. Interchanging Idioms: February 2010

Friday, February 26, 2010

Eric Whitacre - Rock Star

Judging by the reaction of the young people in last night's audience in the Gates Concert Hall at Denver University you would have thought a Rock Star had taken the stage. Granted, Eric Whitacre certainly is charismatic and engaging. After one of his witty song introductions the young man sitting behind me exclaimed "He is the coolest guy in the world!" Cool is a great quality to have in a performer - but how does this translate in the music?

The first half of the program was played by the Lamont Wind Ensemble with varying degrees of success. The first piece, October was composed for Grade 3 high school musicians, and while lush and pretty in the end run was rather forgettable.

Ghost Train Trilogy made a far larger impression due primarily to the amazing way Whitacre manages to create the sounds of a train on stage. The percussion section gets a real chance to shine during the three movements, and judging by the enormous grins on their faces they were enjoying every minute of it. Percussive effects were shared throughout the ensemble with good use of wind, keys and staccato sections to create a highly rhythmic effect. There were also some fabulous solos in the piece most notably the trombone, tuba, horn and saxophone. All in all I really enjoyed this piece. The one thing that bothered me was that the flutes were often buried when the ensemble was at full volume.

After a very lengthy intermission during which the stage crew cleared the stage and set choir risers the Lamont Chorale took the stage. The 50 voice Choral is very professional and performed their section of the concert memorized. Whitacre asks much of his choirs - extremes of range, inflection and linguistic skills were called for. Through the course of the night the choirs would sing in Italian, Hebrew and Latin as well as nonsense syllables and ululations.

The first piece the Lamont Chorale sang was Leonardo Dreams of his Flying Machine. The composer announced the piece as conceived for musical theater, but along with the number from Paradise Lost that was performed later in the concert, I am uncertain that it calls for any sort of stage action. Many times through the evening Mr Whitacre mentions that he 'sees' movies for many of his pieces and certainly that was obvious with 'Leonardo'. The music was at turns wistful and exciting, and it would be easy to see it as background to a film of the artist/inventor at work in his studio. The text by Charles Anthony Silvestri is evocative and eminently singable and the chorale performed it admirably.

The chorale then performed Four e.e. cummings settings including the world premier of Little Man in a Hurry. Whitacre effectively captures the grammatical whimsy of the poet using vocal technique to punctuate lines helping to really bring out the verbal conundrums that cummings is famous for. He has a truly brilliant sense for word setting, and his clever use of phrasing helped to bring out the uniqueness of each of the poems. Pauses, extended breaths and humming notes helped to keep things fresh and full of personality. The lights in Gates auditorium were too dark to refer to the printed texts, but they weren't needed. The chorale's excellent diction ensured that we understood every word. The world premier piece is an upbeat number full of tension and stress - entirely appropriate to the text. The percussive ma-ma-ma-mamamama vocalese of the various sections moved the piece along with a delightful sense of urgency. My only quibble this morning is with the setting of 'Little Man'. Whitacre chooses to reprise the first stanza to end the song which changes the thought you are left with from the poem. I'm not sure cummings would approve as he was notoriously fussy about stanza order and would not allow a poem to be published until it met his exacting ideals. As a writer myself I structure my poems to leave a thought - and the first stanza has a very different thought than the last. It is the endless argument between text and music and I haven't an answer myself - I just am not sure that the poet would appreciate the changing of his message.

St Martin's Chamber Choir and the Kantorei Chamber Choir joined the Lamont Chorale on the risers for the final part of the evening's performance. Most of the music sung was a well established part of the repertoire and was sung expressively. By far the audience favorite of this section were Animal Crackers Vol. 1 and 2 settings of comedic poems by Ogden Nash. The audience laughed throughout and the choir seemed to be having a great deal of fun singing them. Laughingly, the composer said "These songs are so stupid." What a treat to have an excellent choir sing joke songs - it reminded me in spirit of Victor Borge's rendition of Liszt's Second Hungarian Rhapsody.

My personal favorite of the evening was Five Hebrew Love Songs. These songs are rich and evocative not only of Hebrew culture and musical intonations, but of a personal love story that is obviously, judging by the composer's remarks, still very passionate.

Rock star or not, Mr Whitacre seems to go from strength to strength and it was a true delight to spend an evening in his company.

Putting my Two Cents In

I am usually lurking behind the scenes of this Blog - proofing posts, suggesting concerts that Chip should review, loudly proclaiming my opinions and hoping that he will agree with some of them and generally making a nuisance of my self.

Last night however, we discussed my taking a more active role, for two reasons: I am unemployed and have the time, and his graduate studies are subsuming so much time that the Blog is suffering.

My input will bring a slightly different flavor to these pages - unlike Chip I am not classically trained from birth. Although I have been singing since I was 3 years old, all of my training was by ear, and by the time I was taking choir in school I could anticipate music well enough to never bother learning to truly read music. This led to trouble when the two of us attempted to write our first musical together. I had definite ideas of what the music he set to my words should do, but I had no language to convey them - we teetered on the brink of divorce each more frustrated than the other at the lack. It became obvious that I would need a musical education so that we could speak a common language. Thus our sojourn in Edinburgh.

I began my musical education as a singer and fully intended to study voice throughout the degree, but in the first year I was required to take a composition course and a new love was born. I have always enjoyed writing (I have a children's picture book and 1.5 novels to my credit), but the expression of creativity in musical notes opened an entire new dimension of communication to me - I was hooked and promptly switched majors.

Due to my unique background, my approach towards writing for classical orchestra and ensembles is considered apostate by many in the academic sphere. I like music with a strong rhythmic base (music you can tap your foot to), prominent melodic lines and a sense of story. I really respond to composers such as Scriabin, Copland and Bernstein.

As a child I listened to recordings of Mozart, Beethoven and the rest, but I never attended an orchestra concert. My father was a professional sound man and I worked for performers such as Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis, Mel Tillis, Dolly Parton, Willy Nelson and 100s of others at open air concerts across the American West. I pestered thousands of band members to show me how their instruments worked. I spent countless hours learning songs or singing the fiddle lines in a given piece that had caught my attention. I learned to judge the true performers and see how they connected with their audiences. This is the background I bring into the concert hall and although it can put me at a disadvantage in the classical world, it also gives me a level of insight all my own.

