MFA Playwriting Candidate Collaborates with Temple Opera

MFA Playwriting Candidate Collaborates with Temple Opera

Oct 17 2016

Mark Costello writes new libretto for The Impresario

by Logan Beck

Mark Costello, a second-year MFA playwriting candidate and lifelong Philadelphian, was approached by the director of this fall's opera, Assistant Professor Brandon McShaffrey, about collaborating on a new libretto for Mozart's The Impresario. The new libretto of The Impresario will premiere, with Haydn's La Canterina as part of Temple University Opera Theater's double bill, November 11 and 13 in Tomlinson Theater. 

“It is tradition for the libretto for The Impresario to be re-written for each major performance, renewing and revitalizing the work for new generations while keeping its original energy intact to varying degrees,” Costello said. “Brandon's wonderfully open desire to collaborate drew me into the project and the piece being an absurd amount of fun was a happy coincidence.”

In the past, Costello has been commissioned to adapt works such as the Medieval morality play Everyman and Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure.

According to McShaffrey, The Impresario, was originally written as a short “comedy with music,” a playful parody poking fun at singers who notoriously try to out do each other on and off the stage. Today, the opera is rewritten and re-worked to reflect more modern times, and to appeal to a contemporary audience.

“I wanted The Impresario to serve as an 'audition’ for La Canterina, with the 'battle of the sopranos' serving to get them cast,” McShaffrey said. “Utilizing Mozart’s music and concert arias folded into the new libretto. Being that there are many versions of The Impresario already written, I thought it would be a great idea to premiere a new libretto.”

“When you view Temple Opera's presentation in November, you first see actresses auditioning to get into La Canterina, and then you'll see the production they auditioned for: a metatheatrical one-two punch,” Costello said. “They are separate shows, though, and the connection between them is unique to this production.”

McShaffrey says that The Impresario’s new libretto will allow performers to be exposed to both a contemporary and traditional staging of the operas, along with the experience of being in a “new work.”

Costello drew inspiration from playwrights who have worked on The Impresario, all while adding his own personal flair.

“Like my predecessors, I saw in the work an intrinsic wry sense of humor, and in my drafting, I got to plug my own wry sense of humor in just as they did,” Costello said.

Tickets for The Impresario and La Canterina are available now, online and at the Tomlinson Theater Box Office. 

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