Berkeley's Aurora stages a special Stravinsky ‘Tale’

Many dimensions: From left

Aurora Theatre Company has assembled an exceptional group of local talent — writers, directors, dancers and musicians — to present Igor Stravinsky’s unique “The Soldier’s Tale,” opening in previews today.

In 1918, the young Stravinsky was a leading composer for ballet companies, including the famed Ballets Russes, when he wrote “Tale,” an unusual mix of music, narration, acting, puppetry and dance.

Former San Francisco Ballet principal dancer Muriel Maffre, co-director of the project, says she became interested in the work due to its rhythmically intricate music, high story quality and human themes.

“Losing and gaining control over one’s life are ongoing concerns of ours.” says Maffre. “At one point or another, we all become the subjects of evil powers, whether they are coming from the outside or are internal. Credulity and human flaw are also found at the heart of the story.”

Based on a Russian folk tale and featuring a book by Charles Ferdinand Ramuz, “The Soldier’s Tale” is a parable about a soldier who trades his fiddle to the Devil for a book that predicts the future.

The cast consists of the Devil, a Narrator (who also takes on the roles of minor characters) and the Soldier, which in this production is a puppet manipulated by Maffre, who also dances the role of the Princess.

“These qualities are poignantly rendered by the beautiful life-size puppet.” Maffre adds. “There are many layers to this musical play because of its multidisciplinary makeup, the treatment of our staging and the themes it deals with. This is a production that should appeal to diverse audiences.”

Maffre’s co-director in the enterprise is Aurora Theatre Artistic Director Tom Ross, who credits Maffre for initiating the project.

“Muriel, who directed ‘Tale’ at the Orcas Island Chamber Music festival, is passionate about it,” Ross says. “I was intrigued by the idea of this fusion of music, dancing and acting. And the idea of doing the piece in the intimate space of the Aurora just sounded wonderful to me.”

Berkeley West Edge Opera’s Jonathan Khuner arranged the music, which is played by members of the San Francisco chamber group Earplay under the direction of Mary Chun. L. Peter Callender appears as the Narrator, Joan Mankin as the Devil.

The designer is Benjamin Pierce, formerly of San Francisco Ballet, where he danced and later designed productions such as Julia Adam’s “Night.” The English translation of the libretto is by Pocket Opera’s Donald Pippin.

IF YOU GO

The Soldier’s Tale

Presented by Aurora Theatre Company

Where: 2081 Addison St., Berkeley
When: Previews 8 p.m. today, Saturday and Wednesday; 2 p.m. Sunday and 7 p.m. Tuesday. Opens 8 p.m. Nov. 17; runs 7 p.m. Tuesdays, 8 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays, 2 and 7 p.m. Sundays; closes Dec. 18
Tickets: $30 to $48; $55 opening night
Contact: (510) 843-4822, www.auroratheatre.org

artsentertainmentSan FranciscoTom Ross

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

BART Ambassadors are being called on to assist riders in social situations that don’t require police force. <ins>(Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)</ins>
Unarmed BART ambassadors program formalized with a focus on community service

Public safety and police reform are key elements in campaigns of Board members Dufty and Simon

San Francisco DJ and producer Jah Yzer livestreams most mornings from his home. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Roots & Tings build community through music

Lateef the Truthspeaker, Jah Yzer and Winstrong call for voting as a form of healing

On Oct. 13, people lined up to vote early for the presidential election in Southlake, Texas. <ins>(Shutterstock)</ins>
<ins></ins>
Five things to watch for in the run-up to Nov. 3

Down-ballot races, as much as the presidency, will determine the future course of this nation

WeChat (Shutterstock)
U.S. District Court denies Trump request to shutdown WeChat app

A federal judge in San Francisco denied a request by the U.S.… Continue reading

School board members Gabriela Lopez (left) and Alison Collins (right) say they have been the subject of frequent hateful, racist and sexist attacks during their time on the school board. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F Examiner)
Angered by Lowell decision, SFUSD grad targets school board members with violent imagery

Facebook page depicts two women of color on board with swastikas and x-marks on their faces

Most Read