So - my first post will be a review of last night's Eric Whitacre concert at Denver University. I hope you enjoy it. Cheers, Eddie

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Performing music by Eric Whitacre

If you don't know the music of Eric Whitacre you're missing out on one of the bright stars in the classical music world and probably the greatest US choral composer is history. And he's young, so there's still time for LOTS more music.

However, the point of this post to two fold: 1) Apologize for not posting much this month 2) Comment about a recent performance of Eric's music

The month of February has been beyond busy (and its not over yet). My graduate studies have taken on a whole new level of activity and so, unfortunately, my posting has suffered. I've also missed a dozen or more really great concerts in the Denver area this month. So, while I am very much enjoying the learning - the lack of getting to concerts and telling you all about them as been painful!!! March should be much better.

As for performing the choral music of Eric Whitacre... This was a real treat. I hadn't heard of him prior to coming to Denver University. I don't know whether my music instructors in Edinburgh hadn't heard of him, or whether my sincere lack of knowledge of choral music is just that deficient - regardless, the Lamont School of Music has introduced me and I'm grateful for it.

We performed several new pieces, Little Man in a Hurry, Maggie and Millie and Molly and May and Moonlight is Hiding in Her Hair along with several of his most popular compositions. The music is difficult and yet accessible. The audience very much enjoyed the performance as did the performers. His musical style enjoys rhythm and the exploration of the sound of the voice.

Even with the long hours put in for rehearsals and preparation, this was definitely an excellent experience. I highly recommend visiting Eric's Facebook page to hear some of his music. He's One to watch.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Marin Alsop Leads Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and Domingo-Cafritz Young Artists in Stravinsky’s Pulcinella, March 25-27

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.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Keith Lockhart And Boston Pops Celebrate Orchestra's 125th Anniversary Season, May 4 - June 20, 2010

World Premiere Of "The Dream Lives On: A Portrait Of The Kennedy Brothers," By Composer Peter Boyer And Lyricist Lynn Ahrens, To Take Place May 18

Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops announce details of the orchestra’s 125th anniversary season, May 4-June 20, 2010, outlining programs that celebrate the orchestra’s rich tradition of performing the great music of this country’s past and present, for which the Boston Pops is so well known. Season details are also available at www.bostonpops.org TICKETS FOR THE 125TH BOSTON POPS SEASON, PRICED FROM $20-$99, GO ON SALE MONDAY, FEBRUARY 22, THROUGH BOSTONPOPS.ORG OR BY CALLING 888-266-1200.

SEASON OVERVIEW
The 125th season opens on May 4 with a gala concert featuring multiple Tony Award-winner Idina Menzel and the inimitable Doc Severinsen, who holds the distinction of having performed under the batons of Arthur Fiedler, John Williams, and Keith Lockhart—a perfect addition to a program honoring the leadership legacies of the three most famous Boston Pops conductors. During the season the Pops will present the world premiere of a new work in honor of the Kennedy brothers, mark the 10th anniversary of the popular radio and TV show “From the Top,” focus on esteemed artists from the fields of jazz, musical theater, and pop, including Dave Brubeck, Kelli O’Hara, and Maureen McGovern, and honor the legacies of such musical titans as Ray Charles, Duke Ellington, Cole Porter, and Rodgers and Hammerstein. Daniel Bernard Roumain, who in concert melds his classical music roots with his own Haitian-American cultural references and vibrant musical imagination, and Ozomatli, the multi-Grammy award-winning, genre-defying sensation, join the orchestra for programs that continue the Pops tradition of focusing on the best and brightest new talent on the musical scene today. Returning to the Pops schedule is the legendary film music series under the direction of John Williams, this year marking his 30th anniversary with the Pops, and one of the newest Pops traditions, Gospel Night with Charles Floyd. To bring the 125th season to a close in June, the Boston Pops will present one of this country’s greatest living legends—the incomparable Arlo Guthrie.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Fidelity Futurestage® Launches 2010 National Music Program With Celebration And Surprise Instrument Donations At Boston’s Symphony Hall

Fidelity Investments® and the Boston Pops today announced the kickoff of the 2010 Fidelity FutureStage® Music Program, part of a national initiative to support and strengthen public school arts programs and to provide unique educational opportunities for student musicians to explore and develop their individual talents.

The celebration event at historic Symphony Hall was part of a four-city simulcast, connecting more than 1,500 high school students via satellite from Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, the Houston Symphony’s Jones Hall and Kenwood Academy in Chicago. The event brought together Boston Pops Conductor Keith Lockhart, 2009 FutureStage music competition student winners Chris Middleton and AnJalique Perry, and special guests from every city via simulcast, including event host Dominic Monaghan and musician/actor Jamie Foxx in Los Angeles and actress Joan Cusack in Chicago.

Highlights of the event included the announcement of four Boston area public high schools selected to be part of 2010 Fidelity FutureStage program: Boston Arts Academy, Boston Latin Academy, Cambridge Rindge & Latin and the Roland Hayes School of Music; details about the 2010 Fidelity FutureStage Music Competition, culminating in a performance at a Boston Pops Concert on May 26; and the grand finale of the day: the surprise unveiling of more than $100,000 worth of new musical instruments for the four FutureStage schools – part of an overall donation by Fidelity Investments to public school programs across the country valued in total over $500,000.

Peter Cieszko, president of Fidelity Investments Institutional Services Company, opened the celebration from Symphony Hall in Boston as he welcomed the entire simulcast audience. “Fidelity FutureStage was created to support arts education programs in our public schools, and invest in the future of our students by providing opportunities to participate, experience and benefit from the arts, both in and out of the classroom,” said Mr. Cieszko. “Research shows that students participating in quality music education programs score an average of 20 percent higher on standardized tests and a combined 100 points more on the College Board SATs[1], and we’re happy to provide more opportunities that may help to influence these important student success measures.”

