Shakespeare, Mendelssohn, Per Poc Puppet Theatre: A several-sided conjunction at the Cairo Opera – Tunes – Arts & Society

Ars longa, vita brevis or “Art is very long, lifetime is short”. However Hippocrates was referring to the miracles of the “medical craft” rather than pure art, allow us interpret the aphorism attributed to the ancient Greek health practitioner in a renaissance man’s frame of brain. Let us seem at it by the prism of the humanities at significant, a human culture which lies at the most vibrant intersection of numerous tutorial disciplines, be they background, languages, philosophy, audio or art.

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The humanities encompass many wonders, ars longa is boundless, embodying myriad life, toying with ideas and currents, constantly bringing them to the exact humanities communion. This is when all the disciplines nurture and complement a single another, direct, query and reply each other, letting us to flavor their elixir and go it to the next era. In this intriguing inter-disciplinary network – generations filled with artistic minds – it goes without declaring that we also find novelists, poets and composers. And this is wherever greats these as Shakespeare, Moliere, Goethe, Dante, Byron and Hugo stand facet by aspect with the eminent composers: Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Schubert, Schumann, Beethoven, Mahler… They glimpse at and encourage a person yet another.

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In this innovative multiplicity – and for the sake of this write-up – it is most likely Shakespeare’s name that catches the eye time and again, his works getting impressed an unprecedented variety of classical music compositions. His Romeo and Juliet created its way to Prokofiev’s ballet, Berlioz’s choral symphonie dramatique, Tchaikovsky’s symphonic poem, Gounod’s opera and dozens of other musical depictions of the archetypal tragic lovers. The Tempest echoes in will work by Beethoven, Sibelius, and again, Tchaikovsky, Othello landed on Rossini, Dvorak and Verdi’s desks with the latter composer also known for his other opera centered on Macbeth. King Lear motivated Berlioz, who himself was amongst the best of Shakespeare’s devotees, Timon of Athens sparked creativity of Purcell, and on and on we can continue…

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No need to have to flip this posting into a under no circumstances-ending enumeration of ballet, opera and symphonic variations of the Bard. Our matter of curiosity is A Midsummer Night’s Aspiration, an incidental piece of audio composed by Felix Mendelssohn in 1842. The composition was at the centre of performances that took position between 23 and 25 Oct, at the Cairo Opera House’s Major Hall.

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For 4 situations (all through a few matinee and one particular soiree occasions) the Cairo Symphony Chamber Orchestra carried out by Ahmed Hamdy joined the Bard’s Midsummer Night’s Athenian lovers and fairies with a German early-Intimate composer, including yet a different creative layer: the For each Poc Puppet Theatre from Spain. Consequently the performances fused Mendelssohn’s composition with a theatrical effectiveness offered by the puppeteer Daniela Wick, who brilliantly animated the human-scale puppets designed of paper. 

Youthful audience attends A Midsummer Night’s Desire by the Pec Poc Puppet Theatre and the Cairo Symphony Chamber Orchestra, Cairo Opera Residence (Image: Bassam Al Zoghby)

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All the performers, the orchestra, the A Cappella Choir (less than choir learn Maya Gvineria), soprano Dalia Farouk, mezzo soprano Amina Khairat and the puppets, were being placed on phase collectively, developing an remarkable visual address. Although Mendelssohn’s composition is not new to Cairo’s classical tunes regulars – and of study course the Wedding ceremony March is 1 of the most famous parts of new music of all periods – this was one of those people exceptional events on which Cairo observed a performance that blended classical audio with puppets.

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This approach to the Shakespeare-Mendelssohn duo was the initiative of the For each Poc Pupet Theare. “We contacted Maestro Ahmed El Saedi [the Cairo Symphony Orchestra’s principal conductor and music director] by email and he replied promptly expressing curiosity in our operate. One point led to yet another and below we are, joining the Cairo’s symphonic period,” Anna Fernandez, For each Poc Puppet Theatre creation manager clarifies. The performances were initial in the series of Spouse and children Concert events and University Live shows, and the latter drew a massive number of youthful viewers to the live performance hall.

