Kaleidoscope Theatre's stage adaptation of Ring of Mystery combines music, theatre

The world première of the stage adaptation of Vivaldi’s Ring of Mystery — a story about being lost and found and belonging — is coming to Victoria for a three-day run.

“This is the first time ever this has been put into a theatrical stage production,” said Pat Rundell, executive director of Kaleidoscope Theatre for Young People, Vancouver Island’s professional theatre company for young people and families.

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The story is that of a gifted violinist, Katarina, and takes place at carnival time in 17th-century Venice.

Katarina is ready to study music at the Pietà orphanage under the great composer Antonio Vivaldi. Amid the mysterious atmosphere of the carnival, Katarina enlists Giovanni, a colourful gondolier, to help in her search to discover her past.

A climactic scene unites Katarina with her grandfather, and together they take Vivaldi’s music out into the world.

“I think it’s very profound,” said Rundell. “We were really drawn to this particular story because it’s so accessible for young people.

“It’s a beautiful story of a young orphan girl who plays the violin and she’s in search of her family and in search of her belonging. So it’s a story that really resonated with us and we think will resonate with our audiences.”

Kaleidoscope Theatre is presenting the theatrical adaptation with the permission of Classical Kids Music Education, which produces Classical Kids CDs, including Beethoven Lives Upstairs (also a film), Mozart’s Magnificent Voyage and Tchaikovsky Discovers America.

For both kids and parents, it’s a way to access classical music with a beautiful story that is still based on fact, said Rundell.

“So it’s more than just a day at the theatre, it’s a day at the symphony, and it’s a day at the museum,” said Rundell. “It has something for everyone.”

The CDs have had gold and platinum sales in Canada and are available in more than 50 countries, including the U.K., Ireland and Hong Kong.

“They are a wonderful way to get inspired and have a new appreciation and understanding for classical music,” said Rundell. Bringing that music to the stage allows the intensity of the emotion and the heart of the music to come to the fore, he said.

Montreal’s Georide Productions’ recent adaptation of Beethoven Lives Upstairs inspired Kaleidoscope to adapt Vivaldi’s Ring of Mystery, said Rundell.

Artistic director Roderick Glanville started adapting the music for the stage last May, reviewing the symphony script and original audio story. A team was created and a show was born, said Rundell. The original creator is Susan Hammond, a member of the Order of Canada, who in 1988 made the first Classical Kids record, Mr. Bach Comes To Call.

Nine-year-old Noa Paster of Fairfield plays the younger Katarina in the Kaleidoscope production. Paster plays the harp, piano, violin and fiddle. She also writes her own music and acts.

“She is a young virtuoso,” said Rundell. “She’s an adult in a nine-year-old’s body. She’s one of the most lovely young actors I’ve ever worked with or seen in my time here at Kaleidoscope … She is an inspiration, really.”

Violin player and actor Finn Letourneau of Saanich, who narrates as the older Katarina, is a graduate of the Canadian College of Performing Arts. It was this story that inspired her to learn to play the violin as a child. “So she grew up listening to these audio stories,” said Rundell.

The two will play some live music, but the majority of the music will be pre-recorded underscoring of the stage production.

Vivaldi’s Ring of Mystery is expected to be the first of many Kaleidoscope adaptations of Classical Kids stories.

“They have 10 different stories that are beloved all over the world and it’s a relationship that we started just this year to bring some other stories to life on stage,” said Rundell.

Vivaldi’s Ring Of Mystery plays Nov. 1-3 at the McPherson Playhouse, with school matinée performances on Nov. 1.

Tickets are $11-$14 for children 16 and younger and $20-$23 for adults, and are available through the McPherson box office, online at rmts.bc.ca or by calling 250-386-6121.

ceharnett@timescolonist.com

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