Operas and musicals presented in concert version are performances with limited or no staging, sets and costumes. The singers and the orchestra are usually together on the stage or concert platform rather than placing the orchestra in an orchestra pit. Often the chorus is placed towards the rear or sides of the stage, with the principal singers at the front of the stage, in front of the orchestra. As compared with a fully staged theatre production, the lower cost of producing a concert version and the reduced rehearsal time required have made this style of theatre performance increasingly popular in the 21st century, although the practice dates back to some of the earliest operas of the 17th century.
Some companies such as Washington Concert Opera, the American Opera Society, Eve Queler's Opera Orchestra of New York and the Baltimore Concert Opera have specialized in performing operas in concert version. Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra, led by James Levine, performed a concert version of Elektra in 2006. The Boston Symphony Orchestra performed semi-staged concerts of Elektra, led by Seiji Ozawa, in 1987 and 1988.
Musical theatre performances
Ongoing musical theatre concert series are given in some cities, such as the Encores! and Musicals Tonight! concert series in New York City and the Lost Musicals series in London. York Theatre Company in New York City presents staged concerts in its "Musicals in Mufti" concert series, which "has uncovered a number of needlessly forgotten gems ... presenting more titles than any other theatrical concert series in the world." 42nd Street Moon in San Francisco, California, presents staged concerts of musicals to highlight "early and lesser-known works". The Ravinia Festival in Highland Park, Illinois also presents staged musical theatre concerts. For example, the festival presented a concert version of Gypsy starring Patti LuPone in 2006.
Symphony orchestras also present concert versions of musical theatre, such as the New York Philharmonic concert series in New York. San Francisco Symphony presented a concert version of West Side Story in 2013, and a semi-staged production of On the Town in 2016. Philadelphia Orchestra presented a staged concert version of the musical A Little Night Music in 2001.
Concert versions of operas and musicals are also presented as benefits. For example, Actors Fund of America has presented concerts of musicals such as On the Twentieth Century, Dreamgirls, Funny Girl, Chess and Hair. A concert version of Anyone Can Whistle was presented as a benefit for Gay Men's Health Crisis at Carnegie Hall in 1995. The 10th Anniversary reunion of Into the Woods was presented as a concert in 1997, to benefit Friends In Deed and God's Love We Deliver. James Lapine noted that this concert was "a bit more informal" than the concert reunion of Sunday in the Park with George, which was given in formal dress.
Some companies produce staged concerts to benefit the company. For example, Roundabout Theatre Company in New York City has presented such concerts, including Assassins (2012) and She Loves Me (2011).
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