After their debut production of Love and Duty in 2018, The Opera People, in collaboration with The Musician’s Initiative (formerly The Young Musicians’ Foundation Orchestra) returns to the Esplanade Annexe Studio to present Dwarf – Alexander Zemlinsky’s Der Zwerg in its Southeast Asian premiere.
Inspired by Oscar Wilde’s short story The Infanta’s Birthday, the original Der Zwerg revolves around a dwarf, who is presented as a gift to the princess of Spain on her birthday. He falls in love with her but she rejects his love on the grounds of his appearance, presenting him with a mirror so that he may gaze upon himself. Disgusted with his deformity, he is driven mad with self-loathing and unrequited love and takes his own life.
One of the key aims of The Opera People has been to re-examine the ways opera can be presented in interesting and refreshing ways to tell stories, adding their voice to the conversations on the pressing issues of today’s time through this opera. While Dwarf was known as a searing exploration of self-loathing and unrequited love, The Opera People’s version chooses to take it one step further, tackling the effects of social inequality as well, re-framing the context of the original opera in a way that brings to light socioeconomic inequality in our world and the isolation and ugliness that result from it.
With Dwarf then, the setting shifts to a fiercely modern one – an unnamed elite girls school where the wealthiest rule, and the students are putting on a production of Wilde’s The Infanta’s Birthday. As a social experiment, they invite an unsuspecting singer from the poorest of society to play the dwarf. However, as the lines between performance and reality become blurred, he begins to understand his place in a society that will never accept him, with shattering consequences.
Directed by multiple Life! Theatre Award winner Edith Podesta with music direction by Alvin Seville Arumugam, Dwarf features a stellar local cast of singers including David Charles Tay, Jonathan Charles Tay, Felicia Teo Kaixin, Cherie Tse, Ng Jingyun and Alvin Tan, accompanied by The Musicians’ Initiative. Get ready for yet another fascinating re-imagination of an opera classic, as The Opera People’s Dwarf premieres at the Esplanade Annexe Studio this July.
Dwarf plays on 12th and 14th July 2019 at the Esplanade Annexe Studio. Tickets available from Peatix