Archive for the “Opera” Category
Poul Ruders has composed an opera based on Lars von Trier’s 2000 film Dancer in the Dark. The work will be premiered by the Royal Danish Opera next week (on 9/5). You can check out a teaser video below.
Dancer in the Dark is one of several recent operas based on films; but there are countless films yet to be adapted for the operatic stage. Which films would you like to see re-imagined as an opera?
If you’re an aspiring Wagnerian, this probably won’t interest you much but the nice folks at Hartford Opera Theater (HOT) are looking for scores for five short operas that will be learned, staged, rehearsed, and performed in the span of 48 hours, beginning on November 12 and culminating in a final performance on Sunday, November 14.
Composers are asked to submit opera scores written for 2-3 singers, with at least one part written for a soprano or mezzo-soprano. HOT advises that scores with more opportunities for women will be more likely to be chosen for this event. The operas may be no longer than 10 minutes in length, English only, and written for piano or a piano reduction. Material for librettos should be original, in the public domain, or if copyrighted permission must be submitted with the score. Each opera should require minimal sets and costumes.
If you happen to one of those chosen to participate in the event–called “New in November” (not to be confused with New York’s own ongoing “So, New?” festival)–are welcome to attend the rehearsal if you’re open to minor revisions and changes. You get paid nothing and no travel expenses and it would be very rude of you to ask if the singers, piano player or director are getting paid.
The deadline for submissions is Wednesday, September 1, 2010. Scores may be mailed to: Hartford Opera Theater, P.O. Box 270108
West Hartford, CT 06127-0108. Electronic submissions will also be accepted at this email address. More information can be found on the website.
The picture is from an earlier HOT production–Tom Sawyer: A Chamber Opera by Phillip Martin. You can watch a movie of the whole opera here.
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The last thing that Alan Gilbert or the New York Philharmonic needs is another affirmation that they have done something important and memorable by producing Le Grand Macabre in May. There were three (perhaps more?) New York Times articles over 11 days (May 18th, 23rd, 28th), an nice summary over on Anne Midgette’s Washington Post blog, and from just a few days ago there was this over at Newsweek. Of course our own site added to the frenzy of press/buzz here, here, here, here, here, here, and here – and with good reason! I’m quite happy to throw my hat in the camp who counts themselves lucky to be one of the few to see this amazing production. It was everything that I had hoped it would be, and I even got a fancy collectors-edition-style booklet of the libretto with the program.
Some time has gone by since the production (I’m late on my contribution to this, as per my usual), I think it’s enough for me to say that I thought it was great, and to move on to some questions.
After reading all of the press about the production, it seems that everyone who saw it easily and quickly deemed it a huge success. But I’d love to know if the Philharmonic thought it was a success! All three nights sold-out, but we know that a sold-out show doesn’t necessarily mean success. Le Grand Macabre was without question an unusual and elaborate production and must have come with a tremendous expense – just watch this video. All the extra marketing, and YouTube videos; all the lighting and projections and costumes; (presumably) all the extra rehearsals and percussion instruments; etc, etc, etc. I think the big question is: was this a successful enough event that the Philharmonic will continue these kinds of productions in the future? Was dealing with disgruntled subscribers worth it? Was the cost of the “spectacle” worth it? Was all the marketing and rogue videos worth it?
Of course I hope that the answer to all of these questions is yes. I would love to see the New York Philharmonic continue to support contemporary music the way it has since Mr. Gilbert has arrived. It’s clear that he feels very strongly about new music: he brought in Magnus Lindberg, started the Contact! series, and made this incredible Ligeti production happen. I want to know what else he has planned and what else the Philharmonic is willing and capable of doing. But, it seems that a lot of it depends on whether or not the Philharmonic thought Macabre was a success.
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In his 5/23 article for the NY Times, Daniel Wakin asked ,”A contemporary surrealist opera at the NY Philharmonic? About the end of the world? On Memorial Day weekend? What are they thinking over there at Avery Fisher Hall?” He then went on to report that “2/3 of the Philharmonic’s regular concert goers were having none of it… subscription sales averaged about 33 percent, the Philharmonic acknowledged…”
When I went to the Philharmonic website last night, I was greeted with message that the entire run is SOLD OUT!
Apparently, the NY Philharmonic was thinking that there might be other audience members interested in the first NY production of Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre. As Mr. Gilbert says in the Times article,”“It’s about developing and expanding the audience.”
