Soup Can Theatre is proud to present a bold and genre-blending double bill: Celebrated American composer Samuel Barber’s playful, compact, and contemporary opera A Hand of Bridge (libretto by Gian Carlo Menotti), and renowned existential philosopher and Nobel Prize-winning playwright Jean Paul Sartre’s dark and groundbreaking masterpiece No Exit (translated by Stuart Gilbert).
Barber (best known for his stirring Adagio for Strings) premiered this tuneful and bite-sized opera in 1959 in Spoleto, Italy as part of the ‘Festival of New Worlds’. Set in the midst of a game of bridge being played by two emotionally strained upper-middle class couples, A Hand of Bridge weaves together quintessential operatic themes, such as jealousy, envy, and unrequited love, with unexpected and unapologetically intimate topics (for its time), such as marital infidelity and bisexuality. Director Pratik Gandhi comments; “The music is quite charming and is a great example of mid-20th century eclecticism, bridging centuries-old traditions with new and unconventional ideas – including some drawn from popular music. The approachable nature of Barber’s score belies the more poignant and striking moments that form the core of the libretto, giving their delivery a surprisingly strong impact.”
In Sartre’s No Exit, three recently deceased strangers with secretive pasts find themselves trapped together in a room in Hell with only three chairs and a grotesque bronze sculpture as the sum total of their new existence. The trio quickly realize that torture and eternal torment do not come at the hands of demons with hot pokers, but rather from each other’s words, thoughts, urges, and actions. Even though No Exit was written in 1944, it still manages to reflect present day issues with chilling accuracy. Director Sarah Thorpe elaborates; “With bullying frequently making front page news, and the realm of social media acting as a playground for anonymous harassment, Sartre’s central idea of “Hell being other people” is, sadly, just as true today as it was six decades ago. The psychological universality of this works is a testament to its importance and insight – and one of the reasons we are excited to share it with the public.”
Bringing these classic works to life is a remarkable cast of rising stars in their respective fields of opera and theatre, backed by a live fourteen piece orchestra. Enhancing the emotionally claustrophobic flavour of the two pieces, Soup Can Theatre’s production will be performed in the round on a custom built stage in the Tapestry New Opera studio, located in Toronto’s beautiful and historic Distillery District.
One opera, one play, one unforgettable evening.
The total performance length is approximately two hours, with one intermission after A Hand of Bridge.
This performance contains mature subject matter and is not recommend for children under the age of twelve (or just be prepared for them to go “Ewww!” during the kissy bits).
A Hand of Bridge is presented by arrangement with G. Schirmer, INC. publisher and copyright owner.
No Exit (Sartre/Gilbert) is presented by special arrangement with SAMUEL FRENCH, INC.