Sunday, 24 March 2019

Today : world première of 'Siegfried, the Little Dragon Slayer' by Adrian Sieber in Würzburg

Today, the Mainfranken Theater Würzburg presents the world première of Siegfried, der kleine Drachentöter (Siegfried, the Little Dragon Slayer), a children opera composed by Adrian Sieber, with a libretto by Berthold Warnecke.

It is the composer's first opera.
Who does not know the stories of the legendary hero Siegfried ? Even the little Siegfried is fascinated by the exploits of his great role model, by the world of kings and knights, by Siegfried's strength, courage and wisdom. Hour after hour, little Siegfried spends time in the forge of his friend Regin, in order to immerse himself deeper and deeper in the secrets of the book of the Nibelungen saga. He can not get enough of the stories until one day they read the chapter about the Nibelung treasure. The description of this treasure, which promises its owner power over the world and immeasurable wealth, exerts a magical attraction, not only on Siegfried ! Regin also suddenly seems transformed. With Siegfried's help, he wants to gain possession of the treasure, which is guarded by the fearsome dragon Fafnir. Pressed by Regin, Siegfried bravely goes to fight the dragon, and for the first time, has to make decisions that might change his life. (freely adapted from the Mainfranken Theater Würzburg website)
The cast includes soprano Silke Evers (Siegfried) and bass Taiyu Uchiyama (Regin the blacksmith). Adrian Sieber conducts members of the Philharmonic Orchestra Würzburg. Mario Pavle Del Monaco directs.

The venue is the 'Kammer' hall. The performance should last about one hour.

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Today : world première of 'The True Story of King Kong' by Jeffrey Ching in Magdeburg

Today, the Theater Magdeburg presents the world première of Die wahre Geschichte von King Kong (The True Story of King Kong), a chamber opera with puppets composed by Jeffrey Ching with a libretto in English by Roscha A. Säidow.

It is the composer's third opera after The Orphan (Erfurt, November 2009) and Before Brabant (Hong Kong, March 2014).
A godlike judge holds the protagonists of the famous story to account before a mythical court to determine the real circumstances of the death of King Kong. The perspectives of what happened are compared in flashbacks, whereby librettist and composer highlight the themes dealt with in the story such as power, corruption, western claims to hegemony and, of course, love, in bizarre fashion, inextricably linking the worlds of opera and puppet theatre in the process. (reproduced from the Theater Magdeburg website)
The cast includes soprano Lauren Urquhart (Ann), alto Andion Fernandez (Miranda), tenor Bradley Smith (Denham), bass James Bobby (Kong) and alto Caitlin Redding (Richter). Kiril Stankow conducts the Magdeburgische Philharmonie. Roscha A. Säidow directs.

The venue is the Schauspielhaus.

Today : world première of 'The Fix' by Joel Puckett in St. Paul (MN)

Today, the Minnesota Opera presents the world première of The Fix, an opera in two acts composed by Joel Puckett, with a libretto by Eric Simonson.

It is the composer's first opera.
One of the most notorious scandals in American history comes to life in this new, major league opera. The 1919 Chicago White Sox were arguably the best team in the game, but they were also the most poorly paid, always at odds with their penny-pinching owner. Resentment, revenge, and ambition gone awry motivate the eight players to conspire with gamblers and fix the World Series. (reproduced from the Minnesota Opera website where a detailed synopsis is available)
The cast includes tenor Joshua Dennis ('Shoeless' Joe Jackson), bass-baritone Kelly Markgraf (Ring Lardner), bass Wei Wu (Arnold 'Chick' Gandil), baritone Andrew Wilkowske (Bill 'Sleepy' Burns), soprano Jasmine Habersham (Katie Jackson), bass Benjamin Sieverding (Alfred Austrian, Esq.) and tenor David Walton (Oscar 'Happy' Felsch). Timothy Myers conducts the Orchestra and Chorus of the Minnesota Opera. Librettist Eric Simonson directs.

The venus is the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, St. Paul (MN).

The performance should last 2 hours and 15 minutes, with one intermission.

Thursday, 14 March 2019

Today : world première of 'Koda L' by Milko Lazar in Ljubljana

Today, the Slovenian National Opera presents the world première of Koda L (Code L), an opera composed by Milko Lazar, with a libretto in Slovenian by Eva Kraševec inspired by A Lover's Discourse : Fragments by Roland Barthes.

