Les Enfants Terribles
A dance-opera adapted from the work of Jean Cocteau by Philip Glass and Susan Marshall
May 26-28, 2017
Beauty enjoys unlimited privilege. It affects even those who don’t notice it.- Les Enfants Terribles
This hybrid dance-opera spectacle is the last in Philip Glass’ trilogy based on the works of Jean Cocteau. Teaming up with choreographer Amy Seiwert and Media Designer David Murakami, Creative Director Brian Staufenbiel will create a multi-dimensional film experience that interacts with the performers on stage. Singers, dancers, and media figure equally in Glass’ experimental work that tells Cocteau’s story of Paul and Lise, a brother and sister inextricably connected through loss, who live in a world of wild creativity and sometimes dangerous imagination. The Opera Parallèle production welcomes back local favorite Hadleigh Adams, and Rachel Schutz, both of whom Opera Parallèle audiences will remember from their starring roles in Poulenc’s Les mamelles de Tirésias in 2014.
Paul: Hadleigh Adams
Elizabeth: Rachel Schutz
Gérard: Andres Ramirez
Dargelos/Agathe: Kindra Scharich
Elizabeth: Steffi Cheong
Paul: Scott Marlowe
COMPOSER – PHILIP GLASS
Philip Glass (b. 1937) has had an extraordinary and unprecedented impact upon the musical and intellectual life of his time through his operas, symphonies, and wide-ranging collaborations. Glass’s operas play throughout the world’s leading houses. He has also written music for experimental theater and film.
Glass was born in 1937 and grew up in Baltimore. He studied at the University of Chicago and the Juilliard School. Finding himself dissatisfied with much of what then passed for modern music, he moved to Europe, where he studied with the legendary pedagogue Nadia Boulanger and worked closely with the sitar virtuoso and composer Ravi Shankar.
After returning to New York, Glass formed the Philip Glass Ensemble, which features instruments amplified and fed through a mixer. The new musical style that Glass was evolving was dubbed “minimalism”; Glass preferred to be known as a composer of ‘music with repetitive structures’. In 2015, Glass published his memoir, Words Without Music, and premiered his Double Concerto for Two Pianos with the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
NOTES FROM THE COMPOSER
Les Enfants Terribles, Jean Cocteau’s novel (written in 1929 and was later made into both a play and a film) forms the basis of the third installment of the trilogy of music/theater works began with Orphée and continued with La Belle et la Bête. In the previous two works (Orphée and La Belle et la Bête), film and opera were combined to create a hybrid form. For Les Enfants Terribles I envisioned something different. I invited the American choreographer Susan Marshall, to help adapt and direct a dance/opera based on the novel in which singers and dancers would share center stage. If Orphée is Cocteau’s tale of transcendence and La Belle et la Bête his romance, then Les Enfants Terribles is his tragedy. Like the others, it articulates Cocteau’s belief in the power of imagination to transform the ordinary world into a world of magic. But unlike the two previous works, in which transformation leads to love and transcendence, Les Enfants Terribles takes us to the world of Narcissus and, ultimately, Death. Hence the tragedy and power of the piece — a snowball becomes a ball of poison. Dargelos becomes Agathe. A “Room” (normally a place of imagination and creativity for Cocteau) is transformed into a space that jealously refuses to let its “Children” grow up. A harmless “Game” turns into a fierce struggle that ends in destruction. The natural world is represented by the snow, which falls relentlessly throughout the opera and (like the spectators) silently looks on, bearing witness to the unfolding events. Here, time stands still. There is only music, and the movement of children through space.
– Philip Glass, Composer
Adapted from a Cocteau novel, Les Enfants Terribles tells the tragic story of Paul and Lise, who live in a self-made narcissistic fantasy world. They are severed from the outside world when Paul –after being struck by a snowball thrown by his idol Dargelos – falls ill and is forced to stay home from school. Shortly thereafter, their mother’s untimely death leaves them completely alone.
Isolated and totally dependent on each other, they pass their days in their “Room”, a place of mystery and magic that only children can comprehend and enjoy. They continuously act out their wild fantasies, which they term “playing the Game.” At first innocent, these games become increasingly twisted. Gérard, their only friend, visits them and serves as their private audience.
Lise, growing tired of this oppressive situation, eventually gets a job as a model. She befriends another model, Agathe, and brings her home. Agathe looks exactly like Dargelos, and her presence further threatens the delicate balance that these “children” have created. Lise’s last chance to get away crumbles when her fiancé Michael dies in a car crash. Fate has set the stage for tragedy. Unable to accept that her brother Paul has fallen in love with Agathe, Lise acts to prevent it. She tricks their friend Gérard to marry Agathe, insuring that she and Paul will never be separated. But the “magical” world the two of them had before cannot be recreated. Paul tries to poison himself, and in the confusion that follows, the truth about Lise’s plot comes out. What had begun as an innocent, children’s Game ends tragically in death and destruction.
