Friday, 28 July 2017

Today : world première of Roxanna Panufnik's 'Silver Birch' in Garsington

Today, the Garsington Opera presents the world première of Roxanna Panufnik's 'people's opera' Silver Birch, with a libretto by Jessica Duchen, after Siegfried Sassoon's poems and the testimony of a British soldier who served in Iraq.

It is the composer's third opera after Inkle and Yarico (Barbados, 1997) and The Music Programme (Warsaw, 2000).
Jack joins the army to silence his father's taunts for his love of poetry. Joined by his brother Davey, their devastating experiences turn the whole family's world upside down. Supported by the power of their mother's love as she tries to hold the family together they, like Sassoon himself, seek to help those whose suffering they share. (reproduced from Garsington Opera website)
The cast includes tenor Sam Furness (Jack), mezzo Victoria Simmonds (Anna), bass baritone Darren Jeffery (Simon), bass baritone Bradley Travis (Siegfried Sassoon) and soprano Sarah Redgwick (Mrs Morrell). Douglas Boyd conducts and Karen Gillingham directs.

The performance should last about 1 hour and 45 minutes (no interval).

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Today : world première of Bruno Strobl's 'Hemma eine Weibspassion' in Ossiach

Today, the Carinthian Summer Festival presents the world première of Bruno Strobl's church opera Hemma eine Weibspassion in the Stiftskirche Ossiach.

It is the composer's second church opera after Sara und ihre Männer (Ossiach, 2012). The libretto has been conceived by Franzobel (aka Franz Stefan Griebl).
Hemma is the patron saint of Carinthia, and a woman in the loaded field between the demands of her family, her husband and the church on the one hand, and her own wishes for fulfilment and a fair and peaceful life on the other. Intelligence and unyieldingness are her tools as she puts up resistance to the violent and strict hierarchies of her times, embodied by her husband, the Count, and by the Archbishop. Although, unlike the hedonistic Count, she is politically far-sighted, she is unable to prevent the fateful miners’ riot… (reproduced from the Festival website)
The cast include mezzo Juliette Mars (Hemma), soprano Julia Koci (Kathi), baritone Andreas Jankowitsch (Graf Wilhelm), tenor Sven Hjörleifsson (Wilhelm Hartwig) and bass Jens Waldig (Matschacher). Simeon Pironkoff conducts the Kärntner Sinfonieorchester and the Festival Choir. Kristine Tornquist directs.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Today : world première of 'The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs' by Mason Bates in Santa Fe

Today, the Santa Fe Opera presents the world première of The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, an opera in one prologue and nineteen scenes by Mason Bates, with a libretto by Mark Campbell.

It is the composer's first opera.
Many of us want to change the world. Steve Jobs did. An enigmatic public figure, he could be magnetic yet unapproachable, empathetic yet cruel, meditative yet restless. He helped connect us all while building a firewall around his own emotions. This is the story of a man who circles back to the formative events in his life while learning to acknowledge his own mortality. (reproduced from the Santa Fe Opera website)
The cast includes baritone Edward Parks (Steve Jobs), mezzo Sasha Cooke (Laurene Powell Jobs), bass Wei Wu (Kôbun Chino Otogawa), baritone Kelly Markgraf (Paul Jobs), tenor Garrett Sorenson (Woz) and soprano Jessica Jones (Chrisann Brennan). Michael Christie conducts the Orchestra of the Santa Fe Opera. Kevin Newbury directs.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Today : world première of B Tommy Andersson's 'The Importance of Being Earnest' in Vadstena

Today, the Vadstena Akademien presents the world première of B Tommy Andersson's The Importance of Being Earnest, with a libretto by William Relton based on the play by Oscar Wilde.

(c) Jan-Olav Wedin

It is the composer's second opera after William (Vadstena, 2006).
Two bachelors, John ‘Jack’ Worthing and Algernon ‘Algy’ Moncrieff, create alter egos named Ernest to escape their tiresome lives. They attempt to win the hearts of two women who, conveniently, claim to only love men called Ernest. The pair struggle to keep up with their own stories and become tangled in a tale of deception, disguise and misadventure. (reproduced from
The cast includes baritone Sebastian Duran (Jack Worthing), baritone Hannes Öberg (Algernon Moncrieff), tenor Nils Hübinette (Rev. Fredrick Chasuble), mezzo Ingrid Tobiasson (Lady Augusta Bracknell), mezzo Francine Vis (Gwendolen Fairfax) and soprano Vivianne Holmberg (Cecily Cardew). The composer conducts a chamber orchestra of soloists and the librettist directs.

