"My ear felt fresh to the touch, rough, cool, juicy like a leaf."
Opening last night, closing tonight, Against the Grain's run of Kafka, Kurtág and Janáček is short and sweet. AGT likes to use a new and unexpected setting for each production, and this one is no less magical than last year's setting for The Turn of the Screw (one of the best experiences I had all season).
This current production takes place in a magically transformed yoga studio (thanks to designer Michael Gianfrancesco) near the Distillery District. Led by director Joel Ivany and Christopher Mokrzewski, the first half consists of Kafka-Fragments, opus 24, Kurtág's setting of Kafka's fragmentary words, in a virtuoso performance by Jacqueline Woodley, soprano and Kerry DuWors on violin. During intermission, the seating gets moved around, and the second half consists of The Diary of One Who Disappeared, superbly and sexily performed by Colin Ainsworth, tenor, and Lauren Segal, mezzo-soprano, with three supporting singers.
You may recognize that this is a superb line of of established talent. If you don't, don't worry. This is an unexpected evening, one which challenged me (the Kurtág, which I'd never heard of) and ravished me (the Janáček). You don't have to know anything or dress any particular way. The production company itself is young, friendly, energetic and immensely talented. If you have no plans tonight, I really recommend you do something for yourself and get yourself there. (It's not far from Mangia e Bevi or the Distillery if you're looking to eat out as well).
"There are countless hiding places, but only one salvation; but then
again, there are as many paths to salvation as there are hiding places."
(Note, as for the libretto of The Diary of One Who Disappeared, according to Wikipedia, "the author of the text was anonymous and remained unknown till the end of 20th century. The true identity of the author of the Diary was revealed by Dr. Jan Mikeska in 1998, some eighty years after the verses were published. The originator of the poems was Wallachian writer Ozef Kalda.)