4900 Independence Ave. at West 249th St.
Grounds admission: $10 adults, $6 students and seniors, $4 children 6-18 (free Tuesdays & Saturdays 9:00 am - noon)
The Turn of the Screw: October 25-27, $75
Walks: free with admission unless otherwise noted
There are many ways to experience Wave Hill, the magnificent twenty-eight-acre urban oasis on two former Bronx estates owned by George W. Perkins and transformed by landscape gardener Albert Millard. One of the most unusual, and wonderfully entertaining, is On Site Opera’s adaptation of Benjamin Britten’s 1954 opera The Turn of the Screw, which runs October 25-27, taking place in multiple locations in the Riverdale garden. With a libretto by Mifawny Piper, the chamber opera, based on the 1898 novella by Henry James, is a ghost story set in an English country house where a new governess (Jennifer Check) has arrived to take care of two creepy children, Flora (Ashley Emerson) and her brother, Miles (Jordan Rutter); the house is run by Mrs. Grose (Margaret Lattimore) and is also home to the deceased Peter Quint (Dominic Armstrong), who has a past with Miles, and Miss Jessel (Adriana Zabala), who is uncomfortably close with Flora. The opera begins at the Pergola, overlooking the Hudson River and the Palisades; everyone is given an old-fashioned lantern to carry to light the dark night and help them find their way when the action moves down a path to Wave Hill House, where it continues first in the Mark Twain Room, then in the lovely, cavernous Armor Hall.
The orchestra, conducted by Geoffrey McDonald, features members of the American Modern Ensemble: Max Moston and Victoria Paterson on violin, Philip Payton on viola, Dave Eggar on cello, Roger Wagner on bass, Sato Moughalian on flute, Keve Wilson on oboe, Pascal Archer on clarinet, Charles McCracken on bassoon, Kyle Hoyt on horns, Katie Andrews on harp, Clara Warnaar on percussion, and Jonathan Heaney on keyboards. The opera is directed by Eric Einhorn, with costumes by Amanda Seymour and lighting by Shawn K. Kaufman. There is at least a half hour of standing, so wear comfy shoes, and download the special app that streams the supertitles. The grounds are open for ticket holders, so you can arrive early and wander around on your own. Up next for On Site Opera is Gian Carlo Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors at the Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen December 4-8 and Luigs & Warrender’s Das Barbecü at Hill Country Barbecue Market in the Flatiron District January 26 to February 11.
“Gardening is often likened to painting, but really it has more in common with dance,” Thomas Christopher writes in the new book Nature into Art: The Gardens of Wave Hill (Timber Press, September 2019, $40), which shows off the beauty of the Riverdale gardens with gorgeous photography by Ngoc Minh Ngo. “It’s true that gardeners use color, texture, and form in much the same way as do painters, and there is a similar striving to create a composition or view. But like a dance, a garden is a performance through and with time. Unlike a painting, a garden isn’t static; the planting is just a beginning.” (The word opera can replace dance in that sentence without changing the meaning; you can see dance at Wave Hill every spring and summer.) Christopher and Minh journey through the Flower Garden, the Gold Border, the Monocot and Aquatic Gardens, the Shade Border, the Wild Garden, the Alpine House and Troughs, the Herb and Dry Gardens, the Elliptical Garden, and the Conservatory. They also focus on “Wave Hill Through the Seasons”: “This is perhaps the greatest strength of Wave Hill. Its scenes change from day to day and week to week,” Christopher explains. “The colors wax and wane, the foliage changes hue with the seasons, bursting out in spring, settling into summer, flaring in autumn, and then falling away with winter’s onset to reveal the underlying sculpture of the trunks and branches. Some of the transient beauties are fortuitous, of course, but the main outlines of the seasonal displays, the transformations, are planned as carefully as a dancer works out a sequence of steps.” Some of Ngo’s framed photographs from the book, along with work from a new series, are on view in Wave Hill House in the exhibition “Wave Hill Florilegium” through the end of the year.
You can get a personal look at fall at Wave Hill in a series of guided walks, most of which are free with admission to the grounds and some of which require advance registration.
Saturday, November 2
Artist-Led Woodland Walk, with Bahar Behbahani, tracing water flow on the Conifer Slope and in the Herbert and Hyonja Abrons Woodland, 3:00
Sunday, November 3
Forest Bathing: Celebrating Change and the Changing Seasons, with certified forest therapist Gerti Schoen, adults only, $30, 10:00
Wednesday, November 6
Fall Foliage Walk, with senior horticultural interpreter Charles Day, 1:00
Saturday, November 9
Wings over Wave Hill Weekend: Avian Adventures Family Walk, with environmental educator Olivia Kalin, 1:00
Monday, November 11
Wings over Wave Hill Weekend: Garden Walk — Birds and the Winter Garden, with NYC Audubon birding guide and naturalist Tod Winston and senior horticultural interpreter Charles Day, 11:00
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