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A Venetian masque: Spectacle at BAM combines opera and ballet - Brooklyn Paper

A Venetian masque: Spectacle at BAM combines opera and ballet

You spin me right round: In the opera-ballet hybrid “Les Fetes Venitiennes,” elaborate costumes convey the decadent atmosphere of Venice in the early 18th Century.
Vincent Pontet

It is an all-singing, all-dancing extravaganza!

A 306-year-old fusion of opera and ballet will finally make its United States debut at Brooklyn Academy of Music. The singers and dancers of “Les Fetes Venitiennes,” opening on April 14, will serve up a feast for the ears and the eyes, says the show’s producer.

“It’s visually stunning,” said Joseph Melillo. “The audience is going to dazzled.”

The revival of the 18th century French baroque piece by Andre Campra features five vignettes or “entrees,” each of them set in Venice during Carnival. The show, first performed in 1710, blends song and dance, and was composed to satisfy Parisian appetites for both art forms during a single session. Melillo says that the ornate three-hour show, presented by French ensemble Les Arts Florissants, will be accessible to both to devotees of ballet and opera and to newcomers.

“It’s very playful,” said Melillo. “There are all these colors and it’s always moving, it’s a lot of fun.”

Campra created it to be performed inside especially large rooms, such as the receiving halls inside the French court of Versaille. Melillo said that that “Les Fetes Venitiennes” will be the largest show that the Brooklyn Academy of Music has put on within its space.

The spectacle will only run for three nights, but costume makers and light technicians have spent a great deal of time coordinating the elaborate show with its full cast of include singers, dancers, and musicians.

“It’s a logistical challenge, so the production department has been working on this for months,” said Melillo.

He said he is excited to unleash “Les Fetes Venitiennes” on Brooklyn for the first time and watch the audience absorb the artistic triple threat.

“They’ll love it,” he said.

“Les Fetes Venitiennes” at BAM Howard Gilman Opera House [30 Lafayette Ave. at Ashland Place in Fort Greene, www.bam.org, (718) 636–4100)]. April 14 and 16 at 7:30 pm. April 17 at 2:30 pm. $35–$185.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill

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