DOUBLE TROUBLE – Mozart and Bach at Play!
Endangered Productions presents Bastien & Bastienna with The Coffee Cantata
June 18-20 at Customs House
Music, love, laughter… and coffee: it’s a heady mixture! And it’s coming to Customs House in June!
Following its critically acclaimed debut with Nordic Noir in March, this passionate company of volunteers and theatre,
music and opera veterans is upping the ante with a spectacular double bill: Bach’s hilarious Coffee Cantata and Mozart’s uber-
romantic Bastien & Bastienna.
The cheeky double bill showcases the wit and wisdom of two great maestros with these rarely performed gems where –
significantly strong, young woman taking control of the men in their lives!
A talented chamber ensemble accompanies a cast of exceptional soloists with new translations and entertaining,
intimate staging assuring fun for audiences of all ages and musical tastes.
Directed by Christine Logan, with musical direction by Peter Alexander and design by Sandy Gray, Double Trouble features soprano Northern Sydney’s Lesley Braithwaite, Canberra tenor Damien Hall and bass baritone Ed Suttle from Goulburn. Pianist and vocal coach is Steve Walter.
A major feature of the performances is the unique opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the heritage Barnet Long Room in Custom’s House where the four performances take place. Endangered’s recent production of ‘Nordic Noir’ was critically acclaimed and loved by large and enthusiastic audiences.
And – just as satisfying – there are many stories from all the team (both professional and volunteers) that have reinforced how inspiring and successful this concept of age and ability inclusion can be!
The company has also performed a number of regional fundraisers, most recently to benefit the fire and flood devastated towns of Bobin and Taree.
Endangered Productions is a new company on the Sydney theatre scene. It provides opportunities for
professionals, enthusiastic ‘upskillers’, and keen community members in the inclusive, creative world of theatre.
Mentoring and tapping the skills of older citizens to educate others is a foundational aim.
Double Trouble: Mozart & Bach at Play
Bastien & Bastienna with The Coffee Cantata
Barnet Long Room, Customs House 31 Alfred St, Circular Quay
Friday 18 June 7pm | Sat 19 June 2pm & 7pm Sun 20 June 2pm
Tickets: $35, Seniors $30, Students/Pensioner/Unwaged $25
BACKGROUND TO THE TWO PIECES
Wolferl, the boy wonder
Bastien und Bastienna is a singspiel written in 1768 when Mozart was only twelve years old. It was commissioned by the Viennese physician,magnetist and hypnotherapist, Anton Mesmer and was first performed in his palatial home. Wolferl, the families pet name for Wolfgang, produced a charming tale of a couple helped through relationship problems by a magician-
cum-quack doctor – parodying Mesmer himself.
For the Endangered Production team, getting to know Bastien and Bastienna has been a delight, not least because it was written by perhaps the greatest musical genius to inhabit our planet. It’s a fascinating insight into this remarkable 12-year-old’s extraordinary mind.
It may not be lauded as his greatest work but the melodic, rhythmic and harmonic elements presage some of the more familiar passages from his later operas, the Marriage of Figaro, Così fan tutte and The Magic Flute among them. Indeed, the music is still better than much written by well-known adult composers of the time.
Our new English translation has been crafted to maximise the effect of Mozart’s gentle humour, a touching nod to human frailty and surprisingly wise observations of affairs of the heart. Extraordinary qualities for one so young.
Even though Bach never wrote an opera, his Coffee Cantata, a miniature gem, comes as close as you would like. In 1734 Bach wrote this secular cantata about the temptation and power of coffee – a growing fad in Leipzig. It was written for a musical ensemble called The Collegium Musicum who performed in Zimmerman’s coffee house in Leipzig where this work premiered.
An irate father admonishes his coffee-addicted daughter and tries to forbid her going to the local bar. Who will win?
We’ve contemporised the setting and created a new translation. The only tweaking of the original German lyrics was to add an occasional ‘espresso martini’. The coffee houses in Bach’s Leipzig were not suitable for young women – in fact women were often banned in the 17 th Century. Bach’s depiction of this rebellious daughter will be very familiar to 21 st Century
Within half an hour there are two arias each for a father and daughter, recitatives for both, framing recits for a tenor narrator, culminating in a joyous trio for all three.
Interestingly, Bach mixed quite conventional, happy, even cheeky arias (father’s, “What we have with all our children”, and daughter’s, “O happy day”) with unusual, slightly challenging arias. Daughter’s, “Ah how sweet this coffee tastes to me”, features a languorous, twisting vocal line with a solo flute part which suggests some sort of exotic ulterior motive going on in
All very beautiful, of course! Father’s, “Daughters deaf to sense and reason”, outlines his frustration with her recalcitrance, while a solo cello seems to suggest his own inner doubts with unusual, jagged and harmonically awkward intervals.
As always, Bach provides us with an intriguing mix of styles – a soprano, a tenor and a bass accompanied by string quartet,flute and harpsichord!