Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Today : world première of 'Carlotta ou la Vaticane' by Dominique Gesseney in Fribourg

Today, the new opera composed by Swiss composer Dominique Gesseney Rappo, Carlotta ou la Vaticane, will be performed for the first time in Fribourg.

The libretto by the Christophe Passer is based on real facts that happened in the Vatican City in 1998. It describes the passion, ambition and betrayal between a Swiss Guard, his wife, a beautiful young girl, her lover and a traitorous priest (see detailed synopsis in French on the Opéra de Fribourg website)

The cast includes soprano Claudia Moulin (Carlotta), tenor Julien Dran (Tibère), bass Sébastien Lemoine (Konrad von Kurstein), soprano Delphine Gillot (Gloria von Kurstein) and tenor Christophe Crapez (Don Eliseo). Laurent Gendre conducts the Orchestre de Chambre Fribourgeois and the Opéra de Fribourg Chorus. Denis Maillefer directs.

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Today : world première of 'A Christmas Tale' by Rodion Shchedrin in St. Petersburg

Today, the new opera-féerie in two parts composed by Rodion Shchedrin, A Christmas Tale, will be performed at the Mariinsky II in St. Petersburg.

The libretto by the composer is based on motifs of the fairy-tale by Božena Němcová translated by Nikolai Leskov and Russian folk fairy-tales.
The story tells of a beautiful, hardworking but unloved stepdaughter and her search for a violet in the snow. Ultimately she receives help from the months of the year and her kindheartedness is rewarded.(reproduced from the Schott music website)
It is the compoer's fourth opera, after Lolita (1993), The Enchanted Wanderer (2002) and The Left-Hander (2013). The cast includes soprano Pelageya Kurennaya (Zamarashka), mezzo soprano Yekaterina Sergeyeva (Great Queen), bass Oleg Sychov (Woodcutter), soprano Larisa Yudina (Zlydnia), mezzo Anna Kiknadze (Stepmother), baritone Sergei Romanov (Chancellor) and 12 more singers playing the 12 months of the year. Valery Gergiev conducts the cast, a large chorus and the orchestra. Alexei Stepanyuk directs.

The required orchestra is a large one, with a large percussion set (5 players) and including domra, harp, piano and synthesizer. The opera should last about 2 hours.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Today : world première of Johanna Doderer's 'Fatima' in Vienna

This morning, the new children opera composed by Austrian Johanna Doderer, Fatima oder von den mutigen Kindern, will be performed in Vienna, at the State Opera House (Wiener Staatsoper).

The libretto is based on a children's story by the Syrian-German writer Rafik Schami :
Fatima is a clever and courageous young girl from a poor family who must take on a bet with the evil lord of the castle. Provided she wins, all the children’s dreams held captive in the castle will be set free. In the end she is even able to take the golden stardust home with her, putting an end to her family’s bitter poverty. (repoduced from the Wiener Staatsoper website)
The cast includes tenor Carlos Osuna (Hassan), soprano Andrea Carroll (Fatima) and bass baritone Sorin Coliban (feudal lord). Benjamin Bayl conducts and Henry Masson directs. The opera should last about 90 minutes.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Received in the mail this morning : program book for 'Morgen und Abend' in London

This Wednesday morning, I have received in the mail the program book for Morgen und Abend, by composer Georg Friedrich Haas.

It was first performed at the Royal Opera House (Covent Garden) in London on Friday November 13th. It is a 100 pages book and it contains :

- complete cast and crew ;
- black and white photos of rehearsals ;
- Waht Can It Mean ?, by Will Richmond ;
- The Music of Georg Friedrich Haas; by Tim Rutherford-Johnson ;
- 'Perhaps...' : Jon Fosse in the Theatre, by Andrew Dickson ;
- The Undiscovered Country, by Andrew Davison ;
- extensive biographies of composer Georg Friedrich Haas and librettist Jon Fosse ;
- biographies of artists, most of them with black and white headshots.

In this flickr folder, you can see the scanned covers of all 382 program books for contemporary operas I have in my collection.

Monday, 14 December 2015

New in my collection : program book for John Harbison's 'The Great Gatsby' in Dresden

This Monday morning, I have received in the mail the program book published by the Semperoper Dresden for the European première performance of John Harbison's The Great Gatsby.

It is a 48 pages book. It contains :

- synopsis of the opera ;
- an interview with the composer, by Stefan Ulrich ;
- an interview withe director Keith Warner, by Stefan Ulrich ;
- Fitzgerald und die "Lost Generation", by Stefan Ulrich ;
- Glimmerwelt und fahler Schein der "Goldenen Zwanziger", by Katrin Böhnisch ;
- Großstadt und Maschine : die Darstellung New Yorks, by Heinz Ickstadt ;
- colour photos of the production.

The whole book is in German. There is a synopsis in Engish at the end of it. It is completed by a separate 24 pages booklet with the complete cast and biographies of the artists.

In this flickr folder, you can see the scanned covers of all 381 program books for contemporary operas I have in my collection.

Monday, 7 December 2015

Today : world première of 'Bel Canto' by Jimmy Lopez in Chicago

Today, the new opera composed by Jimmy Lopez, Bel Canto, with a libretto by Nilo Cruz after Ann Patchett's novel, will be performed in Chicago (Lyric Opera) at the Civic Opera House.

