LA MAMA PRESENTS YARA ARTS GROUP (NYC) AND NOVA OPERA (KYIV) IN "OPERA GAZ"
Workers prepare a futuristic gas to produce energy for the entire industrial world
until self-centered praise and jingoism unleash rage against the machine that feeds them.
Production is inspired by the spirit of early 20th century avant-garde but it is an absolutely new, original work.
December 19, 20 and 22, 2019
La MaMa (Ellen Stewart Theatre), 66 East 4th Street
Presented by La MaMa
Thursday and Friday at 7:00 PM; Sunday at 3:00 PM (No Saturday show)
$30 gen. adm.; $25 students and seniors (+$1 Facility Fee); $10 with La MaMa membership.
Box office is 212-352-3101, www.lamama.org/gaz/
Show's web page: https://www.yaraartsgroup.net/gaz
Runs 1:20. Critics are invited to all performances.
Photos are available at: https://photos.app.goo.gl/JhBQ6TfE1tQgunY28
NEW YORK, November 13 – Yara Arts Group will offer the American debut of its new work "Opera GAZ," December 19, 20 and 22 at La MaMa, 66 East 4th Street. This opera was created by director Virlana Tkacz, who heads Yara Arts Group in New York, and the composers Roman Grygoriv and Illia Razumeiko. It features the performers of Nova Opera in Kyiv. Live performances and traditional instruments are combined with electronic music to present the story of an explosion at a futuristic gas factory that produces all the energy for the industrial world. The visually striking production is sung in English, Ukrainian and German but is universally accessible.
"Opera GAZ" is inspired by Les Kurbas’s 1923 theater production of the German expressionist drama "Gas I" by Georg Kaiser at the Berezil Artistic Association in Kyiv. The set and costumes are inspired by 1920s designs to invoke a future as imagined a century ago. At the center is a prepared piano, the control center of the GAZ works. As the performers transform into the characters – workers at the gas factory – their journey exposes a struggle between their mass and individual consciousness. Eventually enraged, they explode against the very machines that provide their livelihood. "Opera GAZ” asks us to experience the looming disaster created by our old ways and to imagine an alternative.
The intensity of the performance immerses the audience in this futuristic drama. The first act surges with energy which then recedes into a tender drama of love in a world that has forgotten it. In the third act of the eighty-minute show, the workers explode, enraged by the machines.
A fragment of "Opera GAZ” was first presented as a special event on November 11, 2018, at the exhibition “Kurbas: New Worlds,” co-curated by Virlana Tkacz and Waldemart Klyuzko at the Art Arsenal in Kyiv. The opera premiered at the National Drama Theatre in Kyiv on June 11, 2019, and was presented at the Music Festival Vienna (Musiktheateragein WIEN) on September 17, 2019.
Tamara Hudorova wrote in Kyiv Daily (6/20/19), "Futurism, expressionism and techno-punk come together in this post-apocalyptic opera. Subtitled an anti-utopia, it refers us to Frankenstein, Hasek, Zamyatin, the film 'Metropolis' and other projects to create 'a new man,' so popular in the 1920s...The artist-God-creator tempts us with music for the Cherubim with angelic voices, then launches a mechanical cacophony. Of course, the robots learn to imitate all culture/music. In time they actually transform into the ordinary people they resemble. The attempt to create a new world violates the laws of nature, harmony turns into cacophony, GAZ explodes, and entropy rules. The world is knocked off its rhythm, the human dies, and we have the birth of totalitarian (mass, mechanical) people."
Ihor Panasov wrote in Karabas-live, "You can see it as the story of human evolution, a drama about the death of music, a conflict between an individual and society, or the revolutionary versus totalitarianism. You can even see it as a metaphor for how Russian gas is transported [through our country] to Europe. But what I think is most important in GAZ is the palpable and constant foreboding of a great explosion, which drives this performance. Any person living in 2019 finds themselves in its epicenter. Technological, economic, social, and political crisis rage – authoritarian regimes, mechanized life surround us – all this is in GAZ."
The libretto of "Opera GAZ" was conceived, composed and directed by Virlana Tkacz. Music and libretto were composed by Roman Grygoriv and Illia Razumeiko. Choreography is by Simon Mayer. Set design is by Watoku Ueno Waldemart Klyuzko and Evhen Kopiov. Live electronic music is by Georgiy Potopalskiy. Costume design is by Tetiana Sherstiuk. Lighting design is by Jeff Nash; sound engineer is Caley Monahon-Ward. The performers are Roman Grygoriv (conductor), Illia Razumeiko (piano), Anna Kirsh (soprano), Maryana Holovko (soprano), Oleksandra Maillet (mezzo-soprano), Andrey Koshman (baritone), Ruslan Kirsh (baritone), Yevgeniy Rakhmanin (bass), Zhanna Marchinska (cello), Nazar Strilets (double bass), Andrey Nadolsky (percussion), Ayk Egyian (percussion, vibraphone), Ihor Boychuk (trumpet, trombone, flute), Sergiy Shava (tuba) and Oleh Nedashkivsky (French horn).
