Attack Theatre Updates WWI's 'The Soldier's Tale'
Kanny, Mark, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Most fables date back to vague antiquity, but "The Soldier's Tale" was created during World War I, which makes it a relatively modern story.
Composer Igor Stravinsky and novelist Charles-Ferdinand Ramuz wrote it in 1915 in Switzerland. Cut off from their sources of income, they created a little theater piece for a few actors and a handful of musicians that could tour from town to town to earn a little money. As often is the case, external limitations spurred the creative fires.
"The music is unbelievable. When you put it with the acting, the dancing and the narration, it's a kind of perfect symmetry of many different art forms coming together. It's Stravinsky at his best, and could compare with his best ballets as a perfect work of art," trumpeter Neal Berntsen says.
Attack Theatre and an ensemble of musicians from the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (including Berntsen) will present Stravinsky's "The Soldier's Tale" on Wednesday at Pittsburgh Opera in the Strip District.
The story line follows a soldier on two weeks leave as he repeatedly is tricked by the devil, initially into trading his violin for a magic book. In the second part, the soldier tricks the devil, wins a princess and seems to escape the devil's power.
Attack Theatre has been performing "The Soldier's Tale" at various venues for a decade, often with Pittsburgh Symphony musicians. The 2005 performances were at Heinz Hall, Downtown, as part of the Pittsburgh Symphony subscription series. …