It is the composer's second opera after The Tenth Daughter (Ljubljana, 2015).
Using a method of connecting of selected emotional states with archetypal love motifs from literature, philosophy and everyday life, the newly created operatic piece follows Barthes's principle and drifts away at the same time into the world of independent artistic creation. Thus Code L opens up the worlds of love, by means of guiding and directing it in eternal longing through different figures. Almost every opera encroaches upon the realm of love, therefore our new musical and theatre piece is dedicated, in its very special way, to the art of opera, reaching its coherence and beauty through intertwining of all artistic genres. (reproduced from the SNO website)
Marko Hribernik conducts the soloists, orchestra and chorus of the Slovenian National Opera. Rocc (aka Rok Rappl) directs.

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

New programme books from Amsterdam and Brussels in my collection

Last week, I travelled to Amsterdam and Brussels to attend the following performances :

- John Adams, Girls of the Golden West, Amsterdam (Muziektheater, March 5 and March 7) ;
- Micha Hamel, Caruso a Cuba, Amsterdam (International Theater Amsterdam, formerly Stadsschouwburg, March 6) ;
- György Kurtag, Fin de partie, Amsterdam (Muziektheater, March 8) ;
- Donnacha Dennehy, The Second Violinist, Amsterdam (Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ, March 9) ;
- Mark Grey, Frankenstein, Brussels (La Monnaie, March 10).

Therefore, I can add to my collection the 5 programme books.

- John Adams : Girls of the Golden West, Amterdam :
It is a 128 pages book. It is divided in 4 parts : Reis (Trip) ; Rush ; Strijd (Fight) and Vooruit (Forward). Some of the articles are Dutch translation of articles already published in the programme book for the world première in San Francisco.

It contains :

- complete cast ;
- contents ;
- Scène-overzicht ;
- AliceMiller Cotter : Huiswaarts ;
- John Adams : Wat doet een componist ? ;
- Richard Sheinin : Een gouden vondst ;
- Nancy J. Taniguchi : Vrouwen en de goldrush in Californië ;
- Peter Sellars : Probleem = Oplossing ;
- Josiah Royce : Geschiedenis van een mijnwerkerskamp ;
- Elisha Perkins : Goldrush-dagboek ;
- Gary Kamiya : De schaduwzijde van de goldrush ;
- Benjamin Madley : Genocide ;
- Frederick Douglass : De betekenis van de Fourth of July voor de 'negro' ;
- Peter Sellars : Synopsis ;
- complete libretto in English with Dutch translation ;
- several portraits from the 19th Century goldrush in California.

There is a separate 24 pages booklet with complete cast and crew, synopsis (in Dutch and English) and biographies of the cast members.

- Donnacha Dennehy : The Second Violinist, Amsterdam :
It is a 20 pages booklet, with complete cast and crew, A Dark Road by Enda Walsh, A Note on Gesualdo by Donnacha Dennehy and biographies of the artists.

- Mark Grey : Frankenstein, Brussels :
It is a 128 pages book. It contains :
- complete cast ;
- Antonio Cuenca Ruiz : Argument ;
- Alex Ollé : Un retour aux origines ;
- Mark Grey : Une histoire d'aveuglement ;
- Julia Canosa i Serra : Déconstruire et reconstruire 'Frankenstein' ;
- Susan J. Wolfson : 'Frankenstein', du roman au livret ;
- Andy Mousley : 'Frankenstein' et le post-humanisme ;
- Charles Shafaieh : Découvrir de nouveaux paysages sonores ;
- quotes from Thomas Hobbes, Alan Turing, Donna Haraway, Aldous Huxley, Rosi Braidotti, Francis Fukuyama, Friedrich Nietzsche, Hannah Arendt, Chris Marker and Aeschylus.

The book is entirely bilingual (Dutch and French).
A second volume of 104 pages contains the libretto in three languages : English, Dutch and French.
A separate 44 pages booklet contains the complete cast and crew and biographies of the artists.

- Micha Hamel : Caruso a Cuba, Amsterdam :
It is a 24 pages booklet, with complete cast and crew, synopsis (in Dutch and English), an article on the May 12, 1920 bombing at the Opera Theater in Havana, an article on Enrico Caruso and biographies of the artists.

