Print

Direction in Philip Glass's "Orphee"

Written by Elizabeth Bloom on .

I had a great conversation today with Sam Helfrich, the stage director of the Pittsburgh Opera production of Philip Glass's "Orphee." Mr. Helfrich is no stranger to Pittsburgh. He directed a staged production of Handel's "Messiah" with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in 2011, as well as two operas ("Eugene Onegin" and "The Turn of the Screw") and an American scenes concert with Pittsburgh Opera.

"Orphee" uses as its source material the Jean Cocteau film of the same name, itself inspired by the Greek myth Orpheus. The libretto is hewn directly from the film's French script. Mr. Helfrich described the movie as "breathtakingly beautiful," and he has seen it roughly 20 times. Still, when crafting the direction for this production – first staged at Glimmerglass in 2007 – he said he didn't want it to be at all like the film.

"The language of film is so different from the language of opera or theater in general," he said.

Cocteau's version, he pointed out, is very much of its time. Released in 1950, it drips with post-war imagery. For example, dress suits worn by the film's judges wear hints at those worn at the Nuremberg trials, and a bombed-out city is reminiscent of Europe's urban ruins.

"We didn't want the opera to be a museum piece," he said.
The film, he said, also emphasizes Orphee's artistic neurosis and individual struggles. Mr. Helfrich believes the opera (and consequently, his interpretation) more strongly emphasizes the relationships between characters – in particular, the difficult marriage between Orphee and Eurydice.

Orphee, a poet, is pulled between his desires for creativity and immortality and the love, security and family life that Eurydice offers. Interestingly, Mr. Helfrich drew on other films – such as "Scenes from a Marriage" and "The Anniversary Party" – to explore marriage for the production.

Another device that is critical to the production (for the sake of both plot and metaphor) is the mirrors through which the characters travel in both the film and opera.
"We took the idea of reflection and doubling and incorporated that into every aspect of the design," he said.

Those are just a few of the concepts that inspire the direction. In any case, he hopes that audience members will come into the theater "with no expectations." Intrigued? Check out the Pittsburgh Opera production yourself, running April 26 to May 4 at the Benedum Center. Tickets and additional information at www.pittsburghopera.org. Check out the Post-Gazette next week for Robert Croan's opera preview.

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.
Print

This weekend in Pittsburgh style+society: Fashion trucks, hats and a salute to soldiers

Written by Sara Bauknecht on .

It may be a holiday weekend, but there's still plenty to talk about on this week's Setting the SEEN.

SEEN editor Natalie Bencivenga and I have the scoop on Pittsburgh's fashion trucks, charity events and other hot spots in the city. Plus we have hats on the brain with the Parks Conservancy hat luncheon and Kentucky Derby coming up.

For all the details, watch the video below. We'll be seeing you!

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.
Print

Serra freshman pitcher excels ..... Pitt recruit Rowan gets honor .... 'Canes at PNC

Written by Mike White on .

A young kid named Cole is making waves as a pitcher.

But this time, we're not talking about the Pirates' Gerrit Cole. The subject is Serra Catholic Cole McCombs, who is making quite the impact as a freshman.

Cole has a 3-1 record. While that's impressive for a ninth-grader, his other statistics jump out at you. McCombs has pitched 24 1/3 innings and his ERA is 0.00. He has allowed only one run, but it was unearned.

Cole has given up only five hits and has 43 strikeouts. Get used to the name. You'll probably be hearing it a lot in the next few years.

Rowan an All-American

Lincoln Park basketball player Ron Rowan is one of the top 10 sophomores in the country. At least that's what Maxpreps.com says.

Rowan has been selected a second-team sophomore All-American by Maxpreps. The first- and second-teams include only 10 players.

Rowan is a Pitt recruit, accepting a scholarship from the Panthers last summer. He averaged 26 points a game this season and has 1,482 career point already.

New Castle honored at PNC

The undefeated New Castle boys basketball team was honored on the field before last night's Pirates game at PNC Park. The Red Hurricanes are the first WPIAL boys team go through a season undefeated in 31 years.

Below is a crazy bird in the midst of Red Hurricanes.

