Writing about “Broken Snow,” the Ben Andron thriller now getting its world premiere at the J’s Cultural Arts Theatre (JCAT) in North Miami Beach, is a proposition almost as tricky as the play itself. The intricately structured 90-minute drama is loaded with surprises, twists and turns, all revealed at precisely the right moment so that the play builds to its shattering conclusion..
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'Death & Harry Houdini' Makes Another Magical Moment at ArshtDennis Watkins knows how to make an entrance. In the House Theatre of Chicago’s “Death & Harry Houdini,” now back at the Arsht Center’s Carnival Studio Theater five years after it first wowed Miami audiences, Watkins arrives onstage with the help of theater technology unknown in Houdini’s day. Dangling upside dow..
Director Carlos Lechuga’s masterful unspooling of time in his second feature film “Santa y Ándres” constructs a uniquely Cuban mix of tedium and despair, resulting in an emotionally intense experience that sneaks up on the viewer in plain sight. The film opens with the stillness of a landscape painting: the eastern Cuban countryside of 1983 – rugged, lush, and verdant. The statuesque..
Memory – deep-seated, fragile, slippery, mutable – is at the heart of Jordan Harrison’s “Marjorie Prime.” A Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2015, the play is a family tragicomedy given a sci-fi makeover; in other words, this thought-provoking theater piece charts its own, fresh path. Now getting its South Florida premiere as the second professional production from the Main Street Players, ..
The stage is a fixed space. It is the axis around which story, conflict, and character revolve. When that fixed space shifts, new possibilities emerge. Starting Wednesday, April 23, a shifting site for theater emerges at Deering Estate, a 444-acre environmental, archeological, and historical preserve along the edge of Biscayne Bay in Palmetto Bay. Four local playwrights have collaborated ..
Nearly two years ago, Miami’s Zoetic Stage took its first trip into the world of Harold Pinter with an intense, superbly acted production of the Nobel laureate’s 1978 hit “Betrayal” in the Arsht Center’s Carnival Studio Theater. Now Zoetic is delving further back into the Pinter canon with a riveting production of “The Caretaker.” This 1960 work is, like “Betrayal,” a three-character ..
Imagine animation created live on stage, with mini backdrops, puppets, and low-tech props. Channel it through multiple cameras and mix it live into a projected film. Add a string quartet and a DJ. This is the structure of “Nufonia Must Fall,” an upcoming project presented by MDC Live Arts. The show is slated for appearances around the world, from Asia and the Middle East to Europe and..
That Actors’ Playhouse opened its production of Robert Schenkkan’s “All the Way” on the same day that the American Health Care Act was pulled from a vote by the House of Representatives is ironic and more than a little instructive. The much-touted replacement for Obamacare didn’t have enough sure votes to ensure passage, as Speaker Paul Ryan told President Donald Trump, so the “replac..
The take-no-prisoners world of high finance and ruthless business deals has long been a tantalizing subject for artists. From filmmaker Oliver Stone’s 1987 “Wall Street,” with its antihero Gordon Gekko spouting “greed is good,” to Damien Lewis’ slick hedge fund mogul Bobby Axelrod in the Showtime series “Billions,” movies and television allow those of us in the 99 percent a glimpse at wha..
May’s “Mujeres” series of strong, multi-faceted, women-focused productions, commissioned for Miami Theater Center’s SandBox space, concludes with Spanish-born dancer-choreographer Carlota Pr..
One could say that Bistoury’s 305 & Havana International Improv Fest, which debuts this Saturday at Miami Theater Center, has been in the works for almost 20 years. In 1999 Cuban-born cho..
The process of creating “Shade,” choreographer Augusto Soledade’s latest full-length work, has been one of remembering and reconfiguring memory to discover new ways of talking about identity ..
Upcoming this week, Tigertail presents choreographer Myriam Gourfink and musician Kasper Toeplitz. Hailing from France, the two will be present for a 3-day residency at Subtropics’ South Beac..
From her home base at 6th Street Dance Studio in Little Havana, longtime Miami dance figure Brigid Baker has been slowly crafting a new performance piece. It’s not conceptual or political like con..
Karen Peterson is the artistic director of Karen Peterson and Dancers, a company that brings professional dancers with and without disabilities together in the same piece of choreography, and..
