New York Choral Society to Perform The Unicorn, With Music by Leonard Bernstein and Gian Carlo Menotti | Playbill

Classic Arts News New York Choral Society to Perform The Unicorn, With Music by Leonard Bernstein and Gian Carlo Menotti

The production will include Bernstein’s incidental music for Lillian Hellman’s adaptation of The Lark, and Menotti’s The Unicorn, The Gorgon, and The Manticore.

Leonard Bernstein

The New York Choral Society will perform The Unicorn, a theatrical production incorporating music, dance, and narrative, May 30 at the NYU Skirball Center.

The performance will include Leonard Bernstein’s Choruses from “The Lark, a suite of incidental music composed for the 1955 Broadway production of Jean Anouilh’s play about Joan of Arc, adapted by Lillian Hellman. Sam Turlington will narrate the role of Joan of Arc, with countertenor Chuanyuan Liu as soloist.

The performance will also include Gian Carlo Menotti’s The Unicorn, The Gorgon, and The Manticore, a “madrigal fable” that follows the life of a poet through three stages of life as represented by the titular mythical creatures.

Both works draw inspiration from medieval madrigals. NY Choral Society Music Director David Hayes observes: “Bernstein and Menotti each infuse their own contemporary flair into the madrigal format. Bernstein skillfully melds period musical conventions with his distinctive style, resulting in a delightful fusion of tradition and innovation. Meanwhile, Menotti maintains the medieval essence of the music while infusing it with his characteristic 20th-century harmonic style.”

The Unicorn draws inspiration from the Lavender Scare, a McCarthy-era panic about LGBTQIA+ individuals in government. NY Choral Society Executive Director Pat Owens stated: "Reflecting on the parallel 'moods' of cultural panic in the 1950s and our current era, The Unicorn stands as a testament to the enduring struggles faced by marginalized communities. Through The Unicorn, we aim to shed light on these issues, fostering empathy and understanding through art."

For the performance, the New York Choral Society is collaborating with the Black female-led dance company EMERGE125, as well as soloists from the Experiential Orchestra.

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