Connected to students in Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston via satellite, and visible to each other on large onstage projection screens, Boston students showed off their city and school pride, and shared musical performances with their peers in the other three cities. As part of the program, Boston’s talented 2009 FutureStage Music Competition winners, vocalist AnJalique Perry (Roland Hayes School of Music) and singer/songwriter and pianist Chris Middleton (Boston Latin School) performed with members of the Boston Pops for the entire simulcast audience. Maestro Keith Lockhart introduced the performers and special guests, and shared his own thoughts about the vital importance of music education.

"Music has had such an incredible impact on me both professionally and personally, providing indescribable enjoyment, inspiration and satisfaction in so many aspects of my life," said Mr. Lockhart. "It’s very exciting to work with Fidelity FutureStage in bringing instruments to the schools, knowing that they have such potential to have a positive impact on students, including their ability to learn on a multitude of levels. The Boston Pops is proud to partner with Fidelity FutureStage to provide the resources and experiences that help open doors and encourage young people to explore the arts."

Also announced today were details of the 2010 Fidelity FutureStage Music Competition, open to full-time students in grades 9 – 12 attending any Boston and Cambridge public high school. Instrumental musicians and/or vocalists performing as soloists or ensembles can apply starting on February 10. Winners will receive coaching from music professionals to prepare for a performance onstage with the Boston Pops at Symphony Hall on May 26. More details about the competition can be found at www.futurestage.com.

For the program’s grand finale, Keith Lockhart and Fidelity’s Peter Cieszko, along with Jamie Foxx in Los Angeles, Joan Cusack in Chicago, and Houston Pops Conductor Michael Krajewski in Houston, led the Symphony Hall audience up to the big surprise of the day: the announcement and unveiling of more than $500,000 worth of new musical instruments donated by Fidelity. Video split screens allowed the students to share their excitement with students in Chicago, Houston and Los Angeles as cameras showed dozens of new instruments being revealed simultaneously in each venue.

Fidelity’s donation in Boston is made up of approximately $25,000 worth of much-needed new instruments for each for the four FutureStage schools – Boston Arts Academy, Boston Latin Academy, Cambridge Rindge & Latin and the Roland Hayes School of Music. The thrilled students and their teachers accepted dozens of much-needed new instruments, ranging from violins, cellos keyboards and electric guitars to saxophones, trombones and shiny silver trumpets – all specifically requested by their respective school music programs.

Schools in Chicago, Houston and Los Angeles received similar donations, and an additional $100,000 worth of new instruments is being donated to other school programs in need around the country, rounding out Fidelity’s total donation.

Fidelity Investments works with The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation (MHOF) to select schools for the Fidelity FutureStage program. MHOF is a national non-profit organization dedicated to bringing musical instruments to under-funded school and community programs, and inspiring creativity and expression through music participation. The Foundation evaluates the instrumental needs of each school music program and then facilitates the purchase and delivery of the instruments on behalf of Fidelity FutureStage.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symhony, Winners of 3 Grammys at the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards, to make 5-city US Tour in March

Tour Includes Two Carnegie Hall Concerts, Which Mark Orchestra’s 25th Visit to the Hall

Read Interchanging Idiom's Review of their award winning album.

Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT) and the San Francisco Symphony (SFS) will make a five-city U.S. tour from March 18 to 26 with performances in Champaign-Urbana, IL (March 18); Ann Arbor, MI (March 19 and 20); Philadelphia (March 23); Washington, D.C. (March 24); and in New York at Carnegie Hall (March 25 and 26). The March 25 and 26 concerts mark the Orchestra’s 25th engagement at Carnegie Hall since its first appearance there in 1947.

The tour repertoire features violinist Christian Tetzlaff performing Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto and soprano Laura Claycomb and mezzo-soprano Katarina Karnéus in Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, Resurrection. Symphony No. 2 has been recorded by the San Francisco Symphony as part of its Mahler Project, which to date has won seven Grammy Awards, including three Grammys for Mahler Symphony No. 8 and the Adagio from Symphony No. 10 at the most recent Grammy Awards on January 31. The tour also includes a new work commissioned by the San Francisco Symphony, Post-scriptum by Russian composer Victor Kissine, which is dedicated to MTT and the SFS, as well as Ravel’s Valses nobles et sentimentales and Liszt’s Tasso: Lament and Triumph. The Symphony will perform the world premiere of Victor Kissine’s Post-scriptum March 4 in San Francisco , which is dedicated to MTT and the SFS.

Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony open their 2010 U.S. tour at the Krannert Center on the campus of the University of Illinois on Tuesday, March 18 followed by a two-day visit to the University of Michigan , with performances at Hill Auditorium on March 19 and 20. In Ann Arbor, MTT and musicians of the Orchestra will hold master classes with University students and host a series of educational events including a teacher workshop, symposium, and a screening of its Keeping Score PBS series for students. At the March 20 concert, MTT and the SFS will receive the University Music Society’s Distinguished Artist Award, in recognition of the SFS’ long standing relationship with the University of Michigan ’s music school. It is the first time in the history of the award that it is being presented to an orchestra. At the March 18 Champaign-Urbana concert, the Orchestra performs Victor Kissine’s Post-scriptum, Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto with Christian Tetzlaff, Liszt‘s Tasso: Lament and Triumph and Ravel’s Valses nobles et sentimentales. The Orchestra will repeat this program at Hill Auditorium on March 19, and on March 20 they will perform Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 with Laura Claycomb, Katarina Karnéus, and the University Musical Society Choral Union.

At the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia on Tuesday, March 23, the Orchestra will be joined by the Westminster Symphonic Choir in Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, and on March 24 at the Kennedy Center in Washington , D.C. , MTT and the Orchestra will perform the program of works by Kissine, Tchaikovsky, Liszt, and Ravel.

MTT and the San Francisco Symphony return to New York ’s Carnegie Hall on Thursday and Friday, March 25 and 26, with concerts of both tour programs. The Westminster Symphonic Choir will again join the Orchestra on March 26 in Mahler’s Symphony No. 2.

