The 6,000 bulb Eiffel Tower in the lobby of the Kimmel Center

Now that PIFA 2011 has wrapped, I thought I’d go through some of the highlights (and low-lights) of what I saw at the festival.

The puppeteers revealed after Basil Twist’s Petrushka

The most exciting performances gave new conceptions of the Ballet Russes – Basil Twist’s “Petrushka” and Center City Opera’s “Danse Russe.” Both shows took art forms with a legacy – opera and even more ancient, puppetry – and injected them into modern world with a current-cy that made them perfectly suited for PIFA. It helped us understand what took place in Paris a hundred years ago while holding its own as modern entertainment.

There were two low-lights of my PIFA experience. The first was the University of the Arts’ “A Lyrical Opera for Two”. This was a case of false advertising, for the piece was musical theater, not opera, and for an opera artist and audience member like me, it is not fun to show up for an opera and have it not be one. The two art forms use completely different vocal techniques as well as aesthetics, as fans of each well know. They should have listed somewhere in the notes on the show that it was to be musical theater.

The other disappointment was of course the Philadelphia Orchestra’s announcement that it was declaring bankruptcy. No one wants to see an arts institution of the Orchestra’s caliber go under. One of my friends expressed his fear that it marked the end of world-class classical music in Philadelphia. Let’s not let that be so, and hope that while we as an audience support the organization, they also put their house in order and make history again.

Librettist Terry Teachout’s backstage shot of “Danse Russe”

PIFA included a lot of events and even I had a hard time whittling down all the choices. WHYY’s Jo Ann Allen said on her blog that she felt there was “too much” at PIFA.
This was the first year for the festival and it came in with quite a bang. I hope that in the upcoming years it will evolve further into a festival to put Philly on the cultural map of the world. 

Of course the spectacular grand finale over broad street was a spectacle for anyone and everyone to enjoy and was a more-than-fitting ending to the festival. For those of you that missed it, I’m truly sorry. It was as mind-expanding as it was purely entertaining.

Coming up from me now that PIFA is over? I’ll be preparing for my IVA show at the World Café Live at the Queen in Wilmington, Delaware as well as preparing for a special Swedish performance. Stay tuned…

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