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Carl Orff's `Carmina Burana` by La Fura dels Baus will make its North American debut this summer in Lewiston. (Image courtesy of Artpark & Company)
Carl Orff's "Carmina Burana" by La Fura dels Baus will make its North American debut this summer in Lewiston. (Image courtesy of Artpark & Company)

Opera returns to Artpark with North American premiere of Carl Orff's 'Carmina Burana' by La Fura dels Baus


Mon, Apr 17th 2023 10:50 am

July 29 event to feature Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra conductor Gil Rose

Celebrating its 50th season, Artpark & Company will kick off its new opera program in a big way. The Lewiston venue will host the North American premiere of La Fura dels Baus’ production of Carl Orff’s masterful “Carmina Burana” in the Artpark Mainstage Theater at 8 p.m. Saturday, July 29. Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday, April 21.

The renowned production by Spain’s La Fura dels Baus and Ibercamera features stage direction and set design by Carlus Padrissa with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Gil Rose, Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus and other community groups. Featured soloists will include Antoni Marsol Puig, Luca Espinosa Gil, Amparo Navarro Serra and Jordi Domenech Subirans.

A press release stated, “This spectacle, an explosion of all the senses that has been experienced by more than 325,000 people in Europe, Asia and South America.” It will make its North American premiere at Artpark.

The press release continued, “This hour-long theatrical spectacle featuring over 220 artists will immerse the audience into the universe of La Fura dels Baus with striking imagery and special effects: a giant moon, waterfalls, a floral ecstasy with scents of lavender, a live grape harvest, taverns, singers flying on cranes or submerged in water, wine and fire. … ‘O Fortuna!’ ”

" ‘Carmina Burana’ is completely furera,” said Padrissa, the artistic director of the group and the production.

The press release explained, “For a total of 44 years, La Fura dels Baus has been rocking, blowing up stages, opera houses, venues, tents, bullrings, football stadiums, and now they land at Artpark to offer his theatrical vision of one of the musical works that is performed the most throughout the world.”

Rose said, “Carl Orff described his most popular work, ‘Carmina Burana,’ as ‘Secular songs for soloists and choir accompanied by instruments and stage pictures.’ Though almost always presented as a purely concert work, imagery and narrative were clearly part of the composer’s thinking. I can’t think of a better way to launch our new initiative to bring opera back to Artpark than with Fura’s visual feast for the eyes in tandem with the glorious sound of the Buffalo Philharmonic and chorus giving Orff’s vision a rendition not to be missed.” 

Artpark & Company President Sonia Clark said, “Artpark has a substantial legacy in opera: from the North American premiere of Philip Glass’ ‘Satiagraha’ in 1981 to the famed four-year staging of Wagner’s ‘Ring Cycle’ in 1984-88 under then-music director Christopher Keen. It could not have been more meaningful for us to reinstate the program in Artpark’s 50th season under the guidance of our new opera conductor and producer Gil Rose.

“This production by Fura dels Baus is also the next step in our ongoing commitment to bold, world-class programming, and is reflective of Artpark board of directors’ recently adapted vision for Artpark as an international destination for live and visual arts embracing the relationship of art, nature and culture to create experiences of discovery and awe.”

A 2009 review of the group’s performance appeared in the Spanish publication EL PAIS. Artpark quoted the outlet, stating, "If there is a great and sensual score, glorious and energetic, erotic and explosive, as full of life and sin as it is of irony, parody and excess, that is the provocative ‘Carmina Burana,’ by Carl Orff. Those medieval texts written between the 12th and 13th centuries, found in the monastery of Bura Sancti Benedicti (Bavaria), where the monks and students laughed at everything established and sang of excessive pleasure, wine, and permanent revelry have lasted throughout the 20th century and continue to do so in the 21st, since Orff put them to music in 1938. Pure gold for a group like La Fura dels Baus.”

More on La Fura dels Baus

Per the press release:

La Fura dels Baus is a theatrical group founded in 1979 in Barcelona, Spain, and renowned for its eccentricity, innovation, adaptation, rhythm, evolution and transgression. Such characteristics led the company to pioneer the reconceptualization of two of the most significant aspects of the dramatic art – the theatrical space and the public. Thus, respectively, they redefined the space by moving it to nonconventional ones – and changed the public role from passive to active, which meant a breaking of the “fourth wall.” And it is that there is no creation without risk – a compiled premise from the beginning, since their first street shows, where the authentic essence of La Fura was born.

NME has stated the group "creates a kind of adult adventure playground of fun, danger, slapstick and fantasy.” Among their many large-scale productions seen worldwide, the group has performed at high-profile events including the opening ceremonies of the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona; and the 2010 opening of the Perth International Arts Festival. In the U.S., the company was last seen with its production of Haydn’s “Creation” at Mostly Mozart Festival at Lincoln Center, New York.

More on Gil Rose

Often referred to as “a musician helping to shape the future of classical music,” Rose is acknowledged for his “sense of style and sophistication” by Opera News, noted as “an amazingly versatile conductor” by The Boston Globe, and praised for conducting with “admiral command” by The New York Times. He has been called “one of the most adventurous conductors in the world” by KUSC Radio. Over the past two decades, he has built a reputation as one of the country’s most inventive and versatile conductors. His dynamic performances on both the symphonic and operatic stages, as well as over 100 recordings, have garnered international critical praise.

Reserved seat tickets begin at $25 and include a facility fee. Additional fees apply for online orders. Tickets will be available for purchase online at ticketmaster.com, and in person at Artpark’s box office, 450 S. Fourth St. (10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday). Mature content may not be appropriate for all audiences. Visit artpark.net for more information.

This performance is possible in part by support from the M&T Bank Charitable Foundation and Artpark.

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