The Pulitzer prize-winning show explores the imagined stories of the characters depicted in the famous painting, including a love affair between the artist and his muse – the woman in the foreground carrying the parasol.
Sunday in the Park with George is a fictionalised account of Georges Seurat’s life; in reality the artist’s mistress was a woman named Madeleine Knobloch.
“The piece is not a biography of Georges Seurat – so little is known of this artist’s life that the details would scarcely provide fodder for a full length musical – but is an examination of what makes artists ‘tick’, how and why they must create,” says Director Stuart Maunder
“Although the relationship of George and his muse Dot is at the heart of the piece, it’s not a conventional love story. Rather what we have is a love affair with art; with the act of creating art.”
“We experience the bliss of the creator, the intense concentration, the sheer hard work, the craft, the passion, the desire to make things that count, things that will be new.“
The musical score also reflects the challenges of the artistic process for the post-impressionist artist who has been credited for creating the technique of pointillism.
“Sondheim has gone to great lengths to encapsulate the essence of Seurat’s paintings,” reflects Conductor Phoebe Briggs.
“In a number of passages during scenes that George is painting, the music is fast and busy, likely intended to reflect the process of rapidly painting in dots.”
“This attention to detail is an example of how Sondheim writes – there is no padding in the music; every note and word is carefully chosen for maximum effect.”
Sunday in the Park with George brings the Paris of 1884 to the stage with a cast of some of the finest performers in Australian musical theatre and opera.
Returning to Australia following tenure with the Metropolitan Opera in New York, Alexander Lewis leads the cast as George, playing opposite Christina O’Neill as his lover Dot. They are joined by musical theatre personalities including Nancye Hayes and David Rogers-Smith, and opera regulars such as Antoinette Halloran and Dimity Shepherd.
“It’s exciting for an opera company to perform a piece of musical theatre, as it combines a balance of voices and experience from both genres,” commented Briggs.
“Musicals have long been performed by opera companies internationally – they provide a great way to engage with new audiences, and also give us the chance to explore a wider range of repertoire.”
Sunday in the Park with George
Playhouse – Arts Centre Melbourne
Season: 20 – 27 July 2013
Bookings: 1300 182 183 or online at: www.artscentremelbourne.com.au
For more information, visit: www.victorianopera.com.au for details.
Image: Georges Seurat, French, 1859-1891, A Sunday on La Grande Jatte – 1884, 1884–86, Oil on canvas, 81 3/4 x 121 1/4 in. (207.5 x 308.1 cm), Helen Birch Bartlett Memorial Collection, 1926.224, The Art Institute of Chicago. Photography © The Art Institute of Chicago.