Cast & Production
BROOKLYN YOUTH CHORUS and the ATTACCA STRING QUARTET led by Dianne Berkun-Menaker.
Co-created by Julian Crouch, Rinde Eckert, Paola Prestini and Mark Stewart
Written for Gus Rigoli Composed by PAOLA PRESTINI
in collaboration with stage director & co-designer JULIAN CROUCH
Co-Scenic Designer and Costume Design AMY RUBIN
Libretto by & featuring RINDE ECKERT
Instrument designer MARK STEWART
Projection and Lighting Design by JOSH HIGGASON
Sound Design MARC URSELLI
Featuring the ATTACCA QUARTET & THE BROOKLYN YOUTH CHORUS with Dianne Berkun-Menaker, conductor
Produced by Beth Morrison Projects and National Sawdust Projects (formerly VisionIntoArt)
AGING MAGICIAN is an epic new opera-theater work that tells the story of Harold, an aging clock maker who is writing a book about an aging magician who, in turn, is searching for a young boy to pass his knowledge on to. Harold takes a physical journey which follows the F train to Coney Island but simultaneously through his memories. The Brooklyn Youth Chorus helps Harold uncover his legacy. Creators Julian Crouch (Shockheaded Peter, New Vic 1999), Rinde Eckert, Paola Prestini, Mark Stewart and the Attacca Quartet bring together the worlds of music, theater, puppetry, instrument making and scenic design to paint this poignant allegory on time, youth and the peculiar magic of ordinary life, or perhaps, the ordinary magic of a peculiar life.
Combining the talents of composer Prestini’s sonic world, Crouch’s puppetry skills, with Eckert’s writing and multi-faceted performing, a children’s youth chorus is woven into set and story. By using traditional greek techniques of consoling, chiding and commenting on the protagonist’s journey, the chorus heightens the overall experience; they additionally add to the interdisciplinary fabric by interacting with the various set pieces, film, and puppetry. The quartet also comments musically, and is made of expert virtuosos and improvisers.
Stewart and Crouch’s set is an immersive installation that can be played like an instrument—blown, struck, whistled, plucked, and bowed. The scenery’s surfaces become the canvas for Josh Higgason’s projection design. He paints the space through film, illuminating scenes from Harold’s imagination. Amy C. Rubin co-designs with Crouch.
Aging Magician is Co-produced and Commissioned by Beth Morrison Projects and VisionIntoArt with development support from National Endowment for the Arts, and Repertoire Development Grant support from Opera America, with additional funding by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Theater Project, with lead funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Aging Magician was in residence at Park Avenue Armory as part of its new partnership with The Watermill Center’s Artist Residency Program and at MASS MoCA.
Prestini’s music is haunting, playful, strange and joyful, and it was beautifully rendered by the affable and funny Eckert, the Attacca Quartet and the 29-member all-girls choir. Visually and aurally stunning...
“Timeless magic…Shockingly beautiful.”
"In the poignant, entrancing “Aging Magician...the rich artistic elements of come together powerfully. The music is crucial, by turns pensive and fidgety, solemnly harmonic and skittishly diffuse...the choral writing is ethereal, unfolding in long-spun lines and chantlike phrases."