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For each Poc was set up in 1989 in Barcelona with the purpose of developing a vibrant hyperlink among symphonic tunes and puppet theatre. “The nucleus of the enterprise is its director and the puppets creator Santi Arnal who started the firm doing the job mostly with string puppets. In 1990, the first more substantial undertaking emerged, which was Sergei Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf. As the troupe grew For each Poc started functioning with unique form of puppets, integrating shadow theatre and other creative things,” Fernandez proceeds, pointing to the lots of collaborations with other businesses and orchestras, and enumerating international appearances whether in individual concert events or new music and theatre festivals.

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“We adapt the textual content, pick the audio, generate the puppets, operate on mise-en-scene. Between our key ambitions is to attract all those listeners and viewers who if not would not opt for classical audio for a cultural outing. This is why most of our displays consider a single hour and are embedded in the Western classical songs in individual.”

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Now, For each Poc’s repertoire involves Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale, Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, Romeo and Juliet, Britten’s The Minimal Sweep and Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker amid many other is effective in which, apart from the orchestra, Santi Arnal reaches out to opera singers and dancers.

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A Midsummer Night’s Aspiration has been in the troupe’s stock for various years currently. The remarkable adaptation of the Shakespeare’s textual content was made by Julia Bel and Albert Ideas, with puppet layouts and vision by Anna Fernandez, Martina Tosticarelli and Santi Arnal, the latter becoming also the performance’s director. A Midsummer Night Dream’s adaptation sheds light-weight on a multitude of the characters all represented by their respective puppets alternately operated by one actor.

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“We journey a great deal and we often test to shift in between various languages, dependent on the viewers. In Spanish-talking nations around the world, generally Santi Arnal is in the puppeteer’s part,” Fernandez clarifies. For the Egyptian viewers, he was replaced by Daniela Wick, a Barcelona-dependent German actress, who utilized a simplified model of Shakespeare’s verses in English. Fernandez clarifies nonetheless that the troupe does not generate blunt simplifications. “We maintain the Shakespearean model but do not always comply with all the strains. It is adapted in these a way as to make it sound like 16th century English without having making it hard for the young viewers to decipher.”

Pec Poc Puppet Theatre

Cairo Symphony Chamber Orchestra and the Per Poc Pupper Theatre at the Cairo Opera Property (Image: Bassam Al Zoghby)

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A Midsummer Night’s Desire can be a challenge to transpose onto the format picked out by the For each Poc theatre which opted for an abridged variation of the text. The plot thickens as Shakespeare introduces quite a few characters, and by the time of denouement, a number of interconnected storylines, each approached from a diverse angle by way of the consecutive acts until finally a resolution is reached.

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Mendelssohn’s to start with acquaintance with A Midsummer Night’s Aspiration took position when, next his looking through of the engage in at the age of 17 (1826), he composed an overture in an act of offering audio to his creativity. It was several decades later on, in 1842, that he was commission by the King of Prussia, Frederick William IV, who was impressed with Mendelssohn’s suite of incidental new music to Sophocles’ tragedy Antigone to deliver “some new music to accompany the performance of Shakespeare’s comedy A Midsummer Night’s Aspiration,” hoping to get materials that would be “happy in mood.” 

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Mendelssohn did not disappoint the King, composing consecutive parts, including the 1826’s overture, Scherzo and Nocturne that draw on themes from the overture, together with the impassioned Intermezzo, Tune with Chorus, dances, as properly as the famed Wedding ceremony March. His ultimate composition is composed of 14 sections, transporting the listener by means of honeyed melodies, cheerful fanfare, poetic natural beauty and lightness, all established in a captivating orchestration.

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Mendelssohn follows the Shakespearean sophisticated plot, provides dances and tunes to entr’actes, usually responding with the highest musical sensitivity to the requires of occasions and characters. As these kinds of the musical materials is effectively intertwined with drama, complementing and assisting to push it forward.

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Many theatre companies nurtured their performances of A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Mendelssohn’s new music and quite a few new artistic visions have emerged from this marriage. What For every Poc Theatre selected is to current an abridged consider on the Shakespearean comedy in which two elements, theatre and music, will be existing on the stage. The theatrical composition built by For each Poc picked bits and items from Mendelssohn, shuffling the songs segments to support the director’s vision. Most likely to accentuate its grandiosity, the general performance closes with the Wedding March. 

