Friday, 22 June 2018

Today : world première of 'Drachenreiter' by Jan Pezold and Henning Kothe in Lübeck

Today, the Theater Lübeck presents the world première of Drachenreiter (Dragon Rider), a children opera with libretto and music by Jan Pezold and Henning Kothe, based on a novel by Cornelia Funke.

Cornelia Funke
Firedrake is a young dragon who lives in a hidden valley outside of London with other dragons. After realizing that humans intend to flood the valley and the dragons living there are no longer safe, Firedrake sets off with the guidance from the eldest member of his clan to avoid the 'Golden One' and to find the Rim of Heaven, a legendary location that is a safe haven for all dragons. (reproduced from wikipedia)
The cast includes Dominik Müller (Drache Lung), soprano Imke Looft (Waldkobold Schefelfell), Alexander Wilbert (Ben), bass Simon Rudolf (Drache Nesselbrand, der Goldene), countertenor Johann Moritz von Cube (Fliegenbein) and Marlon Hangmann (Professor Schwertling). Jan-Michael Krüger conducts the Lübeck Philharmonic Orchestra and the Vocalino Children Chorus. Jennifer Toelstede directs.

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Today : world première of 'Cave' by Tansy Davies in London

Today, the Royal Opera House and the London Sinfonietta present the world première of Cave, a chamber opera in 8 scenes for 2 singers and ensemble with electronics, composed by Tansy Davies, with a libretto by Nick Drake.

(c) Maurice Foxall

It is the composer's second opera after Between Worlds, first performed by English National Opera at the Barbican on April 11, 2015.
This music theatre work follows a grieving man’s quest for survival and renewal, in a dystopian future of desert shopping malls and melting ancient glaciers. Desperate to connect one last time with his lost daughter, he enters a dark cave, and so begins his journey into the underworld of spirits. (reproduced from the Royal Opera House website)
The cast include tenor Mark Padmore (Man) and contralto Elaine Mitchener (Hannah). Geoffrey Paterson conducts the London Sinfonietta. Lucy Bailey directs.

The performance should last about 60 minutes. The venue is Printworks.

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Today : world première of 'Mamzer Bastard' by Na'ama Zisser in London

Today, the Royal Opera House and the Guildhall School of Music & Drama present the world première of Mamzer Bastard, a chamber opera by Na'ama Zisser, with a libretto (in English, Hebrew and Yiddish) by Samantha Newton and Rachel C. Zisser.

It is the composer's second opera after Black Sand (London, 2013).
It is the night before Yoel’s wedding, an arranged marriage within his Orthodox Hasidic community. He is wracked with doubt. A chance encounter with a stranger reveals truths about Yoel that change everything. (reproduced from the Royal Opera House website)
The cast includes countertenor Collin Shay (Yoel), baritone Steven Page (Stranger), mezzo Gundula Hintz (Esther), tenor Robert Burt (Menash) and cantor Netanel Hershtik (David). Jessica Cottis conducts the Aurora Orchestra. Jay Scheib directs.

The venue is the Hackney Empire. The performance should last about 90 minutes (no interval).

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Just received : two programme books from Hamburg (Dvorak and Ruzicka)

This Tuesday morning, I have received in the mail two programme books published by the Staatsoper Hamburg for two new operas :

- Jan Dvorak, Frankenstein, May 20, 2018 ;
- Peter Ruzicka, Benjamin, June 3, 2018.

The first one is a 48 pages book. It contains :

- Mutability, a poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley, in English with facing translation in German ;
- Ohne eine Liebe - Die Geschichte von viktor Frankenstein und seiner Schöpfung, by director Philipp Stölzl ;
- Wie das Böse in die Welt kommt, dialogue with librettist and composer Jan Dvorak, by Janina Zell and Lisa-Michelle Helten ;
- Das verachtenswerteste Leben, by Mary Shelley ;
- Die Geburtsstunde zweier Kreaturen, excerpt of the introduction to Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus, by Mary Shelley ;
- Ein Funken des Seins, excerpt of Mary Shelley's novel ;
- Effektiver Umgang mit Unwissenheit, Brian Eno über Künstliche Intelligenz ;
- Trägt irgendjemand die Verantwortung für dieses Gebilde ? David Christian über Künstliche Intelligenz ;
- several colour photos from rehearsals and several B & W stills of Boris Karloff as Frankenstein.