New Castle and Parrot

Besides the team being honored, New Castle coach Ralph Blundo threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Well, actually he wasn't the only one who threw out a first pitch. Mike Tyson followed Blundo and threw out another first pitch.

Below, champ meets champ. It's coach Blundo in the dugout before the game with Iron Mike

Blundo and Mike Tyson

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.
Print

Little differences for Bennett between first and third line - 04-18-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Beau Bennett's performance in Game 1 against the Blue Jackets Wednesday was something of a rarity.

A goal and an assist (as well as a big hit on Blue Jackets defenseman Ryan Murray) aren't rare occurrences by themselves for a team which has had its fair share of offensive superstars over the years. That fact that a forward drafted by the current management team produced some offense at a big moment was what made it a scarce event.

Bennett's second NHL season hasn't gone the way he and management would have liked given the 51 games he missed due to a wrist injury. Returning to the lineup in the final stages of the regular season, Bennett, a first-round pick in 2010, was inserted into a first line role primarily on Sidney Crosby's line and had some modest success with four points in nine games down the stretch. 

Wednesday's game saw Bennett spark a comeback from a 3-1 deficit to the upstart Blue Jackets. His deflection goal salvaged a power play early in the second period to make it a 3-2 game. Later, in the third period, after having been moved to the third line, he set up Brandon Sutter for the eventual game-winning goal in what was a 4-3 victory.

Recently, Bennett talked about what he expects out of the second postseason of his NHL career, where he is physically and the difference between the first and third lines.

How do you approach this postseason in comparison to last postseason?

"I didn’t really know what to expect last year. I didn’t have much experience in playoffs at all. The BCHL (British Columbia Hockey League) back to my junior days is really it for me. Last year was a good test. It’s definitely a different compete level and intensity out there. Definitely I think I’m more ready for it this year."

Last season's lineup was tough to crack considering players such as Jarome Iginla and Brenden Morrow were inhabiting bottom-six forward roles at points in the postseason. Do you approach this postseason differently knowing a spot in the lineup might be more secure?

"I just want to make an impact where ever that might be. We’ve got a lot of capable guys here. Our depth at forward and defense is pretty solid. Whatever role I’m in, I’ll play it to the best of my abilities."

Do you want to offer more this postseason in terms of production?

"Yeah. I could have gotten zero points if we would have won it last year… it wouldn’t even matter. It’s about trying to score those big goals when you need them. Blocking those big shots when you need to. Sometimes, production isn’t the end-all, be-all. You just want to help your team win. Whatever that takes, you’ve got to do it."

Do you have a sense of greater expectations given where you were drafted?

"I think I put expectations on myself. The coaches definitely expect more out of me. With the increased ice time I’ve had as of late, it’s been great. I’ve just got to reward them back with good play, solid play. Going forward, that’s something I’ll build on. This being the most games in a row I’ve played, it’s definitely a work in progress but I’m enjoying the opportunity for the time being."

Where are you physically compared to a year ago?

Physically, I’m in a lot better shape than I was a year ago. Seeing how some of these guys train off the ice, I feel like I’m a lot more ready for the grind that is the playoffs, more so than last year. It kind of wore me down to the point that I was out of the lineup for most of the playoffs. I came back for those last two games against Boston and I felt great. But to be able to sustain is a different level. You see the top guys on our team are able to do it and I would like to be able to do it as well.

What's different about a first-line role compared to a third-line role?

"In the playoffs, not really too much. You’re trying to create opportunities for yourself. I think the only thing would be the increased ice time [on the first line]. You’re getting more opportunities out there. When it comes to playoffs, you’ll see guys like [Sidney Crosby] and everyone buckling down, bearing down, blocking shots. It’s really a joint effort to try to pull out wins rather than a first, second, third line. In the regular season, you usually see those top two lines producing. When everyone’s producing down the board, you go a lot further."

(Photo: Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press)

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.
Print

"Setting the Seen" Video Blog: Trucks and Taxis with a Twist!

Written by Natalie Bencivenga on .

What another fantastic week full of events and style trends! Enjoy this week's video blog with my co-host, Sara Bauknecht.

 

And don't forget to follow us on Twitter! @NBSeen and @SaraB_PG

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.