Australian Contemporary Opera Company to Perform New Production of BOOK OF LONGING

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Australian Contemporary Opera Company to Perform New Production of BOOK OF LONGING

Post by B4real » Sat Apr 09, 2022 1:04 am

Recently first in Vancouver, Canada now in Melbourne, Australia.

Australian Contemporary Opera Company to Perform New Production of BOOK OF LONGING

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The show is set for Friday, May 13th, 8:00-9:30pm at The Edge.
by Marissa Tomeo Apr. 7, 2022
https://www.broadwayworld.com/australia ... G-20220407
Award winning independent company Australian Contemporary Opera Co (ACOCo), in partnership with The Wheeler Centre and Fed Square, presents Philip Glass' divisive Book of Longing - a unique and intoxicating collaboration between two of the most celebrated musical artists of their generation. Featuring Richard Piper as the voice of Leonard Cohen, this evening length operatic concert performance of poetry, songs and music, incorporates projections of Cohen's poems and drawings and will be staged for one night only at The Edge, Federation Square.

General admission tickets are $65 (+ booking fee) and concession tickets are $55 (+ booking fee). The show is set for Friday 13 May, 8.00-9.30pm at The Edge in Fed Square. BOOK HERE: https://my.wheelercentre.com/6982/6983

"The work sweeps from personal intimacy to emotional grandeur, taking the audience on a musical journey through Cohen's iconic Book of Longing," says Richard Piper. "It's a testimony to a wonderful friendship, and a fitting celebration and memorial for one great artist from another."

The culmination of years of mutual admiration between the minimalist composer and the enigmatic poet/songwriter; inspiration for Book of Longing struck Glass during their first meeting, when Cohen read him almost the entire collection of poems from an as yet unpublished manuscript. Deeply moved, and finding the work 'intensely beautiful, personal and inspiring', Glass proposed a new project on the spot, melding Cohen's poetry and images with his own original music.

Premiering in 2007, Glass' work is part chamber-music concert, part theatrical cabaret and part art installation, setting 22 of Cohen's poems to music. "Interestingly, Glass has Leonard only speak in his work, not sing. It's as if Leonard is softly speaking in someone's ear," says ACOCo's Artistic Director and Book of Longing director Linda Thompson. "And then in contrast, with Glass' music, four operatic soloists and an ensemble, the poems spring to life - full of desire, longing, nostalgia, regret, inherently operatic, with a hypnotic, insistent, intimate quality."

90 minutes long, and performed without intermission, Book of Longing is a late life cri de couer, bubbling with the need to express youthful impulses and deep love. "To be in a venue with other people, experiencing something both profound and ludicrous, intimate and grand, is a gift to treasure, even more so now, having been taken away for so long," says Thompson.

Starring Richard Piper (Pirates of the Caribbean, Come from Away) as the voice of Leonard and featuring soprano Emily Burke, mezzo soprano Dimity Shepherd, tenor Martin Buckingham, baritone Christopher Tonkin and supported by members of the ACOCo 2022 Young Artist Program, Book of Longing will be performed for one night only in the stunning glass surrounds of The Edge, located in the heart of Federation Square.

For more information visit: https://www.acoco.org.au/book-of-longing
Australian Contemporary Opera Co. (ACOCo)
OR https://www.acoco.org.au/?msclkid=b3a84 ... c88050c9a6

Melbourne based, globally-connected opera company specialising in contemporary and festival opera, with acclaimed young artist program. ACOCo's practice takes the form of performances and creations that explore human triumphs, foibles, follies and failures.

We believe that music, theatre and visual storytelling are the fundamental building blocks for human relationships. We focus on enhancing these aspects in all of our shows to create an unforgettable experience with each production.

Another link - https://www.wheelercentre.com/events/bo ... f09c89c1e1
It doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to B4real ~ me
Attitude is a self-fulfilling prophecy ~ me ...... The magic of art is the truth of its lies ~ me ...... Only left-handers are in their right mind!
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Re: Australian Contemporary Opera Company to Perform New Production of BOOK OF LONGING

Post by B4real » Thu Apr 14, 2022 12:02 am

Richard Piper on Book of Longing, ‘Glassical’ music, and becoming Leonard Cohen

The Melbourne theatre stalwart talks about the unique proposition of playing the voice of Cohen in Australian Contemporary Opera Co's 'Book of Longing'.

by Hugh Robertson on 13 April, 2022

https://limelightmagazine.com.au/featur ... ard-cohen/
Imagine meeting Leonard Cohen for the first time, and spending the rest of the night with him reading his unpublished poetry to you. According to Philip Glass, that exact scenario was the catalyst for “an evening-length work of poetry, music, and image” he titled Book of Longing, taken from Cohen’s book of poems with the same title.

