Santa Barbara Symphony, State Street Ballet, Professional Singers and New York Actors Collaborate on “Kismet”
“Kismet” is the most ambitious project that the Santa Barbara Symphony and the State Street Ballet have ever tackled together.
That’s according to the artistic directors of both ensembles, who are clearly excited to present the musical, which features elaborate costumes, sets, professional singers and performers from around the world, including actors based in New York.
“In my quarter-century here as the founder (of the State Street Ballet), I’ve never seen so much at the same time,” Rodney Gustafson, creative director of the ballet, told News-Press. “We did great things with a hundred singers on the risers and us on stage and the Santa Barbara Symphony in the pit. We haven’t done anything of this magnitude, with such a variety of talent, with Broadway personalities. “
Equally enthusiastic is Nir Kabaretti, the musical and artistic director of the symphony.
“We just got back from New York, where we spent a week working with the cast in the show’s five main roles,” said Maestro Kabaretti, who works with singers as musical director of “Kismet”. “We have 21 professional singers, including nine from Santa Barbara County. “
A product of local philanthropy and enthusiasm from coast to coast to coast, “Kismet” will perform at 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on October 23 and 3 p.m. on October 24 at the Granada, 1214 State St.
“Kismet” is an award-winning musical by Tony in and around ancient Baghdad, where an opportunist / poet finds himself in trouble in a way befitting a musical. There is also the Caliph, who is determined to get married, and many twists and turns.
The musical is Charles Lederer and Luther Davis’ 1954 Tony-winning adaptation of Edward Knoblock’s 1911 play “Kismet”. Lyrics and music are by Robert Wright and George Forrest, who adapted the music by Russian classical composer Alexander Borodin (1833-1887).
The musical was adapted into a 1955 film, directed by Vincente Minnelli and starring Howard Keel as the poet and Ann Blyth as Marsinah.
The Santa Barbara production features New York actors Jonathan Raviv as Hajj and Sherz Atehata as Lalume.
Maestro Kabaretti and Mr. Gustafson are both delighted to present “Kismet” to an audience in person.
“It has been 18 months since we had a hearing (in person),” said Maestro Kabaretti. “We are all looking forward to performing in front of a live audience. For the dancers, for the musicians, it’s a pleasure to be back.
“This is an important moment, and I couldn’t be happier to do something at this level of collaboration,” said Maestro Kabaretti.
Mr. Gustafson said audiences can expect a larger production than a typical Broadway show.
“Usually with a Broadway show you would have an orchestra that is quite small and not known to be a symphony with its own conductor,” Mr. Gustafson said, noting Maestro Kabaretti’s extensive credentials and expertise.
The conductor praised the score for the musical.
“There aren’t many classical composers whose music is becoming a Broadway standard,” said Maestro Kabaretti. He was referring to the song from the musical, “Stranger in Paradise”, a song in which Mr. Wright and Mr. Forrest based the melody on Borodin’s “Gliding Dance of the Maidens” from the Polovtsian dances of the opera ” Prince Igor “.
Maestro Kabaretti said the audience would likely recognize “Stranger in Paradise”, which Frank Sinatra recorded.
“And the musical has a lot of classic moments. It is sometimes very symphonic, ”he said, adding that the varied score also includes moments of jazz.
Maestro Kabaretti noted that the singers in the production are very professional and show off their talent with a variety of styles.
“Some lines require more opera vocals, some lines require more Broadway vocals,” said Maestro Kabaretti, who works with the singers as musical director of “Kismet”.
Lonny Price, who conducts “Kismet”, also praised the music.
“Kismet has one of the most magnificent sheet music ever to be heard on a Broadway stage,” said Mr. Price, known for his Broadway productions of classics such as “Sweeney Todd” and “Sunset Boulevard,” said in a statement. communicated.
He added that diversity was important in this production.
“Our dream was to have a cast with as many performers from MENASA (Middle East, North Africa, South Africa) as we could find to add true authenticity to the show and honor the wonderful traditions and cultures that this comedy makes. musical reflects.
“I’m so happy to say, I think this might be the most authentic cast to play this show, ever!” Mr. Price said.
In another statement, William Soleau, co-artistic director of State Street Ballet and choreographer of the show, noted that Mr. Price “wanted a whole new, original, top-to-bottom take on this musical. We use full-fledged dance numbers to move the narrative forward, and it’s a dream to be able to bring this classic Tony Award-winning show to life again. “
Mr. Gustafson, who praised Mr. Soleau for his brilliant choreography, told News-Press that the show has “exceptional and better dancers than you would find in a Broadway show.
“And the costumes are amazing,” said Mr. Gustafson. “We have 14,000 square feet of space that we had to rent because the costumes are so exotic. There is no other way to describe them. They are very exotic.
He noted that the State Street Ballet had dancers from six countries in “Kismet”. “It’s definitely a diverse show.”
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