Thursday, 29 November 2018

Today : world première of 'p r i s m' by Ellen Reid in Los Angeles

Today, the Los Angeles Opera and Beth Morrison Projects present the world première of p r i s m, an opera composed by Ellen Reid, with a libretto by Roxie Perkins.

It is the composer's third opera after Winter's Child and Hopscotch, a mobile opera for 24 cars (Los Angeles, 2015).
Locked away in a sterile room, a sickly child, Bibi, and her doting mother, Lumee, are each other’s sole protectors from the unknown. When a mysterious illness lurking outside their door leaves Bibi unable to walk, her youthful curiosity begins to simmer and a seductive external existence can no longer be ignored. (reproduced from the Prototype Festival website)
The cast includes soprano Anna Schubert (Bibi), mezzo Rebecca Jo Loeb (Lumee) and Members of the Choir of Trinity Wall Street (Chroma). Julian Wachner conducts the cast and orchestra. James Darrah directs.

The performance should last about 2 hours, including one intermission. The venue is Redcat, in the Walt Disney Concert Hall complex. The opera will also be performed in New York in January 2019 at La MaMa First Floor Theater as part of the Prototype Festival.

Sunday, 18 November 2018

Today : two new chamber operas in Brno

Today, the Janacek Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Brno presents the world première performance of two chamber operas : Falstaff by Jiří Najvar, with a libretto in Czech based on Shakespeare's character, and The Unknown Lady (Neznámá) by Daniel Šimek with a libretto in Czech based on Alexander Blok's play.

Both composers are students at the Academy.
From his comfortable place in the guest house “At the suspender”, he undertakes daring love affairs with Windsor townswomen Alice and Markéta. However, Alice and Markéta always outwit Falstaff with the help of Mrs. Quickly. Falstaff may appear to be a naïve fool who always gets tricked but he reveals his philosophy at the end of the opera: if it weren´t for his clumsiness and complete irresponsibility, life would be boring and the townspeople would be unable to show off how virtuous they are.

The heroes of the opera are a Poet who is looking for an unknown girl and the “Unknown” girl herself, who is named Marie and is a star which has fallen to earth. The main theme of the opera is the search for one´s own ideal, and the situations when one really recognizes it. (reproduced from the Janacek Academy website)
Both operas will be performed by students of the Academy. The venue is the Orli Street Theatre.

Friday, 16 November 2018

Today : world première of 'Nous sommes éternels' by Pierre Batholomée in Metz

Today, the Opéra Théâtre Metz Métropole presents the world première of Nous sommes éternels (We Are Eternal), an opera in 3 acts composed by Pierre Batholomée with a libretto by Pierrette Fleutiaux and Jérôme Fronty after Fleutiaux's own novel.

It is the composer's third opera after Œdipe sur la route (Brussels, 2003) and La Lumière Antigone (Brussels, 2007).
Estelle, the only survivor of her family, seeks to understand the lie of her childhood and the destruction of her family. Dan and Estelle, brought up as brother and sister, loved each other with a crazy love, which they thought forbidden. Fate has fallen on them as on the rest of the family. "We are eternal," they said as children ... (freely adapted from the Opéra de Metz website)
The cast includes soprano Karen Vourc'h (Estelle), soprano Aline Metzinger (Nicole), mezzo Joëlle Charlier (Tirésia), tenor Sébastien Guèze (Dan), baritone Mikhael Piccone (Alwyn) and baritone Mathieu Gardon (Helleur). Patrick Davin conducts the Orchestre national de Lorraine. Vincent Goethals directs.

The performance should last 2 hours and 5 minutes, with no intermission.

Thursday, 15 November 2018

Today : world première of 'Fin de partie' by György Kurtag in Milan

Today, the Teatro alla Scala in Milan presents the world première of Fin de partie, an opera in one act composed by György Kurtag, with a libretto based on Samuel Beckett's play.

(c) Andrea Felvégi

It is the composer's first opera.
The setting is a bare, partially underground room, serving as shelter for the four characters: Hamm the master, Clov his servant, and Hamm's father and mother, Nagg and Nell (who live in garbage cans). Hamm is in a wheelchair and makes Clov move him around the room, fetch objects, and look out the window for signs of life. Outside all seems dead and nothing happens. Inside, the characters pass the time mortifying each other and toying with fears and illusions of a possible change, all along sensing the inevitability of their end. (reproduced from Dr. Fidel Fajardo-Acosta's website)
The cast includes bass baritone Frode Olsen (Hamm), baritone Leigh Melrose (Clov), contralto Hilary Summers (Nell) and tenor Leonardo Cortellazzi (Nagg). Markus Stenz conducts the Orchestra of the Teatro alla Scala. Pierre Audi directs.

