Production of Stravinsky's 'L'Histoire du Soldat' to be Performed

The Sarah Lawrence College Orchestra, in collaboration with the dance and drama departments, will perform a fully staged presentation of Stravinsky’s L’histoire du Soldat (The Soldier’s Tale, written in 1918) on Tuesday, April 25 at 8 p.m. in Reisinger Hall on the College campus. The event is free and open to the public. For more information or directions, please call (914) 395-2411.

The full theatrical production, complete with sets and costumes, is being put on in true Sarah Lawrence style with interdepartmental collaboration and cooperative artistic input between students and faculty. Music faculty member Martin Goldray, who initiated the project, has collected an ensemble of student musicians and will conduct. Barrie Gelles-Hurwitz and Belinda Smith, senior theatre students, are co-directing the piece under the advisement of Shirley Kaplan, theatre program director. The choreographer is Rashaun Mitchell, a senior dance student, working with Sara Rudner, dance program director.

L’Histoire du Soldat is a retelling of the Faust myth but unlike other Faust characters the soldier doesn’t sell his soul for a desire for wisdom but rather gets distracted on his way home for leave. Written in the aftermath of World War I, it reflects a sense of dislocation and alienation, such as that experienced by Stravinsky who was in exile in Switzerland, according to Martin Goldray.

Plot synopsis: Under a tree by the side of the road, the Devil spots a soldier enrapt in the act of playing the violin. The Devil desires the violin and in exchange for it offers the soldier a magic book, which will bring him great wealth. We follow the tale of these two foes through delightful encounters of greed, love and Mephistophelian trickery.

"This delightful piece includes dances based on popular musical forms such as ragtime, waltz and tango as well as some jazz-like elements. It was also influenced by gypsy and klesmer music," said Goldray.

L’Histoire du Soldat is a highlight event of MusicFirst!, Sarah Lawrence College’s annual spring music festival, which takes place through May 9. The festival was inaugurated in 1995 as a celebration of all the performing groups, musicians and composers who make up the Sarah Lawrence College Music Program. All concerts are free and open to the public.