A hoof-stomping centaur, Siamese twins, Napoleon Bonaparte, a eunuch, and a prodigious sopranista a male classical singer with a soprano range put a witty and sarcastic spin on Baroque opera in the award winning play/opera Monsters and Prodigies. Founded by Claudio Valdés Kuri, the Mexico City-based company Teatro de Ciertos Habitantes tells the story of the castrati boys castrated before puberty to preserve the soprano ranges of their voices. The Museum of Contemporary Art
(MCA), Chicago, presents Teatro de Ciertos Habitantes: Monsters and Prodigies: The History of the Castrati, Friday Sunday, March 20-22, 2009.
The plays Siamese twins, one an opera critic and the other a surgeon who specializes in castration at their barbershop-turned-surgery ward, explain that the castrati were regarded both as artistic prodigies and disfigured monsters. Eighteenth-century Europe was ruled by the castrati; operas were written for them and they commanded the biggest fees. Monsters and Prodigies castrato is played by the exceptional musical talent Javier Medina, who, after suffering a damaged larynx resulting from childhood leukemia, has the vocal range of a soprano. The late playwright Jorge Kuri and Valdés Kuri wrote Monsters and Prodigies for Medina.
This ambitious and bold production features elaborate costumes, exceptional musical talent, and off-the-wall antics, and is performed in Spanish with English supertitles. Valdés Kuris madcap staging creates a humorous and sophisticated farce about the struggle for beauty.
TEATRO DE CIERTOS HABITANTES
Teatro De Ciertos Habitantes was founded in 1997. The company is internationally acclaimed and has performed at many renowned venues and festivals, including the Lincoln Center Festival, the International Cervantino Festival in Mexico, the Kunsten Festival des Arts in Brussels, Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin, Festival de l´ Imaginaire in Paris, and the Grec Festival in Barcelona. In the United States, the company has performed at the Goodman Theatre, the Institute of the Arts/Duke University, North Carolina Art Museum, Kennedy Center, International Hispanic Theatre Festival, Ford Amphitheatre, Time-Based Art Festival, and the Wexner Center for the Arts. Their long-running performance seasons in Mexico City typically sell out from beginning to end, and the company has organized several national tours throughout Mexico.
CLAUDIO VALDÉS KURI
Claudio Valdés Kuri, a prestigious Mexican director, is the founder and director of Teatro de Ciertos Habitantes, his work has been presented in Mexico, Europe, Latin America, the United States, and the Caribbean. He was selected to develop the Translation and Contextualization project for Arts International in New York City, and his work has been commissioned and co-produced by the National Theatre Company in Mexico, the National Autonomous University of Mexico, the International Cervantino Festival in Guanajuato, Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin, the Kunsten Festival des Arts in Brussels, and Wiener Festwochen in Vienna.