The first performance will be broadcast live by Rai Radio 3. The opera will later be performed in Amsterdam in March 2019, with exactly the same cast.

The score is published by Editio Musica Budapest.

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Today : world première of 'i.c.o.n.' by Frederik Neyrinck in Kortrijk

Today, the Next Festival in Kortrijk (Courtrai) presents the world première of i.c.o.n., an opera composed by Frederik Neyrinck, with a libretto by Sabryna Pierre.

It is the composer's first opera.
After almost one and a half century, the death mask of L'inconnue de la Seine keeps fascinating us. The mysterious smile on the face of this young unknown woman, who was supposed to have drowned in the Seine, meanwhile has acquired cult status. The opera shifts the myth to the contemporary visual culture, thus giving the initial impetus to a universal story about beauty, transitoriness and death. It is a hybrid mix of photo shoot, filmset and concert, throwing a light on how we deal with the human portrait today. There is live portraying on stage and quasi immediately photo and film appear on the screen. The border between the artist on stage and the spectactor in the audience is blurred. Icon becomes beholder, model becomes photographer, man becomes woman and victim in its turn perpetrator. (reproduced from the Next Festival website)
The cast includes soprano Liselot De Wilde and actor Tibo Vandenborre. Joey Marijs conducts the Asko Schönberg Ensemble. Charlotte Bouckaert and Steve Salembier (Atelier Bildraum) direct.

The venue is Budascoop in Kortrijk. The production will then travel to Amsterdam (Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ), Gent (Minardschouwburg), Luxembourg (Grand Théâtre, Studio), Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (Lisbon) and deSingel (Antwerpen).

Today : world première of 'Schoenberg in Hollywood' by Tod Machover in Boston

Today, the Boston Lyric Opera presents the world première of Schoenberg in Hollywood, an opera composed by Tod Machover with a libretto by Simon Robson based on a scenario by Braham Murray.

It is the composer's sixth opera after, among others, Valis (Paris, 1987), Resurrection (Houston, 1999) and Death and the Powers (Monaco, September 2010).
The brilliant composer Arnold Schoenberg fled the darkness and despair of Hitler’s Europe and found himself in 1930s Hollywood — a bold, new world of golden sunshine and camera-ready beauty. Can he find a way to reconcile reflection with action, and tradition with revolution ? What is the meaning of art in the wake of atrocity ? (reproduced from the BLO website)
The cast includes baritone Omar Ebrahim (Schoenberg), soprano Sara Womble (Girl) and tenor Jesse Darden (Boy). David Angus conducts the orchestra. Karole Armitage directs.

The venue is the Robert J. Orchard Stage at the Emerson/Paramount Center. The performance should last about 90 minutes, with no intermission.

Sunday, 11 November 2018

New audio and video recordings in my collection

I have recently acquired the following recordings of contemporary operas :

- John Adams : Doctor Atomic, conducted by John Adams, recorded in London (April 2017), published by Nonesuch Records (CD) ;
- Brett Dean : Hamlet, conducted by Vladimir Jurowski, directed by Neil Armfield, recorded in Glyndebourne (July 2017), published by Opus Arte (Blu-ray) ;
- Sebastian Fagerlund : Höstsonaten (Autumn Sonata), conducted by John Storgårds, recorded in Helsinki (September 2017), published by Bis (CD) ;

- John Harbison : Winter's Tale, conducted by Gil Rose, recorded at Mechanics Hall (Worcester, MA) in March 2009, published by BMOP Sound (CD) ;
- Bo Holten : Gesualdo Shadows, conducted by Bo Holten, directed by Deda Cristina Colonna, recorded at The Funen Opera, Odense (November 2016), published by Dacapo (DVD) ;
- Tod Machover : Death and the Powers, conducted by Nicole Paiement, directed by Diane Paulus, recorded in the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House, Dallas, TX (February 2014), published by the Dallas Opera (Blu-ray) ;

- Thea Musgrave : Mary, Queen of Scots, conducted by Peter Mark, recorded in Norfolk (VA) in April 1979, published by Lyrita (CD) ;
- Marcello Panni : Hanjo, conducted by Carlo Boccadoro, directed by Cesare Scarton, recorded in Teatro Palladium in Rome (November 2016), published by EMA Vinci Records (DVD) ;

- Seppo Pohjola : The Closet and My Dearest, conducted by Tuomas Rousi, recorded in Kuusankoski (September 2007) and published by Alba (CD) ;
- Aribert Reimann : L'Invisible, conducted by Donald Runnicles, recorded in Berlin (October 2017) and published by Oehms Classics (CD) ;

- Alessandro Solbiati : Leggenda, conducted by Gianandrea Noseda, directed by Stefano Poda, recorded in Torino (September 2011), published by EMA Vinci Records (DVD) ;
- Maurizio Squillante : The Wings of Daedalus, recorded in Rome (2008) and published by Wergo (CD).

