Contemporaneous performs Brian Petuch’s Portrait and a Dream

Jackson Pollack, Portrait and a Dream (1953)

Contemporaneous is in top form, the singers are stupendous, and Petuch’s opera is outstanding, with his text choices as brilliant as his compositional approach. Watching this made my day, and I hope it may do the same for you.

“Portrait and a Dream [is] an opera about Jackson Pollock told through the lens of Lee Krasner and archival recordings of the people who surrounded his life.” [cite]

Credits for Portrait and a Dream:

Video filmed and edited by Mary & Christopher Smith at Point of Order Productions.

Brian Petuch: Portrait and a Dream (2021) — world premiere, commissioned by Contemporaneous

Kendra Berentsen — Lee
Brian Giebler — Jackson
Ricardo Rivera — Hans

Brian Petuch — music and text
Ashley Tata — director
Magnus Pind — scenic and projection design
Adam J. Thompson — associate video design
Abigail Hoke-Brady — lighting design
Márion Talán de la Rosa — costume design
Zack O’Brien — sound designer
Steven Brenman — technical director
Dustin Z West — stage manager
Thomas Giles — assistant stage manager
Claudia Cangemi — video operator

Commissioned and premiered by Contemporaneous, conducted by David Bloom

Bonus Tracks (with thanks to Curt Barnes for noting these in a comment to this post)

5 thoughts on “Contemporaneous performs Brian Petuch’s Portrait and a Dream

  1. Curt Barnes

    Congrats to all—Mr. Petuch, the terrific singers and of course Contemporaneous and Maestro Bloom. What a solid accomplishment! As an alte kaker, I knew some of the people featured in the recording (a weird sensation), but I really enjoyed the way their often conflicting accounts got beneath the surface legend and opened up the many psychological and aesthetic questions that remain unresolved even today. I respect that Mr. Pind had a huge challenge for non-narrative and non-literal actions, but think it was carried off quite well (esp. use of sand). Really smart production, and thanks to Ms Scheid for spotlighting it. (what tedium to blur out all those paper images! but doubtless for legal reasons)

    1. Susan Scheid Post author

      Curt, so pleased you watched/listened and now have commented–and so smartly, as you always do. That you knew some of the people featured must indeed have been a weird sensation! You describe wonderfully the effect of the conflicting accounts–getting beneath the surface legend–something I appreciated enormously. I read that Petuch chose all the texts, so I assume that includes the audio selections and the way they were juxtaposed throughout. Very impressive and enriching. Agree, also, that Pind had a huge challenge on his hands–it took me a bit to warm up to his approach, but ultimately it drew me in, and with increasing fascination. I do hope this work–and in this performance–gets out there more and gets the recognition it certainly deserves.

  2. Brian Petuch

    Hi Susan and Curt, Thank you for listening to the piece so deeply and thoroughly! You’re insights are spot on. I feel very understood in your comments, that’s the most wonderful feeling! You truly made my day.

    And yes, those censored images were for legal reasons and took an immense amount of time haha! All the sand and staging ideas were developed by Ashley Tata, who worked in brilliant ideas within the limitations of this production. Magnus Pind made all of the beautiful projections, which can’t totally be absorbed in this video version of the piece. That’ll you’ll have to check out when the piece gets done again!

    Again, thanks for taking the time to listen and comment, it brings me immense joy that you all took away such positive experiences.

    1. Susan Scheid Post author

      Dear Brian: Well, let me just say it’s a privilege and an honor to hear from you here. And thank you for the tip of the hat to Ashley Tata. What a brilliant team you had to realize this opera. I hope very much I’ll have the opportunity to see/hear a production live. Definitely on my bucket list!

    2. Curt Barnes

      Brian, your kind response reminded me to look for other Petuch compositions online, and they confirmed what was so impressive about your Pollock music. Would recommend anyone here listening to the works on your website, also to “Protosaurus” and especially “A Note for Andrea” on YouTube—everything more than worthwhile. The best news, I understand, is that you’re working on another, even longer, opera, and I’ll be looking out for that as well as another live production of “Portrait and a Dream.”

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