Saturday, 29 April 2017

Today : world première of Daniel Sonenberg's 'The Summer King' in Pittsurgh

Today, the Pittsburgh Opera presents the world première of Daniel Sonenberg's opera The Summer King, with a libretto by the composer and Daniel Nester.

The opera was first performed in a concert performance on May 8, 2014 in Portland, Maine. Since then, the opera has been fully revised.
The opera tells the story of baseball legend Josh Gibson. Josh went from the sandlots of Pittsburgh’s North Side to the pinnacle of greatness in the Negro Leagues, before ultimately being enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. The opera begins with a father and son debating about great baseball players. When the father mentions Josh Gibson, the son thinks his father is living in the past. But as his father retorts, “Who’s got those numbers today ?”. The Summer King follows Josh at key points in his life, including his playing days in the Negro Leagues as well as in Mexico, where he was awarded the MVP award while playing for the Veracruz Azules. Like all African Americans at the time, Josh was prohibited from playing in the Major Leagues by what was disingenuously referred to as a “gentlemen’s agreement” among the Major League clubs. Sadly, Josh died at the age of 35, felled by a stroke shortly before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers. (reproduced from the Pittsburgh Opera website)
The cast includes bass baritone Alfred Walker (Josh Gibson), tenor Sean Panikkar (Wendell Smith), mezzo Denyce Graves (Grace), bass Kenneth Kellogg (Sam Bankhead) and soprano Jacqueline Echols (Helen Gibson).Antony Walker conducts and Sam Helfrich directs.

There will be a new production of this opera at the Detroit Opera House by the Michigan Opera Theatre next year, with a first night on May 12, 2018.

Friday, 28 April 2017

Today : World première of 'Les Zoocrates' by Thierry Besançon in Lausanne

Today, the Opéra de Lausanne presents the world première of Les zoocrates, an 'animal and operatic silliness' by Thierry Besançon, with a libretto in French by Örs Kisfaludy.

It is the composer's first opera.
But...what on earth is a zoocrate? Is it some kind of learned animal, a zoological Socrates of sorts whose name is spoken with a lisp or even a stutter? A...Socratic animal? Why not! Doesn't the writer Eugène Ionesco declare so in his play Rhinoceros? : « All cats are mortal. Socrates is mortal. Therefore Socrates is a cat. » This is pure logic, isn't it? Indeed, but it would be even more (zoo) logical to think that a zoocrate is but the animal equivalent of a democrat. And zoocracy, the equivalent of democracy. (reproduced from the Opéra de Lausanne website)
the cast includes actor Thierry Takahahshi-Jorand (Le chasseur), bass Daniel Golossov (Le Lion), counter-tenor Jérôme Vavasseur (La Hyène), bass Alexandre Diakoff (L'homme-singe / Le marabout), soprano Yuki Tsurusaki (La gazelle) and tenor Fernando Cuellar Leon (Le zèbre). Andrei Feher conducts the Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne. Pierre Lepori and François Renou direct.

The performance should last about 70 minutes, with no intermission.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

3 new programme books in my collection : Battistelli, Fairouz and Nemtsov

I have recently received three new programme books for contemporary operas :

- Giorgio Battistelli : Lot, Hannover, April 1, 2017 ;
- Mohammed Fairouz : The New Prince, Amsterdam, March 24, 2017 ;
- Sarah Nemtsov : Sacrifice, Halle, March 5, 2017.

 The first one is a 64 pages book. It contains :

- synopsis ;
- Klaus Angermann : Experiment mit offenem Ausgang - Vorläufige Bemerkungen zu Giorgio Battistellis Oper Lot ;
- Umberto Eco : Projekt einer Apokalypse ;
- Pier Paolo Pasolini : Ach, meine nackten Füsse... ;
- Julia Kristeva : Toccata und Fuge für den Fremden ;
- Klaus Lelek : A und O ;
- Pier Paolo Pasolini : Die Zerstörung der Selbsteinschätzung ;
- biographies of composer and librettist with black and white headshots ;
- complete libretto in German ;
- complete cast for the first performance (on the last page) ;
- several colour photos of the piano dress rehearsal on March 22.

The programme book is entirely written in German.