The required orchestra is the following :

- 1 piccolo, 1 English horn, 1 bass clarinet, 1 double bassoon ;
- 1 horn, 1 trumpet, 1 trombone ;
- harp, celesta and piano ;
- strings ( or

The performance should last about 110 minutes. Another opera with a libretto after the same play was already composed by Gerald Barry in 2011 and first performed the same year by the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Six new programme books in my collection

I have recently received six new programme books published by opera theaters for performances of contemporary operas.

- Gerald Barry : Alice's Adventures Underground, Los Angeles (LA Phil), November 22, 2016 ;
- William Bolcom : Dinner at Eight, Saint Paul (Minnesota Opera), March 11, 2017 ;
- Alois Bröder : Unverhofftes Wiedersehen, Würzburg, June 24, 2017 ;

- Mohammed Fairouz : The Dictator's Wife, Washington (Kennedy Center), January 13, 2017 ;
- André Previn : A Streetcar Named Desire, Honolulu (HOT), January 27, 2017 ;
- Ravi Shankar : Sukanya, Leicester (Curve), May 12, 2017.

The first one is a 92 pages brochure for all concerts of November 2016, including 8 pages dedicated to Gerald Barry's new opera. It is entirely in English :

- complete cast ;
- Notes by John Henken ;
- Composer profile ;
- detailed biographies with B&W headshots.

The second one is a 32 pages brochure. It is entirely in English. It contains :

- synopsis ;
- complete cast and creative team ;
- About the opera, by dramaturg David Sander ;
- Director's Notes, by stage director Tomer Zvulun ;
- detailed biographies of composer William Bolcom and librettist Mark Campbell with color headshots ;
- biographies of singers and team members, with B&W headshots ;
- Meet the artist, with soprano Brenda Harris ;
- The Making of 'Dinner at Eight'.

The third one is a 44 pages brochure. It is entirely in German. It contains :

- complete cast and crew ;
- color photos of rehearsals ;
- short synopsis ;
- Die Erde, by Johann Peter Hebel ;
- Im Spiegel der Geschichte, by Beate Kröhnert, personnal assistant to the General Director ;
- Anmerkungen zur Musik, by composer Alois Bröder ;
- Der Komet, by Johann Peter Hebel ;
- complete libretto ;
- biography of Alois Bröder.

The fourth one is a 52 pages brochure. It is entirely in English. It is the January 2017 issue of Playbill for the Kennedy Center. 7 pages are dedicated to the opera Dictator's Wife :

- complete cast and crew ;
- A Letter from Robert Ainsley, director of the American Opera Initiative ;
- synopsis of the opera ;
- Meet the Artists, biographies with B&W headshots.

The sixth one is a 36 pages brochure. It is entirely in English. It contains :

- Introduction by director Suba Das ;
- color photos of rehearsals ;
- Programme notes by Michael Church ;
- Ravi Shankar timline ;
- Ravi Shankar in photographs ;
- cast, performers and production team ;
- synopsis ;
- biographies of artists, with B&W headshots.

I now have 482 programmes for conteporary operas. I have scanned and uploaded all the covers in this flickr album.

Monday, 3 July 2017

Today : world première of Philippe Boesmans' 'Pinocchio' in Aix-en-Provence

Today, the Festival International d'Art Lyrique in Aix-en-Provence presents the world première of the opera Pinocchio, composed by Philippe Boesmans, with a libretto by Joël Pommerat after Carlo Collodi.

It is the seventh opera composed by Boesmans, after La Passion de Gilles (1983), Reigen (1993), Wintermärchen (1999), Julie (2005), Yvonne Princesse de Bourgogne (2009) and Au Monde (2014).
Pinocchio is a rude and insolent person, eschewing all sentimentality to reconnect with the harsh world that Collodi portrays in his book. (reproduced from the Aix-en-Provence festival website)
The cast includes baritone Stéphane Degout (Le directeur de troupe / Le directeur de cirque), bass baritone Vincent Le Texier (La père / Le maître d'école), tenor Yann Beuron (Le directeur de cabaret / Le juge), mezzo Julie Boulianne (La chanteuse de cabaret) and soprano Marie-Eve Munger (La fée). Emilio Pomarico conducts the Klangforum Wien. Joël Pommerat directs.

The score is published by Éditions Jobert. The required orchestra is the following :

- 1 flute (doubling piccolo and alto flute), 1 oboe (doubling English horn), 1 clarinet (doubling bass clarinet) and 1 bassoon (doubling contrabassoon) ;
- 2 horns, 1 trumpet, 1 trombone ;
- harp and piano (doubling celesta) ;
- 3 percussionists ;
- strings.

The performance should last about 2 hours and 15 minutes, including one interval.

There will be further performance in Brussels (September 2017), Dijon (October 2017) and Bordeaux (May 2018). Other operas inspired by Collodi's story include works by Jonathan Dove, Pierangelo Valtinoni and Sergio Menozzi.