It is the first lyrical work by Jimmy Lopez. The original novel was inspired by the Japanese embassy hostage crisis in Lima, Peru :
The crisis began on 17 December 1996 in Lima, Peru, when 14 members of the Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) took hostage hundreds of high-level diplomats, government and military officials and business executives who were attending a party at the official residence of the Japanese ambassador to Peru, Morihisa Aoki, in celebration of Emperor Akihito's 63rd birthday. Although strictly speaking the crisis took place at the ambassadorial residence in the upscale district of San Isidro rather than at the embassy proper, the media and others referred to it as the "Japanese embassy" hostage crisis, and that is how it is conventionally known.
Most of the hostages were soon released. After being held hostage for 126 days, the remaining dignitaries were freed on 22 April 1997, in a raid by Peruvian Armed Forces commandos, during which one hostage, two commandos, and all the MRTA militants were killed. The operation was perceived by most Peruvians to be a great success, and it gained worldwide media attention. President Alberto Fujimori initially received much credit for saving the lives of the hostages. (reproduced from wikipedia)
The libretto is a dramatization of these events :
Superstar American diva Roxane Coss has flown to Peru to sing at the vice president's home for a visiting Japanese mogul who is an opera buff. Dignitaries of every nationality are there — but an international crisis explodes when terrorists storm the mansion and take everyone hostage. Isolated for months, unlikely alliances form between captors and captives as fear and anger mingle uneasily with desire and even love. (reproduced from the LOC website)
The cast includes soprano Danielle de Niese (Roxane Coss), mezzo-soprano J'nai Bridges (Carmen), tenor Rafael Davila (General Alfredo), tenor Andrew Stenson (General Watanabe), bass-baritone Jeongcheol Cha (Katsumi Hosokawa) and tenor William Burden (Rubén Iglesias). Sir Andrew Davis conducts the Chorus and Orchestra of the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Kevin Newbury directs.

The opera should last about 2 hours and 30 minutes. The libretto includes lines in the following languages : Spanish, English, Japanese, Russian, German, French, Latin and Quechua.

The orchestra setting is the following :

- 3 flutes, 3 oboes, 3 clarinets, 3 bassoons ;
- 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, 1 tuba ;
- timpani, and percussions (3 musicians) ;
- harp, piano and strings.

A digital copy of the program can be downloaded on the LOC website. The first performance will be broadcast live by classical music radio WFMT.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Today : European première of John Harbison's 'The Great Gatsby' in Dresden

Today, John Harbison's opera The Great Gatsby, with a libretto by the composer after F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel, will have its first performance in Europe at the Semper Oper in Dresden.

The opera was commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera in New York to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the debut of conductor James Levine. It was first performed there on December 20, 1999. The cast included tenor Jerry Hadley (Jay Gatsvy), soprano Dawn Upshaw (Daisy Buchanan), tenor Mark W. Baker (Tom Buchanan), baritone Dwayne Croft (Nick Carraway), mezzo-soprano Susan Graham (Jordan Baker), bass Richard Paul Fink (George Wilson) and mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson (Myrtle Wilson). James Levine conducted and Mark Lamos directed.

The same production was also performed at the Civic Opera House in Chicago in October 2000 and then revived at the Met in April 2002. In February 2012, a reduced version, with re-orchestration for 30 musicians (instead of the original 120) by  Jacques Desjardins, was performed by Ensemble Parallèle in San Francisco.

The cast for the Dresden performances includes Peter Lodahl (Jay Gatsby), Maria Bengtsson (Daisy Buchanan), Raymond Very (Tom Buchanan), John Chest (Nick Carraway), Christina Bock (Jordan Baker), Lester Lynch (George Wilson) and Angel Blue (Myrtle Wilson). Wayne Marshall conducts the Sächsischer Staatsopernchor and the Staatskapelle Dresden. Keith Warner directs.

In my collection, I have the libretto published by G. Schirmer :

It includes the complete cast of characters with tessituras and a detailed scenario.

In 2014, on the occasion of the 40th anniversay of James Levine's debut, a recording of the broadcast of January 1, 2000, was released by the Met.

Full information on the opera, including full score, reduced version, vocal score and libretto are available on the Music Sales Classical website.

Friday, 4 December 2015

Today : world première of Mark Adamo's 'Becoming Santa Claus' in Dallas

Today, Mark Adamo's new opera, Becoming Santa Claus, with a libretto by the composer, will be performed in Dallas, TX, at the Winspear Opera House.

It is Adamo's fourth opera, after Little Women (Houston, 1998), Lysistrata (Houston, 2005) and The Gospel of Mary Magdalene (San Franisco 2013).
In an Elven kingdom in the Far, Far North, Prince Claus will celebrate his 13th birthday with the party to end all parties; however, a bright star has signaled a momentous birth. Claus decides to dazzle this newborn with an assortment of the very latest toys before discovering that love is the most treasured gift of all. (reproduced from the Dallas Opera website).
The cast includes lyric coloratura mezzo-soprano Jennifer Rivera (Queen Sophone), tenor leggiero Jonathan Blalock (Prince Claus), basso cantante Matt Boehler (Donkey / Messenger), high lyric soprano Hila Plitmann (Yan), mezzo-contralto Lucy Schaufer (Ib), lyric tenor Keith Jameson (Yab), and lyric baritone Kevin Burdette (Ob). The tessituras are from the Music Sales page. Emmanuel Villaume conducts the Chorus and Orchestra of the Dallas Opera. Paul Curran directs. The performance should last about 90 minutes.

According to the booklet and the full score (published by G. Schirmer) available on the Music Sales website, the orchestra consists of :

- 1 Flute (also piccolo), 2 Clarinets in Bb (also 2 Bass Clarinets),
- Horn in F, 1 Trumpet in C (also Trumpet in D), 2 Trombones,
- Timpani (also Roto-toms) and Percussion (2 players),
- Piano (Celesta and Glockenspiel in balcony), Piano tuned 1/4 b (Harpsichord, Vibraphone in balcony), Handbell Ensemble (spread in the audience)
- 1 Harp,
- Strings.