- György Kurtag : Fin de partie, Amsterdam :
It is a 112 pages book. It is divided in two parts : 'Spel' ('Game') and 'Einde' ('End'). It contains :

- complete cast ;
- scène-overzicht ;
- 1st part ('Spel'), with quotes from : Samuel Beckett, György Kurtag, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Jean-Marie Le Clézio, Thomas Mann, Georg Büchner, E. M. Cioran, Blaise Pascal, William Shakespeare, John Milton, Tom Driver, Franz Kafka, Friedrich Nietzsche, Elmer Schönberger, Nathalie Léger and Clancy Sigal ;
- several color photos from the staging in Milan ;
- Cesare Fertonani : Fin de partie in het kort ;
- Axel Schalk : Theater waarin men niet meer is ;
- Cesare Fertonani : De muziek van Fin de partie ;
- Maurice Valency : Spel zonder toeschouwers ;
- Catherine Laws : Beckett en Kurtag, Kurtag en Beckett ;
- Pierre Audi : Kurtags Fin de partie ;
- the complete libretto in French, with a Dutch translation.

There is a separate 20 pages booklet with complete cast and crew, synopsis (in Dutch and English) and biographies of the cast members.

I now have 648 programme books for contemporary operas. I have scanned the covers and uploaded the images to this flickr folder.

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Today : world première of 'Le Cosmicomiche' by Michèle Reverdy in Toulon

Today, the Opéra de Toulon presents the world première of Le Cosmicomiche, an opera composed by Michèle Reverdy, with a libretto in Italien based on two novels by Italo Calvino : Un segno nello spazio and Tutto in un punto.

It is the 6th opera composed by Michèle Reverdy. Her previous works for the stage includes Le Précepteur (Munich, 1990), Médée (Lyon, 2003) and Le Château (1986).
What was our Universe like before the Big Bang ? What does human creation represent in the immensity of the universe ? Is not the whole sense of life finally contained in a good plate of fresh tagliatelle ? These are the questions that a trio of singers, half-cosmonauts and half-harlequins will ask. (adapted from the Opéra de Toulon website)
The cast includes soprano Judith Fa, mezzo Albane Carrère and baritone Francesco Biamonte. Léo Warynski conducts members of the Opéra de Toulon Orchestra. Victoria Duhamel directs.

According to the composer's website, the required instruments are : flute (doubling piccolo), clarinet, horn, percussion, harp, viola and cello.

The performance should last about 1 hour. The performance is part of the Présences Féminines Festival. The venue is the Théâtre Liberté.

Saturday, 9 March 2019

Today : world première of 'Babylon' (new version) by Jörg Widmann in Berlin

Today, the Staatsoper Unter den Linden in Berlin presents the world première of the new version of Babylon, an opera composed by Jörg Widmann, with a libretto by Peter Sloterdijk.

It is the composer's second opera after Das Gesicht im Spiegel (Munich, July 17th, 2003). The original version was first performed in Munich on October 27, 2012.
Jörg Widmann’s Babylon deals with the boundaries of language, and indeed of linguistic confusion. The composer places the multicultural society of the pre-ancient, culturally advanced metropolis of Babylon at the centre of his opera. It is not only the Babylonians who move between chaos and order, but also the Jewish exile Tammu, who forsakes his erstwhile love, the Soul, to turn instead to the Babylonian priestess of war and free love, Inanna. When a human sacrifice is called for to appease the gods who once punished the people of Babylon with the Flood, the Priest-King chooses Tammu. After Tammu is executed, Inanna decides to go down into the underworld to convince its ruler, Death, to allow her lover to return to the world of the living. Finally, a new covenant is made between the gods and the people, and order is – at least temporarily – restored. (reproduced from the Staatsoper Berlin website)
The cast includes soprano Mojca Erdmann (The Soul), tenor Charles Workman (Tammu), soprano Susanne Elmark (Inanna), bass John Tomlinson (The Priest King), mezzo Marina Prudenskaya (The Euphrates) and countertenor Andrew Watts (The Scorpion Human). Daniel Barenboim conducts the Staatskapelle Berlin and the Staatsopernchor. Andreas Kriegenburg directs.

The required orchestra is the following (reproduced from the Schott Music website) :

- 4 flutes, 4 oboes, 4 clarintes, 4 bassoons ;
- 4 horns, 4 trumpets, 4 trombones, 1 tuba ;
- timpani and percussions (4 players) ;
- 2 harps, celesta, accordion, piano, organ ;
- strings :

The performance should last about 2 hours and 40 minutes, including interval. The score is published by Schott Music.

Friday, 8 March 2019

Today : world première of 'Frankenstein' by Mark Grey in Brussels

Today, the Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels presents the world première of Frankenstein, an opera composed by Mark Grey, with a libretto based on Mary W. Shelley's novel.

