Above: principal dancer PeiJu Chien-Pott of Martha Graham Dance Company, rehearsing for The Tempest Songbook, an upcoming co-production by the Graham Company and Gotham Chamber Opera.
Wednesday December 3rd, 2014 - Recalling last season's superb production of Toshio Hosokowa's The Raven by Gotham Chamber Opera, I was very glad to read the following:
"Gotham Chamber Opera announces the final production of their 2014/2015 season, The Tempest Songbook, comprised of incidental music for The Tempest composed in 1695 and attributed to Henry Purcell, and Kaija Saariaho's 2004 Tempest Songbook for soprano, baritone and period instrument ensemble. A co-production with The Martha Graham Dance Company, The Tempest Songbook will be performed in the Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium at The Metropolitan Museum of Art from March 26 - 28, 2015 at 7pm. Tickets range from $30 to $175 and may be ordered here.
The Tempest Songbook will be conducted by Neal Goren and directed and choreographed by Luca Veggetti, with scenic design by Luca Veggetti and Clifton Taylor, lighting design by Clifton Taylor, and film elements created by Jean-Baptiste Barrière; the featured singers are Jennifer Zetlan, soprano, Thomas Richards, bass-baritone."
Today I had the good fortune to have an early introduction to The Tempest Songbook when Luca Veggetti invited me to the Martha Graham Studios where he was working with two of the Graham dancers who will take part in the production...
...PeiJu Chien-Pott (above)...
...and XiaoChuan Xie (above).
Luca has already crafted solos for these two dancers to two of the Purcell songs. Although it's very early in the creative process, the girls showed an instinctive grasp of the movement and at the same time - despite the choreography being so new - they were already finding emotional nuances to give colour to their dancing. It's always so engaging to watch dancers in the initial stages of a new work, and since both PeiJu and Chuan are such fluent, expressive artists that I found myself entranced by them and ended up staying much longer than I'd intended. Luca told me that two of the Graham company's outstanding male dancers, Abdiel Cedric Jacobsen and Lloyd Mayor, are also cast in The Tempest Songbook.
The sky was gloomily overcast today, and without the aid of sunlight my photographic skills fall short. But I could not resist this chance to document this first view of what promises to be a fascinating production, so here are a few more rehearsal images:
PeiJu and Luca
Chuan and Luca