Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Music Director Marin Alsop will lead the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, singers from the Washington National Opera’s (WNO) Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program and dancers from Baltimore School for the Arts in Hearts, Cards & Carnival on Thursday, March 25 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, March 28 at 3 p.m. at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. This program features Igor Stravinsky’s ballet Pulcinella performed with dancers from the Baltimore School for the Arts and semi-staged presentations of two 20th-century American operas, Samuel Barber’s A Hand of Bridge and George Gershwin’s Blue Monday. A shortened Casual Concert program will be presented on Saturday, March 27 at 11:00 a.m. at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall and includes Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf and Stravinsky’s Pulcinella Suite. A performance of Igor Stravinsky’s Pulcinella will be performed in an Off the Cuff concert on Saturday, March 27 at 7 p.m. at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. These concerts conclude the BSO’s four-week festival of circus-themed programming titled BSO Under the Big Top.
The BSO welcomes singers from WNO’s Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program to perform two contemporary American operas, Barber’s A Hand of Bridge and Gershwin’s Blue Monday and Stravinsky’s ballet, Pulcinella. Founded in March 2002 and led by WNO Music Director Plácido Domingo, this training program supports the artistic development of talented young opera singers, coach-accompanists, directors and conductors. Young artists featured in this program are soprano Emily Albrink, soprano Jennifer Lynn Waters, mezzo-soprano Cynthia Hanna, tenor Jesus Daniel Hernandez and baritone Aleksey Bogdanov.
At just over nine minutes, Samuel Barber’s A Hand of Bridge may be the shortest opera in the current repertoire. It tells the tale of two unhappily married couples who gather nightly to play a game that none of them still enjoy. Barber structures the music so that the game itself is voiced in percussive recitative, supported by jazz-infused piano music. Only when the audience is treated to each singer’s internal monologue does the music swell into a beautiful, melodic aria supported by orchestral accompaniment.
Some 13 years before George Gershwin wrote his famous opera Porgy and Bess, he created the miniature opera lasting less than 25 minutes titled Blue Monday. Originally panned at its Broadway premiere in 1922, Gershwin experimented with combining classical forms with jazz harmonies in this opera. The work also reveals his early interest in African-American culture and music.
In addition to the Domingo-Cafritz artists, dancers from the Baltimore School for the Arts will perform neo-classical composer Igor Stravinsky’s ballet Pulcinella. Based on a score by Giovanni Pergolesi about a classic Neapolitan commedia dell’arte tale of a mischievous puppet, the work originally premiered at the Paris Opéra in 1920. Impresario of the Ballet Russes Serge Diaghilev appointed the brilliant young Leonid Massine (who also danced the title role) as choreographer and hired emerging artist Pablo Picasso to create the sets and costumes. The BSO’s production was choreographed by famed choreographer Lisa de Ribere.
The Casual Concert performance features a work more often seen in concerts for youth, Sergei Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf. This tale of Peter and his animal friends has been adored by children and their parents all over the world and is one of Prokofiev’s most famous works.