I have catalogued all my opera recordings on LibraryThing.

Saturday, 3 November 2018

Today : world première of 'Falscher Verrat' by Marco Tutino in Kiel

Today, the Theater Kiel presents the world première of Falscher Verrat (False Betrayal), an opera composed by Marco Tutino, with a libretto in German by Luca Rossi and Wolfgang Haendeler inspired by the Kiel mutiny in November 1918.

Marco Tutino has already composed several operas, including Senso (Palermo, January 2011), Le Braci (Budapest, October 2014), La Ciociara (Two Women, San Francisco, June 2015) and Miseria e nobilta (Genova, February 2018).
It is the fictitious story about the sailor Gabriel, the Lieutenant Commander Arno von Stahl and Gabriel's childhood friend Henriette, now Lola the prostitute. Political convictions and intentions are overshadowed by private feelings : the officer Arno wants to support the uprising, but is betrayed out of jealousy by the sailor Gabriel. In the end, both men perish, but the rebellion can not be stopped. Lola, the woman between the two men, survives. (freely adapted from the Kiel Theater website)
The cast includes soprano Agnieszka Hauzer (Lola), tenor Michael Müller-Kasztelan (Gabriel Jensen), bass Tomohiro Takada (Arno von Stahl), mezzo Tatia Jibladze (Elsa von Stahl), bass baritone Jörg Sabrowski (Rufus Kropp), bass baritone Matteo Maria Ferretti (Richard) and tenor Fred Hoffmann (Helmut Schulze Rohr). Georg Fritzsch conducts the Orchestra, the Chorus and the Children's Chorus of the Kiel Opera House. Daniel Karazek directs.

The performance should last 2 hours and 30 minutes, including the interval.

Today : world première of 'November 1918' by Stefan Lano in Weimar

Today, the Deutsches Nationaltheater in Weimar presents the world première of November 1918, an opera composed by Stefan Lano, with a libretto by André Bücker and Beate Seidel based on Alfred Döblin's novel.

It is the composer's first opera.
The soldier Friedrich Becker returns home to Berlin broken and traumatised from World War I. Nonetheless, he is determined to find a new purpose in life. But he hardly recognises Berlin anymore, its foundation shaken by revolution. His hope for »sweet peace« seems to vanish in the face of everyday life. He observes the political bickering between left- and right-wing factions, the radicalisation of the Spartakists, the conservative and military elite biding their time until they can seize power again, the shameless actions of the Allied victors.
But Becker refuses to give up. He becomes a school teacher and gives classes in his beloved subject German. During his lessons, he tries to teach his students humanistic values. However, he bitterly discovers the futility of this project in a country humiliated in defeat and whose nationalistic pride would culminate in a fascist dictatorship only ten years later. (reproduced from the DNT website)
The cast includes actor Max Landgrebe (Friedrich Becker), actress Johanna Geißler (Rosa Luxemburg) and soprano Heike Porstein (Engel). Stefan Lano conducts the Staatskapelle Weimar. André Bücker directs.

Today : world première of 'Lorelei' by Julian Langdon in Melbourne

Today, the Victorian Opera in Melbourne presents the world première of Lorelei, an opera-cabaret composed by Julian Langdon, with a libretto by Casey Bennetto and Gillian Cosgriff.

It is not the composer's first opera.
All aboard ! You’re on a boat, sailing down the River Rhine in Germany heading toward a particularly tricky bend in the river. A bend which few vessels manage to navigate without crashing and where sailors always drown.
Legend has it that it’s because of three sirens, the Lorelei, who sit atop the cliffs singing a song so alluring and irresistible that the sailors can’t seem to stay focused on the task at hand. You’ll meet this famous trio, who will prepare you to hear the most incredible songs of your life.
But you’ve caught the Lorelei on an odd day. Because today they're wondering if they’re sick of singing sailors to their death. Do they all really deserve to die ? Can the Lorelei help being so irresistible ?
The Lorelei seem to be having a crisis of conscience. Maybe they’ll shake things up a bit and see what happens if they change their tune. (reproduced from the Victorian Opera website)
The cast includes mezzo Dimity Shepherd (Lorelei A), soprano Ali McGregor (Lorelei B) and soprano Antoinette Halloran (Lorelei C). Phoebe Briggs conducts the Victorian Opera Chamber Orchestra. Sarah Giles directs.

The performance should last 75 minutes. The venue is the Coopers Malthouse, Merlyn Theatre.