Sunday, 13 January 2019

Today : world première of 'Violetter Schnee' by Beat Furrer in Berlin

Today, the Staatsoper Unter den Linden in Berlin presents the world première of Violetter Schnee (Violet Snow), an opera composed by Beat Furrer with a libretto in German by Händl Klaus based on a work by Vladimir Sorokin translated by Dorothea Trottenberg.

(c) Dimitri Papageorgiou

It is the composer's 8th opera, after Die Blinden (Vienna, 1989), Narcissus (Graz, 1994), Invocation (Zurich, 2003), Wüstenbuch (Basel, 2010) and La bianca notte (Hamburg, 2015).
The world is in a state of emergency. Five people are trapped in perpetual snowdrifts. Time appears to stand still. Will this ever end ? Jacques remains apart in the middle of the group, affirming the snowfall and the nothingness that he dedicates himself to – by holding a dialogue with the snow in agreement with its uncanny effects. Peter und Silvia, by contrast, are gloomy, fearful and pessimistic. Jan and Natascha attempt to keep a perspective, continue to hope and remain active, believing that a new era will come. The ability to communicate becomes visibly more difficult for all of them. What happens namelessly alienates all of them : they have no language for it. When a stranger appears and speaks – Tanja, who moves through the landscape as if she were in a picture – she initially triggers euphoria, followed by deep isolation. She functions like a projection surface or a space of memory ; Jacques believes he sees his dead wife in her – he touches the membrane between life and death. Nothing, however, is stronger than the sun. The group is obliterated in the violet illumination of the snow. (reproduced from the Staatsoper Berlin website)
The cast includes soprano Anna Prohaska (Silvia), soprano Elsa Dreisig (Natascha), baritone Gyula Orendt (Jan), baritone George Nigl (Peter) and bass baritone Otto Katzameier. Matthis Pintscher conducts the Staatskapelle Berlin. Claus Guth directs.

The required orchestra is the following (accroding to the composer's website) :

- 3 flutes, 2 oboes, 3 clarinets, 3 bassoons ;
- saxophone ;
- 3 horns, 4 trumpets, 4 trombones, 1 tuba ;
- percussion (2 players), piano, accordion ;
- strings (

There will be four performances alltogether in January. The score is published by Bärenreiter. A perusal score is available for download on their website.

Friday, 11 January 2019

Today : world première of 'Taking Up Serpents' by Kamala Sankaram in Washington

Today, the Washington National Opera and the American Opera Initiative Festival present the world première of Taking Up Serpents, a new hour-long opera composed by Kamala Sankaram with a libretto by Jerre Dye.

Kamala Sankaram already composed several operas, including Miranda (a steampunk murder-mystery chamber opera, Here Arts Center, New York, 2012) and Formidable (Memphis, 2018).
25-year-old Kayla is the estranged daughter of a fire-and-brimstone preacher who is dangerously bitten by one of his own snakes. Kayla’s journey home forces her to confront her troubled upbringing. (reproduced from the composer's website)
The cast includes soprano Alexandria Shiner (Kayla), mezzo Eliza Bonet (Nelda) and bass Timothy J. Bruno (Daddy). Lidiya Yankovskaya conducts. Alison Moritz directs.

The venue is the Terrace Theater in the Kennedy Center.

Sunday, 16 December 2018

New programme book in my collection : 'Marx in London' by Jonathan Dove

Yesterday, I have received the programme book published by Theater Bonn for the world première of Marx in London by Jonathan Dove, first performed on December 9, 2018.

It is a 44 pages brochure. It contains :

- Die Handlung, 24 Stunden im Leben des Karl Marxs (Synopsis, 24 hours in Marx's life) ;
- Das historisch belegte Personal (the historic characters) ;
- Helmut Trotnow : Ein Leben mit und für Karl Marx : dennoch Karl, ich fühl' keine Reue ;
- Jonathan Dove über Marx in London, interview with the composer ;
- Jürgen R. Weber über Marx in London, interview with the author of the original scenario ;
- biographies of composer Jonathan Dove, librettist Charles Hart and Jürgen R. Weber ;
- Jens Baumeister : Die Weinfreunde Marx und Engel.

The programme doesn't include the cast or biographies of the artists.

I now have 608 programme books for contemporary operas. You can see all the scanned covers in this flickr folder.

