Dek: The San Diego Opera hosts “Community Conversations” in La Jolla
Evil, obsession, arrogance, infidelity. The San Diego Opera is back!
The 2011 season features Turandot, Der Rosenkavalier, Faust and Carmen – a luscious array of dysfunctional characters, ripe for discussion. SDO is offering a series of free, casual lectures – “Community Conversations” — that explore unexpected aspects of the classic works, moderated by Dr. Nicolas Reveles, Geisel Director of Education and Outreach.
“It’s a delight to team up with experts in fields outside of opera,” says Reveles, “in order to put a focus on the art form’s relevance to human issues.”
The idea was hatched last year, to generate interest in the lesser-known opera, Nabucco. The “Community Conversations” were so successful they’ve been expanded to all four operas this season, with two discussion/lectures per production.
First up is “Opera as Myth: Puccini’s Turandot” (Oct. 25), featuring Dr. Jonathan Young, founder of the Center for Story and Symbol and founding curator of the Joseph Campbell Archives. Dr. Young served as research assistant to the renowned mythologist Campbell.
“Turandot started out as a Persian fairy tale that traveled the Silk Road,” explains Reveles. “An ice princess holds her suitors at bay with three riddles they must answer before being able to marry her. We’ll talk about archetypes and myth as they relate to the opera and to fairy tales in general.”
Each discussion starts with a 3-5 minute DVD excerpt of the opera and ends with an audience Q&A.
The other discussion of Turandot will focus on “The Operatic Designs of David Hockney.” The acclaimed British artist has created designs for a number of operas.
“When I first saw his set and costume designs for Turandot,” says Reveles, “what hit me in the solar plexus is how musical his production was. He obviously listened to every bar, and knew exactly what Puccini was after. It’s the best design I’ve ever seen, really a musical design.”
The discussion will take place at the Museum of Contemporary Art, La Jolla (Jan. 9), with Kathryn Kanjo, Chief Curator of the Museum.
For Gounod’s Faust, the Conversation will take a religious/spiritual turn, since the opera concerns a scientist who makes a pact with the devil in return for eternal youth.
On November 3, Reveles appears at Congregation Beth Israel, with Rabbi Michael Berk, to discuss “Angels, Demons and the Problem of Evil.” And on February 27, it will be a roundtable discussion at St. James by-the-Sea Episcopal Church: “An Interfaith Dialogue on the Concept of Evil,” with leaders from the Christian, Jewish, Islamic, Hindu and Buddhist communities.
“Evil and the devil exist in each of those traditions,” says Reveles. “We’ll focus on how they’re dealt with in each denomination and in Gounod’s opera.”
Community Conversations on the other two operas will come later next spring.
“It’s going to be so much fun talking with experts in fields I’m not completely comfortable wandering through,” says the ever-enthusiastic Reveles. “I like the idea of exploring the connections between the arts and the life we live.”
The first round of San Diego Opera’s “Community Conversations,” all taking place in La Jolla, begin this month. Each program starts at 7pm and lasts about an hour.
October 25 at the Neurosciences Institute: “Opera as Myth: Puccini’s ‘Turandot’
November 3 at Congregation Beth Israel: “Faust’s ‘Méphistophélès’: Angels, Demons and the Problems of Evil”
January 9 at the Museum of Contemporary Art, La Jolla: “’Turandot’: The Operatic Designs of David Hockney”
February 27 at St. James by-the-Sea Episcopal Church: “Faust’s Pact with the Devil: An Interfaith Dialogue on the Concept of Evil”
Admission is Free, but a reservation is required: http://www.sdopera.com/CommunityConversations