Saturday, 19 November 2016

Today : world première of Pierangelo Valtinoni's 'The Wizard of Oz' in Zurich

Today, the Opernhaus Zürich presents the world première of Pierangelo Valtinoni's Der Zauberer von Oz (The Wizard of Oz) with a libretto by Paolo Madron based on Lyman Frank Baum's fairy tale, in a German version by Hanna Francesconi.

It is Valtinoni's fourth opera after Il ragazzo col violino (1996), Pinocchio (2001, rev. 2006) and The Snow Queen (2010).
Every year in the run-up to Christmas, they glitter on various television channels – and reawaken the child in every adult: Dorothy’s fantastic, magical shoes. The famous screen adaptation of the fairy tale, The Wizard of Oz, with Judy Garland as the plucky Dorothy and her lively little dog Toto, has made the hearts of generations of children beat faster. The adventures of the farm girl from Kansas who grows up with her uncle and aunt begin the moment a dangerous tornado sweeps over the farm and carries off the house, together with Dorothy and her dog, to the far-off land of the Munchkins. The house falls onto the Wicked Witch of the West, of all people, thus triggering a series of fantastical events. Admittedly, the Wicked Witch of the East’s red shoes lend Dorothy magical powers, but she also has to pass the most gruelling of tests. But Dorothy is not alone: on her journey, she encounters a scarecrow whose dearest wish is to be given a real brain rather than merely having a head full of straw. The pair also encounters a rusty tin man who would like to have a heart. Another travelling companion is a lion, who has a powerful roar, but otherwise believes he is very cowardly. Together, they set off to find the mysterious Wizard of Oz in the Emerald City, who is supposed to help Dorothy find her way home. They are repeatedly threatened by the Wicked Witch of the West, and even the powerful Wizard of Oz ultimately turns out to be a fraud: his spells have no effect. But time and again, the travelling quartet, including the little dog, prove that they have kind hearts, intelligence and courage, and ultimately survive all their adventures with bravura. (reproduced from the Zurich Opera House website)
The cast includes soprano Deanna Breiwick (Dorothy), tenor Iain Milne (Die Vogelscheuche), baritone Cheyne Davidson (Der Blechmann), bass Reinhard Mayr (Der feige Löwe), soprano Hamide Kristoffersen (Die gute Hexe des Nordens / Die gute Hexe des Südens) and actor Daniel Hajdu (Der Zauberer von Oz). Kristiina Poska conducts the Children Chorus of the Zurich Opera and the Philharmonia Zürich. Floris Visser directs.

The performance should last 2 hours and 10 minutes, with one interval.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

New programme books for contemporary operas

I have recently received the programme books for the three following performances :

- Jake Heggie : Three Decembers, Milwaukee (Florentine Opera), March 11, 2016 ;
- Bright Sheng : Dream of the Red Chamber, San Franciso, September 10, 2016 ;
- Oscar Strasnoy : Comeback, Berlin (Staatsoper im Schiller Theater), September 30, 2016.

The first one is a 30 pages brochure. It contains :

- complete cast and crew ;
- synopsis ;
- About the Composer ;
- William Florescu : Director's Note ;
- biography of the librettist Gene Scheer ;
- biography of the stage director William Florescu ;
- biography of the conductor Joseph Rescigno ;
- artist biographies, all with color headshots.

The second is a 86 pages magazine. It contains :

- Ken Smith : Dreamweavers - An all-star creative team transports an epic Chinese novel to the operatic stage ;
- Synopsis, personnel, orchestra setting and family tree ;
- complete cast and crew ;
- Ann Waltner : Red Chamber Refelctions ;
- Stephen Roddy : Delving Deeper into 'Dream of the Red Chamber' ;
- Artist profiles with balck and white headshots.

The last one is a poster folded into a 16 pages leaflet. It contains :

- complete cast ;
- biography of Emil Jannings, a character of the opera and first winner of the Academy Award for Best Actor ;
- biography of Tilla Durieux, another character of the opera, an Austrian actress ;
- Roman Reeger : Eben war ich noch der Mittelpunkt und jetzt ?

This programme is entirely in German. The scanned covers of all programme books for contemporary operas I have in my collection can be viewed in this flickr folder.

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Today : world première of Arthur Lavandier's 'Le Premier meurtre' in Lille

Today, the Opéra de Lille presents the world première of Arthur Lavandier's opera Le Premier meurtre (The First Murder), with a libretto by Federico Flamminio.

