“Book of Saints?” Would that be Drew, Archie and Rickey? In football-focused New Orleans, the question bears asking.
When “Book of Saints” premieres its three-performance run Friday (Oct. 6-8) at Marigny Opera House, you won’t see any second lines – just three saints and assorted seraphs executing NYC choreographer Teresa Fellion’s sleek, contemporary ballet moves.
For producer and librettist Dave Hurlbert, who wears any number of hats, this is the Marigny Opera Ballet’s most ambitious production to date and a high point in the Marigny Opera House’s seven-year commitment to bringing performing artists of all disciplines together.
To mount “Book of Saints,” Hurlbert has again commissioned an original score by Tucker Fuller, whose critically acclaimed work includes recent ballets “Giselle Deslondes” and “Orfeo. ” This time his work is a cantata, narrative music for voices with instrumental accompaniment that opens and closes with the Litany of Saints from the Latin Mass, a formal prayer of the Roman Catholic Church.
Using music and dance in religious spaces goes back to ancient Greece and Rome. Accordingly, Hurlbert’s libretto integrates two pieces by St. Teresa of Avila in her native Spanish: “Remember that you have only one soul” and “Let nothing disturb you.” St. Sebastian’s lyrics are drawn from contemporary accounts of persecution under the Roman Emperor Diocletian (303 AD). For St. Francis of Assisi, Act One music is based on a thirteenth century Italian madrigal (“Diana was not more pleasing to her lover”) ; Act Two features “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,” the well-known prayer attributed to him.
Melding music and voice are the purview of Francis Scully, conductor of New Resonance Chamber Orchestra and Paul Weber, director of the vocal ensemble Krewe de Voix.
“Book of Saints” features costumes by Laura Sirkin-Brown and set design/construction by Simonette Berry and Dave Whatley, Scenic Art and Casting Studio.
Since the former…