Friday, 22 June 2018

Today : world première of 'Drachenreiter' by Jan Pezold and Henning Kothe in Lübeck

Today, the Theater Lübeck presents the world première of Drachenreiter (Dragon Rider), a children opera with libretto and music by Jan Pezold and Henning Kothe, based on a novel by Cornelia Funke.

Cornelia Funke
Firedrake is a young dragon who lives in a hidden valley outside of London with other dragons. After realizing that humans intend to flood the valley and the dragons living there are no longer safe, Firedrake sets off with the guidance from the eldest member of his clan to avoid the 'Golden One' and to find the Rim of Heaven, a legendary location that is a safe haven for all dragons. (reproduced from wikipedia)
The cast includes Dominik Müller (Drache Lung), soprano Imke Looft (Waldkobold Schefelfell), Alexander Wilbert (Ben), bass Simon Rudolf (Drache Nesselbrand, der Goldene), countertenor Johann Moritz von Cube (Fliegenbein) and Marlon Hangmann (Professor Schwertling). Jan-Michael Krüger conducts the Lübeck Philharmonic Orchestra and the Vocalino Children Chorus. Jennifer Toelstede directs.

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Today : world première of 'Cave' by Tansy Davies in London

Today, the Royal Opera House and the London Sinfonietta present the world première of Cave, a chamber opera in 8 scenes for 2 singers and ensemble with electronics, composed by Tansy Davies, with a libretto by Nick Drake.

(c) Maurice Foxall

It is the composer's second opera after Between Worlds, first performed by English National Opera at the Barbican on April 11, 2015.
This music theatre work follows a grieving man’s quest for survival and renewal, in a dystopian future of desert shopping malls and melting ancient glaciers. Desperate to connect one last time with his lost daughter, he enters a dark cave, and so begins his journey into the underworld of spirits. (reproduced from the Royal Opera House website)
The cast include tenor Mark Padmore (Man) and contralto Elaine Mitchener (Hannah). Geoffrey Paterson conducts the London Sinfonietta. Lucy Bailey directs.

The performance should last about 60 minutes. The venue is Printworks.

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Today : world première of 'Mamzer Bastard' by Na'ama Zisser in London

Today, the Royal Opera House and the Guildhall School of Music & Drama present the world première of Mamzer Bastard, a chamber opera by Na'ama Zisser, with a libretto (in English, Hebrew and Yiddish) by Samantha Newton and Rachel C. Zisser.

It is the composer's second opera after Black Sand (London, 2013).
It is the night before Yoel’s wedding, an arranged marriage within his Orthodox Hasidic community. He is wracked with doubt. A chance encounter with a stranger reveals truths about Yoel that change everything. (reproduced from the Royal Opera House website)
The cast includes countertenor Collin Shay (Yoel), baritone Steven Page (Stranger), mezzo Gundula Hintz (Esther), tenor Robert Burt (Menash) and cantor Netanel Hershtik (David). Jessica Cottis conducts the Aurora Orchestra. Jay Scheib directs.

The venue is the Hackney Empire. The performance should last about 90 minutes (no interval).

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Just received : two programme books from Hamburg (Dvorak and Ruzicka)

This Tuesday morning, I have received in the mail two programme books published by the Staatsoper Hamburg for two new operas :

- Jan Dvorak, Frankenstein, May 20, 2018 ;
- Peter Ruzicka, Benjamin, June 3, 2018.

The first one is a 48 pages book. It contains :

- Mutability, a poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley, in English with facing translation in German ;
- Ohne eine Liebe - Die Geschichte von viktor Frankenstein und seiner Schöpfung, by director Philipp Stölzl ;
- Wie das Böse in die Welt kommt, dialogue with librettist and composer Jan Dvorak, by Janina Zell and Lisa-Michelle Helten ;
- Das verachtenswerteste Leben, by Mary Shelley ;
- Die Geburtsstunde zweier Kreaturen, excerpt of the introduction to Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus, by Mary Shelley ;
- Ein Funken des Seins, excerpt of Mary Shelley's novel ;
- Effektiver Umgang mit Unwissenheit, Brian Eno über Künstliche Intelligenz ;
- Trägt irgendjemand die Verantwortung für dieses Gebilde ? David Christian über Künstliche Intelligenz ;
- several colour photos from rehearsals and several B & W stills of Boris Karloff as Frankenstein.

The book also contains a 4 pages leaflet with complete cast and crew for the first performance.

The second is a 64 pages book. I tcontains :

- synopsis, by librettiste Yona Kim ;
- Die Suche als Daseinsform, interview with composer Peter Ruzicka and librettist Yona Kim, by Detlef Brandenburg ;
- Kontexte, by Habakuk Traber ;
- Walter Benjamin, eine musiktheatralische Metapher, by librettist Yona Kim ;
- Im Augenblick der Gefahr, by Angela Beuerle ;
- Chronology of Benjamin ;
- detailed biographies of Peter Ruzicka and Yona Kim ;
- complete libretto, in German ;
- several colour photos of rehearsals.

The book also contains a 4 pages leaflet with complete cast and crew for the first performance.

I now have 568 programme books for contemporary operas. All scanned covers have been uploaded to this flickr folder.

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Today : world première of 'El Cristo de Elqui' by Miguel Farias in Santiago

Today, the Teatro Municipal de Santiago presents the world première of El Cristo de Elqui (The Christ of Elqui), an opera in one prologue and four acts composed by Miguel Farias, with a libretto by Alberto Mayol, based on Hernán Rivera Letelier's novels The Art of the Resurrection and The Queen Isabel Sang Mexican Music.

