Hitchcock-style Chamber Opera, Nigredo Hotel, offers a daring and imaginative journey into the subconscious, performed to a dramatic jazz score

City Opera Vancouver presents the astonishing and macabre operatic thriller, Nigredo Hotelon September 20 – 22, 2018 at 8pm at The Cultch Historic Theatre. This one-act chamber opera directed by Alan Corbishley, with music by Nic Gotham and libretto by distinguished Canadian author and playwright Ann-Marie MacDonald, tells the tale of an encounter between a beautiful but crazed hotelier and a brain surgeon who seeks refuge after a traumatic car accident. Internationally renowned opera stars Tyler Duncan and Sarah Vardy will perform a brilliant Jungian-inspired combat between two of the most unusual characters in 20th century opera, backed by a four-player jazz combo.

“Part psychological thriller and mystery, both sarcastic and sweet, witty and strange, Nigredo Hotel is nothing like City Opera Vancouver has ever presented before. This deeply moving, emotionally and intellectually charged work is full of suspense, broad comedy, and great surprise,” says Charles Barber, Artistic Director, City Opera Vancouver. Vancouver audiences will be mesmerized by MacDonald’s highly evocative libretto and Gotham’s brilliant score that beautifully conveys the complex relationship between two strangers as they embark on a dark spiritual journey. This celebrated opera is an intellectual tour de force and one of the most remarkable works in the Canadian opera canon.”

Commissioned by Tapestry Opera, Gotham’s Dora Award-winning Nigredo Hotel originally featured only the single character of Raymond (Duncan). After approaching MacDonald in 1988 to write the libretto — the first and only opera libretto she has created to date — Gotham was convinced to introduce the powerful female proprietress, Sophie (Vardy). The story follows Raymond who escapes to a decrepit hotel after his car crash. He fears he may have harmed a child. Stressed and confused, Raymond is further disoriented by Sophie’s strange and combative nature and the fact that she seems to know a great deal about him.

Raymond’s descent into crisis is depicted through MacDonald’s brilliant libretto full of riddles and half-remembered stories. She draws on Carl Jung’s “nigredo,” a theory that souls are led to suffer through a dark night to reach enlightenment, and revelations of the dream state. The two characters hold a complicated psychological relationship and share three remarkable stories: his, hers, and  — ultimately — theirs. Gotham’s haunting score bridges the continent between jazz and classical music, combining traditional operatic components of overture, recitatives, and arias with improvisational jazz rhythms and harmonies. Gotham’s score calls for an extraordinary twenty-one percussion instruments. The unsettling nature of Raymond’s madness is punctuated with an extensive use of bass instruments and percussion, which evoke the brooding quality of film noir. Although categorized as an opera, Nigredo Hotel is often described as a dramatic jazz piece that will appeal to lovers of both genres alike. This balance crescendos to lyrical heights in Raymond and Sophie’s beautiful duet For Love is strong as Death.

The show runs Sept 20–22 and tickets can be found at TheCultch.com

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