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When New York is an Art Pot

Poet Sara Fruner has her first show in New York, produced by Gramercy Opera

"An Art Pot from the World" at the Cell Theater, Chelsea. Left to right: Dani Goldstein, Sara Fruner, Magda Gartner and Kanae Matsumoto

Staged at the Cell Theatre in Chelsea, "An Art Pot from the World" is the debut in New York of Italian poet and La Voce contributor Sara Fruner. By combining poetry, opera and dance, the show marks the beginning of a collaboration with Gramercy Opera, a promising inclusive opera company.

There is a new voice in New York’s artistic landscape and this voice speaks poetry. Her name is Sara Fruner and — full disclosure — she is not only a familiar byline to La Voce’s readers, she is also a very good friend of this writer. I will therefore not attempt to be unbiased when describing Sara’s impressive most recent achievements and her first live poetry performance in New York. However, you will have to agree with me that, if it wasn’t remarkable enough that this Italian writer who has moved to New York a little longer than a year ago is now being published in the U.S., her brand new collaboration with Gramercy Opera is a great example of what this city has to offer to whoever has talent.

Produced by Gramercy Opera, An Art Pot from the World went on stage last February at the Cell Theatre in Chelsea, as an experiment of mixed arts combining poetry, opera and dance. The words were those of Sara Fruner who read 19 of her poems, selected from the collection Bitter Bites from Sugar Hills, scheduled to be published in the summer by Bordighera Press. In between poems, German mezzo-soprano Magda Gartner sang famous opera songs in Italian, English, French and German. American dancer Dani Goldstein and Japanese pianist Kanae Matsumoto rounded up the art pot.

sara fruner poet

Poet Sara Fruner, during the performance at Cell Theatre.

With its sense-stimulating mixture of art forms, the performance at Cell Theatre paid its tribute to ancient Greek culture, as Sara Fruner explains: “The combination of dance, music and poetry was what the Greeks called ‘triune Choréia,’ an aesthetic concept based on the synthesis of words, sounds and movement.”

An old idea that was brought to new life thanks to one of those connections that New York is so good at facilitating. “The idea of combining different art forms is an ancient one, but when we met Sara on a cruise on the Hudson last fall, we had a connection and planned to create art together,” Ms Gartner recalls.

Ms Fruner, who is originally from Trento, had already attempted to recreate a form of Choréia in her hometown last spring. “We had cinema instead of dance but the idea was similar. With jazz duo Radio Days (Michele Kettmeier and Fabrizio Carlin) we created an artistic melting-pot, mixing art forms that we all deeply love. In that case we had the moving image where here we have the body. But I think cinema is, in its way, a kind of dance, the dance of the gaze in front of a dream portraying a version of reality.”

Left to right: dancer Dani Goldstein, mezzo-soprano Magda Gartner, poet Sara Fruner and pianist Kanae Matsumoto.

The encounter between Sara Fruner and Gramercy Opera created a New York version of Choréia in which there is a mix not only of art forms, but also of cultures and ethnic backgrounds: all the artists involved in An Art Pot from the World are, in fact, of different nationalities, and they brought their specific sensibilities to the project. All under the artistic direction of Gramercy Opera, a New York City based Opera Company recently founded by Magda Gartner and Allison Mcauley with the goal of promoting emerging artists through operatic productions and to collaborate with various art forms encouraging a community of artists working together with the purpose of entertaining audiences in a way that is accessible, inclusive and engaging. “We are a company born out of a passionate love for opera and the burning desire to switch things up and raise the stakes,” Ms Gartner explains. “Our company encourages vocalists to incorporate movement and interpretation into their performances in a manner that strays from convention, but above all, singers that love what they do and have fun doing it. We value vulnerability, passion and art. We respect all artists and believe in the power and importance of supporting and embracing emerging and upcoming artists.”

Sara Fruner is certainly an emerging voice worth being supported. After being published in Italy on literary journals like Graphie, and included in Italian Poetry the recognized portal of Italian poetry that collects the works of major selected poets belonging to the second half of the Twentieth Century — she moved to New York and started writing her poetry in English, inspired by the complex variety of situations and human experiences that the city presented her with. She wrote over 70 poems in a year, touching topics as gentrification, diversity, black culture and immigration. Her upcoming first American book is something to look forward to.

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