This season Michael Tilson Thomas celebrates his 15th season as Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony. In 1996, MTT led the orchestra on the first of their 22 national and international tours together to Europe, Asia and throughout the United States , with annual performances at Carnegie Hall. Last season they opened Carnegie Hall’s 2008-09 season with a gala tribute to Leonard Bernstein, which was filmed and broadcast nationally on Thirteen/WNET New York’s Great Performances on PBS. Other tour highlights have included their third West Coast tour with MTT in January 2009, including their first concerts in Seattle since 1981; their first appearances in mainland China as part of their 2006 Asia tour; a three-week 2007 European tour that featured two televised appearances at the BBC Proms in London and concerts in such European music capitals as Dublin, Vienna, Paris, and Belgium; and at several major European festivals, including Lucerne.

Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony maintain a leading presence among American orchestras through over 230 concerts at home and abroad, an active touring program, award-winning recordings, and innovative broadcast and education projects. Their commitment to music education has resulted in the groundbreaking television, radio and multimedia project Keeping Score; a nationally syndicated radio series on avant-garde American composers, American Mavericks; an award-winning children’s website, www.sfskids.com; and Adventures in Music, a nationally acclaimed in-school music education program in San Francisco schools. The Keeping Score series has been viewed by over six million Americans since its first broadcast in September 2006 and acclaimed for making classical music accessible to a wider, more diverse audience. This year, Tilson Thomas and the SFS conclude an ambitious self-produced Mahler recording project, launched in 2001. To date, the Orchestra’s Mahler cycle on SFS Media has been recognized with seven Grammy Awards, winning three 2009 Grammy Awards on for its recording of Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 and the Adagio from Symphony No. .10..

American Symphony Orchestra Announces its 2010-11 Season as It Returns to Carnegie Hall, the Group's Original Home

Under founder Leopold Stokowski, the American Symphony Orchestra performed its debut season at Carnegie Hall in 1962. The ASO returns to its original home with the 2010-11 season, a six-concert series that kicks off in Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage on October 6. The orchestra's 48th season opens with a characteristically distinctive program revolving around James Joyce and his iconic influence (with the ASO giving the U.S. premiere of Mátyás Seiber's cantata Ulysses) and his musical inspirations (including George Antheil's futurist Ballet Mécanique). This season will also see Leon Botstein conduct – in his 18th season as ASO music director – Albéric Magnard's 1909 opera Bérénice and the U.S. premiere of Paul Dessau's Passover choral work Haggadah shel Pesach. The ASO series at Carnegie Hall will also include thematic programs titled "Music and the Bible", "Before and After the Spanish Civil War", and "American Harmonies: The Music of Walter Piston".

Lauded for what the New York Times has called “justly acclaimed thematic programming,” the ASO presents concerts covering a wide range of undeservedly neglected repertoire, including many U.S. premieres, some challenging and others accessible, by composers both familiar and virtually unknown. New York magazine called the ASO’s seasons “one of the best-programmed series in the city,” while The New Yorker declared, “Leon Botstein goes where other conductors fear to tread.” As he has done for several seasons, Leon Botstein will continue to give pre-concert lectures himself, free for ticket-holders at Carnegie Hall.

Deborah Voigt performs Wagner to Strauss, Puccini and Bernstein

Deborah Voigt, one of the great American voices, continues her stellar international season, showing her range from Wagner and Strauss to Puccini and Bernstein. The soprano is currently singing her first Isolde in Barcelona, with the Gran Teatre del Liceu production of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde running until February 20. It was her inimitable way with this iconic, ultra-demanding role that led to a 20-minute ovation at the Vienna State Opera, an event reported on CNN, and to acclaimed performances of it at New York’s Metropolitan Opera and Chicago’s Lyric Opera. A week after her Isolde in Spain, Voigt makes her Zurich Opera debut, singing the title role of Richard Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos (Feb 27) – an especially promising prospect if, as the New York Times claims, “Almost any Strauss role the voice of Deborah Voigt touches turns to gold!” Illustrating another side of her art, she will perform a recital in Zurich on March 15, singing material by Verdi, Strauss, and Respighi, as well as American songs by Leonard Bernstein, Amy Beach, and Ben Moore.

Voigt returns to her home stage of New York’s Metropolitan Opera on April 23 to make her house debut in a psychologically and vocally intense role: Senta in Wagner’s Der fliegende Holländer (The Flying Dutchman). Voigt sang Senta with the Met company on the road in Germany and is featured on the 1994 Sony Classical studio recording of the full opera led by James Levine (with James Morris as the Dutchman and Ben Heppner as Erik). Discussing Voigt’s performance of the role in 2005, Boston Globe critic Richard Dyer enthused: “The voice was huge, bright, and refulgent, especially at the top, and Voigt’s technique extraordinary… . The full, visceral impact of her tone when she unfurls a high B-natural and sends it spinning to the back wall is a privilege of live performance.”

Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra to play Brahms Valentine's Day Weekend

This Valentine’s Day weekend, join Music Director Nicholas McGegan and Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra for the perfect celebration of romance and love. Pushing the outer edge of the orchestra’s repertoire, this program features the rapturous, heartfelt music of Johannes Brahms, one of the most sensitive and contemplative composers. World-renowned violinist Viktoria Mullova returns to Philharmonia Baroque for a performance of his stunning Violin Concerto that features one of his most well-known and well-loved slow movements. Also on the program, Brahms’ First Serenade, written when he was just 25 years old. Join “the most exciting American period-instrument ensemble” for the first historically informed performance of works by Brahms on the West Coast.

“I know what you’re thinking: ‘Philharmonia Baroque plays Brahms? Can this be true? Has Nic lost his mind?’” says Music Director Nicholas McGegan. “Our orchestra plays music on period instruments and we must remember that a lot of modern orchestral instruments are very modern indeed – so Brahms is not so far fetched really. His music really does sound different on the instruments of his day and, in our more intimate venues, the whole experience will not be like your regular concert-hall performance for thousands of people. It is a great treat to have Viktoria Mullova back with us for this most romantic of Violin Concertos and on Valentine's Day too!”