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However, as we witnessed on the a person hand the orchestra, the choir and the soloists and on the other hand the puppet theatre, a extra palpable interlocking concerning the two artistic powers would have been advantageous and would have offered far better justification to the choice of this particular format on the phase. In this article it is essential to anxiety the massive function of the Cairo Symphony Chamber Orchestra which beneath Ahmed Hamdy’s baton rendered quite a few sections of Mendelssohn’s perform memorable, time and once again, each individual inside its possess musical phase.

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However, speaking from the theatrical perspective, A Midsummer Night Dream’s complexity can be tough and opting for a severely abridged adaptation wants a large amount of assumed on how to uphold the clarity of the intersecting plots. Per Poc’s structure insisted on a massive number of characters carrying with them their thematic baggage. 

Midsummer Night

A Cappella Choir, soprano Dalia Farouk and mezzo soprano Amina Khairat execute during the Midsummer Night’s Aspiration effectiveness at the Cairo Opera Household (Photograph: Bassam Al Zoghby)

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Daniela Wick experienced to juggle the puppets transforming her voice to impersonate Egeus, Theseus, Hermia, Lysander, Demetrius, Oberon, amid other individuals. Wick’s potential to fill the wide phase with artistic motion and conversation was genuinely extraordinary. Even so, in a one particular-hour display, in which music segments presently acquire their individual time and place, a bolder dramaturgical simplification – possibly the elimination of a number of people – might have aided the efficiency to provide the plot in a additional lucid fashion. Introducing to this the performance’s English language, the closing result could only cater to a precise viewer.

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 “It was surely a incredibly new, experimental and courageous endeavour,” Nagi Shaker, who attended the initially general performance, applauded the Spanish troupe. Shaker, who is viewed as to be the godfather of Egyptian puppet theatre and the main designer of the iconic Al-Leila Al-Kebira, was primarily impressed with the structure that joins the orchestra with the puppets. “Though it is not the first time that classical music associates with puppets or animation, the Spanish troupe is distinctive in producing a praiseworthy and exclusive atmosphere. The puppets by themselves are pretty inventive, gentle and straightforward to use. Substantial sheets of paper as content incorporate a large amount to the visual creativeness,” he elaborated.

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Shaker nevertheless also pointed to the feeling of an over-condensed plot inside of the time-frame presented and an accumulation of characters wherever the puppets strongly resemble one particular yet another. “The format likely reaches the professional audience better it absolutely speaks nicely to the viewers who are effectively acquainted with the text. I am not positive it was simple for the young attendees to abide by the effectiveness by means of puppets which are not also distinct from one particular one more, no matter how creative they are. It might be complicated for the youngest viewers to differentiate involving the play’s personalities and grasp the whole plot,” Shaker adds.

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Nonetheless we make a decision to analyse the functionality, a single detail is for certain: it does present a whole lot of foodstuff for thought. A Midsummer Night time Desire performs on all the senses, enriches the viewers with wonderful songs, although presenting a intriguing dialogue amongst artwork varieties. With easy instruments – the chamber orchestra, choir and soloists joined by one particular puppeteer – the Cairo Opera Property supplied a stimulating overall performance. And no matter our judgment of aspects, this offers an fascinating, and distinctive, artistic encounter. 

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In a earth where our lives are shortened by unlimited pursuits of everything but cultural stimuli, these types of testimony to the arts’ timelessness is what will make our days worthwhile. In truth, Ars longa, vita brevis. Initiatives this kind of as cooperation in between the Cairo Symphony Chamber Orchestra and a puppet theatre troupe give us a hope that humanity is nonetheless able of embracing the quite a few disciplines that it constructed by means of the centuries. Established inside of the Spouse and children Live performance sequence, even if this time the overall performance specific a specialized niche viewers, it still sends critical messages to a growing technology of possible connoisseurs of fine artwork. 

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This post was initial posted in Al Ahram Weekly

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