Sunday, 31 January 2016

Today : world première of 'South Pole' by Miroslav Srnka in Munich

Today, the new opera composed by Miroslav Srnka, South Pole (a double opera in two parts), with a libretto in English by Tom Holloway, will have its world première performance in Munich, at the Nationaltheater.

It is Srnka's third opera, after Wall (Berlin, 2005) and Make No Noise (Munich, 2011).
In 1910 two competing teams set out on an expedition to the Antarctic : a band of British explorers, led by Robert Falcon Scott and Roald Amundsen's Norwegian party went head to head in a race to be the first humans to reach the South Pole. Amundsen arrived at his destination one month before Scott ; Scott and his four companions lost their lives in a snowstorm on the return journey. The news of Amundsen's success was shortly followed by that of Scott's heroic failure. It was Scott whose name became the stuff of tragic legend. The opera reads between the lines of the official reports and imagines what was going through the minds of the men during this long winter : the emotions this solitude in a world of ice evoked ; how collaboration can lead to rivalry and tension ; how conflict involving national pathos and everyday tasks can result in comical situations ; to what extent the men thought about the wives they had left behind. Ultimately, the South Pole is just a white speck in the middle of a white landscape. The attraction of reaching this point seems utterly abstract ; l'art pour l'art of achieving the impossible. (reproduced from the Bavarian State Opera website)
According to the Bärenreiter website, the orchestra is the following :

- 4 Flutes (2nd and 3rd also Piccolo, 4th also Bass Flute), 3 Oboes, 2 Clarinets in Bb (both also Bass Clarinet), 3 Bassoons (2nd and 3rd also Contrabassoon) ;
- 2 Horns in F, 4 Trumpets in C, 3 Trombones, Bass Tuba) ;
- Accordion, Harp, Piano 4 hands ;
- Percussions 1-4 ;
- 6 Horns and 6 Clarinets on stage ;
- Strings

The cast includes tenor Roland Villazon (Robert Falcon Scott), baritone Thomas Hampson (Roald Amundsen), mezzo Tara Erraught (Kathleen Scott), tenor Kevin Conners (Edward "Uncle Bill" Wilson) and soprano Mojca Erdmann (Landlady). Kirill Petrenko conducts the Bayerisches Staatsorchester. Hans Neuenfels directs.

The full score (2 volumes) can be downloaded from the publisher's website.

The duration should be about 2 hours. The first performance will be broadcast with a slight delay (the performance starts à 7:00 PM, the broadcast at 10:40 PM) by Arte.

Saturday, 30 January 2016

New in my collection : program books from Glasgow and Hamburg

I have recently two program books for contemporary operas :

- Toshio Hosokawa : Stilles Meer, Hamburg, January 24, 2016 ;
- Stuart MacRae : The Devil Inside, Glasgow, January 23, 2016.

Both are 56 pages books. The first is entirely in German. It contains :

- synopsis of the opera ;
- an introduction to the opera, by the composer Toshio Hosokawa ;
- an article on the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, by stage director Oriza Hirata ;
- Nirgendwo ein Feind in Sicht (Nowhere an enemy in sight) by Janina Zell ;
- an interview with Oriza Hirata ;
- an interview with composer Toshio Hosokawa ;
- an article on the original Noh play, Sumidagawa, by Heinz-Dieter Reese ;
- an excerpt  of a novel by Ogai Mori ;
- Schönheit der Vergänglichkeit (Beauty of Impermanence) by the Dalai Lama ;
- several black & white headshots of victims of the 2011 tsunami by Denis Rouvre (taken from the Low Tide exhibition at the State Opera) ;
- complete libretto in German ;
- several colour pictures of the piano dress rehearsal on January 13.

A separate 4 pages booklet contains the complete cast and crew for the first performace. There is no biography of any kind.

