About this project
In 2003, Vertical Player Repertory premiered Yoav Gal’s comic opera The Dwarf. People loved the opera! They kept talking about it and asking us to do it again. We showed it to Doug Fitch and he came up with an intriguing idea: why not create a "Performable FilmOpera"---a mixture of film and live performance? That way, this wonderful opera would be available to a much wider audience.The idea inspired everyone involved and we set to work. You can help us make it become a reality.
VPR has been successfully producing indie opera in Brooklyn for more than 15 years. We are very excited about this project, which represents a new direction in our work. We’re also excited to be launching our first Kickstarter campaign!
We are coming to you to ask for your help in funding the FIRST STEP of the movie: the audio recording of The Dwarf. With your help, we hope to raise $20,000 to record Yoav's original orchestration. Longtime VPR collaborator, conductor Peter Szep, will lead a 33 piece orchestra, five opera singers, and chorus. The money you contribute will be used to hire and rehearse the singers and instrumentalists, rent the recording equipment and studio, pay an engineer, and mix the resulting tracks. This recording will then be used as the soundtrack for the film, which we plan to shoot in 2014.
Please remember, no amount is too small! The beauty of Kickstarter is that it invites many people to come together to be a part of a project, and you can be an important part of a collective creative effort by donating as little as $10. And all donations to Vertical Player Repertory, Ltd. are tax deductible (less the value of rewards claimed) just in time for the end of the year!
ABOUT THE DWARF
The Dwarf is a comic opera, a fairytale, an improbable love story. It tells of the strange triangle between the eccentric Lady Katherina Kaiser, the dwarf Lingus who lives under her skirt, and the obsessive Chanticleer, a man who pursues Katherina all the way to Mexico to discover what she hides under that provocative bustle. Inspired by the Mozart/Da Ponte and Weil/Brecht comedies, The Dwarf places characters in absurd situations in which their comic predicament contrasts with the heartfelt music they sing.
Press for the VPR 2003 premiere included The New York Times' feature article “Never Say Die in Indie Opera” in which opera critic Anne Midgette wrote “…the music…illustrates the humorous fairy tale quality of the story by giving its harmonies a sardonic twist…” The Brooklyn Heights Press described the story as “…a twisted world whose inhabitants are prisoners of their own conceptions.”
NOTE FROM VPR ARTISTIC DIRECTOR JUDITH BARNES
The Dwarf is one of my favorites and I have wanted to bring it back to the public since its premiere ten years ago. I recently pitched it to the innovative opera director Doug Fitch, who I thought would be a perfect match for this quirky piece. During our conversations, a new and unexpected performance concept began to emerge.
What we’re aiming for is a multi-layered film/opera performance project. It will combine many elements. Live operatic performance. Live video projections. Pre-recorded audio and video footage. Audience interaction. Meanwhile, the whole event will be filmed. This footage will be edited into a movie. The movie can stand alone. But it can also form the basis for future interactive performances with live performers. Does that sound complicated? Well, maybe it is, a bit. But we are exploring new territory!
NOTE FROM DIRECTOR DOUG FITCH
The Dwarf is a delightfully subversive, surrealist opera and it is a treat to be creating this new production with VPR, an ambitiously forward-looking ensemble of extremely enterprising multi-talents. But in these economically stressed times, it seems important to address the inevitable problem that all small companies have: you only get to do a few performances for a few people, then throw away your production - forever. My hope is that our approach will use this challenge as an opportunity to create a new kind of operatic experience.
We have decided to merge the making of a production of The Dwarf with the making of a film. The two will eventually come together in a way I believe will be very appropriate for this story and how it unfolds. The Dwarf is about keeping and revealing personal secrets. It's about the complicated mixture of titillation and shame that accompanies defending one's own secrets and guessing about others'. These two worlds - one imagined (and projected), the other lived with actual consequences (and played live) - are to be presented simultaneously, rendering an atmosphere of suspicion and voyeurism.
Our goal is to make a film of The Dwarf: a Performable FilmOpera, a new genre blending film with live singers and musicians. It can be viewed as a traditional opera movie, but it has another purpose as well. The silent version of the film can be performed by singers and musicians anywhere. It is a film to be "performed", as it were, live, by other companies, who will be able to present the production we are making, only with their own voices and their own players.
Please come help us! Be an important part of how new opera productions can be created, remounted and reinterpreted, without the waste of throwing away enormous sets and accoutrements. We believe our approach can encourage others to give voice to a new kind of cinematic staging, encapsulated forever on one small hard drive.
NOTE FROM COMPOSER YOAV GAL
During the final decades of the nineteenth century, the compulsive tendency to fetishize the female body reached new heights, exemplified by a curious development in female fashion. Skirts, once full and voluminous all the way around, became narrow in front, extending backwards in an exaggerated curved line. They altered the body in a particularly suggestive way, creating the impression of a very large and protruding ass, which to the unfamiliar eye might look utterly obscene. Yet, at the same time, no skin at all was shown and an air-tight Victorian decorum was maintained. This style signified a moment of severe puritan impulse combined with an extreme sexualization of the female form.
This historical moment of fashion insanity was the inspiration for my opera The Dwarf. The opera envisions an unlikely moment in the future, where this style stages a momentary comeback on the body of one daring woman, scandalizing society, especially male society, and in particular one protagonist who suspects that her bustle is intended as a hiding place for a secret lover, a dwarf, and who sets out to uncover the truth.
This project also contains another story folded within it. The story of VPR, a small, independent, innovative opera company, thriving against the odds for a decade and a half in its Brooklyn home on 219 Court Street. A beloved neighborhood fixture of high artistic standards, which put forth unexpected hits such as the performance of Il Tabarro on an oil tanker docked in the last working Brooklyn container port, and the Baroque opera La Calisto in a post-industrial factory courtyard on the Gowanus Canal. By supporting us here, you can help VPR to grow and continue to break new ground!
Founded in 1998 by Judith Barnes, Vertical Player Repertory is a pioneer of the alternative opera movement in New York City. VPR creates ensemble-driven opera theatre in extraordinary venues, among them a factory courtyard on the Gowanus Canal, an intimate storefront theater, the deck of an oil tanker, and the last active shipping port in Brooklyn.
VPR works to create productions that build a community of imaginative thinkers on both sides of the stage. We bring theatrical integrity and an unconventional spirit to an eclectic mix of repertoire, inviting performer and audience alike to re-imagine the possibilities of opera.
Reviews for VPR consistently reflect the high quality of the company’s work. VPR has been noted for “intense performances of unusual works” by The New York Times, “matchless and unending imagination” by ConcertoNet, “thrilling theater” by Opera Today, called “a company worth following” by Backstage Magazine, “edgy” and “idealistic” by The New Yorker, “wonderfully smart and simple” by Seen and Heard International and “consistently innovative” by Time Out New York.
Risks and challenges
We are dreamers, to be sure, but accomplished dreamers! Vertical Player Repertory has always delivered once we start work on a project. By donating to us here, you are casting a precious vote of confidence in our work and giving us a powerful incentive to accomplish our dream of making a movie of Yoav's very special opera. We will use your donation frugally and responsibly. We are experienced at working on a tight budget, and sometimes when working in that way, one needs to be flexible and patient. It might take longer than we expect as we gather the support we need to reach our goals. But we're determined! Thank you for your belief in us.
Sincerely, Judith Barnes
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