Today : world première of 'Momo' by Wilfried Hiller in Munich

Today, the Gärtnerplatztheater in Munich presents the world première of Momo, a music theatre piece in 2 acts and 18 scenes composed by Wilfried Hiller, with a libretto in German by Wolfgang Adenberg based on the fairy tale novel by Michael Ende.

(c) Astrid Ackermann

Wilfried Hiller has already composed several stage works for children, including Das Traumfresserchen (1991), Peter Pan (1997), Pinocchio (2002) and Königin Gisela (2010).
Little Momo lives modestly in seclusion outside the gates of an idyllic small town. The little girl has lots of friends, as she possesses the rare gift of being able to listen to others. But one day, the mysterious Grey Gentlemen appear in the town and talk people into saving time. With the support of the wise master Hora, she declares war on the Grey Gentlemen. (reproduced from the Gärtnerplatztheater website)
The cast includes actress Anna Woll (Momo), tenor Maximilian Mayer (Gigi), baritones Holger Ohlmann (Beppo), Frank Berg (Herr Fusi) and David Spanhel (Nicola). Michael Brandstätter conducts Orchestra, Choir and Children's Choir of the Staatstheater am Gärtnerplatz. Nicole Claudia Weber directs.

The required orchestra is the following (reproduced from the full score) :

- 2 flutes (2nd doubling piccolo), oboe d'amore, 2 clarinets in Bb ;
- 3 horns in F, 2 trumpets in C, 2 trombones, tuba ;
- percussion (4 players) ;
- harp, piano ;
- strings.

The score is published by Schott Music. A perusal score is available on their website.

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Programme book for 'Die Weiden' by Johannes Maria Staud in Vienna

This morning, I have received the programme book published by the Vienna State Opera (Wiener Staatsoper) for the world première performance of Die Weiden, an opera composed by Johannes Maria Staud with a libretto by Durs Grünbein, on December 8, 2018.

It is a 140 pages book. It contains :

- Inhaltsangabe and Ausführliche Inhaltsangabe ;
- several color photos of rehearsals ;
- technical details : complete cast with tessitura, litterature sources, location and time of the action, complete orchestral setting (with detailed percussion section and musicians on stage), duration, cast for the first performance ;
- detailed biography of the composer Johannes Maria Staud ;
- detailed biography of the librettist Durs Grünbein ;
- list of operas composed by Staud ;
- excerpt of Die Weiden by Algernon Blackwood ;
- excerpt of Das Herz der Finsternis by Joseph Conrad ;
- Andreas Lang : Ein Fluss als Protagonist ;
- Johannes Maria Staud : Anmerkungen über die Musik der Weiden ;
- excerpt of Der arme Spielmann by Franz Grillparzer ;
- Oliver Rathkolb : Die Todesmärche von Engerau ;
- Miklos Radnoti : Gewaltmarsch 1944 (poem) ;
- Peter Filzmaier : Die Welt der Demagogen und Populisten ;
- Franz Tumler : Sätze von der Donau (poem) ;
- Rotraud A. Perner : 'Aber vielleicht war all das nur Wahnsinn' ;
- Ilse Aichinger : excerpt of Unglaubwürdige Reisen ;
- Konrad Paul Liessmann : 'Dreitausend Jahre denken' ;
- Hans Dieter Schäfer : Die unsichtbare Tätowierung ;
- Andreas Lang : Aber Lea verkarpft nicht..., discussion with Johannes Maria Staud and Durs Grünbein ;
- Oliver Lang : Eine Oper zum Leben erweckt, dialogue with conductor Ingo Metzmacher ;
- Andreas Lang : Eine Oper als Interpretation der Wirklichkeit, dialogue with director Andrea Moses ;
- Urs Dürbein : epilogue of the libretto.

The book is entirely in German. The Vienna State Opera has also published an English version of this book.

I now have 607 programme books for contemporary operas. You can see all the scanned covers in this flickr folder.

The three libretti written by Durs Grünbein for Joahnnes Maria Staud (Berenice, Munich, 2004, Die Antilope, Lucerne, September 3, 2014 and Die Weiden) have been published in a single volume by Suhrkamp.

Sunday, 9 December 2018

Today : world première of 'Marx in London' by Jonathan Dove in Bonn

Today, the Theater Bonn presents the world première of Marx in London, an opera composed by Jonathan Dove, with a libretto in English by Charles Hart based on an original script by Jürgen R. Weber.

