Peabody Opera Workshop presents

 

Opera Past and Future

 

Familiar operas from the past

and two works in development

 
 

Eileen Cornett and JoAnn Kulesza, music directors

Jennifer Blades and Roger Brunyate, stage directors

 

Monday, October 31, 2011 at 7:30 PM
Miriam A. Friedberg Concert Hall
Peabody Conservatory of Music
1 East Mt. Vernon Place
Baltimore, Maryland
Admission free

 


Every October, the Peabody Opera aims to present many of its most promising singers, whether new arrivals or familiar contributors, in a program of shorter works designed to showcase their talents. This year, in addition to a larger than usual intake of fine voices, we have also been asked to present two works-in-progress by contemporary composers at the College Music Society convention in Richmond earlier in the month. As it seems a shame not to show these interesting works in Baltimore also, we are including them as the filling in a sandwich of more familiar fare. It will be a long evening, but a varied and exciting one. Truly Opera Past and Future!

The earliest scene in our program is from Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice of 1762, sung here by a countertenor. We shall perform the celebrated aria “Che farò senz'Euridice?” and the final trio, though in an unusual staging. Two excerpts from operas by Mozart follow: a scene between the pert English maid Blonde and the harem overseer Osmin from Die Entführung aus dem Serail (The Abduction from the Seraglio, 1782), and one of the Zerlina arias and the great sextet from Act II of Don Giovanni (1787).

Abduction at Peabody, 2004
Blonde and Osmin at Peabody, 2004 (Photo Jesse Hellman)

The bel canto period is represented by two operas by Donizetti. We offer the Act I duet from his comic masterpiece Don Pasquale (1843), in which the heroine Norina conspires with Dr. Malatesta to cure Don Pasquale of any idea of getting married. Much less familiar is the great scene from his Maria Stuarda of 1834, an historical epic featuring the meeting of the rivals Queen Elizabeth I of England and Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots — a seismic encounter where (in this version) romantic jealousies interfere with Realpolitik.

Mary and Elizabeth
The Two Queens: Mary and Elizabeth

A number of French works round out the traditional portion of the program. In the bedroom scene from Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette (1867), the lovers wake after their one night together as husband and wife, trying to deny the approaching dawn and the need for Romeo to flee. In the quintet from Bizet’s Carmen (1875), Carmen’s friends try to persuade her to accompany them on a smuggling expedition, but she insists on waiting for her lover Don José, who gets out of prison that evening. Finally, in honor of the magical spirit of Halloween, we offer two scenes from Massenet’s Cendrillon (Cinderella, 1899): where her stepsisters dress up to go to the ball, leaving her behind, and her rescue by her Fairy Godmother (a high coloratura soprano) and her attendant Sprites. Although these scenes must of necessity be given with minimal decor, we hope that enough of the magic will remain in the music.

Cendrillon at Peabody, 2004
Cendrillon at Peabody, 2004 (Photo Jesse Hellman)


Commissioned by Long Leaf Opera (NC), Review — a satire, an opera, a party — is the seventh opera by composer Jeremy Beck and is based on a satire originally written by librettist Patricia Marx for The New Yorker. It was previously selected as one of three finalists in the 2010 National Opera Association’s New Chamber Opera Competition and was also included in the 2009 Opera America and Houston Grand Opera New Works Sampler. Patricia Marx, who says she “writes comedy because she is too shallow to do anything else,” imagines a group of friends gathering for a cocktail party. What begins as a vapid review of a movie gradually appears to be a satirical review of life itself. Ultimately, it is revealed that this cocktail party from hell turns out to be literally from hell. Beck’s music, both operatic and symphonic, is taking him to Europe, Australia, and Asia, the latter for a tour of his operatic monodrama based on Black Water by Joyce Carol Oates.

Original book cover  
Lance R. Hulme, composer, conductor, and former keyboardist with classical, jazz, and fusion ensembles, is presently a professor at North Carolina Central University. After study at Eastman and Yale, he went to Vienna, Austria, on a Fulbright Grant, staying in Europe for seventeen years. During that time, he co-founded and directed Ensemble Surprise, an eclectic chamber ensemble which featured “700 years of new music.” He is writing his three-act opera A Confederacy of Dunces to a libretto by Alan Richards, after the novel by John Kennedy Toole. Set in New Orleans around 1963, it is the story of Ignatius J. Reilly, 30, hugely fat, unemployed, and living with his mother. Ignatius is a devotee of the fatalistic late Roman philosopher Boetius, which, in his mind, excuses him from seeking employment, engaging constructively with the world around him or otherwise engaging in constructive or even polite behavior. We shall present the opening scene, a narrow escape from the law which is the beginning of a chain of mishaps as Fate seems to turn a malevolent eye on the Reilly household. Hulme has completed Mrs. Reilly’s soliloquy from the end of the opera expressly for this performance.
 


 

Singers in the Program

Casts are listed in alphabetical order.
*Singers appearing in a solo role on the Friedberg stage for the first time.
 

Orfeo ed Euridice: Belinda Lau,* Daniel Moody,* Molly Young*

Die Entführung aus dem Serail: Jeff Martin,* Abigail Seaman

Don Giovanni: David Artz,* MacKenzie Florence,* Seana Grace-Johnson,* Christa Monokrousos,* Jorge Rámirez-Sánchez, Joshua Zanze*

Don Pasquale: Shana Grossman,* Kihyun Moon*

Maria Stuarda: Young Soo An,* Francesca DiDomenico, Mi-Jung Joh,* Yun Kyong Lee, Jeff Martin,* Seunghyeon Park*

Roméo et Juliette: Huanhuan Ma,* Ha Lim Shon*

Carmen: Brady DelVecchio,* Yun Kyong Lee, Leslie Procter ,* Jorge Rámirez-Sánchez, Elizabeth Reeves

Cendrillon: (quartet) Janna Critz,* Sonya Knussen, Maureen Smith ,* Jonathan Wagstaff*; (finale) Katherine Ascani,* Emma Caffrey,* Rebecca Evans,* Sung Hee Lee,* Anais Naharro-Murphy,* Brieann Pasko,* Delaney Rosen,* Chen Yu*

Review and A Confederacy of Dunces: Brady DelVecchio,* Laurent Kuehnl,* Michael Maliakel, Elizabeth Merrill, Allison Parr,* Abigail Runkle,* Elizabeth Walton