The second is entirely in English. It contains :

- the complete cast ;
- the synopsis of the opera ;
- biographies of composer Stuart MacRae and librettist Louise Welsh ;
- an article on the opera by music critic David Kettle ;
- Stevenson in the South Seas, by Edwin Moore ;
- the complete libretto in English ;
- biographies of the artists, with black and white headshots.

By following this link to flickr, you have access to the covers of all 393 program books for contemporary opera I have in my collection.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Today : world première of Toshio Hosokawa's 'Stilles Meer' in Hamburg

Today, the Staatsoper Hamburg presents the world première performance of Toshio Hosokawa's new opera, Stilles Meer, with a libretto by Hannah Dübgen after an original text by Oriza Hirata based on the Noh play Sumidagawa and translated into German by Dorothea Gasztner. The same play was adapted by William Plomer for Benjamin Britten's first church parable Curlew River in 1964.

It is Hosokawa's fifth opera, after Vision of Lear (1998), Hanjo (2004), Matsukaze (2010) and The Raven (2012).
A hill with a wide view over the ocean. Claudia spents most of her time standing there since her husband Takashi and her son Max died in the tsunami. For every dead soul there is a lantern on the sea. Claudia's former boyfriend and father to her son implores her to look at the reality. But the reality is that the evacuation following the tsunami prevented the victim's bodies to be recovered. A ritual allows Claudia to see her child's soul, but she cannot let it go. The image fades away in her arms. (freely translated from the Staatsoper website).
The cast includes soprano Susanne Elmark (Claudia), mezzo-soprano Mihoko Fujimura (Haruko), countertenor Bejun Mehta (Stephan), tenor Viktor Rud (Hiroto) and baritone Marek Gasztecki (A Fisherman). Kent Nagano conducts the Philharmonisches Staatsorchester Hamburg and the Vokalsolisten Hamburg. Oriza Hirata directs.

The orchestra is the following (according to the publisher's website, Schott Music, Tokyo) :

- 2 flutes (doubling piccolo and alto flute), 2 oboes (doubling English Horn), 2 clarinets (doubling bass clarinet), 1 bassoon, 1 contrabassoon ;
- 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, 1 tuba ;
- 4 percussions ,
- harp, celesta and strings.

The performance should last about 90 minutes. The first performance will be broadcast live by NDR Kultur.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Today : world première of 'The Devil Inside' by Stuart MacRae in Glasgow

Today, the Scottish Opera presents the world première performance of Stuart MacRae's new opera, The Devil Inside, with a libretto by Louise Welsh, inspired by Roberts Louis Stevenson's short story The Bottle Imp. The performance will take place at the Theatre Royal in Glasgow.

It is the composer's fourth opera, after The Assassin Tree (2006), Remembrance Day (2008) and Ghost Patrol (2012).
James uses the bottle to get all he's ever dreamed of. Happily married to Catherine, he feels his life is complete ... but what has seemed so perfect soon begins to spiral out of control. (reproduced from the Scottish Opera website).
The cast includes mezzo-soprano Rachel Kelly (Catherine), tenor Nicholas Sharratt (Richard), baritone Ben McAteer (James) and baritone Steven Page (Old Man / Vagrant). Michael Rafferty conducts members of the Orchestra of Scottish Opera. Matthew Richardson directs.

The performance should last about 1 hours 45 minutes. The opera is a co-production with Music Theatre Wales. In the next three months, this new opera will be touring to London, Cardiff, Basingstoke, Manchester, Aberystwyth, Huddersfield, Mold, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Toronto.

Today : world première of 'Medea' by Daniel Börtz in Stockholm

Today, the Swedish Royal Opera presents the world première performance of Medea, an opera composed by Daniel Börtz, with a libretto adapted from Euripides by Agneta Pleijel and Jan Stolpe. Since Backanterna (Marie Antoinette, 1997), Börtz has composed several operas, including The Bacchae (already after Euripides, in 1999), Svall (2003), Magnus Gabriel (2006) and Goya (2009).