On Sunday, December 6, there will be a live simulcast of the second performance to the Lincoln Center.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

New in my collection : 4 program books from the USA and Canada

I have recently received four new program books published by opera houses from the USA and Canada :

- Philip Glass : Appomattox, Washington (National Opera at the Kennedy Center), November 14, 2015 (world première of the new version). The 36 pages brochure contains : complete cast and crew, articles by composer Philip Glass, librettist Christopher Hampton, director Tazewell Thompson, a timeline of historical events of the opera, biographies of the artists ;

- Barbara Monk Feldman : Pyramus and Thisbe, Toronto (Canadian Opera Company at the Four Seasons Centre), October 20, 2015 (world première). The new opera was the third and last part of the evening also including performance of Claudio Monteverdi's Lamento d'Arianna and Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda. The 48 pages brochure contains : Who's Who at the COC this Fall, Director's Notes and Synopses on Three Musical Tales by Christopher Alden ; Ovid Reconfigured by Amy Beal. It also contains information on Verdi's La Traviata, performed the same month.

- Tobias Picker : Emmeline, Saint Louis (Opera Theatre at the Loretto-Hilton Center), June 13, 2015 (new production). The 168 pages book contains (besides 58 pages of advertisement) all the articles on the complete 2015 season at the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, also including Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Puccini's La Rondine and Haendel's Riccardo Primo. The part of it related to Emmeline includes : complete cast and crew, synopsis, a note from the stage director James Robinson, a note from the composer, a conversation with librettist J. D. McClatchy (9 pages altogether), artists' profiles ;

- Gregory Spears : O Columbia, Houston (Grand Opera at the Revention Music Center), September 23, 2015 (world première). The 16 pages brochure contains : complete cast and crew, synopsis, who's who, a conversation with the creative team.

Here is a link to a flickr folder with the covers of all 380 program books for contemporary operas I have in my collection.

Friday, 27 November 2015

Today : world première of 'Die Schneekönigin' von Georg Alexander Albrecht in Weimar

Today, Georg Alexander Albrecht's first opera, Die Schneekönigin (The Snow Queen), will be performed in Weimar, by the Deutsches Nationaltheater und Staatskapelle.

The libretto by Peter Truschner is based on Hans-Christian Andersen's fairy tale.
Kay and Gerda are best friends. Together they listen to the stories Gerda’s grandmother tells them and play in the snow when winter arrives. But when a kobold strikes Kay in the eye and heart with two shards of a magic mirror, everything suddenly changes. Kay becomes belligerent and egotistical and wants to leave home. The Snow Queen appears and lures him into her kingdom of ice where the cold conquers all and he forgets everything in his past. Gerda wants to help him and embarks on a daring journey. In a forest, she encounters animals who can talk and is taken prisoner by bandits and barely escapes, driven onward by the hope of finding Kay deep in the north… (reproduced from the DNT website).
The orchestra is the following :

- Flute, Oboe, 2 Clarinets, Bassoon ;
- 2 Horns, Trumpet, Trombone, Tuba ;
- Timpani, 2 Percusions, Harp ;
- Strings

The cast includes coloratura soprano Lini Gong (Schneekönigin), soprano Steffi Lehmann (Gerda), mezzos Eleonora Vacchi (Kay) and Sayaka Shigeshima (Ronja), alto Rebecca Teem (Grandmother), baritone Alik Abdukayumov (Reindeer) and bass Daeyoung Kim (Raven). The composer conducts. Maximilian von Mayenburg directs. The performance should last about 90 minutes.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Today : world première of 'Il Labbro della Lady' by Carlo Galante in Modena

Today, Carlo Galante's new opera, Il Labbro della Lady, with a libretto by Stefano Valanzuolo after Arthur Conan Doyle's The Case of Lady Sannox, will be performed at the Teatro Comunale Luciano Pavarotti in Modena.

Carlo Galante has already composed several works for the stage including Corradino (Bologna, 1991), Ghost Café (Bergamo, 2000) and La Tempesta, after Shakespeare (Torino, 2006).
An arrogant and successful surgeon is in love with the married Lady Sannox, one of the most beautiful women in the world. He is asked by a Turkish man to operate on the latter's wife, who has cut her lip with a poison envenomed scimitar. The surgeon goes ahead with the operation on the heavily drugged wife, whose face is obscured by a veil. After he has performed the opera, the surgeon realizes his patient is Lady Sannox, and the Turk her husband, who believes the disfigurement will be morally good for his wife. (reproduced from the wikipedia article)
The cast includes soprano Francesca Tassinari (Lady Petula), tenor Mirko Guadagnini (Narcison silican 'El prestigiador'), bass Matteo Ferrara (Lord Sannox) and the actor Toni Contartese (Il giornalista). Carlo Boccadoro conducts the Ensemble della Fondazione Teatro Comunale di Modena, Stefania Panighini directs. The opera should last about 75 minutes, with no interval.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Today : world première of new version of 'Appomattox' by Philip Glass in Washington

Today, a new version of Appomattox, the opera by Philip Glass, with a libretto by Christopher Hampton, will be performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington (DC), by the Washington National Opera. The first version of the opera was premiered in San Francisco on October 5, 2007.

The opera explores the struggle to end racial inequality in America at two key crossroads a century apart: General Ulysses S. Grant's dramatic war-ending deliberations with General Robert E. Lee at a Virginia courthouse - and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s passionate debates with President Lyndon B. Johnson as civil rights protesters rallied in Alabama. (reproduced from the Kennedy Center website).
The cast includes baritone Tom Fox (Abraham Lincoln / Lyndon B. Johnson), bass Soloman Howard (Frederick Douglass / Martin Luther King Jr.), bass baritone David Pittsinger (Robert E. Lee / Edgar Ray Killen), baritone Richard Paul Fink (Ulysses S. Grant / Nicholas Katzenbach), tenor Robert Brubaker (Wilmer McLean / J. Edgar Hoover). Dante Anzolini conducts the Chorus and Orchestra of the Washington National Opera. Tazewell Thompson directs.

