Teatro Real is seemingly the equivalent of the Brookyln Academy of Music .
My first “job” was a lengthy 6 week stint at the Brookyln Academy of Music on HAPPY END for the Chelsea Theatre Center. HE was the failed successor to THREEPENNY OPERA and arrived via Yale Rep in Brooklyn. Shirley Knight was the star with Bob Gunton, Joe Grifassi and Tony Azito. It clocked in at about 3 hours with a plot based on the Salvation Army fighting Gangsters in Chicago in the 1920’s.
There were grumblings in rehearsals and fights about the text, the star and the director. When the Knight left Joe Grifassi called a friend of his named Meryl Streep to take on the lead. My most memorable event was when I was sent to Philadelphia to pick up a prop or a costume piece. I got there on Amtrak but there was a derailment and I arrived back in Brooklyn late at night. Everybody had gone home .
Eventually HAPPY END crawled to the Martin Beck theatre for a brief run, but I turned down going with it. My own production of HAPPY END occurred Off-Broadway in 1990 having cut the text so the running time with the complete score was 90 minutes.
Reviewers criticized my cuts BUT I knew better. HAPPY END (Photo above) was always a misnomer. The Kurt Weill Foundation stipulated we tape the production. We did so and they have a copy archived in their Foundation Library in Manhattan.
Consigned to the dustbin of history, I remember a recording of this Purcell when I worked in the Classical Music Dept. at Sam Goody’s. Purcell died before completing it at 36. It was not a best seller and seemed archaic and unperformed at that time. Purcell also wrote the astounding music for the Funeral of Queen Mary, that I have never heard performed live. It is noble, moving and brilliant.
Unexpectedly, I saw the All Arts broadcast from the Teatro Real in English to their Spanish speaking public. I think we saw the English version, but I hope it was subtitled in Spanish in Madrid. Not everything worked including the machine guns carried by the soldiers, but the massacres of the Indians was quite effective even in an odd modern guise. Baroque music is diificult for most singers but they did a very good job. Projecting the English text was even more difficult, but in many ways it restored the Purcell to our modern repertoire and should be seen.
“A superb adaptation of Purcell’s the Indian Queen, staged and directed by Peter Sellars and performed in 2013 at the Teatro Real in Madrid. Peters Sellars combines John Dryden and Robert Howard’s libretto with a short-story written by the Nicaraguan writer Rosario Aguilar, La niña blanca y los pájaros sin pies” . https://www.medici.tv/en/operas/the-indian-queen-purcell-peter-sellars
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