It is the composer's first opera.
‘Accursed creator ! Why did you form a monster so hideous that even you turned from me in disgust ?’ Unlike the film that was later made of it, Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein told the sad story of a creature born out of a scientific experiment who strives for good, yet does evil and is consequently disowned by his creator. As a philosophical reflection on the human condition, on the technology that gives humanity power over life and death, and as a warning to a society that threatens to cast out the individual, the American composer Mark Grey returns to this original story, 200 years after Mary Shelley wrote it. (reproduced from the Bill Holab Music website)
The cast includes baritone Scott Hendricks (Victor Frankenstein), tenor Topi Lehtipuu (Creature), soprano Eleonore Marguerre (Elizabeth), baritone Andrew Schroeder (Dr. Walton / Prosecutor) and tenor Christopher Gillett (Henry). Bassem Akiki conducts the La Monnaie Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. Alex Ollé (La Fura dels Baus) directs.

The required orchestra is the following (information provided by the composer's offices) :

- 2 flutes (doubling piccolo), 2 oboes (doubling English horn), 2 clarinets (doubling bass clarinet), 2 bassoons (doubling contrabassoon) ;
- 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones (doubling bass trombone), 1 tuba;
- timpani and percussions (3 players) ;
- harp, celesta, sampler keyboard, electronic soundscapes ;
- strings.

The performance should last about 2 hours and 40 minutes, including the interval.

It is the third opera based on Shelley's novel, after Frankenstein by Gordon Kampe (Berlin, Deutsche Oper - Tischlerei, January 30, 2018) and Frankenstein by Jan Dvorak (Hamburg, May 20, 2018).

The score is published by Bill Holab Music.

Thursday, 7 March 2019

Today : world première of 'Je suis narcissiste' by Raquel Garcia-Tomas in Madrid

Today, the Teatro Real in Madrid presents the world première of Je suis narcissiste, an opera buffa composed by Raquel García-Tomás, with a libretto by Helena Tornero.

It is the composer's fifth opera, after 'La serva padrona' rifatta (Barcelona, 2010), DIDO reloaded (collective opera, 2013), go, ÆNEAS, go ! (collective opera, 2014) and disPLACE (Vienna, 2015).
It appears to be a more than opportune moment to talk about narcissim. This type of narcissism that inundates everything ; that inflates our perception of ourselves and encourages us to do everything in grand style, even if we may have forgotten the reason why we are doing it. Based on black humour, making no concessions, Je suis narcissiste offers us a person who organizes cultural events and who lives each day as though it were an obstacle course existing between herself and her happiness. The events overwhelm her and people leave her immersed in a sensation of loneliness. Couples, pets, bosses, artists or funeral home employees appear to be a lot more interested in talking than listening. Given such a fecund cultural medium, it proves sufficient that the reaction is triggered -in the form of a dead cat- for her complete emotional collapse. Exhausted, she arrives at the office of a psychiatrist who embraces all kinds of theories as eccentric as he himself. The two of them will travel together through an experience of transformation (or not).  (reproduced from the Teatro Real website)
The cast includes soprano Elena Copons (Clotilde), baritone Toni Marsol (Giovanni), soprano Maria Hinojosa (Woman) and tenor Joan Ribalta (Man). Vinicius Kattah conducts the Orquesta Sinfónica de Madrid. Marta Pazos directs.

The venue is the Teatro Español. After four performances in Madrid, the opera will be performed at the Teatre Lliure de Montjuic in Barcelona in April 2019.

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Today : world première of 'Three Tales' by Gérard Pesson in Lille

Today, the Opéra de Lille presents Trois contes (Three Tales), a chamber opera in three parts, composed by Gérard Pesson with a libretto by David Lescot based on The Princess and the Pea by Hans Christian Andersen, The Devil in the Belfry by Edgar Allan Poe and Proust's Overcoat by Laura Foschini.

It is the composer's third opera after Forever Valley (Nanterre, 2000) and Pastorale (Stuttgart, 2006). The three parts of the triptych are separate but share some common elements, themes and symbols (including the figure of the stranger).
In The Princess and the Pea, a Prince comes back from a trip round the world without having found his dream princess. During a storm, a young woman asks for shelter in the castle. The queen has her sleep on a pile of 20 mattresses and 20 duvets, under which she has placed a pea… The Prince and the young woman will be happily married, and the pea will be displayed in the Carnavalet Museum, where Proust’s overcoat is also kept.
Proust’s Overcoat is an enquiry about the survival or disappearance of Proust’s personal belongings after his death: his manuscripts, his furniture, but also his famous overcoat. We meet the writer’s brother, who looked after the publication of Proust’s novel, his sister-in-law who, once widowed, destroyed everything she judged obscene, the rich collector Jacques Guérin who bent himself backwards in order to gather objects having belonged to his idol. The story starts in the basement of the Carnavalet Museum.
The Devil in the Belfry tells how the routines of the citizens of Vondervotteimittis were broken by the intrusion of a violin-playing devil in their belfry… This tale, full of caustic irony, will have the same structure as the short story: a lecture, with a narrator and a group of six voices which comment on it. The arrival of the devil will be a choreographic moment. Visual and musical elements will reflect Poe’s ironic distance. (reproduced from the Ictus Ensemble website)
The cast includes soprano Maïlys de Villoutreys, soprano Melody Louledjian, alto Camille Merckx, tenor Enguerrand de Hys, baritone Jean-Gabriel Saint-Martin and baritone Marc Mauillon. Georges-Elie Octors conducts the Ictus Ensemble. David Lescot directs.

