Saturday, 27 July 2019

Today : world première of 'The Thirteenth Child' by Poul Ruders in Santa Fe

Today, the Santa Fe Opera presents the world première of The Thirteenth Child, a fairytale opera in two acts composed by Poul Ruders with a libretto by Becky and David Starobin inspired by the Brothers Grimm.

It is the composer's fifth opera after Tycho (1986), The Handmaid's Tale (Copenhagen, March 6, 2000), Kafka's Trial (Copenhagen, March 12, 2005) and Selma Jezkova (Copenhagen, September 5, 2010).
Forget about magic beans and bowls of porridge — this fairy tale is a “down-to-the-wire” thriller, inspired by the Brothers Grimm. A paranoid king banishes his twelve sons in favor of Lyra, the thirteenth child. When Princess Lyra learns about her long-lost brothers, she embarks on a quest to find them. Like all the best fairy tales, it has an enchanted forest, riddles, a handsome prince, a horrible mistake, and a nearly impossible feat for Princess Lyra to perform if everything is to be put right. (reproduced from the Santa Fe Opera website)
The cast includes soprano Jessica E. Jones (Lyra), mezzo Tamara Mumford (Queen Gertrude), tenor Joshua Dennis (Frederic), bass baritone Bradley Garvin (Drokan) and bass David Leigh (King Hjarne). Paul Daniel conducts the Orchestra and Chorus of the Santa Fe Opera. Darko Tresnjak directs.

The performance should last 90 minutes. The venue is the Crosby Theatre.

The full and vocal scores, as well as a recording, are already available for sale. The publisher is Edition Wilhelm Hansen. Since last April, I have the full score in my collection. It is a 230 pages volume. It contains a characters list, a detailed synopsis and the following orchestra setting :

- 2 clarintes in Bb (1st doubling bass clarinet in Bb, 2nd doubling contrabass clarinet in Bb), 2 saxophones (1st soprano in Bb doubling alto in Eb, 2nd alto in Eb doubling baritone in Eb) ; 2 bassoons ;
- 4 horns in F, 2 trumpets in Bb, 2 trombones, tuba ;
- 2 percussion, harp, piano (digital or upright for small pits) ;
- 3 full range (7-octaves synthesizers), touch sensitive and with volume slide/knob ;
- strings : for large pits minimum 10-8-6-4-2, for small pits 2 of each.

The opera was composed in 2014-15 and the full score is copyrighted 2016.

Friday, 26 July 2019

Today : world première of 'Der Gesang der Zauberinsel' by Marius Felix Lange in Salzburg

Today, the Salzburg Festival presents the world première of Der Gesang der Zauberinsel, oder : wie der Rasende Roland wieder zu Verstand kam, a youth opera composed by Marius Felix Lange, with a libretto based on Ludovico Ariosto's Orlando furioso.

It is the composer's seventh opera for young audience, after Schneewittchen (2011), Das Gespenst von Canterville (2013), Die Schneekönigin (2016) and Krieg (2018), among others.
Angelika, the daughter of the composer Roland Angeler, is given a part in her father’s new opera. When Mirza, one of the other singers, mysteriously disappears, she goes in search of him. She is helped by the warrior Bradamante, who seems to hail from a long time ago. Together they ride to Alcina’s enchanted island on a hippogriff, a legendary flying creature that is part horse and part eagle. There, things get completely out of hand — and only a trip to the moon can help to resolve the chaos. (reproduced from the Salzburg Festival website)
The cast consists of members of the Young Singers Project : soprano Sarah Shine (Angelika), bass-baritone Joel Allison (Roland Angeler), soprano Joanna Kedzior (Alcina), tenor James Ley (Ruggiero), mezzo Carmen Artaza (Bradamante) and baritone Benson Wilson (Mirza / Medoro). Ben Glassberg conducts the Salzburg Orchestra Soloists. Andreas Weirich directs.

The venue is the Great Hall of the University.

Monday, 22 July 2019

Today : world première of 'Blind Injustice' by Scott Davenport Richards in Cincinnati

Today, the Cincinnati Opera presents the world première of Blind Injustice, an opera composed by Scott Davenport Richards with a libretto by David Cote based on Mark Godsey's book.

It is the composer's first opera.
You’re in the wrong place at the wrong time. A child’s words are twisted. You might look like someone who committed a crime. Suddenly, your world is taken away. You’re in prison for a crime you did not commit, and no one is helping you get out. This was reality for Rickey Jackson, Nancy Smith, Clarence Elkins, and the East Cleveland 3 — Derrick Wheatt, Laurese Glover, and Eugene Johnson. (reproduced from the Cincinnati Opera website)
The cast includes baritone Joseph Lattanzi (Prosecutor), baritone Eric Shane (Rickey Jackson), tenor Thomas J. Capobianco (Clarence Elkins), baritone Sankara Harouna (Derrick Wheatt), tenor Terrence Chin-Loy (Laurese Glover) and bass baritone Miles Wilson-Toliver (Eugene Johnson). John Morris Russell conducts a 12-piece orchestra and YPCC members (Young Professionals Choral Collective). Robin Guarino directs.

The performance should last about 90 minutes. No intermission. The venue is the Music Hall's Wilks Studio.

Monday, 15 July 2019

Today : world première of 'Whiteley' by Elena Kats-Chernin in Sydney

Today, Opera Australia presents the world première of Whiteley, an opera composed by Elena Kats-Chernin with a libretto by Justin Fleming.

