The Boston Phoenix review: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead comes to life in Boston

May 27, 2010
Faneuil Hall

Faneuil Hall

On April 10-11 2010, American Opera Projects and the Boston Classical Orchestra presented a concert staging of Herschel Garfein‘s new comic opera Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead in Boston’s historic Faneuil Hall.  Based on Tom Stoppard’s existential play of the same title, Garfein wrote both the score and the libretto for this lively adaption.

Seven semi-staged scenes were performed; some featured the lead soloists, and others included a chorus of students from the New England Conservatory. The title roles were performed by Krista River (mezzo-soprano), Chad Sloan (baritone), David Kravitz (baritone) and Jeffrey Tucker (bass). Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, played by David Kravitz and Chad Sloan respectively, were the obvious audience favorites. The Boston Globe described the two baritones’ performances favorably, saying, “David Kravitz and Chad Sloan sang with skill, power, and exemplary diction, and acted their parts as well as they could from their music stands.”  Krista River was also lauded for her “beautifully sung” rendition of “The Unicorn Song.”

The opera scenes were paired with Robert Schumann’s Symphony No. 2 to cap BCO’s 30th season.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead is currently in development at AOP.

R&G Are Dead is a Boston Globe Critic’s Pick

February 12, 2010
Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead Nov 2009 workshop

AOP's Nov 2009 workshop of Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead directed by Mark Morris.

The upcoming April concert of Herschel Garfein‘s opera-in-development Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead is already creating a buzz in Beantown.  The performance of orchestrated scenes by Boston Classical Orchestra (in association with AOP) was picked by the critics at The Boston Globe as one of the season’s must-see events.

The orchestral premiere of scenes from the new comic opera based on the play by Tom Stoppard will be performed with BCO’s first performance of Schumann’s Second Symphony (marking the 200th anniversary of Schumann’s birth), all in celebration of the BCO’s 30th anniversary. R&G will feature performances by Krista River, Chad Sloan, David Kravitz, and Jeffrey Tucker.

And while you’re at it, check out the recent Sunday Times magazine article about the great jazz composer/pianist Fred Hersch (with extraordinary photos by Lee Friedlander).  It highlights the piece he and Herschel Garfein are working on together, dealing with his two-month long coma of a few years back.

Fred Hersch

Fred Hersch

“I was still alive for all that time I was unconscious, but the only life I had was in my dreams and nightmares, and they were incredibly strange and sometimes horrifying and sometimes beautiful,” Hersch said. “I was in a lot of physical pain and discomfort. I found out later that I had been restrained — I was strapped to the bed, and the dreams I had were unbelievably weird and mysterious. I’ve been trying to come to terms with what I went through, and the best way I know is to try to express it in music.” – Fred Hersch

Herschel says to look for the premiere in May 2011.

American Opera Projects “…. a perfect first exposure to opera” – TimeOut/New York

December 15, 2009
Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead Nov 2009

Guildenstern (L) and Rosencrantz (R), Photo Credit: Stephanie Berger

Time Out/NY‘s review of the recent public workshop of Herschel Garfein’s Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead directed by Mark Morris and held at the Mark Morris Dance Center Nov 20-21, 2009.

As Charles Jarden, general director of American Opera Projects, was introducing Saturday afternoon’s reading of Herschel Garfein’s opera-in-progress Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, pointing out the emergency exits in the Mark Morris Dance Center, a mike came undone from its ceiling post and swung ominously like a noose.

Such irony would not be lost on Tom Stoppard—nor, thankfully, was it lost on Garfein. His wry adaptation of Stoppard’s 1967 retelling of Hamlet through two of the play’s minor personages lacks some of the play’s absurd existentialism, but keeps at its heart many of the play’s trademarks—from Stoppard’s dialogue to the endless flipping of a coin to the famous game of questions.

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