic heroine for the age of greed

TORONTO — From Friday's Globe and Mail
Lily Bart is an anti-heroine in a morality play with no real moral. She’s the beautiful but materialistic protagonist of Edith Wharton’s 1905 novel The House of Mirth, a bleak preview of the greedy, scandal-addicted world we live in today.

James Kudelka’s ambitious new work for Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie, From the House of Mirth, pays tribute to Wharton’s novel in song, music and dance. Composed and arranged by Vancouver's Rodney Sharman with a libretto by Toronto playwright Alex Poch-Goldin, the work is a theatrically sumptuous retelling of Lily's sad tale.

The action unfolds on a set that is sparse yet suggests luxury and privilege: Musicians line the back wall, a crystal chandelier hangs overhead and performers in evening dress swirl and sway. In short order, Wharton’s characters begin to emerge from the wash of movement.

There’s Selden (countertenor Scott Belluz), who loves Lily but is not wealthy enough for her ambitions. Trenor (tenor Graham Thomson) has money and initially shares it with Lily, briefly rescuing her from her debts – but of course, he expects repayment in either affection or cash. Rosedale (baritone Alexander Dobson) and Dorset (bass baritone Geoffrey Sirett) are both fascinated by Lily and offer support at various stages of her fall from grace.

Kudelka has divvied up dramatic duties along gender lines – the men sing the story forward while the women add layers of meaning to the narrative through dance. And so Trenor’s wife Judy is performed by dancer Claudia Moore in elegant silence (except when she loudly declaims a single sentence that signals the beginning of the end of Lily’s reign as society’s darling).
[read the rest at the link above]

--Submitted by Rita Bode

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