The show seen Friday night at
The ensemble's artistic director
"Drunken Moon" is underway as the audience enters. Characters are mingling and drinking in a cabaret while a piano plays appropriate music. Noe speaks briefly to the audience, welcoming it to his club and calling attention to one woman who's been coming for years. She is the protagonist who carries us through both pieces.
MacMillan's score is brilliantly conceived for its role. It uses motifs from Schoenberg's piece but in different and more immediately accessible musical contexts.
"Drunken Moon" is also very effective as dramatic preparation for "Pierrot Lunaire" because it develops sympathy for the woman. Other characters approach flirtation with a lighter attitude. She twice pulls Noe away from conducting the ensemble to have someone to dance with, while she watches the man she's interested in dancing with others.
MacMillan's piece ends with a tango that never reaches its final beat, but Schoenberg's language is so different there is no confusion about where it starts. The new music ensemble's presentation of "Pierrot" is unusual in three ways -- it is staged, Schoenberg's voice part, originally for soprano, is divided between soprano and baritone, and the poems are delivered in English rather than the Schoenberg's German.
One important new element in the 2014 production is a gender identity switch in the final third of the piece. She takes the man's hat, then his coat, and leaves with a blond he'd danced with. He becomes withdrawn and puts on her shawl.
The instrumental performance was superb as well, starting with guest pianist
Noe and the new music ensemble made an audio recording of the 2006 version. What's needed now, since there's only one repeat performance on
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