 (c) Cinque Artist Management 

It is the composer's fifth opera, after, among others, Iphis (Syndney, December 3, 1997), The Rage of Life (Antwerp, April 24, 2010) and Snow White (Berlin, November 1, 2015).
He burst onto the international art scene, all golden curls and bravado. He was dynamic, damaged, a big idea and a bold brush. With the vivacious Wendy on his arm, Brett Whiteley was magnetic. He abhorred straight lines, adored drugs, alcohol, women. He worked in vivid colour and ravishing curves. Heroin was both muse and merciless master. Out of this tumultuous life spilled a messy array of brilliant artworks and astonishing self-reflection. (reproduced from the Opera Australia website)
The cast includes baritone Leigh Melrose (Brett Whiteley), soprano Julie Lea Goodwin (Wendy Whiteley), soprano Kate Amos (Older Arkie Whiteley), mezzo Ruth Strutt (Younger Beryl Whiteley), mezzo Dominica Matthews (Older Beryl Whiteley) and bass Richard Anderson (Joel Elenberg). Tahu Matheson conducts the Opera Australia Orchestra and Chorus. David Freeman directs.

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

The opera is published by Boosey & Hawkes.

The venue is the Joan Sutherland Theatre.

Sunday, 14 July 2019

Today : world première of 'Blue' by Jeanine Tesori in Cooperstown

Today, the Glimmerglass Festival in Cooperstown, NY, presents the world première of Blue, an opera composed by Jeanine Tesori with a libretto by Tazewell Thompson.

(c) Rodolfo Martinez

It is the composer's third opera after A Blizzard on Marblehead Neck (Copperstown, July 21, 2011) and The Lion, the Unicorn and Me (Wahsington, December 14, 2013).
An African American couple in Harlem anticipates the birth of their firstborn, a son, with both hope and fear. As the baby grows into a young man, the mother worries for his future, and the father tries to prepare his son for the realities of 21st century America, while wrestling with his own identity as a police officer, a "Black man in blue." When their deepest fears come true, the family is forced to navigate a devastating reality seeking answers and support from their church and community. (reproduced from the Lyric Opera of Chicago website)
The cast includes bass Kenneth Kellogg (The Father), mezzo Briana Hunter (The Mother), tenor Aaron Crouch (The Son) and baritone Gordon Hawkins (The Reverend). John DeMain conducts the orchestra. Tazewell Thompson directs.

The performance should last about 2 hours and 45 minutes. The opera will subsequently be performed in Washington, DC (Eisenhower Theater), starting on March 15, 2020 and in Chicago, starting on June 19, 2020.

Saturday, 6 July 2019

Today : world première of 'The Sleeping Thousand' by Adam Maor in Aix-en-Provence

Today, the Festival Internationl d'Art Lyrique d'Aix-en-Provence presents the world première of The Sleeping Thousand, a chamber opera composed by Adam Maor, with a libretto in Hebrew by Yonatan Levy.

It is the composer's first opera.
A thousand administrative prisoners are on a hunger strike. The Prime Minister decides to plunge them into a sleep which will distract international attention. And that is when the thousand sleepers cause the Israeli people insomnia. Consequently, it becomes urgent to send an emissary into the world of dreams… (reproduced from the Festival website)
The cast includes baritone Tomasz Kumiega (Prime Minister), soprano Gan-ya Ben-gur Akselrod (Nurit), bass David Salsbery Fry (S) and tenor Benjamin Alunni (Minister of Agriculture). Elena Schwarz conducts the United Instruments of Lucilin. Yonatan Levy directs.

The performance should last 75 minutes, with no interval.

The venue is the Théâtre du Jeu de Paume.

The opera will subsequently be performed in Luxembourg.

Friday, 5 July 2019

Full score and CD recording of 'The Thirteenth Child' by Poul Ruders

The new opera composed by Poul Ruders, The Thirteenth Child, with a libretto by Becky and David Starobin inspired by the Brothers Grimm has not yet been performed (the first performance is to happen on July 27 in Santa Fe, NM), but the full score has already been published by Wilhelm Hansen and a recording has been issued by Bridge.

The full score is a large 230 pages volume.

The title page reads :

Poul Ruders / The Thirteenth Child / an opera in two acts / Libretto by / Becky and David Starobin / Full Score / Duration : / Act 1, c. 45 min. Act 2, c. 45 min. / WH / Wilhelm Hansen Musikforlag

On the following pages are given the 'Personnel' (characters with age and tessituras), detailed synopsis and complete orchestral setting.

The recording fits on 1 CD, with a total playing time of 77:50 (39:36 for Act 1 and 38:13 for Act 2).

The complete cast is the following :

Sarah Shafer (soprano) : Princess Lyra
Tamara Mumford (mezzo) : Queen Gertrude
Ashraf Sewailam (bass-baritone) : Drokan
Matt Boehler (bass) : King Hjarne
Alasdair Kent (tenor) : Prince Frederic & Toke
David Portillo (tenor) : Benjamin
Alex Rosen (bass) : Corbin

The Odense Symphony Orchestra and the Bridge Academy Singers are conducted by David Starobin (vocal music & orchestra Act 2) and Benjamin Shwartz (orchestra Act 1).

The recording was made in Denmark (Carl Nielsen Hall in Odense) and the USA (American Academy of Arts and Letters in New York City and New Rochelle Studios in New Rochelle, NY), between September 2016 and December 2018.

The booklet includes the full libretto.

I have observed a discrepancy between the score and the recording, in act 2, scene 3. On page 187 of the full score, the chorus sings 'Welcome Welcome Lyra !'. On the CD (track 22, page 28 of the libretto), the words given at the 'Townfolk' are 'Welcome silent Lyra !'.