Theater Company Unearths and Updates 1730s Baroque Manuscript for Modern Audiences
Directed by Claire van Kampen and starring Vivica Genaux and John Holiday, Quantum Theatre’s genre-defying Idaspe Commemorates 32 Seasons of Unique Performances
PITTSBURGH, PA — Quantum Theatre, in collaboration with Chatham Baroque and supported by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, will present Idaspe by Riccardo Broschi at the Byham Theater October 7–15, 2022 in its first full production since 1730. Acclaimed London composer, writer and director Claire van Kampen led the creation of this marriage of contemporary theater and Baroque-era opera. This will mark the FIRST EDITION of Idaspe in modern notation.
Chatham Baroque adapted the score, which was found in the library of Bologna in its original form, for modern audiences. Van Kampen will direct the opera, which features Vivica Genaux and John Holiday with a stellar supporting cast.
Riccardo Broschi originally wrote Idaspe for his brother Carlo, who would be known ever after as Farinelli, the greatest Castrati singer in the time of the Enlightenment, an era which often resonates with contemporary artists exploring the boundaries of their art form. With Idaspe, Quantum’s team puts Baroque opera back into the heart of theater culture, where it was originally intended to be.
The story follows two children from the post-war Middle East who came to Naples as refugees. They are separated in an underworld where organized crime is more welcoming than “legitimate” business. As adults, the siblings become powerful bosses of two opposing clans. Artaserse, the more brutal, kidnaps two women from his rivals, an incident that will force a face-to-face clash in an escalating war. The kidnapped women are not the only prisoners in this story, where every character is held captive by circumstance and their emotions. Their existential struggle is conveyed in transcendent music.
Might they find that all-consuming power and violence are not the only means to survive?
Mezzo-soprano Vivica Genaux plays Farinelli’s role, heroic Dario. She has thrilled audiences and critics throughout the world with her vocal agility and artistic integrity. Her acclaimed career has taken her to the world’s most prestigious venues, including New York’s Metropolitan Opera, London’s Barbican Centre, Madrid’s Teatro Real, Rome’s Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, and the Wiener Staatsoper. Pittsburgh is a beloved early artistic home for Genaux, who studied with Claudia Pinza. Pittsburgh Opera fans enjoyed her in the title role in La Cenerentola, and she is a Maecenas Award recipient.
John Holiday, countertenor, has performed at world-renowned venues such as Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, London’s Barbican Center, and the Philharmonie de Paris. He has toured with Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, as well as in the world premiere of Daniel Bernard Roumain’s We Shall Not Be Moved with Opera Philadelphia and the Dutch National Opera. The John Holiday Experience (JHE) showcases his affinity for many different genres from pop and jazz to R&B, and he came to widespread American acclaim on The Voice. Holiday, the winner of the 2017 Marian Anderson Vocal Award, plays the title role Idaspe, friend and comrade-in-arms of Dario. His voice has been praised as “a thing of astonishing beauty” (New Yorker), and “arrestingly powerful, secure and dramatically high” (Wall Street Journal).
Playing Artaserse is Grammy Award-winning Lebanese-American tenor Karim Sulayman (2019 Grammy Award for Best Classical Solo Vocal Album, Songs of Orpheus). French Canadian soprano Pascale Beaudin plays Berenice, Idaspe’s lover; mezzo-soprano Zoie Reams plays Mandane, her fellow captive, in love with Dario; mezzo-soprano Shannon Delijani plays Arbace, at Artaserse’s right hand; and Singaporean countertenor Wei En Chan plays Ircano.
Antonia Franceschi is the choreographer, creating movement and dance for the diverse company and eight dancers, some from Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. Franceschi was among the last generations of dancers selected by George Balanchine for New York City Ballet, and had a long, starring career with the company, along with mainstream breakout roles in popular films like Grease and Fame. Franceschi won Time Out’s “Outstanding Achievement in Dance” Award and has been a guest artist at Royal Opera House, Tate Modern, Sadler’s Wells, Royal Albert Hall, and Shakespeare’s Globe. She has worked frequently in collaboration with van Kampen.