The book also contains a 4 pages leaflet with complete cast and crew for the first performance.

The second is a 64 pages book. I tcontains :

- synopsis, by librettiste Yona Kim ;
- Die Suche als Daseinsform, interview with composer Peter Ruzicka and librettist Yona Kim, by Detlef Brandenburg ;
- Kontexte, by Habakuk Traber ;
- Walter Benjamin, eine musiktheatralische Metapher, by librettist Yona Kim ;
- Im Augenblick der Gefahr, by Angela Beuerle ;
- Chronology of Benjamin ;
- detailed biographies of Peter Ruzicka and Yona Kim ;
- complete libretto, in German ;
- several colour photos of rehearsals.

The book also contains a 4 pages leaflet with complete cast and crew for the first performance.

I now have 568 programme books for contemporary operas. All scanned covers have been uploaded to this flickr folder.

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Today : world première of 'El Cristo de Elqui' by Miguel Farias in Santiago

Today, the Teatro Municipal de Santiago presents the world première of El Cristo de Elqui (The Christ of Elqui), an opera in one prologue and four acts composed by Miguel Farias, with a libretto by Alberto Mayol, based on Hernán Rivera Letelier's novels The Art of the Resurrection and The Queen Isabel Sang Mexican Music.

He has already composed at least one opera, Renca, Paris y Liendres (2012).
The music is intended as an attempt to represent the voice of the desert and the northern pampas, with its passive nights and afternoons of howls of suffering and pleasure. The desert speaks during the interludes, while in the dramatic scenes, the music visits the common spaces of the Chilean north of the 20th century. They visit rancheras and boleros that unite miners, prostitutes, priests and elected, while the desert whispers the eternal song of their own voice and history that is mixed with the whistles of their silence. (reproduced from
The cast includes baritonr Patricio Sabaté (Cristo de Elqui), mezzo Evelyn Ramirez (Reina Isabel), soprano Yaritza Véliz (Magalena), mezzo Paola Rodriguez (Ambulancia) and baritone Gonzalo Araya (Cardenal). Pedro-Pablo Prudencio conducts the Orquesta Filarmonica de Santiago and the Coro del Municipal de Santiago. Jorge Lavelli directs.

The performance should last about 90 minutes.

Sunday, 3 June 2018

Today : world première of Peter Ruzicka's 'Benjamin' in Hamburg

Today, the Staatsoper Hamburg presents the world première of Benjamin, an opera in seven stations composed by Peter Ruzicka, with a libretto by Yona Kim.

It is the composer's third opera, after Celan (Dresden, March 25, 2001) and Hölderlin (Berlin, November 16, 2008).
Walter Benjamin was a German philosopher and cultural scientist. A Jew and Marxist, his path through the 20th century was irregular and meandering. The figures accompanying Benjamin on his last wanderings through life designate areas of his influence. Hannah Arendt spoke of the 'banality of evil', Benjamin’s chess partner Bertolt Brecht polemicised against his 'Jewish fascism', the Kabala researcher Gershom Scholem urged his friend to come to Israel, and with the Latvian actress Asja Lacis, Benjamin fantasised about proletarian children’s theatre. To Benjamin, it was not world revolution, but 'weak messianic power' that pointed the way to a just society. While escaping to the USA, Benjamin took his own life in the Spanish border town of Port-Bou in 1940. (reproduced from the Staatsoper Hamburg website)
The cast includes soprano Lini Gong (Asja L.), mezzo Dorottya Lang (Hannah A.), tenor Andreas Conrad (Bertolt B.) ; baritone Dietrich Henschel (Benjamin), bass Tigran Martirossian (Gerhsom Sholem) and mezzo Marta Swiderska (Dora S.). Peter Ruzicka conducts the Philharmoniches Staatsorchester Hamburg, the Choir of the Staatsoper Hamburg and the Hamburger Alsterspatzen. Yona Kim directs.

