L’histoire du soldat was my first project.
Bound by the requirements of the Masters of Arts degree from Columbia University to carry out a graduation project, I decided to do a staged version of what could be considered the jewel in the crown of the musical vanguard of the early 20th century. The progressive increase in orchestral size that took place in the 19th century came up against a wall in what would become the first experiment in mass extermination that occurred during World War I. Stravinsky, a refugee in Switzerland at the time, decided to drastically reduce the number of musicians to adapt to the new situation. He came up with a new form of musical theatre, accompanied by a wonderful text written by Swiss poet Ramuz, which would be easily represented with the essential requirements and transported in a single coach.
Inspired by that same spirit to face up to the limitations of the outside world, I invited a fellow student to make the sets, my teachers to become the actors and my friends and most excellent musicians from the Juilliard School, where I had studied the previous year, to perform the work. So we were left with casting the role of the princess, who also had to dance. Since the university did not have a dance department, I found Blanca Gutierrez from the Martha Graham School in the list of other Spaniards studying in New York under the same scholarship as mine. Blanca is now Blanca Li and one of the most important choreographers on the international scene. This may have been her first choreography.
The show was an unexpected success and with it I discovered that project creation and development was what I wished to pursue from that moment onwards. A few years later I would start working with choreographer Nacho Duato, who at the time was the soloist in the extraordinary ballet version of L’histoire du soldat created by his teacher Jirí Kylián
Music: Igor Stravinsky
Libretto: Charles-Ferdinand Ramuz
Conductor: Pedro Alcalde
Musicians: Jörg-Michael Schwarz vl, Linda McKnight db, Kenneth Joseph cl, Jeff Keesecker bs, Edward Cervenka tr, Chistian Branhofer trb, Angelo Miranda per
The Narrator: Marvin Shulman
The Soldier: Mordecai Rubin
The Devil: Richard Streb
The Princess: Blanca Gutierrez (Blanca Li)
Set: Gê Orthof
Venue: Horace Mann Auditorium New York
Date: 8th of May 1984