"Chamber Music as Theater"
Voice Afire celebrates new ways of integrating live music for small ensembles with theater, visual arts, opera, cabaret, and dance. Our shows feature new and established artists in ensembles of 3-8 performers. Staging is adaptable to the venue. In a chamber music venue we dispense with the need for special lighting or scenery. In a theatre venue, we can do a fully staged production. Vetted by theater professionals, Voice Afire Productions are both entertainments and intimate, innovative theatrical experiences.
Voice Afire Pocket Opera-Cabaret was born in the summer of 2007 at the Niagara International Music Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada, home of the Shaw Festival. Working in collaboration with Tom Diamond, leading Opera Director and Dramaturg, and with Guillermo Verdecchia, one of Canada’s foremost playwrights, Artistic Director-Composer Ray Luedeke produced his first version of Butterfly's Trouble as well as his Tango Cabaret, Close Embrace, and a workshop production of My Life with Pablo Neruda. These shows, supported by the Canada Council for the Arts and by the Ontario Arts Council. were warmly received and subsequently toured in Canada. In 2010 Voice Afire Pocket Opera-Cabaret moved to New York City, where in 2012 a new version of Butterfly’s Trouble, vetted by Broadway Director, Choreographer, Dramaturg Jonathan Cerullo, ran for a week on off-off Broadway, to critical acclaim. Since 2012 Voice Afire has produced 2 shows in New York City each year, the most recent being The Art of Love for 2 pianos and actor, and Kafka Shorts, for string quartet and 2 actors.
Voice Afire Productions:
This English language re-invention of Puccini’s complete opera uses just two singers, an actor, and four instrumentalists (clarinet, violin, cello and synthesizer) to stunning effect. With minimal changes to Puccini’s original text and music, the poignant play that inspired the opera emerges, as powerful as ever. Madam Butterfly, by the great American playwright David Belasco, was a huge hit in 1900 when Puccini saw it in London. This story of a clash of cultures, of the doomed love affair between an American naval officer and his Japanese bride, moved audiences to tears and is as relevant now as it was then. Kafka Shorts
Ray Luedeke composed the music for Kafka Shorts and also developed the script, adapted not only from the Parables of Franz Kafka but also on sections from Kafka’s diary. For string quartet and 2 actors, representing Franz Kafka and his famous character Gregor Samsa (from Metamorphosis), incorporates some of Kafka’s most striking short Parables: The Bridge, The Vulture, The Way Home, In the Night, The Runners, Give it Up!, The Excursion in the Mountains, and About Parables.
Close Embrace/A Tango Cabaret
This is a show that will inspire the audience to want to dance tango, and, since the show ends with a tango lesson and a milonga, anyone willing and able can give it a try, or just watch and enjoy.
While a master of ceremonies leads us through a narrative exploring the “heart and soul” of tango, the dance team El Abrazo performs in the “close embrace” style of tango to the music of our four piece “tango nuevo” band and baritone Nelson Lohnes. The show also features a multi-media tango ballet with projected visuals, Tango Dreams.
The Art of Love/Into the Labyrinth
Using a text banned for two thousand years, Ray Luedeke has created a contemporary, multi-media masterpiece. Two pianists and an actor interact with each other and with projected visuals created by visual artist Ron Hurwitz. This show is by turn wildly funny and then dead serious, but always riveting and entertaining. Don’t be surprised to hear music that ranges from Rumba to Tango to Avant Garde – all in the name of Love. Or is it Lust?
My Life with Pablo Neruda
This pocket opera-cabaret, in four acts written for 2 singers, 2 actors and four musicians (violin, clarinet, cello and synthesizer), is a tempestuous love story, an intensely political story, the story of the remarkable spiritual journey of a woman, Matilde Urrutia, third wife of the poet Pablo Neruda. Matilde, interested only in her home and garden. Matilde, champion of the "disappeared ones" under the reign of the murderous Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. Matilde, subject of some of the greatest love poems ever written.
Based entirely on the poetry of Pablo Neruda and on material from the memoirs of Matilde Urrutia, I Confess, I Have Lived may be performed in either English or in Spanish.
A collaboration between Motus O Dance theatre and Voice Afire, Circus Terrifico is a whimsical and poignant comedy featuring Tchaikovsky’s soaring scores and original music by Ray Luedeke. It makes audiences of all ages laugh out loud and leave with a (big, clownish) smile!
Performed with the signature MOTUS O physicality and humour, see for yourself how a little magic, some juggling, tight-rope walking and fortune-telling can fulfill every child’s fantasy to ‘run off and join the circus!’
Circus Terrifico, about 55 minutes long, may be performed with live symphony orchestra or with recorded music.
The Magical Singing Drum
Using a traditional story from East/Central Africa, Ray Luedeke, Toronto/New York composer, and Joseph Ashong, master drummer from Ghana, have woven together elements of traditional African music and dance with more contemporary sounds to create a unique blend that will delight audiences of all ages.This show features 6 performers.
Voice Afire Artistic Director
Composer Ray Luedeke, was born in New York City. He attended the Eastman School of Music, the Vienna Academy of Music, and Dartmouth College, where he studied with George Crumb. His output is extensive and varied. It runs the gamut from entertaining theater pieces for children, through a long list of sophisticated solo and chamber music to colorful, carefully crafted pieces for orchestra. Recordings of his music include Shadow Music with the Louisville Orchestra, The Transparency of Time with pianist Andre LaPlante and the Winnipeg Symphony, The Moon in the Labyrinth with harpist Judy Loman and the Orford String Quartet, Brass Quintet with the New Mexico Brass Quintet, Circus Music with the Hannaford Street Silver Band, Ah, Matsushima! with violin/marimba duo Jacques and Michael Israelievitch, and Tango Dreams with accordion virtuoso Alexander Sevastian. Quartetto Gelato has recorded Ray’s brilliant arrangement of Maurice Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin and has performed it worldwide.