Visit www.philharmonia.org/feb10.html to listen to part of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D major, which Mullova performed with the Philharmonia Baroque during her last visit in 2007.

For more information, visit www.philharmonia.org or call (415) 252-1288.

Give Your Valentine The Gift of Music in Denver

Bring your Valentine to Boettcher Concert Hall for the perfect special date. You'll think the Piano Man himself joined the CSO – Michael Cavanaugh, original star of Broadway's Movin' Out, sings all your favorite Billy Joel tunes plus the music of Jerry Lee Lewis, Elton John and more! The program features hits like, "New York State of Mind," "Crocodile Rock," "Just the Way You Are," "Miles Away," "Uptown Girl" and much more!

for tickets visit www.coloradosymphony.org

The Cleveland Orchestra presents fully staged performances of Così fan tutte at Severance Hall March 2, 4, 6 and 8

Music Director Franz Welser-Möst to conduct Zurich Opera production of Mozart’s comic opera

The Cleveland Orchestra brings Mozart’s comic opera Così fan tutte to Severance Hall for four performances of a fully staged production from the Zurich Opera March 2, 4, 6 and 8 at 7:00 p.m. Music Director Franz Welser-Möst conducts the production, which he previously led in Zurich . A collaboration with stage director Sven-Eric Bechtolf, set designer Rolf Glittenberg, and costume designer Marianne Glittenberg, Così fan tutte features an international cast of soloists with members of the Cleveland Orchestra Opera Chorus, prepared by Robert Porco, appearing as soldiers, servants, and sailors.

The singers for the Cleveland performances are Malin Hartelius, soprano (Fiordiligi); Anna Bonitatibus, soprano (Dorabella); Martina Janková, soprano (Despina); Javier Camarena, tenor (Ferrando); and Ruben Drole, baritone (Guglielmo), all of whom appeared in the Zurich production. They will be joined at Severance Hall by bass-baritone Antonio Abete (Don Alfonso).

When Franz Welser-Möst led the Zurich production, Marinella Polli wrote in Corriere del Ticino: “It was a great musical evening above all because of the magic baton of Franz Welser-Möst, who offered a powerful reading of this tragicomedy in two acts, offering at the same time a powerful reading of Mozart’s genius as well.”

The Dallas Opera Presents World Premiere of Jake Heggie’s Moby-Dick on April 30, 2010, Starring Tenor Ben Heppner as Captain Ahab

Production Is First World Premiere at Dallas’s New Winspear Opera House

The first world premiere at the new Winspear Opera House here will be an epic event: The Dallas Opera's spring production of Moby-Dick by composer Jake Heggie and librettist Gene Scheer, based on Herman Melville's iconic American novel of 1851. Tenor Ben Heppner stars as Captain Ahab.

Jake Heggie has said that Melville's book isn't only operatic in scope: music virtually rises from its pages. "There is so much music with the sea and the wind and that sort of universe that Melville created, the ship floating on the ocean just as the planet floats on the universe. There were bells on the whaling ships, the whales themselves made very percussive noises." As he and Scheer worked to distill a huge, classic book into a two-act, three-hour operatic story, the composer felt "the musical world reveal itself" with grand orchestration and a 40-voice men's chorus.

The six-performance premiere of Moby-Dick, to run from April 30 to May 16, will star Ben Heppner as Captain Ahab. The Canadian tenor is one of today's foremost exponents of such heroic roles as Wagner's Tristan, Lohengrin and Walther, Beethoven's Florestan, Verdi's Otello and Tchaikovsky's Ghermann, acclaimed in these portrayals from New York's Metropolitan Opera to the greatest stages in London, Berlin, Paris, Milan and Madrid. Also in the cast are up-and-coming baritone Morgan Smith (Starbuck) and tenor Stephen Costello (Ishmael), winner of the 2009 Richard Tucker Award.

Patrick Summers, music director of Houston Grand Opera, will conduct the premiere run of Moby-Dick. It's the fourth Jake Heggie opera premiere to be shepherded by Summers, following Dead Man Walking, The End of the Affair and Three Decembers (Last Acts). Dead Man Walking has been performed more than 125 times since its 2000 San Francisco premiere, making it one of the most popular of recent American operas.

Four companies joined with the Dallas Opera to co-commission and co-produce Moby-Dick: the San Francisco Opera, San Diego Opera, Calgary Opera and the State Opera of South Australia. Following the Dallas premiere, Moby-Dick will be presented by the co-producing companies over a three-year period.

Royal Opera of Liège proudly presents OperaLive

If you love opera, but don't live in a city with a major opera house OR just want to see more of it...

Royal Opera of Liège presents OperaLive: the live broadcast of a selection of operas on the internet. The live broadcast can be watched on demand up 'till five days after the performance. Forthcoming broadcasts are: “Rigoletto” by Giuseppe Verdi, Tuesday March 23rd at 8pm (GMT+1) and “Rita ou le mari battu & Il Campanello di notte” by Gaetano Donizetti, Tuesday May 11th at 8pm (GMT+1).

The Opera Orchestra of New York Appoints Alberto Veronesi as Music Director Beginning with the 2011-12 Season

Eve Queler to Become Conductor Laureate

Norman Raben, Chairman and Eve Queler, Music Director of The Opera Orchestra of New York today announced that Italian conductor Alberto Veronesi has been appointed Music Director effective in the 2011-12 season. Mr. Veronesi will succeed The Opera Orchestra of New York founder Eve Queler, who will become Conductor Laureate once Mr. Veronesi’s initial 5-year tenure begins. During the Opera Orchestra’s 2010-11 40th-anniversary season, Mr. Veronesi will serve as Music Director Designate and conduct an opera-in-concert performance. He will also work with the Board of Directors, Ms. Queler and the administrative staff to program and cast future seasons. The complete 2010-11 season, which will include two opera-in-concert performances, a recital and additional events, will be announced at a later date.

Born in Milan , Alberto Veronesi is Music Director of the Puccini Festival at Torre del Lago, Artistic Director of the Filarmonica del Teatro Comunale di Bologna , and Music Director of the Orchestra Sinfonica Siciliana, positions which he will continue to hold during his tenure as Music Director of the Opera Orchestra.

