SEASON PREVIEW: Thoughts on Bard’s spa for the mind

MAGICAL MUSIC, STROBE LIGHTING and handsome Finnish dancers opened the 2011 SummerScape at Bard College last week.

The Fisher Center for the Performing Arts, where much of SummerScape takes place, is tucked into the woods like a dinosaur at rest. As we arrived, its wide glass front, three stories high, welcomed early theatergoers, while across the road others delayed going indoors on a perfect summer evening. They sat at picnic tables or checked out The Parliament of Reality. This permanent outdoor installation, which features a pond and a bridge covered with wire mesh, is the creation of Olafur Eliasson.

SummerScape, a themed festival of the performing arts keyed to the chosen composer for the Bard Music Festival, takes place every year during the second and third weekends of August. Finnish composer Jean Sibelius (1865-1957) and his world are this year’s BMF subject, leading to a six-week SummerScape attuned to the cultural heritage of Scandinavia, but not rigidly wedded to it.

Thus the Finnish dancers. Choreographer Tero Saarinen and his eponymous company performed a triple bill of works created between 1996 and 2002. If you missed them, you don’t have time to regret it — every weekend, indeed every week, SummerScape offers something more.

If you relish drama, try “The Wild Duck” by Henrik Ibsen. If you’d rather keep summer light, see “Bitter Sweet,” an operetta by Noel Coward. And SummerScape is known for its full production of unusual operas, perhaps unique in our region’s offerings. This year it’s “Der Liebe der Danae” by Richard Strauss, a contemporary of Sibelius.

Every SummerScape presents an excellent film series. This year’s 16 movies begin with silent films (with live piano accompaniment) directed by Danish director Carl Dreyer and others. It continues with classics by Ingmar Bergman and concludes with a double feature of films by Aki Kaurismaki, still at work in Finland. Warning: the films do sell out. Visit fishercenter.bard.edu of call 845-758-7900 for a full schedule and ticket sales.

Leaving the Fisher Center last week, we could see, just down a campus road, glittering lights in the dark — the Spiegeltent. Here SummerScape presents even more ent

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