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.