US premiere of the original 1926 version


photos courtesy of Clive Grainger

CARDILLAC by Paul Hindemith, after the novel Das Fräulein von Scuderi by E.T.A. Hoffman
Conductor: Gil Rose
Cast: S. Sylvan, S. K. Bentley, S. Sanders, D. Kravitz, J. Baty, F. Kelley
Production: E. Rom (scenery), G. Berry (clothes), C. Ostrom (lighting), A. Nesmith (hair/make-up)

SANFORD SYLVAN In Memoriam Cardillac Video:

“Paul Hindemith’s youthful opera “Cardillac” (1926) was written to shock rather than please, and Opera Boston’s recent production of this rarely heard piece stayed true to that ambition. It was updated by director Nic Muni to the “near future” from the 17th century; its chorus was scantily clad by Gabriel Berry in lederhosen, corsets, cone bras and what looked like glittery plastic wrap; and two characters gave their all to an explicit sex scene. If you’re going to do decadence, best to go all the way. Perhaps the most shocking aspect, however, was the innate chilliness of the piece and Mr. Muni made the most of its uncertainties. Erhard Rohm’s set suggested an ultramodern art gallery, with one exposed brick wall and Cardillac’s creations glowing out of jagged, iceberg-like display cases. When Cardillac confesses his crimes, bodies sheathed in plastic descend head-downward from the flies, looking like a giant spider’s captured prey.”
Heidi Waleson, The Wall Street Journal (February, 2011)

“Staging rarely heard operas can be tricky business, but Opera Boston proved that with exceptional stagecraft, acting and singing, audiences don’t need to know hummable arias ahead of time to appreciate a performance. The acting, staging, lighting and music all came together to create a brilliantly integrated imagining of Hindemith’s creation. You might be hard-pressed to sing any of Hindemith’s music afterward, but you will certainly never forget this compelling production.”
Keith Powers, The Boston Herald (February, 2011)

“Opera Boston’s updated production by Nic Muni is set in Cardillac’s chic gallery, where well-heeled viewers (wearing costumes by Gabriel Berry) admire his wares – until the arm of a corpse is spotted protruding from a sculpture. Erhard Rom’s decor makes use of the stage’s unadorned brick wall and Muni ensures that the final sequence of events unfolds grippingly…”
George Loomis, Financial Times (March, 2011)

“Opera Boston scored a memorable success this weekend with its new staging of Hindemith’s “Cardillac,’’ a largely forgotten opera from 1926. Sunday’s performance at the Cutler Majestic Theater proved not only to be an afternoon of arresting opera. It was also a pointed validation of the company’s larger mission to bring deserving yet rarely heard works before the public — a mission that has seldom felt so vindicated and so essential. Opera Boston’s crisp and sleekly effective production, directed by Nic Muni, updates the action from 17th-century Paris to “the near future,’’ the first scene taking place at a chic gallery opening at which another body is discovered, to the horror of the crowd.”
Jeremy Eichler, The Boston Globe (March, 2011)

“Opera Boston’s production of “Cardillac” was quite remarkable. For the visual elements, Director Nic Muni presided over a production that was sparsely Neo-Expressionistic and appropriately grotesque. It all took place in Cardillac’s gallery, a large, cold space of warped angles and unnatural light. Hats (and belts) off especially to Kelley and Baty for giving their all in one of the most deliciously disturbing sadomasochistic pantomimes one is likely ever to see on an operatic stage. A most striking aspect of the production was the use of lighting to cast all manner of shadows on the severely sloped walls of the gallery. It gave the effect of a second play from a flat, dark, distorted universe paralleling the three-dimensional one; a silent, visual Greek Chorus commenting on and participating in the whole twisted tale. It was, in many ways, the most chilling aspect of the entire performance, darkly radiating a sort of emotional summary of all that bizarreness.”
Tom Schnauber, The Boston Intelligencer (March, 2011)

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