RIDGEWOOD, N.J. — Composer Michelle Ekizian’s ‘Gorky’s Dream Garden’ described recently in ‘Broadway World’ as a “genre bending hybrid opera” inspired by the dramatic life and art of the great abstract-expressionist 20th century Armenian-American artist Arshile Gorky will be the focus of two special on-line events during the last two weeks of January. Viewers will gain an inside glimpse into Ekizian’s long evolving epic trilogy that is currently veering toward large-scale orchestral and staged reveals for LIVE and film streaming productions.
Like modern day troubadours, Ekizian with her probing musical psychodrama and Gorky with his surreal and abstract art arising out of the Armenian Genocide of 1915 — when 1.5 million Armenians throughout the Caucasus were killed by Turkey’s Ottoman Empire — have traversed terrains of distress and de-stress toward responding to a troubled world. Ironically, their emotionally charged works seeking transcendence are timelier than ever. Now in view of not only the Coronavirus Crisis, but of fall 2020’s conflict in Azerbaijan between its government and its Armenian communities amidst Ankara’s reoccurring flames of war, they appear to be a part of a bigger unending picture of history.
On Saturday, January 23 at 8 p.m., an hour-long conversation on the Lied Society’s weekly “Round Table Series” program which broadcasts on Facebook will be devoted to Ekizian and her ongoing “dream gardening.”
About song and opera and featuring leaders in the vocal musical arts, the “Round Table” broadcasts present perspectives on the singing voice, its performance practices and its contribution to society. The episodes are guided by Abe Hunter, the pianist/vocal accompanist and the organization’s founder, and Richard Ollarsaba, the Mexican-American bass-baritone. Joining in the conversation will be the international opera conductor Joseph Rescigno who is the author of Conducting Opera: Where Theater Meets Music published last season by University of North Texas Press. This is the Facebook link for logging on to the Lied Society’s ‘Round Table’ LIVE Streaming: https://www.facebook.com/liedsociety
From Wednesday, January 27 through Sunday, January 31, the Ridgewood Guild International Film Festival will screen Ekizian’s 90-minute “Love Songs Showscape from Gorky’s Dream Garden taped live in concert at The Newark Museum of Art.” This year’s festival — now Virtual — will celebrate RGIFF’s 10th anniversary says the organization’s executive founders, Dorothy Fucito, casting agent and CEO of Clancy Productions, and Tony Damiano, president of the Ridgewood Guild. It will present over 80 selected films and 20 hours of content ranging from dramas, comedies, music videos, and international flicks. The festival lineup includes only two feature length films: Ekizian’s “Love Songs Showscape from Gorky’s Dream Garden” and Dana H. Glazer’s romantic drama “A Case of Blue,” starring Stephen Schnetzer and Annapurna Sriram. The ‘Dream Garden’ screenings will enable audiences to enjoy The Newark Museum of Art’s 2019 up close and personal preview starring the venerable Brent Barrett (winner of the Los Angeles Music Critics Award and frequent leading man for international and Broadway productions of “Phantom of the Opera,” “Chicago” and “Kiss Me Kate”) as Gorky — and featuring the late legendary “Woodstock” folksinger Richie Havens (heard on the work’s So Be It video montage as Gorky’s Chekhovian “Black Monk”) with some of the tri-state area’s outstanding talent including: Palisades Virtuosi, Art of Motion Dance Theatre, actors Bolet and Sannutto, mezzo Hasmik Mekanedjian and soprano Karen Lubeck. Winners of the 2020 Awards will be announced at the conclusion of the Festival. The schedule will be posted on RGIFF’s site as it becomes available (https://ridgewoodguildfilmfest.com).
In tandem with the upcoming virtual events, Ekizian has prepared a 10-minute Quick Tour video exploring how the universal “dream garden” has been set as grounds for timely, thought provoking landscapes on themes of suicide, genocide and crisis.