The In Series, a Washington pocket opera company known for its innovative approach to the classics, will totally rework some of our best-known stories in 2019-2020, deconstructing, decontextualizing, and recreating them to resonate with the great dramas we are experiencing in the real world today.
The first to get the In Series treatment will be Puccini’s Madame Butterfly, which will, in In Series’ Artistic Director Timothy Nelson’s reimagining become Butterfly. The company promises that “stripped of the distancing artifice and exoticism of the original, [Butterfly] returns to the structure of the source play that inspired such overwhelming music.” Two casts perform this; one in English and one in Italian. Featuring local composer and pianist Jessica Krash; from September 5-22, 2019, at the Source Theatre.
Remember Sycorax, from The Tempest? Maybe you don’t; she never appeared, having been locked up in a tree somewhere. But it was she — the mother of Caliban; the enslaver of Ariel — who Prospero defeated when he took over the island. History may belong to the victors, but in Stormy Weather by Sybil Williams (From U Street to the Cotton Club) Sycorax gets her say. Directed by Alison Wong; featuring Michelle Rogers as Sycorax, Nigel Rowe as Ariel, and the beatbox artist Shodekeh as Caliban. Also featuring the music of Billie Holiday. From October 17-27 of this year at Atlas’ Sprenger Theatre.
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For the holidays, In Series will go to church — specifically, the Foundry United Methodist Church for L’Enfance du Christ, Berlioz’s story about the Holy Family’s flight into Egypt to avoid persecution by Herod Antipas. This, of course, may resonate with other refugees today. In Series promises to “seek…out the nexus of art, faith, and social justice to ask the most essential human question of how we offer kindness to the ‘other.'” Nelson and Steven Scott Mazzola co-direct; from December 7-14, 2019.
You’ve seen Carmen before, but have you ever seen it done tango-style? Probably not, as it has never been staged that way, but to kick off the new year In Series will present Le Cabaret de Carmen, Timothy Nelson’s adaptation of Bizet’s opera. In Series will stage this production, stripped down to 90 minutes, in the Source Theater, among the tables at which the audience (and sometimes the performers) will be seated. Featuring the More Tango Quartet, as well as Cara Gonzalez as Carmen and Alex Albuquerque as Escamillo. From January 4 to 19 of next year. Nelson directs.
In Series will be packing a lot of work into its Women Composers Festival, which it will hold at GALA March 6-8, 2020. Included will be two works by living women composers: Here be Sirens, by Kate Sopor, in which the singers from the Odysseus legend search for the meaning of their existence, and Gabriela Ortiz’ Ana Y Su Sombra, which tells the story of a young Mexican girl who has come to the United States with her family and wants to return while her shadow wants to stay. There will also be a concert of vocal works by living women composers, a cabaret of the works of lyricist Dorothy Fields (“On the Sunny Side of the Street”), a late-night performance of the music of Ana Sokolovic, announcements (including one of a new In Series Commission) and panel discussions.
And the final show in The In Series 2019-2020 season? Well, that’s up to you, Mr. and Ms. In Series subscriber. It can either be Suzanna, a new opera combining the music of George Frederic Handel with the poetry of Kaitlin Rizzo to tell the story — and the struggles — of baroque painter Artemesia Gentileschi, or Giuseppe Verdi’s Rigoletto, staged under the big top (within a theater space) with a circus-organ ensemble. Whichever one you chose, it will go on between April 4 and 19 of next year at the Sprenger Theatre at Atlas.
The In Series subscriptions to the 2019-2020 season are not available on-line (and balloting rights) , but you can subscribe over the phone if you call 202.204.7763.
More on the Washington DC area opera season by Susan Galbraith.