CCM’s Department of Opera will present a mini recreation of the legendary Baden-Baden Contemporary Music Festival of 1927 with a cabaret lab production running Friday, Oct. 24, through Sunday, Oct. 26 in the Cohen Family Studio Theater.
Like all Studio Series productions, admission to Baden-Baden 1927 is free, but reservations are required. Tickets become available at noon on Monday, Oct. 20.
During the original composer-organized summer festival, which occurred in Baden-Baden, Germany, in 1927, four one-act operas were presented in one evening. CCM’s recreation will present two of these mini-operas: Kurt Weill’s Mahagonny Songspiel and Paul Hindemith’s Hin und Zurük (There and Back). Despite being nearly 100 years old, each of these pieces will resonate with audiences today.
According to graduate student Frances Rabalais (AD Opera, Stage Directing) who is directing Baden-Baden 1927 under the guidance of CCM Assistant Professor of Opera/Directing Emma Griffin, post-Word War I Germany was a time and place of great artistic exploration as artists rejected past understanding and searched for new ways to ask, “How can we use art to better society? How can we find new ways [to involve] the audience in a fulfilling opera experience?”
“The intimacy of a smaller venue like the Cohen Family Studio Theater is thrilling and special,” says Rabalais. “The audience can experience the art in a way that’s very personal.” A single piano accompanist will compliment the talented singers in both performances. Baden-Baden 1927 features musical preparation by graduate student Levi Hammer (DMA, Orchestral Conducting), under the guidance of Junghyun Cho. Hammer and Kihwa Kim provide accompaniment.
This up-close performance is an especially unique experience because the pieces by Hindemith and Weill contrast both stylistically and narratively. Hin und Zurük is a kind of dramatic palindrome, a tragedy unfolds involving jealousy, murder and suicide. It is then replayed with the lines sung in reverse order to produce a happy ending. “Mahagonny Songspiel takes a dark approach to tackling questions about society and authority,” says Rabalais. Visually, the pieces will be styled similarly and use the same scenic elements. “I think the unified look will heighten the contrasting strengths and emphasize the stylistic impact of each opera,” explains Rabalais.