The two parts should last 80 minutes each. This world premiere commemorates 50 years since the Voting Rights Act and 150 years since the end of the Civil War.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Today : world première of 'Morgen und Abend' by Georg Friedrich Haas in London

Today, the new opera composed by Georg Friedrich Haas, Morgen und Abend, with a libretto by Jon Fosse, will be performed at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, in London.

It is the composer's seventh opera, since Adolf Wölfli (Graz, 1981). His work for the stage includes Melancholia (Paris, 2008), Bluthaus (Schwetzingen, 2011, revised for Hamburg, 2014) and Thomas (Schwetzingen, 2013).
Johannes the fisherman, a simple man in the autumn of his years, recalls his past life, the two people who meant most to him – his wife and his friend Peter, who have both long since passed away. Johannes’ yearning will come to an end on this day. When his daughter comes to check on him the following morning, she finds him dead. (reproduced from the publisher website)
The cast includes actor Klaus Maria Brandauer (Olai), baritone Christoph Pohl (Johannes), soprano Sarah Wegener (Signe / Midwife), tenor Will Hartmann (Peter) and alto Helena Rasker (Erna). Michael Boder conducts the Royal Opera Chorus and the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House. Graham Vick directs.

The orchestra is the following :

- 3 flutes (all doubling piccolo), 2 oboes, English horn (3rd doubling oboe), 2 clarinets in B, bass clarinet in B (doubling clarinet in E flat) , 2 bassoons, 1 contrabassoon ;
- 4 horns in F, 2 trumpets in C, 2 trombones, tuba ;
- timpani and 2 percussions, accordion ;
- strings (12-10-8-8-6).

The opera should last about 90 minutes. The opera will be broadcast by BBC Radio 3 on December 5th. The same production will be performed at the Deutsche Oper in Berlin in April 2016. The full score is available for viewing on the Universal Edition website.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Today : world première of 'Snow White' by Elena Kats-Chernin in Berlin

Today, the Komische Oper in Berlin presents the world première performance of a new children opera composed by Australian composer Elena Kats-Chernin, Schneewittchen und die 77 Zwerge (Snow White and the 77 Dwarves), with a libretto by Susanne Felicitas Wolf, after the fairytale by the brothers Grimm.

The world famous fairy tale has been adapted into a witty and cheeky version :
Princess Snow White is sick of it: forever having to practise her calligraphy! She yearns for the big wide world, for adventure and a wealth of new experiences. Her vain stepmother, the queen who is practically obsessed by her own beauty, is not only completely lacking in empathy – even worse, she feels no tenderness whatsoever towards her stepdaughter. Luckily for Snow White, she has a trusty companion in the form of a slightly too-large rabbit named Richard III. Together, they manage to flee from the murderous queen... (reproduced from the Komische Oper website)
Elena Kats-Chernin has already composed several works for the lyrical stage, including The Rage of Life (Antwerpen, 2010), and a trilogy based on Monteverdi's operas (Odysseus, Orpheus and Poppea, Berlin, 2012).

The cast includes soprano Alma Sadé (Snow White), mezzo soprano Susanne Kreusch (Stepmother) and actor Dirk Johnston (Richard III). Pawel Poplaswki conducts and Christian von Götz directs. The performance should last about 2 hours.

Friday, 30 October 2015

Today : world première of Jake Heggie's 'Great Scott' in Dallas

Today, Jake Heggie's new opera, Great Scott, with a libretto by Terrence McNally will be performed for the first time at the Winspear Opera House in Dallas.

It is Heggie's 12th work for the stage, since Dead Man Walking (2000). The most famous include The End of the Affair (2005), Three Decembers (2008) and Out of Darkness (2013).
International opera star Arden Scott has returned to her hometown to save American Opera, the company that launched her career, but the opening night performance of the long-lost opera she discovered (Rosa Dolorosa, Figlia di Pompei) falls on the same night as the home football team’s first national championship (Go Grizzlies!). The fate of the company hangs in the balance as Arden is forced to consider the sacrifices she has made and discovers that true greatness is a matter of heart. (reproduced from the composer's website)
The orchestra consists of :

- 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons ;
- 2 horns, 2 trumpets, 2 trombones, bass trombone
- 2 percussion
- timpani, piano, harp ;
- strings.

The cast includes mezzo soprano Joyce DiDonato (Joyce DiDanoto), soprano Ailyn Pérez (Tatyana Bakst), mezzo soprano Frederica von Stade (Winnie Flato), baritone Nathan Gunn (Sid Taylor), countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo (Roane Heckle), bass Kevin Burdette (Eric Gold / Ghost of Vittorio Bazzetti). Patrick Summers conducts the Chorus and Orchestra of the Dallas Opera. Jack O'Brien directs.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

New program books in my collection : 'Notorious' by Hans Gefors (Göteborg) and 'Penthesilea' by Pascal Dusapin (Strasbourg)

This Wednesday morning, I have received two program books in the mail :

- Pascal Dusapin : Penthesilea, (first performed in Brussels), from Strasbourg (first performance on September 26th ;
- Hans Gefors : Notorious, first performance in Göteborg, September 19th, 2015.