Since Marc-Antoine Charpentier in 1693, the story of Medea has inspired numerous composers : Georg Benda, Giovanni Simone Mayr, Saverio Mercadante, Luigi Cherubini and more recently Rolf Liebermann, Pascal Dusapin, Michèle Reverdy, Aribert Reimann.
Medea, a mother who kills her own children, has abandoned her own family, sacrificed everything for her husband Jason and arrived as a refugee in a new country. (reproduced from the Swedish Royal opera website).
The cast includes soprano Emma Vetter (Medea), baritone Karl-Magnus Fredriksson (Jason), mezzo Marianne Eklöf (Amman), bass-baritone John Erik Eleby (Kreon) and tenor Niklas Björling Rygert (Aigeus). Patrik Ringborg conducts the Chorus and Orchestra of the Swedish Royal Opera. Stefan Larsson directs. The performance should last about 2 hours and 20 minutes, including a 25 minute interval.

The opera will be recorded by Swedish Radio and broadcast on February 20th.

Saturday, 9 January 2016

New programmes from New York City in my collection

I have recently bought on ebay a set of almost 150 Playbill magazines from the Metropolitan Opera and the New York City Opera. 6 of them are dedicated to contemporary operas (including a double bill) :

- Mark Adamo : Little Women, City Opera, April 2, 2003 ;
- Jack Beeson : Lizzie Borden, City Opera, March 10, 1999 ;
- William Bolcom : A View From the Bridge, Met, December 9, 2002 ;
- Deborah Drattell : The Festival of Regrets, City Opera, November 16, 1999 ;

- Carlisle Floyd : Susannah, Met, April 13, 1999 ;
- Jake Heggie : Dead Man Walking, City Opera, October 2, 2002 ;
- Michael Torke : Strawberry Fields, City Opera, November 16, 1999.

The covers of the 391 program books for contemporary operas I have in my collection are available in this flickr folder.

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Today : world première of 'Better Gods' by Luna Pearl Woolf in Washington

Today, Better Gods, composed by Luna Pearl Woolf, with a libretto by Caitlin Vincent, will be performed in Washington, as part of Washington National Opera's American Opera Initiative.

It is the composer's second opera to be performed, after The Pillar, based on Bernie Madoff's scandal. This first opera is not yet complete, and excerpts will be performed next February by the Washington Chorus.
Queen Lili'uokalani, the last reigning monarch of Hawaii, refuses to renounce her faith and fights to preserve her people's native culture when the island is annexed to the U.S. at the end of the 19th century. (after the Kennedy Center website).
The cast includes mezzo soprano Daryl Freedman (Queen Lili'uokalani), tenor Rexford Tester (Lauren Thurston), baritone Hunter Enoch (James Miller), bass Timothy Bruno (Judge Albert Judd), bass Wei Wu (Robert Wilcox) and soprano Ariana Wehr (Kahua). Timothy Myers conducts the WNO Orchestra. Ethan McSweeny directs.

The performance will last 1 hour.

Two new program books in my collection !

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

- Johanna Doderer, Fatima, oder von den mutigen Kindern, Wien, December 23rd, 2015 ;
- Dominique Gesseney-Rappo, Carlotta ou la Vaticane, Fribourg, December 31st, 2015.

The first one is a 16 pages brochure. It is entirely in German. It contains :

- synopsis ;
- dates and facts (duration, characters, introduction by the composer) ;
- short biography of the composer ;
- 3 questions to the composer ;
- 3 questions to the stage director ;
- a glossary of the main opera terms explained to children ;
- colour photos of the production.

The second one is a 44 pages book. It is mainly in French. It contains :

- calendar of performances in Fribourg and Bulle ;
- complete cast and crew ;
- preface by the stage director (in French and German) ;
- detailed synopsis (in French and German) ;
- preface by the librettist ( in French and German) ;
- biographies of the artists (with black and white headshots), only in French ;
- several colour pictures from the Vatican City.

The covers of the 384 program books for contemporary operas I have in my collection are available in this flickr folder.