|Lothar Odinius and Olga Peretyatko in The Nightingale and Other Short Fables. Photo: Jack Vartoogian|
By David Hsieh
L’Amour de Loin, the first opera by a female composer presented on the Metropolitan Opera stage in over a century, will be shown at BAM Rose Cinemas this Saturday (Dec 10) as part of the Met: Live in HD series. The Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho, with librettist Amin Maalouf, drew from a 14th-century troubadour legend as a source. It tells of two lovers pining for each other across the vast ocean, which in this Robert Lepage production is embodied by 28,000 LED lights.
In a New York Times interview, Lepage explained why he went for the illusion of water: “Water is like doing a show with young children and animals and insects. It will do what it wants, and you don’t have any control over it.”
We at BAM know that Lepage speaks from experience, because this recognized theater wizard and BAM Iconic Artist (coming back this Spring!) has put real water on our stage before. That was The Nightingale and Other Short Fables (2011 Winer/Spring Season), an opera production consisting of several short Stravinsky music theater pieces. For The Nightingale, a fairy tale set in ancient China, Lepage adopted a Vietnamese water puppetry tradition with performers immersed in a pool of 12,000 gallons of water. The custom-made water tank was sunk in the orchestra pit. What the audience saw was a luminescent surface where small boats glided by, a puppet fisherman hauled in his nets, and birds darted above it—an experience that The Wall Street Journal called “spell-binding.”