Thursday, 25 September 2014

Today : world première of Kris Defoort's 'Daral Shaga' in Limoges

Today, Kris Defoort's new opera, Daral Shaga, will be performed for the first time in Limoges, France.

It is the composer's third opera, after The Woman who Walked into Doors (Ghent, 2001) and The House of Sleeping Beauties (Brussels, 2009). The libretto in French has been written by Laurent Gaudé.

Daral Shaga is the story of a wall standing between two worlds, a wall some manage to get across, but others may never reach. That wall shuts one out from everything especially freedom.
Young Nadra and her migrant father, along with the choir, tell about a voyage, a crossing and the loss of identity. It is about a contemporary and timeless issue : the dream of an exile, in which all kinds of arts combine, and eventually narrate a universal tale about indignation as a way to stand up against despair and freedom, against oblivion. In the very middle of all this, a God gets created as he gives up the race : Daral Shaga is, indeed, the one who has not succeeded in crossing the wall. (reproduced from
The opera should last about 90 minutes. It is conceived for three singers (mezzo soprano Michaele Riener, bass Maciej Straburzynski and baritone Tiemo Wang), three musicians (Fabian Fiorini, piano, Lode Vercampt, cello and Bogdan Varlan, clarinet) and circassian artists (Feria Musica). Philippe de Coen conducts and Fabrice Murgia directs.

The opera will also be performed in Besançon (October 2014), Strasbourg (December 2014) and Grenoble (March 2015).

Monday, 22 September 2014

Received in the mail : Rolf Riehm, 'Sirenen', program book

This Monday morning, I have received the program book for the world première performance of Rolf Riehm's Sirenen from Frankfurt in the mail.

The 72 pages book (in German) contains :

- a detailed chronology of the conception, composing, producing and staging the opera ;
- a plot summary ;
- some samples of the composer's writings about his music ;
- texts and poems that have inspired the composer in writing his libretto ;
- color pictures of the staging ;
- a separate booklet with the complete cast, photos and biographies of the artists ;
- a short synopsis in English.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Today : World première of Rolf Riehm's 'Sirenen' in Frankfurt

Today, Rolf Riehm's new opera, Sirenen - Scenes of Desire and Destruction will receive its world première performance in Frankfurt. 

It is the composer's second opera, twenty years after Das Schweigen der Sirenen, with a libretto after Franz Kafka. This time, the composer wrote his own libretto based on Homer's Odyssey.

The orchestra consists of 16 woodwinds, 12 brass, 4 percussionists, piano, accordion, keyboard and 32 strings. There will be no interval and the opera should last about 95 minutes.

Here is how the opera house presents the work, quoting the composer :
A passionate twist to the Odyssey, something which could happen to anyone at some point in their life. When nothing promises safety, nothing can be trusted any more, but is real. Circe, knowing she must let her beloved Odysseus leave, devises a plan. She sends his ship past the sirens, knowing all too well that his survival will inevitably mean their death. "The main theme in the opera," said the composer, "is Odysseus, his encounter with the goddess Circe and the mesmerising, lethal, song of the sirens. I would be delighted if my music could make it clear that we, like Circe, the sirens and Odysseus, could also find ourselves in danger when caught up in conflicts of love, betrayal, leave taking and desire." (reproduced from the website)
The cast is the following : Tanja Ariane Baumgartner (Kirke), Lawrence Zazzo (young Odysseus), Michael Mendel (old Odysseus), Dominic Betz (Telegonos) and 8 sirens. Martyn Brabbins conducts and Tobias Heyder directs.

Radio HR2 dedicated part of its breakfast program to the composer yesterday, but there seems to be no broadcast of the opera planned yet.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

New productions or revivals of recent operas (5)

During the 2014-2015 season, several recent operas will be performed, sometimes with new productions.

- John Adams : A Flowering Tree, conducted by Joana Carneiro, directed by Nicola Raab, in Göteborg, in January 2015 (Scandinavian première). The opera was first performed in Vienna in 2006, and has been staged several times, in Cincinnati and in Paris, among others ;
- John Adams : I was looking at the ceiling and then I saw the sky, in Roma in September 2015, conducted by Alexander Briger and directed by Giorgio Barberio Corsetti. This is a revival of the original production from Paris, first performed in June 2013 ;
- Daniel Catan : Florencia en el Amazonas, conducted by Carolyn Kuan, directed by Francesca Zambello, in Washington (DC), in September 2014. This is the original production from 1996 in Houston. It has been performed several times in Los Angeles, Seattle, Cincinnati, Denver and Salt Lake City ;
- André Previn : A Streetcar Named Desire, conducted by Joseph Mechavich, directed by José Maria Condemi, in Louisville, KY, in February 2015. Since the world première in San Francisco in September 1998, this opera has become a classic, with a number a productions in North America, Europe and Asia ;
- Kevin Puts : Silent Night, conducted by Joseph Mechavich and directed by David Gately, in Calgary, in November 2014. This new production will mark the Canadian première of this work already performed in several American opera houses and in Wexford. Another production will be staged in Montréal in May 2015.

Received in the mail this Saturday morning

Today, I have received the following items in the mail :

- Calgary, Opera : 2014-2015 season leaflet ;
- Detmold, Landestheater : October 2014 leaflet ;
- Freiberg, Mittelsächsisches Theater : 2014-2015 season program book ;
- Nürnberg, Staatstheater : 2014-2015 season program book ;
- Parma, Teatro regio : Festival Verdi 2014 program book ;
- Portland, Opera : 2014-2015 season brochure ;
- Roma, Teatro dell'Opera : 2014-2015 program brochure.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Received in the mail this Wednesday morning

This Wednesday morning, I receved the following items in the mail :

- Detroit : Michigan Opera Theatre : 2014-2015 season brochure ;
- Erfurt : Theater : 2014-2015 season program book ;
- Kiel, Theater : october 2014 leaflet ;
- Münster, Theater : August-September 2014 magazine, August-September and October 2014 leaflets.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Received in the mail : Johannes Maria Staud, 'Die Antilope', program book

This Tuesday morning, I have received in the mail the program book for the new opera by Johannes Maria Staud, Die Antilope, which was first performed in Lucerne last week.

