WordStage Reborn with Schubert's Die Winterreise | Theater | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Seven Days needs your financial support!

WordStage Reborn with Schubert's Die Winterreise 

State of the Arts

Tim Tavcar - JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR

A performance requires an audience; otherwise it's just a rehearsal. A recurring nightmare for performers and producers is, therefore: What if we put on a show and nobody comes? Montpelier's Tim Tavcar faced this grim scenario when his ambitious WordStage project premiered last fall. Empty seats quickly discouraged the venture. But now, some central Vermont colleagues are helping to resurrect a scaled-down season.

WordStage is a theatrical hybrid that marries chamber music with readings from literary and historical sources. Tavcar received positive media coverage prior to the debut of his first production, The Hollow Crown, a witty look at the English monarchy, and an elegant website detailed the first season's five WordStage programs.

Although attendance was "decent in Montpelier," Tavcar says, it was "crappy everywhere else." In Colchester, nine people showed up at the St. Michael's College McCarthy Recital Hall, which seats 330. In Brattleboro, nobody came.

So what happened? "I might have been a little bit overly ambitious trying to do five performances in five different venues across the state," Tavcar admits, "particularly when I didn't have the kind of cooperation and control that I'm used to in central Vermont." In other words, marketing.

Bridging theater and music, WordStage should draw on audiences for both. But, "Because it was a new thing and kind of an odd thing, there wasn't enough of a hook to attract the audiences I needed," Tavcar reflects, adding that, without grant support, he was footing the production bills himself.

Canceling The Hollow Crown meant releasing reserved dates at performance venues. But Montpelier's Unitarian Church refused to do so. "The wise people there said, 'Now, you know you're going to find some use for these dates, so we're not giving them away yet,'" Tavcar recalls.

Under that friendly pressure, Tavcar, who also heads the Monteverdi Music School, overheard two faculty members rehearsing Franz Schubert's 1827 song cycle Die Winterreise one afternoon. The proverbial light bulb clicked on: Fleshed out with brief readings from the composer's diaries and letters, Schubert's hauntingly beautiful setting of Wilhelm Müller's poetry was the perfect vehicle for relaunching WordStage. Pianist Eliza Thomas and voice instructor Simon Chaussé, baritone, had been workshopping individual songs intensively. To get the challenging work ready by February, they agreed "to really woodshed on it," Tavcar notes.

WordStage is also presenting Die Winterreise at Burlington's St. Paul's Cathedral. And, encouraged by colleagues, Tavcar is reviving two programs from the original season: an evening on George Sand and Frédéric Chopin, featuring MMS musicians; and one on opera composer Gioacchino Rossini, co-sponsored by the Vermont Opera Theater. Larger-cast events focusing on Kurt Weill and Dorothy Parker, however, are still on the shelf. m

WordStage presents Die Winterreise at the Unitarian Church in Montpelier, February 2 at 8 p.m.; and at St. Paul's Cathedral in Burlington, February 3 at 4 p.m. Both $15. Info, www.wordstagevt.com.

Got something to say? Send a letter to the editor and we'll publish your feedback in print!

More By This Author

About The Author

Elisabeth Crean

Comments


Comments are closed.

Since 2014, Seven Days has allowed readers to comment on all stories posted on our website. While we’ve appreciated the suggestions and insights, the time has come to shut them down — at least temporarily.

While we champion free speech, facts are a matter of life and death during the coronavirus pandemic, and right now Seven Days is prioritizing the production of responsible journalism over moderating online debates between readers.

To criticize, correct or praise our reporting, please send us a letter to the editor. Or send us a tip. We’ll check it out and report the results.

Online comments may return when we have better tech tools for managing them. Thanks for reading.

Keep up with us Seven Days a week!

Sign up for our fun and informative
newsletters:

All content © 2020 Da Capo Publishing, Inc. 255 So. Champlain St. Ste. 5, Burlington, VT 05401  |  Contact Us
Website powered by Foundation