The Opera Orchestra of New York was established in 1971 by Eve Queler to present rare and unusual repertory in a concert setting, emphasizing the operatic voice over visual production. Performances feature internationally acclaimed established artists as well as exceptional young singers in an effort to develop an appreciation of opera among diverse audiences while cultivating a new generation of supporters.

“We are pleased to welcome Alberto Veronesi to The Opera Orchestra of New York family,” said Mr. Raben. “During our 2009-10 ‘bridge’ season we have been working to regain our financial footing and develop a strategic plan to aggressively and optimistically continue the Opera Orchestra’s longstanding tradition of exceptional opera-in-concert performances. Mr. Veronesi’s background and experience in development, his artistic ability and vision, and his musical knowledge of the lesser known works of the operatic repertoire make him the ideal music director for the company.”

"I am honored to accept the position of Music Director and begin this next chapter in my life with The Opera Orchestra of New York,” said Mr. Veronesi. “I look forward to continuing Eve Queler’s extraordinary efforts in repertory renewal, presenting unique operas performed by world-class and young singers. Ms. Queler has built an outstanding company and I will do my best to follow in her footsteps.”

“I am proud of the accomplishments of The Opera Orchestra of New York over the past 40 years and I was thrilled to find a conductor who shares my philosophy and will carry on the legacy of The Opera Orchestra of New York,” commented Eve Queler. “I offer him my support and best wishes as he embarks upon this new phase in our organization.”

Keith Lockhart adn Fidelity Futurestate to Surprise 200 Boston Area Students with $100k worth of New Musical Instrument, Feb 9th

Kicking off Fidelity FutureStage 2010, 200 students—representing Boston Arts Academy, Boston Latin Academy, Cambridge Rindge & Latin, and the Roland Hayes School of Music—are sure to be in for a big surprise when Keith Lockhart and Fidelity FutureStage unveil $100,000 worth of new musical instruments to be donated to the four Boston Public Schools, Tuesday, February 9, at 1 p.m. at Symphony Hall. At the same time of the Boston event, Fidelity FutureStage will present instrument unveilings to hundreds of students in their three other partnering cities—Houston, Chicago, and Los Angeles- with all four events being linked by satellite. Actor and musician Jamie Foxx in LA, and actor Joan Cusack in Chicago, along with Keith Lockhart in Boston, will host these instrument unveilings, representing a total worth of more than $500,000 in new instruments for students in the four cities.

The Boston event will feature Fidelity FutureStage 2009 competition winners AnJalique Perry (Roland Hayes School of Music) and Chris Middleton (Boston Latin Academy) performing with members of the Boston Pops for students in Boston and audiences via satellite in Houston, Chicago, and Los Angeles. At the Boston event, Keith Lockhart will announce the 2010 Fidelity FutureStage Music Competition which will give Boston public high school students the opportunity to perform with the Boston Pops at Symphony Hall this May during the 2010 Boston Pops season.

Fidelity Investments created the Fidelity FutureStage program to support music and other arts education in local schools and communities. Today, working with some of world’s most recognized orchestras, Fidelity FutureStage provides unique learning experiences for students to explore and expand their interests in music, and build life skills that can use far beyond the classroom.

"Rusty Musicians" in Baltimore HUGE Success

On Tuesday, February 2, 2010 at the Music Center at Strathmore, approximately 200 musicians joined the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra onstage to perform the first part of a two-night event titled “Rusty Musicians with the BSO.” Envisioned by Music Director Marin Alsop, local amateur musicians who played an orchestral instrument had the rare chance to perform with a professional symphony orchestra, as part of the BSO’s celebration of its fifth year at The Music Center at Strathmore, the Orchestra’s second home located in Bethesda, Md. A second crop of 200 “Rusty Musicians” will repeat the experience this evening.

A palpable buzz was in the air and ‘Rusty’s’ and BSO musicians alike raved about the novelty and fun of this grand experiment.

Marin Alsop lead trio of ensembles in Corigliano's "Circus Maximus," March 18-21

Marin Alsop Leads Baltimore Symphony, University of Maryland Wind Orchestra and Members from U.S. Army Band, “Pershing’s Own” in John Corigliano’s “Circus Maximus,” March 18-21

BSO Music Director Marin Alsop will lead the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, members from The U.S. Army Band, “Pershing’s Own” and the University of Maryland Wind Orchestra in John Corigliano’s monumental Symphony No. 3, “Circus Maximus” on Thursday, March 18 at 8 p.m. at The Music Center at Strathmore and Friday, March 19 and Saturday, March 20 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, March 21 at 3 p.m. at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. The program also includes David T. Little’s Screamer and Sergei Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf. These concerts are part of the centerpiece of the Orchestra’s 2009-2010 season, the BSO Under the Big Top Festival.

John Corigliano’s Symphony No. 3, “Circus Maximus” explores the aural extremes, swinging “…dramatically from apocalyptic chaos to pastoral serenity to urban turmoil to farce, each mood pushing or pulling against the next.” (The Austin Chronicle). Scored for a gigantic wind ensemble, woodwinds, eight percussionists, but no string section, this massive orchestra is divided into a stage band and a surround-sound band stationed throughout the hall. The composer describes his inspiration for this dramatic piece: “The parallels between the high decadence of Rome and our present time are obvious. Entertainment dominates our reality, and every-more-extreme ‘reality’ shows dominate our entertainment. Many of us have become as bemused by the violence and humiliation that flood the 500-plus channels of our television screens as the mobs of imperial Rome, who considered the devouring of human beings by starving lions just another Sunday show. The shape of my ‘Circus Maximus’ was built both to embody and to comment on this massive and glamorous barbarity.”

