The ancient Greek myth of Iphigenia is being given a fresh operatic reimagining by ICAP co-president and jazz saxophone titan Wayne Shorter, in collaboration with Grammy-winning bassist/vocalist Esperanza Spalding.
The opera sprang from an idea Mr. Shorter had after reading Goethe’s interpretation of classical Greek playwright Euripides’s final play, Iphigenia in Aulis (written circa 408-06 B.C.E.). Those familiar with the story may remember that Iphigenia, daughter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra, was about to be sacrificed as an appeasement to a vengeful goddess, when she is spared at the last minute by the intervention of another goddess.
The name Iphigenia translates as “strong-born,” and this particular treatment of the story is guided by a strong feminist sensibility, which drew Ms. Spalding to the project.
Every aspect of the production departs from convention. Perhaps the biggest departure comes in the form of the crowdfunding opportunity through Indiegogo. Music and arts lovers from around the globe are invited to make contributions toward the birth of this innovative theatrical creation helmed by Obie Award-winning director Lileana Blain-Cruz. Among the highly anticipated features of this new production is the spectacular set design by international master architect Frank Gehry.
Another unusual aspect is that Mr. Shorter’s jazz-influenced score provides ample room for improvisation to be carried out each performance by pianist Danilo Pérez, bassist John Patitucci, and drummer Brian Blade of the Wayne Shorter Quartet.
On the Indiegogo page, Real Magic, the independent company Ms. Spalding and creative producer Jeff Tang founded to produce the opera, explains: “. . . our goal has been to develop Iphigenia in an environment of radical experimentation and open collaboration, free from commercial expectations. Over the past two years [with producers Cath Brittan and Mara Isaacs] we’ve done just that, working and rehearsing out of college classrooms, guest houses, black box theaters, and even Frank Gehry’s kitchen. And now, we’re ready to bring it to the world.”
To hear more about the opera project from Esperanza Spalding and find out how to participate, click here.
Also: @Iphigeniaopera on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter
Photos courtesy of Real Magic