The Summer of My German Epic

Wagner, Mongols, capitalist art! A conversation with Lincoln Center Festival artistic director Nigel Redden

Programming amid the city's hurly-burly: Redden
photo: David Atlas
Programming amid the city's hurly-burly: Redden

Is there work with a special connection to New York this year? The theater work that's being done by young people in New York now seems to be wildly nonlinear, so Gemelos, by Chile's Compañia Teatro Cinema, and Monstruos Prodigios, by Mexico's Teatro de Ciertos Habitantes, may have special interest for them. I'm particularly eager to see Divinas Palabras, performed by Spain's Centro Drámatico Nacional. It's a sprawling, epic work by Ramón del Valle-Inclán, dealing with the grittiness of life with humor and a feeling of redemption at the end. But it is the life that the majority of people on the planet live. One thing about New York: Our audience is not as homogenous as it might be other places. When we did the Ramakien, an opera based on an episode from the Thai Ramayana, we had many Thais as well as Upper West Siders. We've done a fair amount of Brazilian music, with wonderful, electric Brazilian audiences. For guitarist Goran Bregovic and his 40-piece Wedding and Funeral Orchestra last year, we had this extraordinary Serb audience—who knew there were all these Serbs in town? People were just swept up in a communal feeling, which is what live theater is about. It's certainly the kind of experience you don't get when you just go to the movies.

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