I have already described the program book for the world première performance of Penthesilea in Brussels. The 100 pages French program book contains :

- complete cast and crew ;
- introduction on the opera in the carrier of Pascal Dusapin ;
- Beate Haeckl : synopsis, trilingual (French, German, English) ;
- an article by the composer, reproduced from the Belgian book ;
- an interview with the conductor Franck Ollu ;
- the orchestra setting ;
- interview with the director Pierre Audi ;
- Antonin Artaud : Le Théâtre et la Cruauté, from Le Théâtre et son double (1938) ;
- Marie Faucher : Pascal Dusapin : l'invention musicale à fleur de peau ;
- Ruth Orthman : J'ai dit un mot à la place de l'autre (Aux origines du livret) ;
- Meroe's monologue from the play by Heinrich von Kleist ;
- Marie Lenormand : Sanglante fête des roses ;
- excerpt from The Bacchae by Euripides ;
- Murat Alat : Les vertus d'une existence en vitrine ;
- an excerpt of Oscar Wilde's Salome ;
- complete libretto in German and French ;
- biographies of the artists, with B&W headshots ;
- several colour photos from the original production.

The 144 pages program book for Notorious is in Swedish. It contains :

- complete cast and crew ;
- introduction and synopsis (with English translations) ;
- Hans Gefors : The Genesis of the opera (with English translation) ;
- biographies of composer Hans Gefors and librettist Kerstin Perski ;
- Kerstin Perski : The Notorious libretto (with English translation) ;
- an article by the conductor Patrik Ringborg ;
- biographies of cast and crew with B&W headshots ;
- an article by Paul Duncan on the Hitchcock movie ;
- an interview with Hans Gefors ;
- complete and detailed chronology from the commission of the opera early 2009 to the world première in 2015 ;
- complete libretto in Swedish with English translation ;
- several colour photos from the original production.

Scanned covers of all the program books I have (almost 400) in my collection are available in this flickr folder.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Today : world première of 'Pyramus and Thisbe' by Barbara Monk Feldman in Toronto

Today, the Canadian Opera Company in Toronto presents the world première performance of Pyramus and Thisbe, composed by Barbara Monk Feldman, with a libretto based on Ovid's Metamorphosis and also including William Faulkner's The Long Summer, Dark Night of the Soul by St John of the Cross and Rainer Maria Rilke's Die Sonette an Orpheus.

The libretto is a new version of the well-known story of Pyramus and Thisbe. The synopsis is the following, according to the score available from the Canadian Music Centre website (facsimile of the manuscript) :
The opera does not follow the traditional arrow of time and there is no break between the three main sections. There is little or no drama : this opera is about the subtlety of the unconscious which substitutes for the wall in Ovid's original, uniting as it separates the two lovers.

The opera should last about 45 minutes and is the evening will continue with performances of Monteverdi's Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda and Lamento d'Arianna.

The orchestra is the following :

- 2 Flutes, 2 Oboes, 2 Clarintes, 2 Bassoons, 2 French Horns ;
- 2 Trumpets, 2 Trombones, 1 Bass Trombone, 1 Tuba ;
- 3 Percussionists ;
- Harp, Mandolin ;
- Chorus, String Quartet, and String Orchestra.

Mezzo-soprano Krisztina Szabó and Tenor Phillip Addis are accompanied by the COC Chorus and Orchestra conducted by Johannes Debus, with Christopher Alden directing.

Friday, 9 October 2015

New in my collection : Philippe Hurel, 'Les Pigeons d'argile' (DVD)

I have recently acquired the DVD recording of Philippe Hurel's opera Les Pigeons d'argile, first performed in Toulouse in April 2014.

It has been released by éOle Records. This recording has the invaluable advantage of having silent and stationary titles. The complete duration is 1:37:03, including 90 seconds of opening credits and 4:50 of closing 'credits' : chorus, soloists, conductor, director, composer appearing and bowing on stage one after the other, before the real credits begin, with the names of all people involved in the production. There is no interval. The opera is sung in French, with only French subtitles available.

The DVD also contains about 34 minutes of interview with the artistic director of the Théâtre du Capitole in Toulouse, the composer, the librettist, the director, the set and costume designer, the two singers performing the main characters.

The 36 pages brochure contains :

- complete cast ;
- short introduction on the opera ;
- the synopsis of the opera, in French, English, German and Spanish ;
- an article by Franck Langlois, based on an interview with the composer ;
- an article by the librettist Tanguy Viel ;
- an interview by Robert Penavayre with the conductor Tito Ceccherini ;
- an interview by Jean-Jacques Groleau with stage director Mariame Clément ;
- biographies of all the artists.

The brochure is entirely in French, with the exception of the quadrilingual synopsis. Unfortunately it doesn't include a track listing. The articles printed in the brochure are almost entirely distinct from the interviews available on the DVD.
Shortly after the first performance, I had received the program book published by the Théâtre du Capitole.

Friday, 2 October 2015

Today : world première of 'The Wanderings of Odysseus' by Ole Hübner in Berlin

Today, the Deutsche Oper in Berlin presents the world première performance of Die Irrfahrten des Odysseus by Ole Hübner. The opera will be performed at the Tischlerei.

The work is presented as a 'musical theatre for persons aged 10 and over'. The libretto is based on Homer's Odyssey.
The story centres not on gods or mythical creatures but on a single man with the inner conflict that is part of the human condition. Odysseus is a hero and villain, a family man and power politician, incorrigibly inquisitive and inventive, simultaneously a plaything of the gods and a rebel against them. (reproduced from the Deutsche Oper website)
Johannes Hendrik Langer is the vocal performer, with actors Tom Quaas, Jakob Kraze and Johannes Hendrik Langer. They are joined by an instrumental sextet consisting of double bass, percussions, guitar, piano and saxophone, with the composer at the live electronics. Harriet Maria Meining and Peter Meining conceived the stage direction and designed the sets.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Today : world première of 'O Columbia' by Gregory Spears in Houston

Today, O Columbia, the new chamber opera composed by Gregory Spears will receive its first performance in Houston, at the Revention Music Center.