The 60 pages booklet contains :

- the complete cast with the technical team,
- black and white pictures,
- plot summary,
- an article on the opera (with the title The Cycle of Life),
- detailed biographies of composer and librettist,
- questions and answers with the composer and the librettist (separate),
- the complete libretto,
- and short biographies of cast members, with pictures.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Received in the mail this morning

This morning, I have received the following documents in the mail :

- Compiègne, Théâtre Impérial : 2014-2015 season program book ;
- Darmstadt, Staatstheater : 2014-2015 season program book ;
- Maastricht, Opera Zuid : 2014-2015 season brochure ;
- Monte-Carlo, Opéra : 2014-2015 season program book.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Recently received in the mail

I have recently received the following items in the mail :

- Frankfurt, Alte Oper : October 2014 leaflet ;
- Giessen, Stadttheater : October 2014 leaflet
- Linz, Landestheater : September and October 2014 leaflets ;
- Ludwigshafen, Theater im Pfalzbau : Festspiele Ludwigshafen leaflet ;
- Magdeburg, Theater : 2014-2015 season program book ;
- Montpellier, Opéra Orchestre National : 2014-2015 season program book ;
- Trier, Theater : September and October 2014 leaflets ;
- Weimar, Deutsches Nationaltheater und Staatskapelle : October 2014 leaflet ;
- Wien, Volksoper : October 2014 leaflet.

Today : world première of Laura Kaminsky's opera 'As One' in New York (BAM)

Today, the Brooklyn Academy of Music presents the world première performance of Laura Kaminsky's first opera As One, commissioned by American Opera Projects.

 The libretto has been written by Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed. The opera requires two singers and a string quartet.
As One explores the revelatory and redemptive journey of a transgender individual wrestling with profound ontological issues. As One challenges normative performance modalities while addressing the complex and multifarious concerns confronted by a significant outsider population.  It will be an impactful and artistically compelling response to a matter that resonates loudly today across the LGBT community specifically, and the rest of society more generally.  As One provides insights into both the personal and philosophical questions at the core of how personhood is defined, as well as into the compromised civil and humans rights of transgender individuals in the broader societal framework. (reproduced from
The opera will be performed by mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke and baritone Kelly Markgraf as both sides of its sole transgender protagonist, Hannah, as she endeavors to resolve the discord between her self and the outside world. They will be joined by the Fry Street Quartet, with Steven Osgood conducting and Ken Cazan directing. Librettist Kimberly Reed has also directed the film included in the work.

The libretto can be downloaded from the BAM website.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Today : World première of 'Die Antilope' by Johannes Maria Staud

Today, the second opera by 40 year old Austrian composer Johannes Maria Staud, Die Antilope, with a libretto by Durs Grünbein, will be performed in Luzern (Luzerner Theater). It is a coproduction with the Oper Köln.

Die Antilope (c) Tanja Dorendorf, T+T Fotografie

Here is what the composer writes about this new opera :
“The opera tells the story of a young man, Victor, a character that draws on Victor Krap (Samuel Beckett, Eleutheria) and Bartleby, the Scrivener (Herman Melville). Victor, a nonconformist social outsider, escapes from an increasingly claustrophobic company party (complete with stagnant and meaningless party chit-chat) by jumping out of the window. This results in Victor stumbling through an absurdly distorted urban world, his ‘journey through the night’ leading him to the strangest situations, sometimes menacing and appalling, sometimes funny and grotesque, always wavering on the threshold between real and unreal. Our hero is torn between the desire to be an outside observer, a spontaneous man of action (he is not immune to moral indignation) and allowing himself to be swept away by the dynamics of the curious situations in which he finds himself. At the end of this journey, Victor – whose true motivation remains a mystery – turns up unexpectedly back at the company party under extremely strange circumstances. The party, which had been frozen in time during his absence, resumes as if nothing had happened. The Möbius band has closed.”. (reproduced from
The opera should last about 75 minutes, requires 7 singers, SATB chorus and an orchestra of 18 and strings (7 woodwinds, 6 brass, 2 percussionists, accordion, MIDI-piano, alto sax, strings).

The cast includes : Jutta Maria Böhnert, Todd Boyce, Flurin Caduff, Szymon Chojnacki, Utku Kuzuluk, Eun-Kyong Lim, Carlo Maffioletti and Jeanett Neumeister. Howard Arman conducts and Dominique Mentha directs.

His first opera, Berenice, after Edgar Allan Poe, was first performed in Munich in May 2004, then revised and premièred in Heidelberg in November 2005.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Newly acquired : Tchaikowsky - The Merchant of Venice - DVD

I have bought the DVD recording of the world première production of André Tchaikowsky's opera The Merchant of Venice, with a libretto after William Shakespeare, just released by EuroArts.

Recorded last year in Bregenz, it was conducted by Erik Nielsen and directed by Keith Warner. The cast included Richard Angas, christopher Ainslie, Charles Workman, Adrian Clarke, Adrian Eröd, Kathryn Lewek and Magdalena Anna Hofmann, among others.

There is a second DVD with a 50 minutes documentary on the planning of this production, from the choice of the work and the team to the final rehearsals. I attended the three performances in Bregenz last year, and it is great to have this unique production on DVD.