Glass writes:
“Leonard and I first began talking about a poetry and music collaboration more than six years ago. We met at that time in Los Angeles, and he had with him a manuscript that became the basis of the collection of poetry now published as the Book of Longing. In the course of an afternoon that stretched into the evening, he read virtually the whole book to me. I found the work intensely beautiful, personal, and inspiring. On the spot, I proposed an evening-length work of poetry, music, and image based on this work.”

Australian Contemporary Opera Co (ACOCo) is poised to present this meeting of two singular creative minds for one night only at The Edge in Melbourne next month, presented in partnership with the Wheeler Centre and Fed Square. The piece is directed by Linda Thompson, with singers Emily Burke, Dimity Shepherd, Martin Buckingham and Christopher Tonkin, conducted by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s 2022 Cybec Assistant Conductor, Carlo Antonioli. And at the centre of it all is a cornerstone of Melbourne’s theatre scene, Richard Piper, who is billed “the voice of Leonard Cohen”.

Limelight Deputy Editor Hugh Robertson asked Piper a few questions about this unique experience.

What can you tell us about the work? It’s something sort of in-between opera and theatre, isn’t it?

The Book of Longing is a concert performance of a song cycle by Philip Glass built around selected poems from Leonard Cohen’s book of poems of the same name. It’s an intensely personal work, I think, by two old friends of around 70 years of age celebrating their combined body of work. It’s a very intimate piece, using poems that were, when the book was published in 2006, both old and new, spanning many stages in Cohen’s artistic and personal journey.

As an answer to the initial question I defer to Cohen himself. When asked if the piece was cabaret, theatre or classical, he said: “Glassical”.

You started your career doing some musical theatre, but have done mostly straight plays of late. Do you prepare differently for the different genres?

Whatever I’m performing I always think it’s best to assume I still have everything to learn. I have performed in so many plays now, including forty for the Melbourne Theatre Company, but I still come to rehearsal, whether that be for a play or a musical, with a sense of wonder and openness as to what is going to happen, so preparing is down to cleaning the slate and starting afresh. I don’t prepare differently for different genres, except that I have to work harder as a singer and especially as a dancer, as I come from the Tom Waits school of singing and the Yorkshire coal-miner’s school of dance, so with musical theatre there’s more homework. I’m bemused by how bad I am as a dancer. I was Kenickie in Grease in the West End in 1977. What went wrong?

You are billed in this show as “the voice of Leonard Cohen”. Is it a challenge to portray a real person, and one whose voice is so instantly recognisable?

I deliberated about this for some time and at first was unsure as to how to present the spoken poems in the composition. Should I use my own voice or something closer to Leonard Cohen’s? I’ve decided to try and represent the spirit of Cohen’s voice tonally, and to pay tribute to his delivery, without any sense of imitation. Let’s face it, he made an incredibly beautiful sound, and I’m having fun working with that.

I think that it’s Glass’s intention that the poems have an intimacy that punctuates the fullness or the musical compositions. It’s not acting. I’m a musical instrument in the orchestra, with a lot of short solos! You’ll see what I mean on the night.

On the other hand it would’ve been more economical to say, “I’ll sound like Leonard…” We’ll see.

What do you think is revealed about Cohen through this production? Do you feel as though you are portraying Leonard Cohen the man, or a character called ‘Leonard Cohen’?

I think in all Cohen’s poems he reveals something of himself. The poems are all like little windows, little portraits of a man’s complexities. The humility he displays in his revelations is very beautiful. I think as the piece progresses the listener learns more and more about a long and richly textured life. This is possibly what inspired Glass to suggest the project in the first place, the sense of Cohen looking back at his 70 years with cautious wisdom. There was a history for them to explore. After all they were both Buddhists of Jewish Lithuanian heritage! Glass was also approaching 70 years old. Come to think of it, so am I.

Is there a particular poem or thought of Cohen’s that has really struck you?

One of my favourite poems in The Book of Longing is called The Sweetest Little Song.

You go your way
I’ll go your way too


It can be looked at as whimsy. And it also makes me smile. But it’s good to reflect on the fact that Leonard Cohen was an ordained Zen Buddhist monk, and I think that comes through in this tiny poem. The line, “You go your way, I’ll go mine,” used in so many songs, is turned into something enchantingly positive. Lovely.

A thought of Cohen’s that has struck me? Well there’s one, among many, that I love, and it’s about Glass’s The Book of Longing.

Cohen said of the piece, “It’s like a bumble bee. From what we know, it shouldn’t fly.” But it did fly. All over the world.

Why do you think this show was so polarising when it was first premiered?

Which leads us to the last question. Yes, when it was performed all over the world in 2007/8, it was polarising, as the reviews testify. I’m not sure why, but I think some felt that the repetitiveness that is such a hallmark of Glass’s work was at odds with the poetry, and that the performance itself was misdirected.

