Debussy: His Letters and His Music Review - Brought to Life by Julia Migenes

Celebrated soprano Julia Migenes paints a vivid musical portrait of legendary French composer Claude Debussy, bringing an early spring to a cold and wet winter in Los Angeles. Effectively using nontraditional scales and tonal structures, Debussy composed revolutionary new sounds in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and has even been credited with founding musical impressionism while blending music from the West and East. 

Julia Migenes - Photo by Enci Box

Born to a poor family in France in 1862, he was considered a prodigy and trained in piano in Paris. When he was 22 years old, Debussy won the Prix de Rome and continued to study and grow as a musician. Almost no musical form escaped his notice; and he wrote piano solos, a variety of short and longer musical pieces, and even an opera. As Migenes so amply demonstrates, he also wrote a number of letters documenting his thoughts and feelings through his career. Debussy died when he was only 55 as World War I raged around him.

Julia Migenes - Photo by Enci Box

Talented vocalist Julia Migenes has a long history of bringing song to audiences in the U.S. and abroad. She writes that “I first heard Debussy’s `Claire de Lune’ when I was around seven years old…when I heard just the first four notes, I got a knot in my throat and tears in my eyes…his music touched me that deeply.” Although her singing is limited in this production, her acting skills are formidable as she chats about Debussy’s life and reads from his letters.

Manuel Arellano and Julia Migenes - Photo by Enci Box

Her piano accompanist Manuel Arellano also has an exciting national and international musical career. He has appeared as a soloist and collaborative pianist, and has worked as a vocal coach and musical director. Director Peter Medak has a successful career as a film, stage, and television director, with recent credits including NBC’s “Hannibal” and Amazon’s “Hand of God.” Lighting designer Bosco Flanagan, script consultant Jessica Allegra, and stage manager Jennifer Palumbo round out the team. Together they breathe life into the iconic musical rebel, Debussy.

Julia Migenes - Photo by Enci Box

For music aficionados, DEBUSSY: HIS LETTERS AND HIS MUSIC is a real treat. Debussy’s lush, sometimes moody melodies form a gentle backdrop to Migenes’ account of his life and loves, successes and failures. This homage to a musical giant does more than stick to the facts listed in a life summary. It also delves into the heart and soul of a man - imperfect, sometimes risqué, occasionally tongue-in-cheek - but always trying to bring his vision of music to the world.

Julia Migenes and Manuel Arellano - Photo by Enci Box

DEBUSSY: HIS LETTERS AND MUSIC runs through February 25, 2017, with performance at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. The Odyssey Theatre is located at 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90025. Tickets are $35. For information and reservations, call 310-477-2055 or go online.  

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