The libretto by Royce Vavrek has been inspired by interviews by Houston-based NASA astronauts, scientists and engineers.
O Columbia traces a history of dreamers and explorers–from Sir Walter Raleigh journeying to the New World, to a Houston teenager experiencing communion, and later, heartbreak, with a Columbia space shuttle astronaut, to future astronauts venturing to the far reaches of the solar system-in an ode to America's pioneering spirit. (reproduced from Houston Grand Opera website).
The cast consists of artists from the Houston Grand Opera Studio (young artist program) : soprano Pureum Jo (Becca), baritone Ben Edquist (Raleigh / Astronaut) and mezzo-soprano Megan Samarin (Lady Columbia). Timothy Myers conducts and Kevin Newbury directs.

The opera should last about 70 minutes.

His next opera, Fellow Travelers, is scheduled for performance in Cincinnati in June 2016. The composer is already working on another vocal project, Jason and the Argonauts, an opera for young people, commissioned by the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Today : world première of Michael Wertmüller's 'Weine nicht, singe' in Hamburg

Today, the Staatsoper Hamburg presents on its second stage (Opera stabile) the world première performance of Weine nicht, singe, by composer Michael Wertmüller, with a libretto by Dea Loher.

The Levant. Mira, a fourteen-year-old girl, grandfather Zeno, mother Altai and father Ron are welcoming Aki, who left fifteen years ago. He wants to pay back the money he borrowed, trying to open an auto repair shop with his brothers in the South. But the borders were shut down. Now the former neighbor speaks a different language and believes in another God. and Mira shouts her hatred to him, because he has left his aunt Oona behind. But splinters in Zeno's brain hurts him : 'Mira has to make peace with her father' (free translation after the Staatsoper's website).
The cast includes actor Josef Ostendorf (Zeno), baritone Holger Falk (Aki), tenor Jürgen Sacher (Ron), soprano Ruth Rosenfeld (Altai), and actress Tina Keserovic (Mira). They are joined by the Ensemble Resonanz and the Steamboat Switzerland trio. Titus Engel conducts and Jette Steckel directs.

The opera should last about two hours.

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Today : world première of 'Notorious' by Hans Gefors in Göteborg

Today, the new opera composed by Hans Gefors, Notorious, with a libretto in Swedish by Kerstin Perski after Alfred Hitchcock's movie, will be performed in Göteborg.

Previous opera by Hans Gefors include Christina (1986), Der Park (1991), Clara (1998) and Skuggspel (2004).
During World War II, the CIA agent Devlin persuades the American Alicia, daughter of a notorious Nazi, to become a spy in Rio de Janeiro. They grow attracted to each other, but the mission compels Alicia to seduce a man on the enemy side. Blinded by jealousy, Devlin is forced to watch Alicia give herself to another man. (reproduced from the Göteborg Opera website)
The cast includes soprano Nina Stemme (Alicia Hauser), baritone John Lundgren (Devlin), tenor Michael Weinius (Alex Sebastian), mezzo-soprano Katarina Karnéus (Madame Sebastian), tenor Jón Ketilsson (Prescott), bass Anders Lorentzson (Alicia's Father), and tenor Jonas Olofsson (Emil Hupka). Patrik Ringborg conducts the Chorus and Orchestral of the Göteborg Opera. Keith Warner directs.

The orchestral setting is the following :

- 3 flutes (3rd also piccolo), 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 1 bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, 1 baritone saxophone ;
- 4 French horns, 3 trumpets (1st also piccola trumpet), 2 trombones, 1 bass trombone, 1 cimbasso ;
- 4 percussionists ;
- harp, electric guitar ;
- strings.

The opera should last about 150 minutes. The first performance will be broadcast live by Swedish Radio SR P2. Two further performance will be recorded by the Swedish Television. Let's hope a DVD will be published.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

New in my collection : from the Santa Fe Opera Festival

I have recently acquired several items from the Santa Fe Opera Festival :

- Desirée Mays : Opera Unveiled 2009 (76 pages) , with an article on The Letter, new opera composed by Paul Moravec ;
- Desirée Mays : Opera Unveiled 2013 (80 pages) , with an article on Oscar, new opera composed by Theodore Morrison ;
- Desirée Mays : Opera Unveiled 2014 (80 pages), with an article on Dr. Sun Yat-sen, new opera composed by Huang Ruo ;
- Desirée Mays : Opera Unveiled 2015 (80 pages), with an article on Cold Mountain, new opera composed by Jennifer Higdon ;

- Gene Scheer : Cold Mountain, libretto for the opera composed by Jennifer Higdon (78 pages) ;
- programme book for the 2015 season at the Santa Fe Opera (168 pages)

It contains only 8 pages entirely dedicated to this opera with :

- complete cast and crew (with B&W headshots) ;
- synopsis ;
- Ascending Cold Mountain, by librettist Gene Scheer ;
- A Note from the Director, by Leonard Foglia.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Today : world première of 'Giordano Bruno' by Francesco Filidei in Porto

Today, Giordano Bruno, the new opera composed by Francesco Filidei, with a libretto by Stefano Busellato, will be performed in Porto, at the Casa da Musica.

The libretto (in 12 scenes) is based on the life of the 16th century Italian philosopher who claimed the sun was the center of the universe. He ultimately was burned at the stake.
The action is divided between the chronology of Giordano Bruno's trial and scenes directly inspired by his philosophy. Each scene is composed around one note. From the first scene centered on F sharp, each scene related to the trial is half a tone lower, and each scene related to his philosophy is half a tone higher, starting with G. (reproduced from the website dedicated to the work)
The opera should last about 90 minutes. After rehearsals in Gennevilliers near Paris (the opera is a commission of the French group T&M), the opera will receive its first performance in Porto, with baritone Lionel Peintre (Giordano Bruno), tenor Jeff Martin (1st Inquisitor), bass Ivan Ludlow (2nd Inquisitor) and countertenor Guilhem Terrail (Pope Clemente VIII). The Remix Ensemble and a 12 voices chorus are conducted by Peter Rundel, with Antoine Gindt directing.