He has already composed at least one opera, Renca, Paris y Liendres (2012).
The music is intended as an attempt to represent the voice of the desert and the northern pampas, with its passive nights and afternoons of howls of suffering and pleasure. The desert speaks during the interludes, while in the dramatic scenes, the music visits the common spaces of the Chilean north of the 20th century. They visit rancheras and boleros that unite miners, prostitutes, priests and elected, while the desert whispers the eternal song of their own voice and history that is mixed with the whistles of their silence. (reproduced from
The cast includes baritonr Patricio Sabaté (Cristo de Elqui), mezzo Evelyn Ramirez (Reina Isabel), soprano Yaritza Véliz (Magalena), mezzo Paola Rodriguez (Ambulancia) and baritone Gonzalo Araya (Cardenal). Pedro-Pablo Prudencio conducts the Orquesta Filarmonica de Santiago and the Coro del Municipal de Santiago. Jorge Lavelli directs.

The performance should last about 90 minutes.

Sunday, 3 June 2018

Today : world première of Peter Ruzicka's 'Benjamin' in Hamburg

Today, the Staatsoper Hamburg presents the world première of Benjamin, an opera in seven stations composed by Peter Ruzicka, with a libretto by Yona Kim.

It is the composer's third opera, after Celan (Dresden, March 25, 2001) and Hölderlin (Berlin, November 16, 2008).
Walter Benjamin was a German philosopher and cultural scientist. A Jew and Marxist, his path through the 20th century was irregular and meandering. The figures accompanying Benjamin on his last wanderings through life designate areas of his influence. Hannah Arendt spoke of the 'banality of evil', Benjamin’s chess partner Bertolt Brecht polemicised against his 'Jewish fascism', the Kabala researcher Gershom Scholem urged his friend to come to Israel, and with the Latvian actress Asja Lacis, Benjamin fantasised about proletarian children’s theatre. To Benjamin, it was not world revolution, but 'weak messianic power' that pointed the way to a just society. While escaping to the USA, Benjamin took his own life in the Spanish border town of Port-Bou in 1940. (reproduced from the Staatsoper Hamburg website)
The cast includes soprano Lini Gong (Asja L.), mezzo Dorottya Lang (Hannah A.), tenor Andreas Conrad (Bertolt B.) ; baritone Dietrich Henschel (Benjamin), bass Tigran Martirossian (Gerhsom Sholem) and mezzo Marta Swiderska (Dora S.). Peter Ruzicka conducts the Philharmoniches Staatsorchester Hamburg, the Choir of the Staatsoper Hamburg and the Hamburger Alsterspatzen. Yona Kim directs.

The score is published by Sikorski. According to the publisher's website, the required orchestra is the following :

- 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 3 clarinets (doubling bass clarinet) ; 3 bassoons (doubling contrabassoon) ;
- 3 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, 1 tuba ;
- timpani and 4 percussionists ;
- piano / celesta ;
- strings (

The performance should last about 100 minutes.

Walter Benjamin was already the main character of Benjamin, dernière nuit, composed by Michel Tabachnik, an opera first performed in Lyon on March 15, 2016.

Today : world première of the 2 acts version of 'An American Soldier' by Huang Ruo in Saint Louis

Today, the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis presents the world première of the new version of An American Soldier, an opera in 2 acts composed by Huang Ruo with a libretto by David Henry Hwang.

The first version was performed in Washington on June 13, 2014.
Danny Chen is the son of Chinese immigrants, and a proud American. He enlists in the US Army in 2011, eager to serve his country. In boot camp, Danny is welcomed by his band of brothers. But in Afghanistan, his own base becomes enemy territory as military hazing turns deadly. (reproduced from the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis website)
The cast includes tenor Andrew Stenson (Danny Chen), bass baritone Wayne Tigges (Sergent Aaron Marcum), mezzo Mika Shigematsu (Mother Chen) and soprano Kahtleen Kim (Josephine Young). Michael Christie conducts the Orchestra and Chorus of the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. Matthew Ozawa directs.

The score is published by Ricordi. According to the publisher, the required chamber orchestra (35 musicians) is the following :

- 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons ;
- 2 horns, 2 trumpets, 2 trombones ;
- 2 percussions ;
- strings.

The performance should last about 2 hours, including one intermission.

Saturday, 2 June 2018

Today : world première of 'Wir aus Glas' by Yasutaki Inamori in Munich

Today, the Münchner Biennale (Festival of new music theater) presents the world première of Wir aus Glas, a musical theatre piece composed by Yasutaki Inamori with a libretto by Gerhild Steinbuch.

It is the composer's first work for the stage.
An apartment, five persons, seven days: the apartment becomes a world. Comfortably packed in the interior of the bubble, familiar everyday rituals and dealing with familiar things secure and protect the persons from an outside, which for a long time now one only knows about from hearsay. Home, hearth, and living room endow identity and keep fear at bay : fear of the unknown, fear of the uncontrollable, fear of the unfamiliar. The constructed 'ideal world' is not allowed to collapse, and so the outsider becomes an aggressor, whose 'otherness' has to be suppressed, because he questions one's self. (reproduced from the Münchner Biennale website)
The cast includes soprano Alexandra Hutton, mezzo Michelle Daly, tenor Clemens Bieber ; baritone Thomas Florio and actor Steffen Scheumann. Elda Laro conducts the Opera Lab Berlin. David Hermann directs.
The instrumental ensemble consists of 1 oboe, 1 bassoon, 1 trumpet, 1 trombone / tuba, 1 violin and 1 violoncello.

The score is published by Edition Gravis.

The performance should last about 90 minutes. The venue is the Muffathalle. After five performances in Munich, the production will be performed in Berlin at the Deutsche Oper (Tischlerei), starting on June 19.