Articles by

Gregory Stepanich

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    Danielle Buonaiuto as Dr. Helium White in “Intelligent Systems.” Photo by AR McFarlane. Richard Wagner never quite got the theatrical effects he was looking for in his gigantic operas, mostly because he died in 1883, before the advent of cinema. But Carson Kievman is a little luckier than that: the founder and director of the SoBe Institute of the Arts in Miami Beach has benefited from today’s digital technology to create the visual images he has had in minds for decades in his operas and musical theater pieces. For his current project, the opera Intelligent Systems, now playing in its world premiere run in the tiny black box space of SoBe Arts’ Little Stage Theater, Kievman is able to take his audiences into space and the future through digital projections that were impossible 35 years ago when he began writing the piece. “It’s not like taking an (existing) opera and making a multimedia production of it,” Kievman said. “It is a multimedia opera from beginning to end.” Intelligent Systems, begun in 1980 under a National Endowment for the Arts grant and commissioned for development by Germany’s Donaueschingen Festival in 1982, is a sci-fi-esque tale of civilization as seen on a planet much like ours in a parallel universe in which natural catastrophes ultimately lead to the development of a race of humans. They, of course, destroy their planet, but a new species of humanity arises from the chaos. “If they had been able to do it back then, they would have had to use slides, which would not have been acceptable, because a lot of the action takes place on the screen. The other thing they could have done is made a 35 mm film, but that would have been prohibitively expensive and it would not have been flexible,” he said.
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    Kara Shay Thomson in rehearsal for "The Consul" at Florida Grand Opera. Photo by Brittany Mazzurco. By most reckonings, the season has already ended, but for a few Miami organizations, this time of year is when things turn somewhat edgier. Two multiple-event programs begin this week, one of them tonight, and the other on Saturday. Florida Grand Opera: The chill of the Cold War is all over The Consul, Gian-Carlo Menotti’s 1950 opera of a dissident’s wife up against the secret police and an indifferent bureaucracy. Staged using the Seattle Opera’s 2014 production, which is dominated by an oppressive set in which floor-to-ceiling file cabinets seem to close in on the unfortunate diplomatic appellants in the consul’s office who are forced to wait for long stretches of time and fill out mountains of paperwork, The Consul is a powerful and moving meditation on dehumanization.
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    MIchael Gordon. Photo by Peter Serling Here’s something unusual for this weekend at the New World Symphony: Three world premieres. In an ambitious move, the orchestral academy’s director, Michael Tilson Thomas, is leading his charges in pieces by Miami Beach’s own Michael Gordon, New Voices commission...