Boston University College of Fine Arts PesentsOut On The Edge: 10th Annual Fall Fringe Festival

in Arts, College of Fine Arts, News Releases
September 27th, 2006

Contact: Ellen Carr, 617-353-8783 | emcarr@bu.edu
Contact: Jean Connaughton, 617-353-7293 | jeanconn@bu.edu

(Boston) – The tenth annual Boston University Fringe Festival, presented by the School of Music’s Opera Institute and the School of Theatre, begins October 13 and continues through November 5. This year’s festival features five productions that focus on the struggles of humanity and the pressures of society, including two full length plays with music: Arthur Miller’s Playing for Time and Tom Stoppard and Andre Previn’s Every Good Boy Deserves Favour. In addition, the festival will also feature two short operas – Jules Massenet’s La Navarraise and Jorge Martin’s Before Night Falls – along with excerpts from Jing Xiang’s The Savage Land. All performances will be presented at the Boston University Theatre.

A celebration of unconventional opera and theatre repertoire, the Boston University Fringe Festival brings together artists and audiences for a unique experience, presented by the School of Music’s Opera Institute and the School of Theatre. Sharon Daniels, Director of Opera Programs at Boston University and founder of the BU Fringe Festival, created the festival with the goal of cultivating a broader audience for opera. By presenting operas with minimal sets and costumes, bringing artists and audience members together in an intimate performance space, and setting ticket prices at just $7, audiences for the Fringe Festival have continued to grow over the last ten years. The artistic offerings of the festival were enhanced when the School of Theatre joined it in 2003. “The Fringe Festival originally expanded the mission of The Opera Institute by giving students more performance opportunities in a variety of styles,” according to Daniels. “At the beginning, opera students and faculty assumed all artistic and technical tasks. Over the last few years, we have been blessed to have theater students assume the design and production responsibilities, and through Jim Petosa’s leadership, the Festival has expanded to include full length plays.”

Arthur Miller’s Playing for Time tells the story of the female prisoners of Auschwitz who survived by playing in the concentration camp’s all-female orchestra. Based on the memoir of survivor Fania Fénelon, the work was originally written as a television play in 1980, then later adapted for the stage. The Auschwitz orchestra consisted of musicians with a wide range of skills, including Alma Rosé, a distinguished violinist and leader of the orchestra; Fénelon, a Parisian singer; and cellist Anita Lasker-Wallfisch. In the play, the women do whatever they can to survive, while facing tremendous moral struggles as they perform the music they love, which their Nazi captors use as work marches for the camp prisoners and entertainment for themselves.

Every Good Boy Deserves Favour is a collaborative piece written by Tom Stoppard with music by André Previn. In a Soviet asylum in 1977, two men – both named Alexander Ivanov – share a cell. While “Ivanov” is a genuine mental patient who conducts an imaginary orchestra throughout the play, “Alexander” has been institutionalized because of his unacceptable political views. Alexander, willing to die for his beliefs, expresses “I have no symptoms, I have opinions,” only to be countered with, “Your opinions are your symptoms,” by his doctor. To earn his freedom, Alexander must conform to the views of the government and admit his “mental illness.” This production is part of the Boston Gulag Project, presented in association with the National Park Service, Amnesty International USA, Harvard University’s Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Boston College, and the Boston University Art Gallery.

The Boston University Fringe Festival will also feature two short operas. Set in Spain in 1874, Jules Massenet’s La Navarraise traces a woman’s tragic quest to be reunited with her lover amidst cruel social constraints and the ravages of war. This powerful story is supported by Massanet’s exciting score, which marks the composer’s venture into verismo opera. Renowned countertenor Drew Minter will serve as guest director for these six performances.

Jorge Martín’s Before Night Falls is based on the memoir of gay Cuban poet and novelist Reinaldo Arenas. The opera follows Arenas’s life as a rebel fighter during the Cuban revolution, his miraculous escape from Castro’s regime, and his battle with AIDS in the 1980s. Composer Jorge Martín will be in residence to oversee this premiere staging of Act II of his full length opera. Before Night Falls will be directed by New York City Opera Director Beth Greenberg.