Scenic design is by Narelle Sissons, a long-time Quantum collaborator (most recently on An Odyssey) whose career spans international, Broadway, and regional theatre. Lighting design is by Japhy Weideman, a Tony Award-winner (Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway), who has created lighting environments for theatre and opera around the world and for Broadway’s major houses.
Chatham Baroque consists of artistic directors Andrew Fouts (violin), Patricia Halverson (viola da gamba), and Scott Pauley (theorbo & Baroque guitar), who invite an array of guest instrumentalists and vocalists for productions of world-class early music performed on period instruments. Like Quantum, it was founded in 1990 and celebrates 32 seasons. Chatham Baroque is “one of the country’s most distinguished period ensembles” (Palisadian Post), and “one of Pittsburgh’s greatest treasures” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette). The ensemble has toured across the U.S., South America, Mexico, the Virgin Islands, and Canada. The New York Times praises their “colorful virtuosity;” the Washington Post calls them “musically impeccable.” Chatham Baroque and Quantum Theatre collaborated in 2015 to celebrate their shared 25th Anniversary, making a Baroque-pastiche opera from Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale.
Quantum Theatre is Pittsburgh’s eclectic theatrical experimenter, led for 30+ years by Karla Boos.
When: October 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 2022 at 7:30 PM
Information: Erick Hoffman, 412-362-1713
Where: Byham Theatre, 101 6th St, Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Tickets on sale now
Claire van Kampen, Hon.DMus, ARCM, originally trained at the Royal College of Music in London as a pianist specializing in the performance of 20th century music, premiering many works by today‘s leading composers. She subsequently developed an international career as a composer/performer, writing and playing for theater, radio, television and film soundtracks, and the concert hall.
Her theater career began with the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1986, and then the Royal National Theatre in 1987, and she was the first female musical director with either company. From the opening of Shakespeare’s Globe, she served as Artistic Associate to Mark Rylance from 1996-2006. She is currently Globe Associate and Senior Research Fellow for Early Modern Music.
In the U.S., van Kampen has created original scores for Broadway productions True West (2000), Boeing-Boeing (2008) and La Bete (2010), Twelfth Night and Richard III (2013-14) and her own authored play Farinelli and the King (2017) – all of which were nominated for Tony Awards.
As well as adapting Farinelli and the King for the screen, van Kampen is involved as a writer and director of upcoming film and TV projects including Elaine de Kooning, soon to be filmed in New York City. Van Kampen’s composition for the ballet ‘Uncaged’- by choreographer Antonia Franceschi – premiered with the New York Theatre Ballet Company in February 2020. Recently, the New York Philharmonic invited Claire to direct a concert version of Hungarian composer György Kurtág’s opera based on Beckett’s Endgame.
About Quantum Theatre: Acclaimed Quantum Theatre has enjoyed a reputation in Pittsburgh, across the U.S., and internationally for its eclectic experimentation and, especially, an environmental approach to theater-making that has seen it create works in as various places as the Andy Warhol Museum, the Schenley Park Ice skating Rink, and the crumbling, abandoned, basement swimming pool in the oldest Carnegie Library. The company was founded by Karla Boos over 30 years ago, and she still serves as Artistic Director, often directing original projects, such as her adaptations of literature (José Saramago’s All the Names; Graham Greene’s The End of the Affair). Quantum loves music and has produced many unusual operas (Osvaldo Golijov’s Ainadamar; Michael Nyman’s The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat; Astor Piazzolla’s Maria de Buenos Aires) and even folk operas (Dark of the Moon; Looking for Violeta). A former Baroque project inspired Idaspe: Quantum and Chatham Baroque made a pastiche based on Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, setting dozens of pieces from the Baroque canon with Shakespeare’s text. Contemporary plays are often on Quantum’s schedule, often from other countries, and Quantum has made several original translations (Roland Schimmelpfennig’s Arabian Nights; Jon Fosse’s Dream of Autumn). In Pittsburgh, it is the most international of theaters, bringing contemporary artists of all kinds to work in its ‘laboratory’ as often as it can.