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Bard SummerScape’s “Bitter Sweet” Opens August 4

Noël Coward’s Bitter Sweet will receive its first fully-staged production since its original run in 1929 when it opens at the Bard SummerScape festival for nine performances August 4 – 14.   This new version of Bitter Sweet, commissioned by Bard SummerScape and re-imagined by its director, Michael Gieleta, scales down the original work and focuses on the dramatic texture of the story.  The cast, led by the eminent Welsh actress Siân Phillips, celebrates this example of the dramatic range that early music theatre was capable of, and vividly brings to life one of Coward’s early masterpieces. 
Gieleta notes that Bitter Sweet “has long been underrated, despite featuring some of his best-known songs including ‘If Love Were All,’ ‘I’ll See You Again,’ and ‘Zigeuner.’  It is also a sterling example of complete authorship in musical theatre history – with Coward being the author of the music, lyrics and the libretto.”  The new production retains the retrospective structure of the play as conceived by Coward, in contrast with the cinematic versions of the piece, which were much loathed by the notoriously outspoken author.
Bitter Sweet combines lightness of tone with an enigmatic nostalgia: a high-society doyenne, confronted with a niece’s indecision at a life-changing love dilemma, recalls her own youthful elopement with a Bohemian musician, and its irrevocable social and personal consequences.
Should the call of life be answered, come what may?
The orchestral arrangements for Bard’s Bitter Sweet are by Jack Parton, a SummerScape veteran whose past successes include last season’s presentation of The Chocolate SoldierBitter Sweet will be conducted by Bard Music Festival’s Director of Choruses James Bagwell, whose leadership of The Chocolate Soldier “showed élan” (Opera News)
Gieleta’s last work to be seen in the United States was Peter Nichols’s play Lingua Franca, which transferred to New York from London in November 2010 as part of the Brits Off Broadway season at 59E59 Theaters.
Noël Coward (1899-1973)
Bitter Sweet (1929)
Libretto: Noël Coward
Conducted by James Bagwell
Directed by Michael Gieleta
Arranged by Jack Parton
Theater Two
August 4, 6, and 11 at 8 pm
August 5, 10, 12, 13, and 14 at 3 pm
August 7 at 7 pm
Tickets: $55
Cast (in order of appearance)
Lady Shayne:  Siân Phillips
Dolly:  Marianne Rendon
Vincent: Joel Johnstone
Henry:  Brian Maxsween
Sarah/Sari: Sarah Miller
Carl: William Ferguson
Lord Shayne:  Ryan Speakman
Hugh/Tranisch:  Justin Randolph
Sir Arthur/Captain Lutte:  Joshua Jeremiah
Mrs. Millick:  Claire Simard
Manon:  Amanda Squitieri
Herr Schlick:  David Schnell
Opera Talk with James Bagwell
August 7 at 5 pm
Free and open to the public
Other upcoming events at Bard SummerScape (listed chronologically)
Henrik Ibsen: The Wild Duck
Theater Two
July 13†, 17†, 20†, and 24† at 3 pm
July 14–16* and 21–23* at 8 pm
Tickets: $45
“Before and After Bergman: The Best of Nordic Film”
Thursdays and Sundays, July 14 – August 18 at 7 pm; additional shows Sundays at 4 pm
Ottaway Film Center
Tickets: $8
Richard Strauss: Die Liebe der Danae
Sosnoff Theater
July 29*† and August 5 at 7 pm
July 31* and August 3† and 7*† at 3 pm
Tickets: $30, $60, $70, $90

Bard Music Festival – Weekend One:
“Sibelius and His World: Imagining Finland”
August 12–14
Bard Music Festival – Weekend Two:
“Sibelius and His World: Sibelius – Conservative or Modernist?”  
August 19–21
* Round-trip transportation from Manhattan to Bard is available for this performance. Fare is $25. Reservations are required.
† Round-trip shuttle between the MetroNorth station in Poughkeepsie, the Amtrak station in Rhinecliff, and Bard is available for this performance. Reservations are required.
Bard SummerScape Ticket Information
The Bard SummerScape Festival is made possible through the generous support of the Advisory Boards of the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts and the Bard Music Festival, and the Friends of the Fisher Center.
For tickets and further information on all SummerScape events, call the Fisher Center box office at 845-758-7900 or visit
All program information is subject to change.

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