Monday, May 30, 2011

I, An Opera Singer... I, An Actress?

On Friday I went with my family to check out the Early Music Voices performance of Pergolesi’s comedy La Serva Padrona, "where an ambitious maid sets her sights on her master’s affections." The maid attempts to trick her master into marrying her with the help of another servant, played by a well-dressed mannequin.
Both the maid and the master sang to the mannequin, conversing and scheming with him, reporting his comments to the audience. After the piece was done and the group was preparing to sing a piece by Handel, the mannequin was picked up and moved behind a screen, though his hat poked up from behind it, reminding us of his presence for the rest of the performance.

This performance tactic immediately reminded me of George Kuchar's I, An Actress.

Both pieces develop a clear, coherent narrative despite only having one character speak, exploiting the mannequins not only for comedic effect, but also allowing the audience to actively participate in the construction of the story. The performance of La Serva Padrona also shows how fun and utterly bizarre older works of art can be.

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