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Soprano Julia Bullock plays a pregnant Syrian refugee in reimagined Schumann song cycle (photo copyright Patrick Berger)

Soprano Julia Bullock plays a pregnant Syrian refugee in reimagined Schumann song cycle (photo copyright Patrick Berger)

Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College
524 West Fifty-Ninth St. between Tenth & Eleventh Aves.
October 29-30, $35-$95
Festival continues through November 24

English theater director Katie Mitchell transforms German composer and pianist Robert Schumann’s 1840 song cycle, Dichterliebe (“A Poet’s Love”), into a haunting tale about the European migrant crisis in Zauberland (“Magic Land”), making its New York premiere October 29-30 at Lincoln Center’s White Light Festival. A production of C.I.C.T. — Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord, the eighty-minute piece, staged in the Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College, features St. Louis-born rising star soprano Julia Bullock, the 2018-19 artist-in-residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the 2019-20 artist-in-residence at the San Francisco Symphony, as a pregnant Syrian refugee fleeing Aleppo for the safer confines of Cologne, leaving her family behind. The original Lieder, with words by German writer Heinrich Heine from his Lyrisches Intermezzo, has been expanded with new text by British playwright Martin Crimp and music by Belgian composer and conductor Bernard Foccroulle, specifically created for Bullock.

The cast also includes Ben Clifford, Natasha Kafka, David Rawlins, and Raphael Zari, with Cédric Tiberghien on piano, sets and costumes by Chloe Lamford, and lighting by James Farncombe. Bullock is best known for Perle Noire: Meditations for Joséphine, a work about Josephine Baker she conceived with Peter Sellars; she has also appeared in Terence Blanchard’s Fire Shut Up in My Bones, John Adams’s Girls of the Golden West, and Leoš Janaček’s The Cunning Little Vixen, among other productions around the world, in addition to being a community activist. Schumann wrote Dichterliebe in the span of a week during a particularly productive time, the year he married Clara Wieck. It takes on a whole new meaning in this contemporary reimagination.

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