New Jersey-based composer and percussionist David T. Little takes a farcical look at a circus that spins out of control in Screamer. In this work, Little says he endeavors to, “…[do] my best to combine the best of the light and dark elements that the circus has to offer. Included are: ‘Screaming,’ ‘Ponies,’ ‘Clown Car Mayhem,’ ‘The Coulrophobic [Fear of Clowns] Tightrope,’ ‘Big Top Falling,’ and ‘Again, Screaming.’ ”

Finally, Marin Alsop takes a work most often heard in programming for children, Sergei Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, and treats adults to Prokofiev’s most famous work. Different instruments represent Peter and his troupe of animal friends in this programmatic masterpiece.

Boston Symphony Orchestra Win Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Perfromance

James Levine and the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s recording of Ravel’s complete Daphnis et Chloé, featuring the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, John Oliver, conductor, the Grammy Award in the category of Orchestral Performance at the 52nd annual Grammy Awards on January 31, 2010. This is the first Grammy Award for the orchestra on its own label, BSO Classics. Daphnis et Chloé was produced by Elizabeth Ostrow, with recording engineers John Newton and Jesse Lewis. Dirk Sobotka served as editing engineer and Mark Donahue was mixing and mastering engineer. All engineers on this project are with Soundmirror in Boston, MA. The Boston Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of James Levine, will perform Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé at Carnegie Hall on Monday, February 1 at 8 p.m.

Read Interchanging Idiom's review HERE.

Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and Cirque de la Symphonie Combine Circus Feats with Classical Masterpieces, March 11-14

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of BSO Music Director Marin Alsop, lends musical panache to the impossible exploits of talented contortionists, aerialists, strongmen and more in Cirque de la Symphonie on Thursday, March 11 and Friday March 12 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, March 14 at 3 p.m. at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall and Saturday, March 13 at 8 p.m. at The Music Center at Strathmore. In the tradition of a European circus, the concert hall turns into a Big Top as Cirque members perform on and above the stage. Maestra Alsop dons the top hat of ringmaster to lead Francis Poulenc’s Les Biches Suite, Erik Satie’s Parade, Copland’s Billy the Kid Suite and Béla Bartók’s Miraculous Mandarin Suite.

Due to popular demand, Cirque de la Symphonie returns again this year to perform with the BSO, having performed four sold-out shows with the BSO last season. These Cirque artists include world-record holders and gold-medal winners of international competitions. Among the shows highlights, Jaroslaw Marciniak and Dariusz Wronski, former Polish national hand-balancing champions, perform feats of balance and strength that recently gained national exposure on the popular TV program “America’s Got Talent.”

The performers’ feats will be paired with dramatic Classical favorites. Poulenc’s first work for full orchestra, Les Biches Suite (“The Does”), was an immediate hit when it premiered in 1924 in Monte Carlo. Erik Satie’s Parade was yet another creation for Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, and it brought together a remarkable ensemble of talents: Satie for the music, Jean Cocteau for the scenario, Pablo Picasso (in his theatrical debut) for the set and costumes and Léonide Massine for the choreography. Aaron Copland's 1938 ballet Billy the Kid became one of his most enduring hits and crystallized the “Wild West” orchestral idiom still used today. Featuring the BSO without Cirque performers, Béla Bartók’s pantomime-ballet The Miraculous Mandarin tells a tale so scandalous that it was banned following is premiere in Cologne, Germany in 1926.

About Cirque de la Symphonie
Cirque de la Symphonie brings the magic of the circus to the music hall. It is an exciting adaptation of artistic performances widely seen in theaters and arenas. Artists include veterans of exceptional cirque programs throughout the world—aerial flyers, acrobats, contortionists, dancers, jugglers, balancers and strongmen. These artists are among the best in the business, including world-record holders and gold-medal winners. The performances are uniquely adapted to stage accommodations shared by symphonies, and each artist’s performance is professionally choreographed to classical masterpieces and popular contemporary music in collaboration with the music director.

Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Announces Immersive Summer Music Training Program for Amateur Musicians

Ground-breaking BSO Academy involves amateurs playing side-by-side with a major U.S. symphony orchestra

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra announced today a new summer music training program, the BSO Academy, in which amateur musicians are invited to perform alongside a top professional orchestra. Taking place in Baltimore from Sunday, June 13 through Saturday, June 19, 2010, the BSO Academy will accommodate approximately 120 participants in its first year. The program signals an increasing demand from music audiences for greater levels of participation in creative music-making. In addition to performing side-by-side with members of the BSO under the direction of Music Director Marin Alsop, adult amateur musicians will experience an intensive week of studying, rehearsing, chamber music and coaching. The Academy will become a vital new component of the Orchestra’s annual summer schedule, made initially possible by principal leadership funding of $950,000 over three years from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Additional support for 2010 BSO Academy conducting faculty is provided by the Bruno Walter Memorial Foundation.

The home of the BSO Academy will be the BSO’s primary venue, the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, with additional activities taking place at the Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University, as well as other rehearsal and performance spaces in Baltimore. The full schedule of Academy activities includes side-by-side orchestra rehearsals and performance opportunities with Maestra Alsop and BSO principal musicians; sectionals, coachings and master classes led by BSO musicians; chamber music rehearsals led by BSO musicians; and discussions, lectures and other enrichment classes and activities with Maestra Alsop, BSO musicians and other local music experts. The week will culminate in two public performances: chamber music groups created at the beginning of the week with Academy participants and BSO musicians will perform in a concert on Friday, June 18; and all Academy participants and BSO musicians divided into two Academy orchestras will perform repertoire including Respighi’s Pines of Rome and Richard Strauss’ Also sprach Zarathustra. Full details of these public performances will be announced at a later date.

The BSO Academy extends the BSO’s mission of nurturing the human spirit by inspiring, educating and serving audiences in innovative ways. The Academy was established with three core beliefs: 1) lifelong engagement with symphonic music promotes personal growth and interpersonal connection; 2) those interested in performing and learning about music should have access to the BSO’s musical expertise; and 3) the future of the symphonic orchestra will involve new forms of public interaction and collaboration that will broaden the role of the professional musician outside the concert hall.

