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.