‘The Witches of Venice’ coming to Saratoga

Choreographer Karole ArmitageNew choreography by Karole Armitage, director of the New York-based Armitage Gone! Dance Company, will be presented at Opera Saratoga’s 2016 Summer Festival on July 1-17 for the American premiere of The Witches of Venice.


The second production of the festival season, The Witches of Venice combines the musical compositions of legendary Philip Glass with Armitage’s movement style to create a new take on an opera-ballet that was originally written for Teatro alla Scala in Milan in 1995.


Created in collaboration with illustrator and stage designer Beni Montresor, who adapted the libretto from his children’s book of the same name, the whimsical opera focuses on a boy grown from a plant in the King’s garden, who is looking for a little girl like him. He soon finds himself escaping captors, wandering dark hallways, fleeing monsters and ultimately finding a friend. Described as a “heartfelt story with underlying themes of self-acceptance and finding one’s place in the world”, The Witches of Venice is family-friendly and promises to feature inventive songs and exhilarating dances.


In February, Opera Saratoga’s Artistic and General Director Lawrence Edelson stated in his festival announcement that he was “thrilled” to present this premiere, as it builds on both the organization’s commitment to present “contemporary American work as well as operas in which dance plays a significant role.” He describes The Witches of Venice as “a brilliant, but little known opera-ballet.”


The massive production will include dancers from Armitage’s company again, which were first featured last summer for her choreographic debut with Opera Saratoga in Dido and Aeneas. Viswa Subbaraman, artistic director of Skylight Music Theater and former artistic director of Opera Vista in Houston, will conduct. Principal roles will be sung by members of Opera Saratoga’s Young Artist Program, the second oldest mentorship program for emerging professional singers in the country, directed by Laurie Rogers. Twenty-four singers were selected to participate in the program from over 1,000 applicants.


In addition, The Witches of Venice provides important opportunities for collaborations with other organizations in the region. Opera Saratoga is collaborating with The Capital District Youth Chorale, upstate New York’s premiere children’s chorus, as well The School of the Arts at The National Museum of Dance under the direction of Raul Martinez, to provide opportunities for local children to perform alongside professional artists in the opera, which includes a children’s chorus and extensive use of both child and adult dancers.


The Witches of Venice will be presented at Spa Little Theatre in Spa State Park in Saratoga Springs, New York. Visit www.operasaratoga.org for further information.


Photo: Choreographer Karole Armitage. Photo courtesy of Opera Saratoga.