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The critically acclaimed “Esther” established Millennial Arts Productions’ reputation as innovative interpreters of existing major classical works. Producer Paula Heil Fisher and Director Eric Fraad based “Esther” on the Jean Racine drama and adapted the oratorio from Georg Frideric Handel. Billed as a “masque,” the production is a contemporary twist on the original 16th and 17th century European masques, which combined music, dancing, and sometimes poetry. The result proved electrifying. The international cast included a full opera company and chorus, classical acting and ballet companies and a baroque orchestra.


The opening scene of the first fully-staged production of Handel’s “Messiah” takes place in London’s infamous insane asylum in Bethlehem Royal Hospital (Bedlam) and features all soloists. The arias are sung as cathartic outgrowths of a therapy session. The inmates sing, dance and stagger through the story of the Crucifixion, presided over by the God-like figure of the doctor. From the hospital, it’s on to Jerusalem then a nightclub where the inmates await the Last Judgment on the threshold to the new millennium.

The production was a visceral barrage. One critic described it as an analogy between the kingdom of peace and harmony as predicted in the Bible, and the mental stability as a result of the healing of a psychiatric patient. Hallelujah.

Sergei Diagalev persuaded Igor Stravinsky to rework a selection of vocal and instrumental excerpts from a Baroque composer into a forty-minute, one act ballet based on the character Pulcinella, which dates back to ancient Rome. Dialgalev selected a story from an 18 th Century Neapolitan manuscript about the young girls of a neighborhood who are in love with Pulcinella. This creates a climate of jealousy among the other young men who plot to kill him. The men disguise themselves as Pulcinellas, wearing masks with large noses, hoping to woo the young women back to them. A murder is staged with Pulcinella brought back to life by a magician. In the end, the magnanimous Pulcinella does spread happiness for all. He arranges marriages for all the couples, and he weds his lover Pimpinella. The work was considered a radical innovation. The piece found a broader audience after Stravinsky reworked the ballet into a twenty-five minute orchestral suite in 1947. In this form the work is known throughout the world as a classical radio station top forty spin.