Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Received in the mail this morning : program book for Iain Grandage's opera 'The Riders' in Melbourne

This Tuesday morning, I have received in the mail the program book published by Victorian Opera in Melbourne for the world première of Iain Grandage's opera The Riders. It was first performed on September 23rd in the Merlyn Theatre (Coopers Malthouse).

It is a 32 pages brochure, and it contains :

- messages from Richard Mills (artistic director and conductor), Marion Potts (artistic director and director), Iain Grandage (composer), Alison Croggon (librettist) ;
- complete cast and crew ;
- synopsis ;
- biographies with pictures.

On the composer's website, this work is listed as his first opera, though his catalogue already includes Dryblower and the Water Girl (opera for children, 2002) and Red Cap (musical, 2007), among other stage works.

The librettist Alison Croggon transformed Tim Winton's novel into a libretto. Here is what she wrote about it :
The Riders is about a man whose wife inexplicably abandons him and his daughter. Scully, one of Wintons's bluff, emotionally inarticulate men, is renovating a house in Ireland, waiting for this wife Jennifer and his daughter Billie to arrive from Perth and complete the home he is making for them. But when he goes to the airport, only Billie, traumatised and silent, is waiting for him. The novel consists of what unravels after this event, as Scully hunts frantically through Europe for his wife. (reproduced from the program book).
Grandage wrote his score for a chamber orchestra including : violin, viola, cello, double bass, recorders, bass clarinet, horn, trumpet, trombone, bass trombone, guitars, piano, accordion, sampler and percussion.

The cast for the world première was : Barry Ryan (Scully), Jessica Aszodi (Jennifer), Isabela Calderon (Billie), Dimity Shepherd (Marianne), David Rogers-Smith (Alex) and Jerzy Kozlowski (Arthur). Members of the Orchestra Victoria were conducted by Richard Mills. The opera was directed by Marion Potts with sets and costumes designed by Dale Ferguson.

The performance of September 27th was recorded by ABC and broadcast by ABC Classic FM on Sunday, November 30th. The duration was 98 minutes.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Received in the mail this morning : program book for Jüri Reinvere's 'Peer Gynt' in Oslo

This morning, I have received in the mail the program book published by the Norwegian National Opera for the world première of Jüri Reinvere's opera Peer Gynt.

It is a 44 pages brochure. It contains :

- detailed synopsis ;
- complete cast (with photos in character) and crew ;
- an article by the stage director on her staging this new opera ;
- an interview with the singer of the title role, Nils Harald Sødal ;
- an interview with the composer ;
- biographies of performers.

The book in entirely written in Norwegian, with the exception of three pages in English : a foreword by Per Boye Hansen, opera director, and the detailed synopsis. I had already received by e-mail word files of the interview with the stage director and the complete libretto, both in English.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Today : world première of 'Valentina' by Arturs Maskats in Riga

Today, the first opera of Latvian composer Arturs Maskats, Valentina, will be performed by the Latvian National Opera in Riga.


The libretto (2 acts), written by Liana Langa and the composer, celebrates film historian Valentina Freimane through pages of national chronicle from 1939 to 1944.
Valentina Freimane’s childhood was divided between Riga and Berlin where her father worked as an attorney for UFA film-studios and her mother was an enchanting society lady entertaining the elite of the cinema world the family virtually lived in under their roof. On their return to Riga, future film historian’s intelligentsia family is surprised by the Holocaust unprepared. It claims lives of Valentina’s parents and husband, and the young woman is forced to hide from authorities till the end of the war.
‘Valentina Freimane’s life story is inextricably inter-twined with events of Latvian and European history opening for the eye a panoramic view of the era in all its richness of color and in all its contradictions. The most dramatic moments of Valentina’s life have coincided with the notable events of the 20th century history : the loss of independence of Latvia when an enormous spiritual force was required in order to survive physically and morally; however, our opera is more than just about politics: a love story and deep feelings shoot through all of its events,’ says Arturs Maskats. (reproduced from the Latvian National opera website, where a detailed synopsis is available)
Today, Valentina Freimane lives and works in Berlin as well as in Riga. The cast includes Inga Kalna (soprano, Valentina), Janis Apeinis (baritone, Dima), Raimonds Bramanis (tenor, Aleksey), Rihars Macanovskis (baritone, Valdis), Ieva Parsa (mezzo, Alma). Modestas Pitrenas conducts and Viestur Kairish directs.
The first performance will be broadcast live on Latvijas Radio 3 Klasika.

Today : world première of 'A Christmas Carol' by Iain Bell in Houston

Today, the new chamber opera composed by Iain Bell, A Christmas Carol, with a libretto by Simon Callow after Charles Dickens, will be performed in Houston.

The libretto is in fact based on the one-man version Dickens himself prepared for public readings and performed more than a 100 times.
Near the end of the workday on Christmas Eve, Scrooge, a penurious businessman, grudgingly gives his clerk Bob Cratchit the next day off for the holiday. When Scrooge returns home, he is visited by the ghost of his former partner, Jacob Marley, who died on Christmas Eve seven years previously. Marley wears a long, heavy chain and warns Scrooge that he faces the same fate unless he mends his selfish ways. Marley warns that Scrooge will be visited by three spirits. Scrooge is visited in turn by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Yet to Come. At the end of the final visit, Scrooge implores the spirit to reverse his fate, promising to be a new man. (reproduced from Houston Grand Opera website)
The tenor Jay Hunter Morris will be the Narrator, accompanied by a 15-player chamber orchestra. Warren Jones conducts and Simon Callow directs. The opera will be performed at the Cullen Theater in the Wortham Theater Center.
It is Bell's second opera. His first, A Harlot's Progress, based on William Hogarth's engravings, was first performed in Vienna in October 2013.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Received in the mail this Thursday morning : program book for François Fayt's 'Das schwarze Blut' in Erfurt

This Thursday morning, I have received in the mail the program book published by Theater Erfurt for the world première performance of François Fayt's opera Das schwarze Blut. It is entirely in German.

It is a 32 pages brochure and it contains :
- photos of the production ;
- synopsis ;
- chronology of Louis Guilloux's life (French writer who wrote the original novel) ;
- the year 1917 in Europe ;
- biography of the composer ;
- an article on François Fayt's music ;
- the complete cast and crew ;
- an article on adapting the novel ;
- an article on the opera, written by the dramaturge in charge of the production ;
- biographies of performers with photos.