HADLEIGH ADAMS (BARITONE) PAUL has performed in over 75 mainstage performances during his two-year tenure as an Adler Fellow at San Francisco Opera, most recently as Schaunard in La Bohème. He recently made his debut with the San Francisco Symphony Chorus, the Oakland Symphony, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic in their performance of Pelléas et Mélisande. Upcoming engagements include Falke (Die Fledermaus) with Opera Cincinnati, Hotel Manager (Powder Her Face) with West Edge Opera, Mahler’s Rückert Lieder with the Oakland Symphony, and Jesus in Bach’s St. Matthew Passion with the Colorado Symphony. He appeared with Opera Parallèle in Les mamelles de Tirésias (2014) and will appear in Flight (2017). More info at his website.
ANDRES RAMIREZ (TENOR) GERARD returns to Opera Parallèle after most recently being seen as Luis Rodrigo Griffith in last season’s Champion. A graduate of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music where he studied with Cesar Ulloa, Mr. Ramirez has experience performing in opera, musical theater, and on the concert stage. He recently joined Pacific Chorale’s roster of professional singers, made his debut at the Hollywood Fringe Festival and the Hollywood Bowl, and started a non-profit theatre production company called Contempo Productions. Performance highlights include: A Little Night Music (Mr. Erlanson; American Conservatory Theatre), Anya17 (Uri/Gabriel; Opera Parallèle), Rigoletto (Borsa; Livermore Valley Opera), the titular role in Candide (Douglas Morrisson Theatre), Die Fledermaus (Eisenstein; SFCM and Pepperdine University), Regina (Marshall; Bronx Opera Company), The Threepenny Opera (Macheath; Waffle Opera) and his summer with the iSing! International Young Artists Festival in Suzhou, China. Mr. Ramirez is a proud member of the Actor’s Equity Association. Visit his website for more information.
RACHEL SCHUTZ (SOPRANO) ELIZABETH is increasingly in demand throughout the US, Europe, and Asia for her sensitive and evocative performances and wide range of repertoire. Most recently she performed Imbrie’s Adam with the Riverside Symphony, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with the Hawai’i Symphony Orchestra, Papagena (Magic Flute) and Johanna (Sweeney Todd) with Hawai’i Opera Theater, and Adele (Die Fledermaus) with Stockton Opera. She has also appeared at the Ravinia Festival, Zankel Hall, Santa Fe Opera, Tanglewood Music Center, and with the Boston Pops Orchestra. She appeared with Opera Parallèle in her acclaimed performance as Thérèse and Jessie in Les mamelles de Tirésias/ Mohagonny Songspiel. More info at her website.
KINDRA SCHARICH (MEZZO-SOPRANO) DARGELOS/AGATHE has been praised by The San Francisco Chronicle for her, “noble, vocally assured singing, with stately grace and deep-rooted pathos.” A versatile musician, she has sung over 25 roles in the lyric mezzo repertoire, and is equally at home on the operatic or concert stage. A dedicated recitalist, Ms. Scharich has presented recitals for the American Composer’s Forum in Los Angeles, Lieder Alive, the Wagner Society Northern California Chapter, and the Yehudi Menuhin Seminar in San Francisco. A great proponent of German Lieder, she and San Diego pianist George Fee have developed numerous programs under the heading “Life in Lieder,” designed to educate and edify the public by means of this magnificent and underrepresented genre. More info at her website.
STEFFI CHEONG (DANCER) is thrilled to be making her Opera Parallèle premiere this season. Steffi received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Dance and had the opportunity join DanceWorks Chicago before graduating. While working with this company Steffi performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Carlos Chavez Youth Orchestra in Mexico City. In 2013 Steffi joined ODC/Dance in San Francisco where she performed and helped create exceptionally athletic works. Throughout her career she graced stages across the country, in Europe, Mexico, and Canada. During Steffi’s time at ODC she was featured in DANCE Magazine, the nation’s dance resource, in a full page article entitled, On the Rise. She has been praised for her technical elegance as well as her emotional resilience. Most recently, Steffi is exploring avenues that diverge from a full-time dance career and is currently working at Drew School in Pacific Heights.
SCOTT MARLOWE (DANCER) a dancer, actor, and director. From 2005 to 2015, he created and performed with LEVYdance as a Company Artist and the company’s Associate Director. His 2014 evening-length work Soar was nominated for an Isadora Duncan Dance Award for Outstanding Achievement in Visual Design. Scott is currently working with Amy Seiwert’s Imagery, Risa Jaroslow and Dancers, and [detour dance]. In 2013, he made his screen debut starring in the internationally acclaimed feature film Test. Test won the 2013 Outfest Grand Jury Awards for Outstanding Feature Film and Outstanding Screenwriting and was nominated for a 2015 Independent Spirit Award. This year, Scott performed in his first musical: San Francisco Symphony’s production of On the Town.