“Every single person in this production is making a ‘role debut,’ from myself to the principals’ roles, to the chorus, the conductor, orchestra, and crew. It’s incredibly liberating to approach it fresh, but it’s also daunting in the sheer number of decisions that must be made each day!” – Thaddeus Strassberger
ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. – With a distinguished history of presenting important but rarely-performed works in remarkable productions, Bard SummerScape is producing one of music history’s most challenging operas: Giacomo Meyerbeer’s 1836 masterpiece, Les Huguenots, opening on July 31 for four performances. Leon Botstein conducts soloists, the Bard Festival Chorus, and the American Symphony Orchestra in Bard’s beautiful Sosnoff Theater. The grandly scaled opera – to be staged almost entirely intact – addresses religious extremism in an enhanced historical setting, and is produced within the framework of “Wagner and His World,” which is the focus of the 20th annual Bard Music Festival. The artistic team for Les Huguenots combines the talents of American director Thaddeus Strassberger with those of Spanish designer, photographer, and filmmaker Eugenio Recuenco, with Mattie Ullrich’s costumes and Aaron Black’s lighting. The cast features Erin Morley as Marguerite de Valois; Alexandra Deshorties as Valentine; Marie Lenormand as Urbain; Michael Spyres as Raoul; Andrew Schroeder as Nevers; Peter Volpe as Marcel; and John Marcus Bindel as Saint-Bris.
Bard SummerScape got off to a successful start with the opening night of Dance – a restoration of the 1979 collaboration between choreographer Lucinda Childs, filmmaker Sol LeWitt, and composer Philip Glass. It received winning notices, including that by Gia Kourlas in the New York Times. Kourlas enthusiastically extends credit for the superlative production beyond these three creators, with a nod to the “unofficial fourth collaborator” of the project: Frank Gehry, the architect of Bard’s Fisher Center for the Performing Arts, whose design of the center’s Sosnoff Theater “provides a scintillating frame.”
Since its inception in 2003, with the opening of its new Fisher Center for the Performing Arts, Bard SummerScape has presented a remarkable array of seldom-produced operas: Blitzstein’s Regina ; Janácek’s Osud; Shostakovich’s The Nose; Schumann’s Genoveva; Szymanowski’s King Roger; and Zemlinsky’s Florentine Tragedy and The Dwarf.