Symphonie Fantastique, the surreal 1998 creation from award-winning puppeteer Basil Twist that sets Hector Berlioz’s 19th century symphony against a visually-arresting display of puppetry staged within a 1,000 gallon water tank, will return to New York in spring 2018 to mark the 20th anniversary of its premiere.
Performances will run March 29–July 15 at HERE, where Symphonie Fantastique premiered as the inaugural production of the Soho art incubator’s Dream Music Puppetry Program in spring 1998. It will officially open April 3.
In Symphonie Fantastique, five unseen puppeteers create a water world of surreal and dream-like storytelling as they manipulate numerous objects, including fabrics, feathers, dyes, bubbles, lights, and mirrors. Historians suggest that Berlioz composed parts of the symphony while under the influence of opium, “creating bold, bright and moody flourishes of music.”
The original production was met with acclaim from critics, and ran for two years in New York.
Unlike the 1998 premiere, which utilized recorded music, the 20th anniversary production will feature live piano accompaniment by soloist Christopher O’Riley, host of NPR’s Now From the Top.
Twist received a Drama Desk nomination, a UNIMA Citation of Excellence, the Henry Hewes Design Award, and an Obie Award for Symphonie Fantastique.
A third generation puppeteer, Twist is a graduate of the École Supérieure Nationale des Arts de la Marionnette in Charleville-Mezieres, France. He is the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant.”
His works also include the heralded Arias With a Twist, as well as Peter and Wendy, The Araneidae Show, and A Streetcar Named Desire with Lee Breuer. Twist also developed puppetry for Paula Vogel’s The Long Christmas Ride Home and was the underwater puppetry consultant for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. His work on Broadway includes The Addams Family, The Pee-Wee Herman Show, Oh, Hello, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
The news was announced by HERE’s Artistic and Producing Directors Kristin Marting and Kim Whitener, and Barbara Busackino, HERE’s Co-Founder and Executive Director of Tandem Otter Productions, Twist’s production company.
Tickets are now on sale at here.org.