The same production will then be performed in Strasbourg (Musica Festival, September 19th and 20th), Reggio Emilia (Teatro Valli, September 26th), Milan (Piccolo Teatro Strehler, November 7th). The tour will end in April 2016 with four performances in Gennevilliers (from 14th to 21st) and in Caen on 26th.

Saturday, 5 September 2015

New in my collection : programme for 'Macbeth' by Luke Styles in Glyndebourne

On Thursday, I have received in the mail the programme publishd by the Glyndebourne Festival for the world première performance of Macbeth, the new opera by Luke Styles, with a libretto adapted from William Shakespeare by Ted Huffman.

It is a 12 pages brochure. It contains :

- complete cast and crew ;
- Composer's Note, by Luke Styles ;
- Macbeth : A new opera, by director Ted Huffman ;
- biographies of the singers and crew members.

This flickr folder contains scans of the covers of all programme books for contemporary operas I have.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Today : world première of Luke Styles' 'Macbeth' in Glyndebourne

Today, Macbeth, the fifth opera composed by Luke Styles, with a libretto by Ted Huffman after William Shakespeare, will be performed in Glyndebourne, at the Jerwood Studio.

Luke Styles is Glyndebourne's recent Young Composer-in-Residence. His first three operas have received their first performance there : Lovers Walk in 2012 (youth opera), Wakening Shadow in 2013 (chamber opera), Tycho's Dream in 2014 (youth opera). The fourth, Unborn in America was performed last January at the Vault Festival London.

This new opera (commissioned by Glyndebourne) is conceived for 12 principals singers and a chamber orchestra of 12 instruments. It will be performed by Ed Ballard (Macbeth), Aidan Coburn (Lady Macbeth), Alessandro Fischer (Banquo), Michael Wallace (Malcolm), Richard bignall (Macduff), accompanied by soloists from the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Jeremy Bines conducts and librettist Ted Huffman directs.

Macbeth will also be performed in London, at the Linbury Studio Theatre (Royal Opera House) next September (first night, September 9th).

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Received in the mail : program book for Dennehy's 'The Last Hotel' in Edinburgh

This Wednesday morning, I have received in the mail the program book published by the Edinburgh International Festival for Donnacha Dennehy's opera The Last Hotel, which happened on Saturday 8 August at the Royal Lyceum Theatre.

It is a 64 pages brochure. It contains :

- complete cast and crew ;
- synopsis, by librettist Enda Walsh ;
- the poem Elm 'for Ruth Fainlight', by Sylvia Plath ;
- Holes in Reality, by John Fallas ;
- A Pure Theatre Animal, by Michael Billington on Enda Walsh (edited version of an article published by The Guardian last year) :
- biographies (with B & W headshots) : composer, librettist and director, conductor, singers, main crew members ;
- articles on the Crash Ensemble, the coproducers Landmark Productions and Wide Open Opera, The Lyceum.

The opera will be on tour in Dublin (September and October 2015), London (October 2015) and New York (January 2016).

Saturday, 8 August 2015

August 8th : world première of Donnacha Dennehy's 'The Last Hotel' in Edinburgh

Today, Donnacha Dennehy's first chamber opera, The Last Hotel, with a libretto by Enda Walsh, will be performed for the first time in Edinburgh at the Royal Lyceum Theatre.

Though there has been a 'preview performance' yesterday, the world première is announced for today on the Edinburgh International Festival website.
As the opera begins, a man silently mops the floor – the water bloody. The hotel room he’s supposed to be preparing is not ready yet. A woman is meeting a man and his wife in the hotel’s car park. All three are nervous. Tonight there’ll be a death. (reproduced from the Festival website)
The cast includes Robin Adams, Claudia Boyle, Katherine Manley and the actor Mikel Murfi. André de Ridder conducts the Crash Ensemble. The opera should last about 80 minutes (no interval).

The opera will be performed at the Linbury Studio Theatre (Royal Opera House) in London next October.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Received in the mail this morning : 'Elmer Gantry' (Aldridge) and 'Wuthering Heights' (Floyd) from Milwaukee

This Wednesday morning, I have received two program books published by Florentine Opera in Milwaukee for the following operas :

- Robert Aldridge : Elmer Gantry, first performance on March 13th, 2015 ;
- Carlisle Floyd : Wuthering Heights, first performance on January 9th, 2015.

Program books are 50 and 38 pages brochures.

The first contains :

- Revival - Elmer Gantry returns ! by Leann Davis Alspaugh ;
- The Bully Pulpit - Sinclair Lewis' Elmer Gantry, by Leann Davis Alspaugh ;
- the complete cast ;
- the detailed synopsis ;
- detailed biographies of the composer, the librettist Herschel Garfein, the director Frank Kelley and the conductor Christopher Larkin ;
- biographies of the singers (all biographies with headshots).

This opera was already performed there in March 2010 and a recording has been released by Naxos in its American Opera Classics collection :

The second contains :

- the complete cast ;
- synopsis ;
- detailed biographies of the composer, the conductor Joseph Mechavich ;
- biographies of the singers (all biographies with headshots).

Scanned covers of all program books I have in my collection are in this flickr folder.

Saturday, 1 August 2015

August 1st : world première of Jennifer Higdon's 'Cold Mountain' in Santa Fe

Today, Jennifer Higdon's first opera, Cold Mountain, with a libretto by Gene Scheer after Charles Frazier's novel, will be performed at the Santa Fe Opera Theater.

