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Steve Reich & Beryl Korot

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Three Tales, Steve Reich and Beryl Korot's video documentary opera, had its genesis in the early 90s, after the longtime partners unveiled their multimedia milestone The Cave and went looking for another music-theater project that would mix performance with the latest audiovisual technology. But it took them almost a decade to complete this trilogy of sharp commentaries on the last century, each segment of which focuses on a pivotal event in technological history. "Hindenburg" details the fate of the airship that crashed in 1937; "Bikini" describes the effect of A-bomb tests in the Marshall Islands after World War II; "Dolly" takes cloning as its subject. The music for the first two sections is at once exhilarating, sad, and ironic, with an abundance of the "speech melodies" built on pulsating chords that are a signature of Reich's minimalism. Korot's accompanying video montage uses mostly apt but occasionally banal images and graphics to illustrate the score or italicize its irony. "Dolly," the last and longest segment, will be given its local premiere this weekend. Reich and Korot have culled clips from video interviews with 18 scientists, including Stephen Jay Gould and Steven Pinker, and one robot, stretched out or freeze-framed them, then added percussion and outbursts from live singers. The effect is playful yet ominous--Reich and Korot embrace technology, but they also seem suspicious of it. The work will be performed by the Steve Reich Ensemble and the Synergy Vocals, who also collaborated on the recent Nonesuch CD recording. Friday and Saturday, October 3 and 4, 8 PM, Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport; 773-722-5463.

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