It is the composer's second opera after Bobba, first performed in Paris on October 17, 2015.
There are always three stories: the one we tell, the one we wished we had experienced, and the one that sooner or later everyone knows. There are two orchestras : one in the pit, 'wise and beautiful, eclectic and refined like an opera orchestra', the other everywhere else : on stage, in the audience, in the wings, visible or hidden, amplified or not. (freely adapted from the opera website)
The cast includes bass baritone Vincent Le Texier (Gabriel), soprano Léa Trommenschlager (Emma), baritone Taeill Kim (Hippolyte) and soprano Elise Chauvin (Misère). Maxime Pascal conducts the ensemble Le Balcon. Ted Huffman directs. The performance should last 1 hour and 45 minutes (no intermission).

Today : world première of 'Vanda' by Lionel Ginoux in Reims

Today, the Opéra de Reims presents the world première of Vanda, a chamber opera for mezzo-soprano, viola da gamba and electronics, composed by Lionel Ginoux, with a libretto by Jean-Pierre Siméon, after his own play Le Testament de Vanda.

It is the composer's second opera after Medea Kali (Marseilles, 2013).
The text portrays the life of an exiled woman, her struggles and her every day humiliations. It reveals a poignant story of a woman from the Balkans who recounts to her baby the stories of her life, origins and parents, of the love, the war, the violence. (reproduced from the composer's website).
The cast includes mezzo Ambroisine Bré and violist Marie-Suzanne de Loye. Nadine Duffaut directs. The performance should last about 50 minutes.

Friday, 4 November 2016

Today : world première of Johanna Doderer's 'Liliom' in Munich

Today, the Staatstheater am Gärtnerplatz in Munich presents the world première performance of Johanna Doderer's new opera, Liliom, with a libretto by Josef E. Köpplinger.

© Jürgen Heimbach

It is the composer's fourth opera, after Strom (Vienna, 2006), Der leuchtende Fluss (Erfurt, 2010) and Fatiman oder von den mutigen Kinder (Vienna, 2015). A recording of Der leuchtende Fluss has been published by Quinton.

The libretto is freely based on Ferenc Molnar's play.
The fairground barker Liliom is the great attraction of carousel operator Mrs Muskat in the City Park in Budapest. He is young, good-looking and wonderfully masculine. Admittedly, he is also coarse, impetuous and known to the police – but this is what the carousel's female customers love about him, as does Mrs Muskat. The young servant girl Julie is also attracted by the suburban rogue – as he is by her. The result is that he causes both of them to lose their jobs. From then on, Liliom lives off Julie's aunt, beats the girl and gets her pregnant, and proudly refuses all well-intentioned offers of help. When a false friend talks him into committing robbery and murder with the aim of solving their financial problems, which ultimately goes horribly wrong, the rogue escapes responsibility for his actions by committing suicide and ends up in the courts of heavenly justice. There, the unrepentant man is offered one last chance to do something good so that he can dredge his soul of the deep mire in which it has landed … (reproduced from the theater's website)
The cast includes tenor Daniel Prohaska (Liliom), soprano Camille Schnoor (Julie), soprano Cornelia Zink (Marie), mezzo Angelika Kirchschlager (Frau Muskat), bass Holger Ohlmannn (Der Drechsler) and tenor Juan Carlos Falcón (Linzmann). Michael Brandstätter conducts the Children Chorus, Chorus and Orchestra of the Staatstheater am Gärtnerplatz. Josef E. Köpplinger directs.

The performances take place at the Reithalle. BR-Klassik will record the first performance and broadcast it on December 3.

Today : world première of Filippo Perocco's 'Aquagranda' in Venezia

Today, the Teatro La Fenice in Venezia presents the world première performance of Filippo Perocco's new opera, Aquagranda, with a libretto by Roberto Bianchin and Luigi Cerantola.

It is the composer's first opera.
On 4 November 1966 Venice was struck by terrible floods. That day saw the highest high water ever recorded since the systematic recordings of the phenomenon had begun: at 18.00 the mareograph at Punta della Salute showed 194 cm. The consequences of the flood were terrible. The worst hit area was Pellestrina, the island where the new opera by Filippo Perocco is set. At that time the protagonist, Ernesto Ballarin was twenty-five years old when the sea broke through the Murazzi and flooded his house up to the roof so that he had no choice but to leave his house and island, together with another three thousand people.(reproduced from the opera house's website).
The cast includes bass Andrea Mastroni (Fortunato), tenor Mirko Guadagnini (Ernesto), soprano Giulia Bolcato (Lilli) and mezzo Silvia Regazzo (Leda). Marco Angius conducts the Chorus and Orchestra of the Teatro La Fenice. Damiano Michieletto directs.

The performance should last about 80 minutes. A recording of the first performance will be broadcast later on the same evening by Rai Radio 3. Culturebox will have a video recording of the opera available for viewers starting on November 12.