Revivals are hot on Broadway these days with “CATS”and “Hello, Dolly!“once again gracing the Great White Way. There is a certain nostalgia in taking a second or even third viewing of a belove..
What happens when urban dance style meets classical music? We’ll find out when Brooklyn-based hip-hop dance troupe Decadancetheater takes the stage, backed by Miami’s own experimental classic..
“What does it mean to belong? What does it mean to not want to belong?” These are questions that choreographer Reggie Wilson contemplates in his provocative piece “CITIZEN,“ which makes its M..
Buzzing his lips and shaking his head, Rafael Davila gets ready to rehearse. In the Florida Grand Opera’s cavernous rehearsal hall in Doral, the floor is marked with tape to delineate the rooms in the palace of Gustav III, the Swedish king who was assassinated in 1792 during a masquerade ball. This weekend, Davila will be reprising the role of the king in FGO’s performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s A Masked Ball. He played the role once before, just as his career was taking of, 13 years ago.
Davila’s first production of A Masked Ball was in Naples, Italy, in Teatro San Carlo, the theater that commissioned the work in 1858. In Verdi’s time, government censorship and a legal battle with the theater moved the premiere to Rome, a year later, and forced the composer to relocate the story from Sweden to colonial Boston. Nearly a century and a half later, in Naples, a musicologist combed Verdi’s notes, in an effort to reconstruct the opera at Teatro San Carlo, as the composer originally intended.
“It was very similar to what we are doing here,” Davila observes, as he scans a copy of the score. “But with some variations in the music.”
Suddenly a sweet soprano voice announces the arrival of the king, and the tenor dashes into the masking-tape palace. Davila is used to adapting quickly.
“Every month, I’m in a different place,” he says during an interview before rehearsal. From September to June, he travels from city to city, production to production. “I now know more than 60 roles,” he adds.
Early in his career, he played lyrical lovers like Alfredo in Verdi’s La Traviata and Pinkerton in Puccini’s Madame Butterfly. As his voice has gained heft –frequently described by critics as “beefy” or “burly” -- he has taken on more powerful roles.
“I haven’t kept count, but I’ve done around seven productions of Carmen already,” he speculates, from his first Carmen in New Zealand 13 years ago, to a more recent production in Kansas City, set in the 1970s, featuring a disco ball and a girl on roller skates. “And Tosca, I’ve done plenty.”
As he circulates from city to city, Davila sees familiar faces. When he debuted with FGO in the spring of 2014, as the painter Cavaradossi, he had already fallen for soprano Kara Shay Thomson as a tragic diva and defied baritone Todd Thomas as the evil police chief in earlier productions of Tosca. In fact, the trio had performed those roles together at the Sarasota Opera in 2009, when Susan Danis was the executive director there, before she took the helm at FGO. Their familiarity might be one reason why the 2014 Tosca was one of the most spectacular productions in recent FGO history.
When Davila returned to South Florida last November, as Don Jose in Carmen, he reunited with FGO’s principal conductor, Ramon Tebar, who had also conducted the tenor in Tosca (and will conduct him in A Masked Ball). Though Davila knows Carmen well, the FGO run helped him prepare for his first gig at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, covering for celebrated tenor Marcelo Alvarez.
“From here I went directly to New York to start rehearsals,” he recalls.
One and a half hours before the opening performance, Davila learned that Alvarez could not go on. He was about to make his debut on the biggest opera stage in the United States. As it turned out, the mezzo in the title role fell ill as well. So Davila and Clémentine Margaine found themselves on the set together for the first time, less than an hour before the curtain would rise.
“We decided to let it flow,” Davila remembers. “To let the music tell us where to go.”
Back in Doral, Davila appears to follow the same principle as he prepares for A Masked Ball. The director, Manuel Pilla, leads the tenor around the set. A choreographer making his debut as an opera director, Pilla traces graceful arcs across the floor, weaving around the king’s desk, then stations Davila beside a globe. He demonstrates how the king would rest his hand just beneath his chest. Davila does his best to keep up. At the same time, the tenor listens intently to the rehearsal pianist.
Perhaps he is thinking about what he said earlier in the afternoon. “The movement is all written in the music,” he said. “If you listen to the music, you know where you have to move, and what to do.”
Florida Grand Opera presents A Masked Ball from April 29 through May 6 at the Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; tickets $26 to $140; and on May 11 and May 13, the Broward Center for the Performing Arts; fgo.org.
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