Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Hadestown is back

Last winter I caught the opening of something truly surprising: a great local bred folk opera. Hadestown was truly one of the best small stage theater productions I've been a witness to. Interesting adaptation, strong musical performances, engaging dialogue, questioning of the status quo. Here's the rundown:

For centuries, the tragic Greek myth of Orpheus & Eurydice, in which the lyre-playing Orpheus descends into the underworld and attempts to win back his fallen bride Eurydice through the power of music, has been mined by artists from all corners of the world – a testament to its depth and universal appeal. Anais Mitchell's Hadestown, created in collaboration with composer Michael Chorney and director Ben T. Matchstick brings this timeless story into a contemporary context that is poetically, musically and visually fresh. The folk opera takes its inspiration from Depression-era America: the underworld is not the land of the dead but an exploitative company town; Hades is a sadistic wall-building boss-king whose wife Persephone moonlights as the proprietress of a speakeasy; and Orpheus wields not a lyre but a banjo. But the opera is not so much a history lesson as it is a rich patchwork of artistic vision, social commentary and raw human emotion. Old-fashioned symbols of poverty and exploitation are fused with a kind of futurism — albeit a clunky, analog, "vintage" futurism (think post-apocalyptic Jeunet/Caro films City of the Lost Children and Delicatessen) — which prompts reflection on just how much we’ve evolved (or devolved) as a society since the 1930s. Above all, Hadestown is a love story – a love story exploring what becomes of the human condition under the most tragic and trying of circumstances.

The group is back this year playing at much larger venues then last year's limited run. It all kicks off this Thursday back in the granite city at the Barre Opera House. For the next two weeks the show will travel to Rutland's Paramount Theater, the Bellows Falls Opera House, Sommerville Theatre (MA), Johnson State College, Middlebury College, and Higher Ground. Higher Ground has all the ticket details.

This comes highly recommended.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Do you suppose Ben T. Matchstick uses that "T." in his stage name to differentiate himself from all the other theater professionals named Ben Matchstick?