DIONYSUS' DANCE AT THE MARIGNY OPERA HOUSE
The performing arts in NOLA are not known as prudish, but this weekend one show will be taking hedonism
back to its classical roots. On Friday, June (6.12) and Saturday (6.13), Dionysus brings his boozy brand of music and debauchery to the Marigny Opera House (725 St. Ferdinand Street).
Bakkhai, a retelling of the Euripides’ classic tragedy, will take the stage at 8p.m. both nights. The blend of musical performance, theater, and dance is co-produced by local artists Ned Moore and Elizabeth Gross. It also features original compositions by local musician Tucker Fuller, with dance choreographed by Ann Glaviano.
According to Moore, the production raises questions about how best to worship Dionysus, a malevolent God who is notoriously temperamental. Moore suggested that New Orleans is the perfect setting to ask these kinds of questions, and notes a connection between the themes of the play.
“New Orleans is a place of group catharsis, dancing in the street, losing yourself in a crowd and in the energy and the wine. All of these are themes associated with Dionysus”, he says.
In fact, Dionysus is also known by the name Bacchus, which might be much more familiar to the New Orleans crowd, sharing a name with the Krewe of Bacchus, a Carnival staple since 1968. Perhaps Moore is correct in pointing out that the themes of the Bakkhai are also emblematic of New Orleans culture.
Beyond the connection to the city as a whole, Moore notes that the venue is also important to the themes in the Bakkhai. The Marigny Opera House, which operates as a “non-denominational Church of the arts”, exists in what was originally the Holy Trinity Catholic Church until it was deconsecrated in 1997. It was purchased and reopened as the Marigny Opera House in 2011. Because Dionysian worship is about cycles of creation and destruction, Moore felt that a former place of worship which has been given over to music and dancing would make a perfect location for the production, and so it was built mainly around the idea of being performed in that space.