The Festival will also incorporate an international element under the leadership of Metropolitan Opera baritone and Boston University alumnus Haijing Fu. Fu will present singers from the International Music Center at Shenyang Conservatory of Music for a special performance of excerpts from Jin Xiang’s contemporary Chinese opera The Savage Land, followed by a conversation with the artists.

The Boston University Opera Institute is one of the premier programs of the School of Music. Founded in 1987 by Dean Emerita Phyllis Curtin, the Opera Institute is a non-degree professional training program for the advanced singer preparing for an operatic career. Chosen by special audition, twelve emerging, professional singers are given free tuition and stipends for an innovative two-year residency that provides the crucial transition between student training and professional performance. It also serves as the center of opera training for degree Vocal Performance majors who audition for roles to perform alongside Opera Institute singers. In addition to the Opera Institute certificate program, the School of Music also offers degrees in performance, composition and theory, musicology, music education, collaborative piano, historical performance, as well as artist and performance diplomas.

The Boston University College of Fine Arts School of Theatre, founded in 1954, is one of the country’s leading institutions for the study of acting, stage management, design and production, and all aspects of the theatrical profession. Notable School of Theatre alumni include actors Jason Alexander, Michael Chiklis, Geena Davis, Faye Dunaway, Julianne Moore, Brad Oscar, and Alfre Woodard.

The Boston University College of Fine Arts was created in 1954 to bring together the School of Music, the School of Theatre, and the School of Visual Arts. The University’s vision was to create a community of artists in a conservatory-style school offering professional training in the arts to both undergraduate and graduate students, complemented by a liberal arts curriculum for undergraduate students. Since those early days, education at the College of Fine Arts has begun on the BU campus and extended into the city of Boston, a rich center of cultural, artistic and intellectual activity.

BOSTON UNIVERSITY FRINGE FESTIVAL SCHEDULE

Playing For Time
Full length play with music
by Arthur Miller
directed by Judy Braha

Friday, October 13, 8:00pm
Saturday, October 14, 8:00pm
Sunday, October 15, 7:00pm
Friday, October 20, 8:30pm
Saturday, October 21, 8:00pm
Thursday, October 26, 7:30pm
Saturday, October 28, 2:00pm

Boston University Theatre, Stewart Lane and Bonnie Comley Studio 210

Every Good Boy Deserves Favour
Full length play with chamber orchestra
By Tom Stoppard
Music by André Previn
Directed by Jim Petosa
Musical Direction by David Hoose

Friday, October 20, 8:00pm
Saturday, October 21, 8:00pm
Sunday, October 22, 2:00pm

Boston University Theatre, Mainstage

La Navarraise
One-act opera
Music by Jules Massenet
Libretto by Jules Claretie and Henri Cain
Music Director Allison Voth
Guest Stage Director Drew Minter

Friday, October 20, 6:00pm
Saturday, October 21, 6:00pm
Friday, October 27, 8:00pm
Sunday, October 29, 2:00pm
Saturday, November 4, 8:00pm
Sunday, November 5, 7:00pm

Boston University Theatre, Stewart Lane and Bonnie Comley Studio 210

Before Night Falls
Short opera
Music by Jorge Martín
Libretto in English by Mr. Martin with Dolores M. Koch
Conductor William Lumpkin
Guest Stage Director Beth Greenberg

Saturday, October 28, 8:00pm
Sunday, October 29, 7:00pm
Thursday, November 2, 7:30pm
Friday, November 3, 6:00pm
Friday, November 3, 8:00pm
Saturday, November 4, 6:00pm

Boston University Theatre, Stewart Lane and Bonnie Comley Studio 210

East Meets West
Performing excerpts from The Savage Land
Shengyang Conservatory of Music
Stage Director: Haijing Fu

Sunday, November 5, 2:00pm

Boston University Theatre, Stewart Lane and Bonnie Comley Studio 210

TICKET AND VENUE INFORMATION

Boston University Theatre
Mainstage and Stewart Lane and Bonnie Comley Studio 210
264 Huntington Avenue, Boston

Tickets

Boston University Theatre:
Studio 210 All tickets $7
Mainstage Tickets $8 and $10

Members of the BU community receive one free ticket per BU ID at the door on the day of the performance, subject to availability.

Tickets can be purchased online at www.bostontheatrescene.com, by phone at 617-933-8600, or in person at the Boston University Theatre box office.

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