The score is published by Sikorski. According to the publisher's website, the required orchestra is the following :

- 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 3 clarinets (doubling bass clarinet) ; 3 bassoons (doubling contrabassoon) ;
- 3 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, 1 tuba ;
- timpani and 4 percussionists ;
- piano / celesta ;
- strings (

The performance should last about 100 minutes.

Walter Benjamin was already the main character of Benjamin, dernière nuit, composed by Michel Tabachnik, an opera first performed in Lyon on March 15, 2016.

Today : world première of the 2 acts version of 'An American Soldier' by Huang Ruo in Saint Louis

Today, the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis presents the world première of the new version of An American Soldier, an opera in 2 acts composed by Huang Ruo with a libretto by David Henry Hwang.

The first version was performed in Washington on June 13, 2014.
Danny Chen is the son of Chinese immigrants, and a proud American. He enlists in the US Army in 2011, eager to serve his country. In boot camp, Danny is welcomed by his band of brothers. But in Afghanistan, his own base becomes enemy territory as military hazing turns deadly. (reproduced from the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis website)
The cast includes tenor Andrew Stenson (Danny Chen), bass baritone Wayne Tigges (Sergent Aaron Marcum), mezzo Mika Shigematsu (Mother Chen) and soprano Kahtleen Kim (Josephine Young). Michael Christie conducts the Orchestra and Chorus of the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. Matthew Ozawa directs.

The score is published by Ricordi. According to the publisher, the required chamber orchestra (35 musicians) is the following :

- 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons ;
- 2 horns, 2 trumpets, 2 trombones ;
- 2 percussions ;
- strings.

The performance should last about 2 hours, including one intermission.

Saturday, 2 June 2018

Today : world première of 'Wir aus Glas' by Yasutaki Inamori in Munich

Today, the Münchner Biennale (Festival of new music theater) presents the world première of Wir aus Glas, a musical theatre piece composed by Yasutaki Inamori with a libretto by Gerhild Steinbuch.

It is the composer's first work for the stage.
An apartment, five persons, seven days: the apartment becomes a world. Comfortably packed in the interior of the bubble, familiar everyday rituals and dealing with familiar things secure and protect the persons from an outside, which for a long time now one only knows about from hearsay. Home, hearth, and living room endow identity and keep fear at bay : fear of the unknown, fear of the uncontrollable, fear of the unfamiliar. The constructed 'ideal world' is not allowed to collapse, and so the outsider becomes an aggressor, whose 'otherness' has to be suppressed, because he questions one's self. (reproduced from the Münchner Biennale website)
The cast includes soprano Alexandra Hutton, mezzo Michelle Daly, tenor Clemens Bieber ; baritone Thomas Florio and actor Steffen Scheumann. Elda Laro conducts the Opera Lab Berlin. David Hermann directs.
The instrumental ensemble consists of 1 oboe, 1 bassoon, 1 trumpet, 1 trombone / tuba, 1 violin and 1 violoncello.

The score is published by Edition Gravis.

The performance should last about 90 minutes. The venue is the Muffathalle. After five performances in Munich, the production will be performed in Berlin at the Deutsche Oper (Tischlerei), starting on June 19.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Five new programme books in my collection

I have recently acquired 5 new programme books for contemporary operas :

1) George Benjamin : Lessons in Love and Violence, London (ROH), May 10, 2018.
It is a 92 pages book. It is entirely in English. It contains :

- complete cast ;
- synopsis, by librettist Martin Crimp ;
- Creating Psychological Sound-Worlds, George Benjamin talks to Oliver Mears, the Director of Opera for the Royal Opera House ;
- colour photographs of rehearsals, by Stephen Cummiskey ;
- A Flair for the Dramatic, by Guy Dammann ;
- Love in a Political Context, Martin Crimp talks to Oliver Mears ;
- Re-imagining Edward II, by Richard Rowland ;
- The Loves of the Powerful, by Melanie Marshall ;
- biographies with black and white headshots.