“I believe that the future of the American orchestra must involve new avenues for reaching audiences,” says BSO Music Director Marin Alsop. “By bringing together amateur and professional musicians, the BSO Academy creates a new kind of vibrant musical community, characterized by the free exchange of ideas and mutual learning. Providing this unprecedented level of access transforms patrons from passive listeners to active participants in the creative process. This is an exciting step forward for the BSO and our audiences.”

"The idea for an academy originated some years ago among BSO musicians, but it took Maestra Alsop’s commitment to community and adult education and our excellent management team to bring this initiative to fruition,” says BSO English Horn player Jane Marvine. “The musicians are excited about sharing our expertise and passion for great symphonic music, and the fact that half of the orchestra will be serving as faculty demonstrates our strong commitment to the project."

REGISTRATION DETAILS

* Visit BSOAcademy.org, fill out an online application form and submit a $35 non-refundable application fee through the website, OR
* Print out application form found at BSOAcademy.org, include a check for the $35 non-refundable application fee made out to Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and mail to:

BSO Academy Coordinator
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
1212 Cathedral Street
Baltimore, MD 21201

For best consideration, applications must be received by 5:00 p.m. on Monday, March 15, 2010.

Tuition starts at $1,650 with extra training opportunities available for additional fees. See BSOAcademy.org for more details.

To download high-res images of the BSO, please visit: www.bsomusic.org

Nilolaj Znaider Performs Four Great Violin Sonatas at the Wigmore Hall

One of the world’s greatest violinists, Nikolaj Znaider will perform four sonatas with pianist Robert Kulek at the Wigmore Hall on Wednesday 3 March. Two Viennese classics, Beethoven’s E-flat sonata from opus 12 and Schubert’s D minor Sonatina are played alongside Franck’s Sonata from 1886 and Poulenc’s Sonata, written during the Second World War and dedicated to the memory of Spanish poet Federico García Lorca.

Znaider’s recent recording of the Elgar Violin Concerto, with the Dresden Staatskapelle conducted by Sir Colin Davis, has been received to outstanding critical acclaim. In 2009 he was named the world’s top violinist by Classic FM Magazine.

Wednesday 3 March, 7.30pm, Wigmore Hall

Nikolaj Znaider violin
Robert Kulek piano
Poulenc Violin Sonata | Beethoven Violin Sonata No.3 in E-flat Op.12 No.3 | Schubert Violin Sonata (Sonatina) in D D384 | Franck Sonata in A for violin and piano

Tickets: £15 £20 £25 £30 – 020 7935 2141 – http://www.wigmore-hall.org.uk

Scottish Chamber Orchestra's February Concerts

Scottish Chamber Orchestra Conductor Emeritus Joseph Swensen continues the Orchestra’s February concerts, directing renowned Russian pianist Polina Leschenkco and the SCO in Chopin’s Piano Concerto No 2 on 11- 13 February in St Andrews, Glasgow and Edinburgh. Polina Leshenkco has continued to make a big name for herself throughout Europe and the Americas since last performing with Swensen and the Orchestra in 2007. The concert will conclude with Mendelssohn’s Symphony No 3 ‘Scottish’.

On 18 and 19 February, Principal Conductor Robin Ticciati directs four masterworks from Eastern Europe: Ligeti’s Ramifications, Bartók’s Rumanian Folk Dances and Mozart’s Bassoon Concerto in which the soloist is the SCO’s Principal Bassoonist Peter Whelan. The concert provides another opportunity to hear Mozart’s Symphony No 38 ‘Prague’, which appears on the Orchestra’s award-winning album, Mozart Symphonies 38-41, released in 2008.

Scottish mezzo soprano Karen Cargill, who is the SCO’s featured artist of the season, returns for an intimate chamber concert on Sunday 21 February in Edinburgh, accompanied by Simon Lepper on piano and SCO Principals Jane Atkins and Maximiliano Martín on viola and clarinet. The programme includes Schumann’s Märchen Erzählungen Op 132 and Mozart’s Aria ‘Parto, parto’ (La Clemenza di Tito).

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Dallas Opera Presents World Premiere of Jake Heggie’s Moby-Dick on April 30, 2010, Starring Tenor Ben Heppner as Captain Ahab

Production Is First World Premiere at Dallas’s New Winspear Opera House

The first world premiere at the new Winspear Opera House here will be an epic event: The Dallas Opera's spring production of Moby-Dick by composer Jake Heggie and librettist Gene Scheer, based on Herman Melville's iconic American novel of 1851. Tenor Ben Heppner stars as Captain Ahab.

Jake Heggie has said that Melville's book isn't only operatic in scope: music virtually rises from its pages. "There is so much music with the sea and the wind and that sort of universe that Melville created, the ship floating on the ocean just as the planet floats on the universe. There were bells on the whaling ships, the whales themselves made very percussive noises." As he and Scheer worked to distill a huge, classic book into a two-act, three-hour operatic story, the composer felt "the musical world reveal itself" with grand orchestration and a 40-voice men's chorus.

The six-performance premiere of Moby-Dick, to run from April 30 to May 16, will star Ben Heppner as Captain Ahab. The Canadian tenor is one of today's foremost exponents of such heroic roles as Wagner's Tristan, Lohengrin and Walther, Beethoven's Florestan, Verdi's Otello and Tchaikovsky's Ghermann, acclaimed in these portrayals from New York's Metropolitan Opera to the greatest stages in London, Berlin, Paris, Milan and Madrid. Also in the cast are up-and-coming baritone Morgan Smith (Starbuck) and tenor Stephen Costello (Ishmael), winner of the 2009 Richard Tucker Award.

Patrick Summers, music director of Houston Grand Opera, will conduct the premiere run of Moby-Dick. It's the fourth Jake Heggie opera premiere to be shepherded by Summers, following Dead Man Walking, The End of the Affair and Three Decembers (Last Acts). Dead Man Walking has been performed more than 125 times since its 2000 San Francisco premiere, making it one of the most popular of recent American operas.

Four companies joined with the Dallas Opera to co-commission and co-produce Moby-Dick: the San Francisco Opera, San Diego Opera, Calgary Opera and the State Opera of South Australia. Following the Dallas premiere, Moby-Dick will be presented by the co-producing companies over a three-year period.