Release date: March 5, 2001
Contact: Deb Hammacher, Assistant Director, 404-727-0644, or firstname.lastname@example.org
Theater Emory Presents S.E. Premiere Of Opera/Theater Hybrid, "Telaio:
Opera singer and composer Susan Botti has been described as "one
of the fresher, more imaginative voices on the New York new-music scene"
(New York Times), and her recent commission from the Orpheus Chamber
Orchestra premiered at Carnegie Hall and The Kennedy Center in January
of 2000, but Atlantans will have the chance to hear her in the intimacy
of Emorys 120-seat Mary Gray Munroe Theater on March 23-24 for
the Southeastern premiere of her one-woman show, "Telaio: Desdemona."
For tickets or more information, call 404-727-5050.
Botti is well known for her collaborations with composer/conductor Tan
Dun, who has created several major works that highlight her vocal and
theatrical talents. She premiered his "Red Forecast" for soprano
and orchestra with the BBC Scottish Symphony and premiered it in the
United States at Carnegie Hall with the American Composers Orchestra.
Dun wrote the role of Water for her in his internationally-acclaimed
opera, "Marco Polo," which premiered at the Münchener
Biennale and was later produced at the New York City Opera in 1997.
The New York Festival of Song has commissioned a work from Botti for
its New Millennium Songbook, and a commission from the New York Philharmonic
with her and Christopher Lamb as soloists will be conducted by Kurt
Masur in the 2001-02 season.
Described as an "operatic soliloquy," "Telaio: Desdemona"
is a melding of opera and theater in which Botti weaves what is said
about Desdemona in Shakespeares "Othello" with the verse
of a young Italian Renaissance poet named Gaspara Stampa.
Botti is both narrator and Desdemona through four sets of recitatives
and arias. The recitatives are created from Shakespeares text
about Desdemona and the arias are created from Stampas poetry
and an Italian folk song. The title is both literal and figurative:
"telaio" is the Italian term for a frame for weaving, and
Botti weaves together textual threads that create a portrait of Desdemona,
but the traditional recitative and aria forms also provide a musical
framing structure. And of course, Desdemona is "framed" by
The recitatives in English are the words of Desdemonas father;
her husband, Othello; her friend Casio; and her enemy, Iago. "For
the recitatives, the music is driven by the words, and the instrumentation
focuses on the piano, harp and percussion," Botti explains in the
liner notes to the CD "listen, its snowing" which contains
"Telaio: Desdemona." "In contrast, the arias are more
emotional and lyrical and are accompanied by the string ensemble. Together
the recitatives of the narrator and the arias of Desdemona present a
One reviewer describes the music of the recitatives as "contemporary,
angular, percussive and coloristic" with the arias a stark contrast.
"The arias (in Italian) are tonal and lyric, exposing Desdemonas
emotional life more fully than in any earlier version of the story,
with very rich work in the strings" (Arts Alive! and Well).
Botti will be accompanied by seven musicians: the string quartet Cuarteto
America (violinist Marion Peraza, violinist Carlos Rubio, violist Adriana
Linares and cellist Carlos Izcaray) and pianist Daniel Kirk-Foster,
percussionist Michael Lipsey and harpist Victoria Drake. The musical
director is Kimberly Grigsby, currently the conductor for the Broadway
production "The Full Monty."
"Telaio: Desdemona" was commissioned by the American Artists
Series (AAS) of Detroit and was created with the support of the National
Endowment for the Arts. The work was premiered by AAS and Botti in
April 1995, and was then staged as a full-scale theater production in
Santa Fe, N.M., in March 1999. Botti made
some changes after the Detroit premieredone as a concertto
make the piece more theatrical.
In an interview prior to the Santa Fe performance, Botti explained that
theater was her first love, and her interest in Desdemona dated to her
acting-school days. She wanted to do a character study for the commission,
an interest inspired while studying with Emory theater studies professor
Tim McDonough several years ago in Boston, so turned to Shakespeare
as the best character writer whose work is in the public domain. Botti
fortuitously stumbled upon Stampas work at the same time, and
incorporated her work to flesh out Desdemona.
Theater Emorys acting artistic director Leslie Taylor collaborated
with Botti in the development of "Telaio: Desdemona" as the
set and costume designer. "Its nice to have the opportunity
to bring some of my outside work to Theater Emory," Taylor says.
In fact, she has won a number of awards for her design work outside
of Emory, including the prestigious Maharam Award as associate designer
for the Broadway production of "K-2."
Performances of "Telaio: Desdemona" will be at 8:15 p.m. Friday
and Saturday, March 23-24 in the Mary Gray Munroe Theater, Dobbs University
Center, 605 Asbury Circle, Emory. Tickets are $20 general admission
and $10 for Emory students. For more information, call the Arts at Emory
box office at 404-727-5050 or send e-mail to email@example.com. To
see a map of campus, go to http://www.emory.edu/MAP/.
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