2) Sidney Corbett : San Paolo, Osnabrück, April 28, 2018.
It is a 32 pages booklet. It is entirely in German. It contains :

- full cast and crew ;
- colour photographs of rehearsals ;
- synopsis ;
- Vom Filmskript zur Oper ;
- Pier Paolo Pasolini : Filmprojekt über den heiligen Paulus ;
- Klaus Englert : Pier Paolo Pasolini - Unkonventionell religiös ;
- biographies of Pier Paolo Pasolini, Paulus von Tarsus and composer Sidney Corbett.

3) Benoît Menut : Fando et Lis, Saint-Etienne, May 2, 2018.
It is a 28 pages brochure. It is entirely in French. It contains :

- complete cast and crew ;
- Une aventure ancrée dans mes veines, by director Kristian Frédric ;
- L'éloge du chant, interview with composer Benoît Menut, by Michèle Tosi ;
- complete libretto by Kristian Frédric, in French ;
- biographies of the artists, with black and white headshots.

4) Alexander Raskatov : GerMANIA, Lyon, May 19, 2018.
It is a 192 pages book. It is entirely in French. It contains :

- technical information : writing of the libretto, composition of the score, characters, orchestral setting, complete cast for the world première ;
- synopsis ;
- the characters ;
- complete original libretto (in German and Russian, with lines in Hebrew and French), with French translation ;
- Alexander Raskatov : À la mémoire de toutes les âmes ruinées ;
- Frank Langlois : GerMANIA, matériaux ;
- several other texts by Bertolt Brecht, Heiner Müller, Paul Celan, Erich Kästner, Vassili Grossman, Ossip Mandelstam, Charles de Gaulle, Vassili Axionov ;
- Laurent Brunner : À propos de Germania 3, des souvenirs dans l'histioire ;
- biographies of Raskatov and Müller.

There is a separate 24 pages booklet with complete cast and biographies.

5) José Maria Sanchez-Verdu : Argo, Schwetzingen, April 27, 2018.
It is a 64 pages book. It contains :

- complete cast and crew ;
- excerpts of : Die Fahrt der Argonauten by Apollonios von Rhodos ; Die Odyssee by Homer ;
- colour photographs of rehearsals ;
- Interview with the composer José Maria Sanchez-Verdu, by Ina Karr ;
- Bewegung als zentrales Element, by director Mirella Weingarten ;
- Die Begegnung mit dem Imaginären, by Maurice Blanchot ;
- Odysseus oder Mythos und Aufklärung, by Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno ;
- complete libretto in German ;
- biographies of artists.

I have also acquired the librettos published by Faber Music of Lessons in Love and Violence and Written on Skin, 2 operas composed by George Benjamin, with librettos by Martin Crimp.

I now have 566 programme books for contemporary. I have scanned and uploaded all the covers to this flickr folder.

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Today : world première of Jan Dvorak's 'Frankenstein' in Hamburg

Today, the Staatsoper Hamburg presents the world première of Jan Dvorak's opera Frankenstein, with a libretto in German based on Mary Shelley's novel.

(c) Julia Kneuse

It is the composer's second opera, after 20.000 Meilen unter dem Merr (Eisenach, May 28, 2011, after Jules Verne's novel).
Frankenstein, a young scientist thirsting for knowledge creates a humanoid being which drives him and itself into death. (reproduced from the Staatsoper Hamburg website).
The cast includes actress Catrin Striebeck (Das Monster), baritone Viktor Rud (Viktor Frankenstein), soprano Andromahi Raptis (Elisabeth Delacey), tenor Sascha Emanuel Kramer (Ernst Frankenstein), baritone Alin Anca (Vater Delacay) and bass baritone Stefan Sevenich (Alois Frankenstein). Johannes Harneit conducts the chorus and orchestra of the Staatsoper Hamburg. Philipp Stölzl directs.