Virlana Tkacz (director) is the founding director of Yara Arts Group, a resident company at La MaMa in New York. Since 1990, she has created 35 original theatre pieces that fuse fragments of poetry, songs, legends and history from the East into imagistic productions with narrative. Employing projected images and complex musical scores, they explore our relationship to time and current issues. Recently, her productions "Underground Dreams" and "Hitting Bedrock" were based on dreams of urban youth in Donetsk and refugees, while "1917-2017: Tychyna, Zhadan and the Dogs" explored the violence of urban warfare and was awarded Best Music and Best Musical by New York Innovative Theatre Awards. Born in Newark, Tkacz was educated at Bennington College and Columbia University and lives in New York City.
Roman Grygoriv (composer) is a Ukrainian composer, performer and conductor who co-heads Nova Opera. He was born in 1984 in western Ukraine. At the Kyiv Conservatory, he earned a post-graduate degree in composition with Anna Havryletc. He is the musical director of the President’s National Orchestra of Ukraine.
Illia Razumeiko (composer) is a composer and performer who was born in 1989 in southeastern Ukraine. After graduating from the Kyiv Conservatory, he entered the University of Music and Performing Arts of Vienna, where he studied with Martin Lichtfuss and Karlheinz Essl.
Grygoriv and Razumeiko are founders of the PORTO FRANKO international festival. In 2015 they became composers, librettists and performers at Nova Opera, creating the operas “Babylon,” “Ark” and “IYOV,” which became the calling card for the troupe. It was performed in Kyiv, Lublin, Copenhagen, Vienna, Paris and at New York's Prototype Festival. Recently “IYOV” was named one of the ten best New Music pieces by Music Theatre NOW.
This production of "Opera GAZ" is supported by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and grants from the New York Self-Reliance Foundation, MEEST and the friends of Yara Arts Group.
ABOUT YARA ARTS GROUP
Led by Virlana Tkacz, Yara Arts Group (www.yaraartsgroup.net) is a resident company of La MaMa. Yara's theatre pieces are based on extensive research in Eastern Europe, Siberia and Asia, presented in its signature style of multilingual dialogue and songs supported by evocative visuals and documentation. The group is presenting its 30th Season at La MaMa and will perform a folk music event, "Winter Songs on Mars," there on December 21. (See below)
ABOUT LA MAMA
La MaMa is dedicated to the artist and all aspects of the theater. La MaMa's 58th Season celebrates the centennial of its founder, Ellen Stewart, whose vision of nurturing new artists and new work remains as strong today as it was when she first opened the doors in 1961. La MaMa has presented more than 5,000 productions by 150,000 artists of all nations, cultures, races and identities. Cultural pluralism and ethnic diversity are inherent in the work created on our stages. At La MaMa, artists find a supportive environment for artistic exploration and audiences are part of the development of an artist’s work over time.
A recipient of the 2018 Regional Theater Tony Award and more than 30 Obie Awards and dozens of Drama Desk, Bessie, and Villager Awards, La MaMa has been a creative home for thousands of artists, many of whom have made lasting contributions to the arts, including Blue Man Group, Ping Chong, André De Shields, Adrienne Kennedy, Harvey Fierstein, Diane Lane, Warren Leight, Michael Mayer, Tadeusz Kantor, Bette Midler, Meredith Monk, Peter Brook, David and Amy Sedaris, Julie Taymor, Kazuo Ohno, Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman.
"Opera GAZ" will be performed Thursday and Friday, December19 and 20, at 7:00 PM plus Sunday, December 22 at 3:00 PM, in the Ellen Stewart Theatre of La MaMa, 66 East 4th Street in Manhattan. Tickets are $30 gen. adm.; $25 students and seniors (+$1 Facility Fee); $10 with La MaMa membership. Box office is 212-352-3101, www.lamama.org/gaz. For more info, see: https://www.yaraartsgroup.net/gaz.
Yara Arts Group will stage a folk music concert, "Koliada and Music from the Carpathians," December 6 and 7 at 7:00 PM at Ukrainian Museum, 222 East 6th Street. The Koliadnyky, an ensemble of winter song singers from the Carpathian Mountains, will sing traditional winter songs and perform brilliant troista instrumental music from the villages of Kryvorivnia and Verkhovyna. The evening will also include a musical performance by special guest bandurist Julian Kytasty. Tickets are $25 adults, $20 students, seniors and members and $10 children, box office www.ukrainianmuseum.org and (212) 228-0110. More info: http://www.jsnyc.com/season/Yara_Ukr_Mus2019.htm.
"Winter Songs on Mars," created by Virlana Tkacz, will be presented by La MaMa Saturday, December 21 in its Ellen Stewart Theater, 66 East Fourth Street. There will be two performances: at noon (for schools) and 7:00 PM. This concert-theater event celebrates Koliada, a winter ritual of the Carpathian Mountains, with performances by Yara Arts Group, The Koliadnyky (winter song singers from the Carpathians) and Nova Opera. For more info, see: http://www.jsnyc.com/season/Winter_Songs_on_Mars.htm and https://www.yaraartsgroup.net/events. Tickets are $25, $20 students & seniors (plus $1 facility fee) and $10 with La MaMa membership. Box office is 212-352-3101, www.lamama.org/gaz/.
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CRITICS ARE INVITED to all performances of "Opera GAZ."
PHOTOS ARE AVAILABLE at https://photos.app.goo.gl/JhBQ6TfE1tQgunY28