The second is a 88 pages book. It contains :

- complete cast ;
- Marijke Schouten : Machiavelli's wijsheid van de straat (Machiavelli's wisdom of the street) ;
- Frans van Dooren : Machiavelli's ideeënwereld (Machiavelli's world of ideas) ;
- Mark de Boorder : Eigentijdse figuren (Contemporary figures) ;
- Eelco Runia : Het Ancien régime zag de revolutie ook niet aankomen (The Ancient Regime did not se the Revolution coming) ;
- Edward Said : Het gezag de waarheid zeggen (Speaking Truth to Power) ;
- Fabienne Vegt : Korte inhoud (Synopsis) ;
- complete libretto ;

The entire programme book is in Dutch. The libretto is bilingual, Dutch and English.

The third and last one is a 16 pages leaflet. It contains :

- the complete cast ;
- May I be Sacrificed - Möge ich geopfert sein, by Michael v. zur Mühlen.

It is entirely in German.

I now have 472 programme books for contemporary operas. All the scanned covers have been uploaded to this flickr folder.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Today : world première of Chaya Czernowin's 'Infinite Now' in Antwerp

Today, the Opera Vlaanderen in Gent presents the world première of Chaya Czernowin's opera Infinite Now, with a libretto by Luk Perceval and Chaya Czernowin based on texts by Erich Maria Remarque, Can Xue and letters of soldiers in World War I.

It is the composer's fourth opera, after Pnima...ins Innere (Munich, May 10, 2000), Zaïde / Adama (Salzburg, August 17, 2006) and And you will love me back (2011). The opera is in 6 acts.
Infinite Now by Chaya Czernowin is the fruit of a montage of a short story by the Chinese author Can Xue and a selection of texts written on the front during the First World War: a novel by Erich Maria Remarque, À l’Ouest, rien de nouveau. In the two situations, a deadlocked situation for which nobody knows the solution, a world war or intimate destitution. (reproduced from the IRCAM website)
The cast includes soprano Karen Vourc'h, mezzo Kai Rüütel, alto Noa Frenkel, countertenor Terry Wey, baritone Vincenzo Neri and bass David Salsbery Fry, as well as actors Rainer Süβmilch (Paul Bäumer), Benjamin-Lew Klon (Katczinsky), Didier De Neck (Luitenant De Wit / Van Outryve), Gilles Welinski (Kolonel Magots) and Roy Aernouts (Soldier Seghers). Titus Engel conducts the Symfonisch Orkest Opera Vlaanderen with an extra quartett (guitar, electric guitar and 2 cellos). Luk Perceval directs.

The score is published by Schott Music. A perusal score is available on their website. The performance should last about 2 hours and 30 minutes.

The orchestral setting is the following :

- 3 flutes (3. also piccolo), 3 oboes (3. also English Horn), 3 clarinets (3. also bass clarinet), 3 bassoons (3. also contrabassoon) ;
- 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, 1 tuba ;
- percussion (3 players) ;
- strings and electronic designed with the collacoration of IRCAM, Paris.

The opera will be performed in Gent, Antwerp (April-May) and in Paris (June).

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Today : world première of Giorgio Battistelli's 'Lot' in Hannover

Today, the Staatsoper Hannover presents the world première of Giorgio Battistelli's new opera, Lot, with a libretto by Jenny Erpenbeck.

Giorgio Battistelli has composed several operas including Prova d'Orchestra (Strasbourg, 1995), Richard III (Antwerpen, 2005), Divorzio all'italiana (Nancy, 2008) and Il Medico dei pazzi (Nancy, 2014).
God wants to destroy the city of Sodom because of its moral depravity, but Abraham worries about his nephew, Lot, who is a god-fearing man. Abraham haggles with God about the minimum number of innocents that Sodom must have in order that the city be spared. But the angels of God find only one, Lot, whose family they want to save before the city is razed to the ground. For a single "righteous" is not enough for divine power to prevent the massacre of others. The salvation proves to Lot as a curse. His way leads to uncertainty, where his wife can only hesitantly follow him and is therefore also destroyed. Alone left by his God, he escaped with his two daughters to the mountains, where he lived in social isolation with them like a wild beast, and bears children with them. (freely adapted from the Staatsoper Hannover website)
The cast includes baritone Brian Davis (Lot), soprano Dorothea Maria Marx (1st Daughter), mezzo Stella Motina (2nd Daughter), contralto Khatuna Mikaberidze (Woman), bass Franz Mazura (Abraham) and mezzo Renate Behle (Sara). Mark Rohde conducts the Orchestra and Chorus of the Staatsoper Hannover and Frank Hilbrich directs.

According to the publisher's website (Ricordi Milano), the required orchestra is the following :

- piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, English horn, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, 3 bassoons ;
- 4 horns, 4 trumpets, 4 trombones, 2 tubas ;
- timpani, percussion (3 players), piano, harp ;
- strings.

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