Jonathan Dove is a prolific opera composer. Among his previous works for the stage are Flight (1998), The Adventures of Pinocchio (2007), Swanhunter (2009) Mansfield Park (2011) and The Day After (2015).
A day in the life of the Marx family. One of the most famous philosophers and an icon of politics, founder of one of the most influential systems of thought, in his human all-too-human everyday life. But also a day in a one of the most modern cities, London : a crazy, entertaining, exciting, but also typical day in all its dynamics and contradictions. (freely adapted from the Theater Bonn website)
The cast includes baritone Mark Morouse (Marx), soprano Yannick-Muriel Noah (Jenny), soprano Marie Heeschen (Tussi), tenor Christian Georg (Freddy), mezzo Ceri Williams (Helene), tenor Johannes Mertes (Engels) and tenor David fischer (Spy). David Parry conducts the Beethoven Orchester Bonn and the Chorus of the Theater Bonn. Jürgen R. Weber directs.

Saturday, 8 December 2018

Today : world première of 'Die Weiden' by Johannes Maria Staud in Vienna

Today, the Wiener Staatsoper presents the world première of Die Weiden (The Willows), an opera in six parts, four passages, one prolog, one prelude, one interlude and an epilogue composed by Johannes Maria Staud with a libretto by Durs Grünbein.

It is the composer's third opera after Berenice (Munich, 2004) and Die Antilope (Luzern, 2014).
The opera is a journey 'into the heart of darkness' on a major river in Central Europe today, which can unquestionably be identified as the Danube. The events are fluctuating between a travel story of two lovers falling out with each other and a surreally distorted observation of the threatening developments today. We achieve this by means of pandemoniac hallucinations on the part of one of the protagonists, as well as by the transformation motif of a man-carp. (reproduced from the Breitkopf & Härtel website)
The cast includes mezzo Rachel Frankel (Lea), baritone Tomasz Konieczny (Peter), tenor Thomas Ebenstein (Edgar), soprano Andrea Carroll (Kitty), mezzo Monika Bohinec (Lea's Mother), tenor Herbert Lippert (Lea's Father), alto Zoryana Kushpler (Peter's Mother) and bass Alexandru Moisiuc (Peter's Father). Ingo Metzmacher conducts the Orchestra and Chorus of the Wiener Staatsoper. Andrea Moses directs.

The required orchestra is the following (reproduced from the publisher's website) :

- 3 flutes (doubling alto flute and piccolo), 3 oboes (doubling English horn and musette), 3 clarinets (doubling bassethorn and double bass clarinet), soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone, 2 double bassoons ;
- 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, 1 tuba ;
- timpani and percussion (4 players) ;
- harp, piano ;
- strings (

The performance should last about 3 hours, including the intermission. The score is published by Breitkopf & Härtel.

Thursday, 29 November 2018

Today : world première of 'p r i s m' by Ellen Reid in Los Angeles

Today, the Los Angeles Opera and Beth Morrison Projects present the world première of p r i s m, an opera composed by Ellen Reid, with a libretto by Roxie Perkins.

It is the composer's third opera after Winter's Child and Hopscotch, a mobile opera for 24 cars (Los Angeles, 2015).
Locked away in a sterile room, a sickly child, Bibi, and her doting mother, Lumee, are each other’s sole protectors from the unknown. When a mysterious illness lurking outside their door leaves Bibi unable to walk, her youthful curiosity begins to simmer and a seductive external existence can no longer be ignored. (reproduced from the Prototype Festival website)
The cast includes soprano Anna Schubert (Bibi), mezzo Rebecca Jo Loeb (Lumee) and Members of the Choir of Trinity Wall Street (Chroma). Julian Wachner conducts the cast and orchestra. James Darrah directs.

The performance should last about 2 hours, including one intermission. The venue is Redcat, in the Walt Disney Concert Hall complex. The opera will also be performed in New York in January 2019 at La MaMa First Floor Theater as part of the Prototype Festival.

Sunday, 18 November 2018

Today : two new chamber operas in Brno

Today, the Janacek Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Brno presents the world première performance of two chamber operas : Falstaff by Jiří Najvar, with a libretto in Czech based on Shakespeare's character, and The Unknown Lady (Neznámá) by Daniel Šimek with a libretto in Czech based on Alexander Blok's play.

Both composers are students at the Academy.
From his comfortable place in the guest house “At the suspender”, he undertakes daring love affairs with Windsor townswomen Alice and Markéta. However, Alice and Markéta always outwit Falstaff with the help of Mrs. Quickly. Falstaff may appear to be a naïve fool who always gets tricked but he reveals his philosophy at the end of the opera: if it weren´t for his clumsiness and complete irresponsibility, life would be boring and the townspeople would be unable to show off how virtuous they are.