I’m not just saying this because I’m in it, but I truly feel that this production by Australian Contemporary Opera Company has the potential to take the piece to greater heights. There are differences that enrich the piece greatly and I feel that the performance will be very special. It’s a unique opportunity to see a rarely performed composition; a celebration of one great artist by another.

And I’m sure that both Leonard Cohen, and indeed his Zen Buddhist teacher Roshi, are now saying, “Shhhhh Richard.”

See you there.
It doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to B4real ~ me
Attitude is a self-fulfilling prophecy ~ me ...... The magic of art is the truth of its lies ~ me ...... Only left-handers are in their right mind!
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Re: Australian Contemporary Opera Company to Perform New Production of BOOK OF LONGING

Post by Andrew (Darby) » Fri Apr 15, 2022 4:26 am

Thanks Bev, I must book myself into this! 8) :) I’ll let Murray know too. :arrow:
'I cannot give the reasons
I only sing the tunes
The sadness of the seasons
The madness of the moons'
~ Mervyn Peake ~
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Re: Australian Contemporary Opera Company to Perform New Production of BOOK OF LONGING

Post by B4real » Sat Apr 16, 2022 12:38 am

My pleasure, Andrew :D
I was wondering if you two guys would be going to this event.
It seems that most LC related shows in Australia these days are in Melbourne :)
It doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to B4real ~ me
Attitude is a self-fulfilling prophecy ~ me ...... The magic of art is the truth of its lies ~ me ...... Only left-handers are in their right mind!
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Re: Australian Contemporary Opera Company to Perform New Production of BOOK OF LONGING

Post by Andrew (Darby) » Sat May 07, 2022 9:47 am

Hi Bev,

Apologies for the delay with this response, but yes, you're right, with Songs for Suzanne following this on June 3rd. 8)
https://www.leonardcohenforum.com/viewt ... =8&t=39414

I’m sure I speak for Murray as well, when I say we wish you could join us.

Cheers,
Andrew :)
'I cannot give the reasons
I only sing the tunes
The sadness of the seasons
The madness of the moons'
~ Mervyn Peake ~
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Re: Australian Contemporary Opera Company to Perform New Production of BOOK OF LONGING

Post by B4real » Sun May 08, 2022 5:32 am

Ha! Andrew,
You know I know you know that if I lived in Melbourne it would be a done deal ;-)
It doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to B4real ~ me
Attitude is a self-fulfilling prophecy ~ me ...... The magic of art is the truth of its lies ~ me ...... Only left-handers are in their right mind!
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Re: Australian Contemporary Opera Company to Perform New Production of BOOK OF LONGING

Post by B4real » Fri May 13, 2022 11:45 pm

Book of Longing by Philip Glass and Leonard Cohen (second show)
https://www.wheelercentre.com/events/bo ... cond-show/
Second show added due to popular demand.
It doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to B4real ~ me
Attitude is a self-fulfilling prophecy ~ me ...... The magic of art is the truth of its lies ~ me ...... Only left-handers are in their right mind!
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Re: Australian Contemporary Opera Company to Perform New Production of BOOK OF LONGING

Post by Andrew (Darby) » Sat May 14, 2022 4:06 am

Last night, along with my son and friends, I attended this concert in an architecturally funky theatre space, ideally suited to the performance. The multi-level wrap around stage featured a small orchestra of six instruments and two keyboards, along with ten singers, including four soloists. As well as a conductor, there was a spoken word reciter of Leonard Cohen poems, the only one who was miked up.

In the background was a large screen that had the Book of Longing texts projected on it along with incrementally unfolding sketching around the text as an embellishment.

The music of Philip Glass was subdued and didn’t detract from Leonard’s poems. The opera soloists were experienced professionals who performed superbly.

The texts were performed either by Individual soloists or by a group of them. As well there was the performer reciting Leonard, who did an admirable job, but didn’t try to imitate Leonard’s accent. There was a lot of movement around the stage and some into the aisles. Throughout the whole performance there was also expressive or dramatic gestures by the performers.

Overall it was a wonderful experience well worth attending. This contemporary opera by minimalist composer Philip Glass took the work of Leonard to a very different level, providing a whole new perspective and musical experience of Leonard’s work. 8)

Cheers,
Andrew D. :)
'I cannot give the reasons
I only sing the tunes
The sadness of the seasons
The madness of the moons'
~ Mervyn Peake ~
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B4real
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Re: Australian Contemporary Opera Company to Perform New Production of BOOK OF LONGING

Post by B4real » Sat May 14, 2022 5:25 am

Hey Andrew,
Thanks for your thoughts on the night!
Seems like you had a good time 8)
It doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to B4real ~ me
Attitude is a self-fulfilling prophecy ~ me ...... The magic of art is the truth of its lies ~ me ...... Only left-handers are in their right mind!
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