Jennifer Higdon has been working on the opera since 2009, and completed it in September 2013. It was originally commissioned by the San Francisco Opera, but several right issues postponed it for several years. In December 2012 and December 2013, the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia (where Higdon teaches) organized workshop performances of some excerpts.
The libretto tells the story of W. P. Inman, a wounded deserter from the Confederate army near the end of the American Civil War who walks for months to return to Ada Monroe, the love of his life. (reproduced from Wikipedia)
The cast includes Jay Hunter Morris (Teague), Nathan Gunn (Inman), Isabel Leonard (Ada), Emily Fons (Ruby), Anthony Michaels-Moore (Monroe) and Kevin Burdette (Stobrod). Miguel Harth-Bedoya conducts and Leonard Foglia directs.

The opera will also be performed in Philadelphia in February 2016 and then at the North Carolina Opera during the 2017-2018 season. Ultimately, a recording of the New Mexico performances is to be published by Pentatone.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

July 23rd : world première of Seppo Pohjola's 'The Maiden of Harrbåda' in Kokkola

Today, Seppo Pohjola's opera, Harrbådan Neito (The Maiden of Harrbåda), with a libretto by Jusa Peltoniemi, will be performed in Kokkola.

Photo © Maarit Kytöharju / Music Finland

It is Pohjola's fourth opera, after Arabian Jänis (The Arabian Rabbit, children opera, 2004), Kaappi (chamber opera, 2004) and Rakkaimpani (My Dearest one, chamber opera, 2005). The libretto is based on an old ghost legend from the Kokkola area.

The double-bill performance also feature's Sibelius' opera Maiden in the Tower.

Sakari Oramo and Erkki Lasonpalo conduct the Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra, with singers Annu Komsi, Annami Hylkilä, Annika Mylläri and Riku Pelo. Aku-Petteri Pahkamäki directs.

Friday, 17 July 2015

July 17th : world première of Moto Osada's 'Son of Heaven' in Vadstena

Today, Moto Osada's new chamber opera, Son of Heaven, with a libretto in English by Kerstin Perski, will be performed in Vadstena, Sweden.

It is the composer's second opera after Four Nights of Dream (2008), also composed for the International Vadstena Academy.

The opera is in 3 acts and 17 scenes. The cast includes baritone Jakob Högström (The First Emperor), tenor Wiktor Sundqvist (Huhai), Countertenor Daniel Carlsson (Zhao Gao), baritone Richard Hamrin (Li Si), Mezzo Johanna Rudström (The Fool), and mezzo Karin Osbeck (The Warrior). David Björkman conducts and Nils Spangenberg directs.
The opera deals with the first Emperor of China, the creator of the Terracotta Army and the Great Wall of China. In the opera, he pursues eternal life in vain and is forced to simultaneously engage in a bitter power struggle with his sons. (reproduced from the Vadstena Academy website)
The orchestra is the following :

- flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, bass trombone ;
- percussion (2 musicians) ;
- keyboard, electric guitar ;
- string quintet : 2 violins, viola, violoncello, double bass.

The performance should last 2 hours and 15 minutes, including one pause. The opera will be broadcast live by Swedish Radio P2 on August 2nd.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Received in the mail this morning : program book for Alessandro Solbiati's 'Il suono giallo' in Bologna

this thursday morning, I have received in the mail the program book published by the Teatro Comunale di Bologna for the world première performance of Alessandro Solbiati's opera Il suono giallo (The Yellow Sound), with a libretto freely adapted from Wassily Kandinsky's experimental theater piece, that took place on June 13th.

It is a 104 pages book. It contains :

- complete vocal and orchestral setting ;
- structure of the opera ;
- complete libretto (bilingual, German and Italian) ;
- sketches for the sets and costumes, by Gianni Dessi ;
- the graphic score of the opera (8 pages) ;
- Visione scenica, by Alessandro Solbiati, on his libretto (Scenic vision, bilingual Italian and English) ;
- Attorno a 'Il suono giallo', by Alessandro Solbiati ;
- L'Alfabeto del 'Suono giallo', by stage director Franco Ripa di Meana ;
- Kandinskij, nostro contemporaneo, by Marco Gnaccolini ;
- Da Kandinskij a Solbiati : una drammaturgia della creazione artistica, by Gianluigi Mattietti ;
- detailed biography of the composer ;
- cast and crew ;
- biographies.

All covers of program books for contemporary operas I have are in this flickr folder.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

July 15th : world première of Marco Tutino's 'LeBraci' in Martina Franca

Today, the new version of Marco Tutino's opera, Le Braci, with a libretto by the composer after Hungarian Sándor Márai's novel, will be performed for the first time, at the Festival della Valle d'Itria in Martina Franca.

Marco Tutino has already composed several operas since Pinocchio (1985). His last stage works are The Servant (2008), Senso (2011) and Two Women (2015).
The libretto tells the meeting in 1940 of two old childhood friends who first met each other at the Military Academy of Vienna: Henrik (the son of a Hungarian prince) and Konrad (belonging to a Polish lower middle class family). They loved the same woman, Krisztina, but she married Henrik. Konrad suddenly left for the tropics and the colonies, after a hunt that threatened to turn into a murder and, forty years later, the two men see each other again one last time to evoke the past and talk again of Krisztina, dead many years ago.(reproduced from the Opera di Firenze website)
The cast includes soprano Angela Nisi (Kristina), mezzo Romina Tomasoni (Nini), tenor Davide Giusti (Young Konrad), baritone Pavol Kuban (Young Henrik), baritone Alfonso Antoniozzi (Konrad) and bass Roberto Scandiuzzi (Henrik). Francesco Cilluffo conducts the Orchestra Internazionale d'Italia and Leo Muscato directs.