The required orchestra is the following :

- 1 clarinet (doubling bass clarinet in B) ; 2 horns in F ;
- 1 piano (doubling Celesta and toy piano) ;
- 1 electric guitar ;
- 2 percussionists ;
- strings :

The full score published by Ricordi Berlin is available online for perusal.

The performance should last about 2 hours and 30 minutes. The venue is Kampnagel. Another opera with the same title, composed by Mark Grey, will have its first performance in Brussels on March 8, 2019.

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Today : world première of 'GerMANIA' by Alexander Raskatov in Lyon

Today, the Opéra national de Lyon presents the world première performance of GerMANIA, an opera in 2 acts and 10 scenes composed by Alexander Raskatov, with a libretto by the composer based on Heiner Müller's plays Germania Death in Berlin (1978) and Germania 3 Ghosts at Dead Man (1995).

(c) Renate Schildheuer Bunt

It is the composer's third opera after The Pit and the Pendulum (1991) and A Dog's Heart (first performed in Amsterdam on June 7, 2010, and then produced in Lyon on January 20, 2014.
This dramatic and satirical opera plunges the audience into a turning point era of the 20th century, when two totalitarian regimes, Nazism and Communism, confront each other. In this panorama of Germany, from the World War I to the reunification and the fall of the Berlin Wall, thirty-seven characters will appear on stage, among whom Hitler, Stalin and Goebbels. (freely adapted from the Opéra de Lyon website)
The cast includes tenor James Kryshak (Hitler), bass Genaddy Bezzubenkov (Stalin, Gagarin), baritone Ville Rusanen (Goebbels), soprano Sophie Desmars, countertenor Andrew Watts and baritone Boram Kim. Alejo Pérez conducts the Orchestra and Chorus of the Opéra de Lyon. John Fulljames directs.

The required orchestra is the following (reproduced from the programme book) :

- 3 flutes (doubling piccolo and alto flute), 2 oboes (doubling English horn), 3 clarinets in B (doubling E-flat clarinet, bass clarinet and contrabass clarinet), 1 tenor saxophone, 1 baritone saxophone, 2 bassoons (doubling contrabassoons) ;
- 4 horns (doubling tenor and bass Wagner tubas) ; 4 trumpets ; 1 bass trumpet, 3 trombones, 1 bass trombone, 1 tuba ;
- 7 percussion players ;
- 1 harp, 1 piano, 1 celesta, 1 electric guitar, 1 bass guitar ;
- 4 horns, 4 trumpets and 4 trombones in the auditorium.

The performance should last about 2 hours and 30 minutes.

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Today : world première of Pascal Zavaro's 'Manga-Café' in Compiègne

Today, the Théâtre Impérial de Compiègne presents the world première of Manga-Café, a chamber opera composed by Pascal Zavaro, with a libretto he wrote himself, based on the manga Densha otoko.

It is the composer's first opera.
Reality, hope or illusion ? Thomas saves from an aggression Makiko, who disappears ... Social networks help him finding her back. The Internet community comments, encourages, or warns Thomas, who ‘took refuge’ behind his computer. What is real ? What is fiction ? Has the love story between Thomas and Makiko really taken place, or is it fantasized ? Can love be virtual ? (freely adapted from the Theatre's and publisher's websites)
It will be performed as the second part of a double-bill performance, following Leonard Bernstein's Trouble in Tahiti.

The cast includes mezzo Eléonore Pancrazi (Thomas), baritone Laurent Deleuil, soprano Morgane Heyse (Makiko), tenor André Gass and baritone Philippe Brocard. Julien Masmondet conducts the Ensemble Les Apaches. Catherine Dune directs.

The score is published by Gérard Billaudot. The required orchestra is the following :

- 1 flute, 1 oboe, 1 clarinet, 1 bassoon ;
- 1 horn, 1 trumpet, 1 trombone ;
- percussion, piano ;
- string quintet.

The opera Manga-Café should last about 45 minutes. After the world première in Compiègne, the opera will be performed in Rochefort (Théâtre de la Coupe d'Or, 23 and 24 May) and in Paris (Athénée Théâtre Louis-Jouvet, 8-14 June).