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October 04, 2007 - Image 85

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2007-10-04

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Arts & Entertainment

Staff photos by Angie Baan

Bernard Uzan and David DiChiera collaborated for eight years on the creation of Cyrano.

Tandem At The Opera

Composer David DiChiera teams up with director-librettist Bernard Uzan on Cyrano.

Bill Carroll

Special to the Jewish News

M

ore international recognition
is in store for Detroit with the
world premiere Oct. 13 at the
Detroit Opera House of a musical rarity: a
new opera. Most operas are at least more
than a century old and have been per-
formed many times, so it's refreshing for a
new one to be created in the 21st century
and have its international premiere in the
heart of downtown.
Cyrano, based on Edmond Rostand's
1897 play Cyrano de Bergerac, has been
turned into a full-scale romantic opera
by David DiChiera, founder and general
director of Detroit's Michigan Opera
Theatre, and Bernard Uzan, a Franco-
Tunisian Jew now based in the U.S., who
began his career as an actor and teacher
and has evolved into an internationally
known opera director.
For the past eight years, DiChiera and

Uzan have been practically joined at the
hip — either in person or by phone, fax
and e-mail — collaborating on Cyrano.
The production is DiChiera's debut as an
opera composer (his other works include
a concerto, two song cycles, a children's
opera and other chamber and choral
works) and Uzan's first libretto after
directing 225 operas worldwide. It's a
reunion of two longtime friends and col-
leagues who met in 1983 when DiChiera
asked Uzan to direct Faust for MOT.
More than 20 additional MOT directorial
assignments have followed.
After the premiere on Oct. 13, Cyrano,
sung in French with English surtitles, will
have four more performances through Oct.
28. Next year, the Philadelphia Opera and
Florida Grand Opera will stage Cyrano.
MOT has been hyping the upcoming
opera with a month's worth of special
events: a Cyrano film series, French wine
and food tastings, a sneak peak at the
costumes and exclusive previews with the

creative team. The World Premiere Festival
Weekend includes the annual black-tie
opera ball at 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 12, in the
Festival Tent next to the Detroit Opera
House; a 9:30 p.m. black-tie gala supper
in the tent following the 6 p.m. Saturday,
Oct. 13, opening-night performance; and a
brunch in the tent with Cyrano artists fol-
lowed by a question-and-answer session
noon Sunday, Oct. 14.
For 37 years, DiChiera, 72, has been
producing opera and other musical pro-
ductions. The founder of Michigan Opera
Theatre, he saw his dream of a Detroit
Opera House fulfilled in 1996, when he
headed up the creation of a world-class
opera venue in an extensively renovated
1922 movie palace.
A fund-raiser extraordinaire, he raised
almost $70 million to create the opera
house, including its renovation, a parking
structure and the new Ford Center for Arts
and Learning addition. MOT is one of the
few opera companies in the U.S. to own its

own opera house.
DiChiera and the MOT board raised
more than $1.5 million to fund Cyrano
alone, with Ford Motor Co. donating
another $1 million for MOT's fall opera
season that includes The Marriage of
Figaro in November.
Uzan, 62, fled anti-Semitism in Tunisia
and Paris and came to America in 1972,
performing many acting roles over the
years. He was the driving force behind
Cyrano.
"I always wanted to compose an opera
but never found the right subject or had
the time says DiChiera, who holds a
master's degree in composition and a
doctorate in musicology from UCLA.
"Bernard approached me with the idea of
setting Cyrano. He was very infused with
the work and really sparked my partici-
pation. I resisted at first, but he wore me
down. It was a given he would write the

Cyrano on page 52

October 4 2007

49

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