The heroes of the opera are a Poet who is looking for an unknown girl and the “Unknown” girl herself, who is named Marie and is a star which has fallen to earth. The main theme of the opera is the search for one´s own ideal, and the situations when one really recognizes it. (reproduced from the Janacek Academy website)
Both operas will be performed by students of the Academy. The venue is the Orli Street Theatre.

Friday, 16 November 2018

Today : world première of 'Nous sommes éternels' by Pierre Batholomée in Metz

Today, the Opéra Théâtre Metz Métropole presents the world première of Nous sommes éternels (We Are Eternal), an opera in 3 acts composed by Pierre Batholomée with a libretto by Pierrette Fleutiaux and Jérôme Fronty after Fleutiaux's own novel.

It is the composer's third opera after Œdipe sur la route (Brussels, 2003) and La Lumière Antigone (Brussels, 2007).
Estelle, the only survivor of her family, seeks to understand the lie of her childhood and the destruction of her family. Dan and Estelle, brought up as brother and sister, loved each other with a crazy love, which they thought forbidden. Fate has fallen on them as on the rest of the family. "We are eternal," they said as children ... (freely adapted from the Opéra de Metz website)
The cast includes soprano Karen Vourc'h (Estelle), soprano Aline Metzinger (Nicole), mezzo Joëlle Charlier (Tirésia), tenor Sébastien Guèze (Dan), baritone Mikhael Piccone (Alwyn) and baritone Mathieu Gardon (Helleur). Patrick Davin conducts the Orchestre national de Lorraine. Vincent Goethals directs.

The performance should last 2 hours and 5 minutes, with no intermission.

Thursday, 15 November 2018

Today : world première of 'Fin de partie' by György Kurtag in Milan

Today, the Teatro alla Scala in Milan presents the world première of Fin de partie, an opera in one act composed by György Kurtag, with a libretto based on Samuel Beckett's play.

(c) Andrea Felvégi

It is the composer's first opera.
The setting is a bare, partially underground room, serving as shelter for the four characters: Hamm the master, Clov his servant, and Hamm's father and mother, Nagg and Nell (who live in garbage cans). Hamm is in a wheelchair and makes Clov move him around the room, fetch objects, and look out the window for signs of life. Outside all seems dead and nothing happens. Inside, the characters pass the time mortifying each other and toying with fears and illusions of a possible change, all along sensing the inevitability of their end. (reproduced from Dr. Fidel Fajardo-Acosta's website)
The cast includes bass baritone Frode Olsen (Hamm), baritone Leigh Melrose (Clov), contralto Hilary Summers (Nell) and tenor Leonardo Cortellazzi (Nagg). Markus Stenz conducts the Orchestra of the Teatro alla Scala. Pierre Audi directs.

The first performance will be broadcast live by Rai Radio 3. The opera will later be performed in Amsterdam in March 2019, with exactly the same cast.

The score is published by Editio Musica Budapest.

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Today : world première of 'i.c.o.n.' by Frederik Neyrinck in Kortrijk

Today, the Next Festival in Kortrijk (Courtrai) presents the world première of i.c.o.n., an opera composed by Frederik Neyrinck, with a libretto by Sabryna Pierre.

It is the composer's first opera.
After almost one and a half century, the death mask of L'inconnue de la Seine keeps fascinating us. The mysterious smile on the face of this young unknown woman, who was supposed to have drowned in the Seine, meanwhile has acquired cult status. The opera shifts the myth to the contemporary visual culture, thus giving the initial impetus to a universal story about beauty, transitoriness and death. It is a hybrid mix of photo shoot, filmset and concert, throwing a light on how we deal with the human portrait today. There is live portraying on stage and quasi immediately photo and film appear on the screen. The border between the artist on stage and the spectactor in the audience is blurred. Icon becomes beholder, model becomes photographer, man becomes woman and victim in its turn perpetrator. (reproduced from the Next Festival website)
The cast includes soprano Liselot De Wilde and actor Tibo Vandenborre. Joey Marijs conducts the Asko Schönberg Ensemble. Charlotte Bouckaert and Steve Salembier (Atelier Bildraum) direct.

The venue is Budascoop in Kortrijk. The production will then travel to Amsterdam (Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ), Gent (Minardschouwburg), Luxembourg (Grand Théâtre, Studio), Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (Lisbon) and deSingel (Antwerpen).