‘Refuse the Hour’ chamber opera explores the nature of time

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A scene from William Kentridge's "Refuse the Hour."

The Yale Repertory Theatre’s “No Boundaries” performance series will kick off with the multimedia chamber opera “Refuse the Hour,” conceived by noted South African artist William Kentridge.

For the chamber opera, Kentridge (who wrote the libretto) joins forces with composer Philip Miller, choreographer Dada Masilo, and Harvard physicist Peter Galison to deliver a blend of art and performance. Sharing the stage with a menagerie of strange machines of his own invention, along with singers, dancers, and musicians, Kentridge conjures a profound exploration of the nature of time.

“Refuse the Hour” is meant to take Kentridge’s earlier work, “The Refusal of Time,” to a new level. “The Refusal of Time” was originally commissioned for DOCUMENTA in 2012. Created with Galison, the installation is a meditation on different historical conceptions of time and the complex legacies of colonialism and industry.

“Refuse the Hour” was originally co-commissioned by Holland Festival, Amsterdam; Festival d’Avignon, RomaEuropa Festival/Teatro di Roma in Rome; and the Onassis Cultural Center in Athens. Additional support was provided by Marian Goodman Gallery in New York, Paris, and London; Lia Rumma Gallery in Naples and Milan; and The Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg and Cape Town.

Kentridge’s work has been seen in museums and galleries around the world since the 1990s, including at the Musuem of Modern Art in New York and La Scala in Milan. His production of Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” was presented at Théatre de la Monnaie in Brussels, Festival d’Aix, and in 2011 at La Scala. He directed Shostakovich’s “The Nose” for the Met Opera in New York in 2010 to coincide with a major exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art. Also in 2010 the Musée du Louvre in Paris presented “Carnets d’Egypte,” a project conceived especially for the Egyptian room at the Louvre.

In the same year, Kentridge received the prestigious Kyoto Prize in recognition of his contributions in the fields of art and philosophy. In 2011 he was elected an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. More recently, he presented the Charles Eliot Norton Lectures at Harvard University, was elected as a member of the American Philosophical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and was awarded the Dan David Prize by Tel-Aviv University. He also was named as Commandeur dans l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture and Communication. In 2013, he received an honorary doctorate in fine arts from Yale.

There will be two performances only of “Refuse the Hour,” on Nov. 6 at 8 p.m. and Nov. 7 at 2 p.m. Performances, which will be followed by Q&A sessions, will take place in the University Theatre, 222 York St. The event is co-sponsored by the Andrew Carnduff Ritchie Fund, Yale Center for British Art, the Yale Institute of Sacred Music, the Yale School of Music, and the Yale University Art Gallery. Tickets are $50-$70 ($25 for students) and are available online at yalerep.org, by phone at 203-432-1234; and at the Yale Rep box office, 1120 Chapel St.

Several programs are offered in conjunction with “Refuse the Hour.” On Sunday, Nov. 8, at 3 p.m., Kentridge will deliver a lecture titled “Peripheral Thinking,” in which he examines opportunities for learning from the edges and talks about his current project, “Notes Towards a Model Opera.” The event is free and open to the public, but space is limited. The lecture takes place at the Yale University Art Gallery, 1111 Chapel St. Doors open at 2 p.m.

Kentridge employs a variety of media — including drawing, animation, sound, and video — to reflect on larger themes such as violence, fear, the relationship between text and image, and the legacies of art, literature, and science. Two of his video installations, “What Will Come” (2007) and “NO, IT IS” (2012), along with a selection of his prints, are on view through January at the Yale University Art Gallery.

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Media Contact

Steven Padla: steven.padla@yale.edu, 203-432-1574