The performance should last about 90 minutes, with no intermission.

Sunday, 3 March 2019

Today : world première of 'Caruso a Cuba' by Micha Hamel in Amsterdam

Today, the Dutch National Opera and Ballet presents the world première of Caruso a Cuba, an opera composed by Michal Hamel, with a libretto by the composed, base on Mayra Montero's Como un mensajero tuyo (The Messenger).

It is the composer's second opera after the tragic operetta Snow White (first performed in Enschede by the Nationale Reisopera on January 24, 2008.
On the evening that the worldfamous tenor Enrico Caruso sang Aida in Havana, a bomb exploded in the theatre. He fled out into the street and straight into the arms of the Chinese-Cuban Aida Cheng. In his stage make-up and opera costume, the singer surely raised a few eyebrows. Aida Cheng’s stepfather, a powerful Afro-Carib santero priest – prophesised not only the explosion, but also Aida Cheng’s love affair with Caruso and his untimely death. (reproduced from the Dutch National Opera and Ballet website)
The cast includes tenor Airam Hernández (Enrico Caruso), soprano Jeanine De Bique (Aida), bass Simon Shibambu (Calazán), bass baritone Cody Quattlebaum (Bruno Zirato) and baritone Michael Wilmering (Adolfo Bracale). Otto Tausk conducts the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra. Johannes Erath directs.

The venue is the ITA (Internationaal Theater Amsterdam), aka Stadsschouwburg. Performances are part of the Opera Forward Festival. Other operas performed during the Festival are : Girls of the Golden West, by John Adams, Fin de partie, by György Kurtag and The Second Violinist, by Donnacha Dennehy.

Saturday, 2 March 2019

Today : world première of 'Drachenherz' by Wolfgang Böhmer in Chemnitz

Today, the Theater Chemnitz presents the world première of Drachenherz (Dragonheart), a musical for children composed by Wolfgang Böhmer, with a book by Peter Lund.

Böhmer has already composed several works for the stage including Sommer Nacht Traum (Magic operetta, Berlin, 2000), Jedermann (Rock opera, Erfurt, 2014) and Der Zauberer von Oz (Musical, Wiesbaden, 2016).
Günni’s clique is really cool. At least Günni thinks so. Otherwise, there isn’t a whole lot that’s cool in the small city in the middle of Germany where so many people are out of work and most of the parents sit apathetically in front of the television. Then Fred shows up. Fred is different : he has ideas and a brain in his head. Fred makes everything more fun. Fred soon becomes Günni’s right-hand man in the clique. Hannes is seeing red. Hannes had always been Günni’s right-hand man. And if anyone has the right to flirt with Günni’s sister Jenny, then it is definitely him ! To sum things up : Fred has seriously offended Hannes’ honor. [...] What you do, how you fight and, most of all, for whom – these are the biggest questions that every young person poses to society, whose answers generally come across as lacking. It wasn't any different for the Nibelung. There, everyone knew what they were fighting for. In the worst case, for themselves. Siegfried had to die because there was no room for true heroes back then. Is there room for them today ? Or do the good people still have to die because the cruel simply cannot bear being so small of spirit ? (reproduced from the Neuköllner Oper website)
The cast includes Florian Heinke (Günni), Johannes Krimmel (Hannes), Florentine Beyer (Brüning), Timo Stacey (Tropi), Nicola Kripylo (Jenny), Tristan Giovanoli (Nasir), and Denis Riffel (Fred). Hans-Peter Kirchberg conducts the Drachenherz-Band. Peter Lund, Neva Howard and Mathias Noack are in charge of the direction and the choreography.

The performance should last 2 hours and 20 minutes, including one interval.

The musical will also be performed in Berlin (Neuköllner Oper), starting June 13, 2019.