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Tuesday, January 8, 2019

2019 Winter/Spring Preview

Pepperland, photo by Gareth Jones

The 2019 Winter/Spring Season at BAM is an intriguing, diverse line-up of performances. They share at least one thing in common—they were chosen by Joseph V. Melillo as his final BAM season. The executive producer of more than three decades stepped down from his BAM position at the end of December, but has curated programs through June of 2019. This swan song slate embodies many of the singular talents and genres that have captivated audiences throughout his tenure.

The season kicks off with Théâtre de la Ville’s Ionesco Suite (Jan 23—26), directed by Emmanuel Demarcy-Mota, which amps up the absurdity and hilarity of Ionesco’s text by dicing and splicing five of his plays and recounting them in the guise of a dinner party at the BAM Fisher. Physical theater has thrived at BAM in recent years. Recirquel of Hungary makes its US debut with Non Solus, choreographed by Bence Váagi (Feb 14—16), in which two male performers strive to join forces through powerful, daring nouveau cirque. French Compagnie 111 returns to BAM with Espæce (Jun 20—22). Director Aurélien Bory, known for creating stunning theatrical tableaus, explores the limits and vicissitudes of the Howard Gilman Opera House stage.

Director Ivo van Hove is now hotter than July, with several smash Broadway shows to his credit. But he’s been a regular at BAM over the years, directing eight productions, from epic to intimate. His production of the Janáček opera Diary of One Who Disappeared (Apr 4—6), co-produced by Toneelgroep and Muziektheater Transparant, takes shape in a 22-scene love song cycle for voice and piano. Triptych (Eyes of One on Another) (Jun 6—8), directed by Daniel Fish, features music by the National’s Bryce Dessner, sung by vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth. Photographer Robert Mapplethorpe’s iconic black and white photographs are projected on a huge scale; the libretto is by Korde Arrington Tuttle and considers the vastly differing experiences of viewing Mapplethorpe’s work alone or in a crowd.

If international music superstars are your jam, Senegalese legend Youssou NDOUR alights for a two-evening engagement (May 31 & Jun 1). Brazilian Caetano Veloso performs Ofertório (Apr 12 & 13) with his three sons Moreno, Zeca, and Tom, playing selections from their recent release as well as iconic classics from Caetano’s storied career. And in the canon of early music, the protean William Christie conducts Les Arts Florissants in Rameau, maître à danser (Mar 1—3), a double bill of Daphnis et Églé and La naissance d’Osiris. These two short opera-ballets were created for the private court of Fontainebleau and are rarely staged. This marks Christie’s 28th BAM program.

The dance offerings are bountiful and varied. Merce Cunningham is feted in Night of 100 Solos: A Centennial Event—“events,” or anthologies, of 100 solos performed by 25 dancers at each of three venues, shared live and via video for a single historic performance on Apr 16. The 42nd DanceAfrica, under the direction of Abdel R. Salaam, occupies its customary spot during Memorial Day weekend, celebrating the dance of Rwanda, plus the bazaar, film, art, and live music.

Diary of One Who Disappeared, photo by Jan Versweyveld
Brooklyn neighbor Mark Morris Dance Group performs the New York premiere of Pepperland, which celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Ethan Iverson’s score for Morris’ production is not a literal rendition of the album, but more of a jazz riff on its themes; the costumes evoke the eye-popping style of the 60s. in the shelter of the fold /epilogue, by Doug Varone, is set to an eclectic score composed and performed by Bang on a Can All-Stars Lesley Flanigan, Julia Wolfe, David Lang, Raz Mesinai, and Kevin Keller. The work showcases Varone’s lushly expressive, emotionally evocative movement by his company of 12.

Three companies cross borders to perform at BAM. Batsheva Dance Company of Israel presents Venezuela, a two-part work in which choreographer Ohad Naharin’s Gaga movement appears simultaneously effortless and impossible by his incomparable dancers. Ballet BC, of Vancouver, dances a triple bill with works by Artistic Director Emily Molnar, renowned Canadian choreographer Crystal Pite, and William Forsythe, known for his revolutionary ballets and works of dance-theater. The three artists spent time together at Ballett Frankfurt, which was directed by Forsythe. And from Brazil, Grupo Corpo brings Bach & Gira, two distinct works which demonstrate the breadth of the company’s sinuous, highly dynamic range in choreography by Rodrigo Pederneiras.

The season is a rich sampling of Melillo’s curatorial flair, be it dance, theater, physical theater, or music. Join us in celebrating his 35 years of taste-making! Visit for full festival information.

Susan Yung is senior editorial manager at BAM

© 2019 Brooklyn Academy of Music, Inc. All rights reserved.

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