What a busy spring at Symphony Space since returning in April from the Selected Shorts Cruise to the Middle East. Last Wednesday night, with a program of stories on food and travel, we completed the 23rd season of that short story series. Twenty three years!
In mid-May, after a year of hard work, negotiations with opera companies large and small and with divas’ egos, large and small, we triumphantly presented WALL TO WALL OPERA – hundreds of performers and musicians, fifteen different collaborating companies, and a 13-hour feast of vocal music that began at 11 in the morning with the 1607 ORFEO of Claudio Monteverdi, and ended after midnight with generous servings of new 2007 operatic works in many genres and styles. It was gratifying to read the New York Times review a couple of days later that said that ambitious Symphony Space “outdid itself!”
Right now we’re counting down the days to yet another 12-hour marathon event, this time literary in nature, our 26th annual James Joyce extravaganza, BLOOMSDAY ON BROADWAY XXVI. This will take place on Saturday, June 16th, from noon to midnight. You can hear it all on our website blog.symphonyspace.org in real time, from the opening five hours which give you a guided tour of 15 of the 16 episodes of ULYSSES, a perfect introduction to doubters or new fans of the book, with just a little guidance as to the form, style, and narrative of he differing parts of the book, to a selection of letters to and from James Joyce, read by a lineup of Broadway stars, to a sensational one-hour performance by Adam Harvey of selections from FINNEGANS WAKE, fully staged, to the premiere of Paul Muldoon and Daron Hagen’s new opera THE ANTIENT CONCERT, based on the legendary night when Joyce competed in a tenor competition with the legendary John McCormack, to the final three hour reading by the incomparable Fionnula Flanagan of Molly Bloom’s complete, uncut, uncensored reading of Molly Bloom’s night-time thoughts, with which the novel ends. It’s great to listen on the web (which, by the way, frees us from our usual radio worries about the FCC and censorship), but it’s even better to be at Symphony Space in person to enjoy the readings by almost a hundred fine actors. See you there, I hope!
Now it used to be that after I complete my own final Bloomsday reading, the part where Mr Bloom. after a long day, finally falls asleep next to Molly in their bed, I would breathe a great sigh of relief as I went to take my seat and listen to Fionnula’s Molly. Why relief? Because it meant that another Symphony Space literary season was over, and I could now relax.
But not his year. And that’s because the very next day we begin rehearsals for our next big step up for the SMMER STOCK ON BROADWAY AND 95TH STREET project which we launcehd last summer with MANHATTAN MADCAPS OF 1924.
This year, we’re converting Symphony Space into an Equity-approved 499-seat theatre, and presenting the premiere of a very important new American play, David Epstein’s powerful drama SURFACE TO AIR, about an American family gathering to receive the remains of their son shot down in combat in Vietnam thirty years ago, and facing up to their demons and how it is possible to live now.
SURFACE TO AIR is being directed by Tony-winner and SELECTED SHORTS regular James Naughton, and its cast is headed by Lois Smith and Larry Bryggman. I hope you’ll all come out buy tickets and support our effort to make Symphony Space a place where important new drama is born. Previews begin July 11 and the show will run through the first weekend in August.