True, Mr. Wakin also wrote about NYPO’s marketing strategies for the show: the website, the videos with “Death and Alan,” and the little eye that’s become the NYPO’s email signature this week. But that was much later in the article, well “below the fold,” well after a snarky set-up.
It would be nice if the Times ate a bit of crow and published a follow up piece, one that reported that Mr. Gilbert’s “risky gambit” paid off. One hopes the information about Le Grand Macabre being a sold out run won’t be buried as an aside in their review of the event. Of course, that’s just one subscriber’s opinion … what do our Sequenza 21 readers think?
Le Grand Macabre premieres tonight at Avery Fisher Hall, with subsequent performances Friday and Saturday. The NY Philharmonic’s website noted that, while the event is sold out, those who want tickets should check back to see if any are returned for resale.
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For our friends in Southern California…
Soprano Susan Narucki (Professor of Music at UC San Diego) and her new ensemble, Kallisti, will debut this week with the West Coast premiere of Pascal Dusapin’s chamber opera To Be Sung (text by Gertrude Stein).
Check out To Be Sung on May 26, 27 and 28 at 7 p.m. in the Black Box Theater at the Conrad Prebys Music Center on the UC San Diego campus.
General tickets are $25, but get this: $1 student rush tickets available one hour before the concert. Did you see that? $1 student rush tickets!
Congratulations to Joseph Rosenzweig, the first correct answerer to yesterday’s Ligeti question. Yes, Ligeti’s Poeme Symphonique is for 100 metronomes, and with that Mr. Rosenzweig & friend will be attending The New York Philharmonic’s May 27th production of Le Grand Macabre.
But there is still one more pair of tickets to give away, and one more question for some speedy answerer to, well, answer:
In 1986 Ligeti was an early winner of the prestigious Grawemeyer Award. For what work was it given?
Answers to: email@example.com
Will you be the first person e-mailing us the correct response? Will you be the lucky soul taking a friend for free to see this wonderful, riotous spectacle? Can there be any doubt it’s going to be you? — whoever you may be…
[Update: And that "you" turned out to be Whitney Ashe, the correct answer being Ligeti's first book of piano Etudes. Congatulations Whitney, enjoy the show, and thanks to all you other readers for participating!]
That was György Ligeti speaking about his opera Le Grand Macabre, in a 1978 interview with Herman Sabbe. Almost sounds sweet, doesn’t it? One little snag: to get to that end, you’re going to have to endure — or better yet, revel in – the hellish, absurd and grotesque. But Ligeti leads you through all this with a gleam, wink and half-smile, and the end result is a hellishly good time.
Since its 1978 premiere Le Grand Macabre has had a wealth of performances all around the world; yet it’s only now that New York is getting its first full and fully-staged presentation. Three nights only, May 27 to May 29, at Avery Fisher Hall (Lincoln Center, NYC). The New York Philharmonic has quite a page devoted to the whole event with information on the full cast, all kinds of special information on the production, and plenty of preview sound clips. It’s also where you can buy tickets – except for a couple lucky couples…
That’s right, we here at S21 have been blessed with two pairs of tickets that we need to give away to some happy readers, for the Thursday May 27th performance . All you need to do is be the first person to email the correct answer to one of two questions, the second of which will come tomorrow, but the first of which is here right now:
There is a notorious piece by Ligeti, for 100 of the same ‘instrument.’ What is that instrument?
Answers to: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you miss out on this one, be watching for tommorrow’s post and your second question and chance. Good luck!
Composer Oscar Bettison sent along this report about student opera performances in Baltimore, Maryland.
Opera Etudes at Peabody
Opera Etudes at Peabody
Every other year at Peabody, the month of May means one thing for the composition and opera departments: ‘Opera Etudes.’ This project, which has been running for twenty-five years under the guidance of the Director of Opera Programs Roger Brunyate, is a year-long collaboration between graduate composition students and the opera department. Starting in the fall, composers are paired with librettists and singers to work on the creation of short staged opera scenes. These are then fully staged in Friedberg Hall, the main concert hall at Peabody, as one of the final events of the academic year. Occasionally, time pressures take their toll and some collaborations fall apart before making it to the final stage, but this year all seven projects made it from inception to the stage at Friedberg. As could be expected they were a varied bunch, running the gamut from retelling of fairytales (Jake Runestad) to tense family drama (Emily Koh), from comic opera (Josh Bornstein, Jon Carter, Zhangyi Chen) to darker subjects involving infidelity and murder (Jeff Zeiders, Daniel Gil-Marca).
The purpose of this project is to teach composers how to work with others and to provide them with the tools to create healthy collaborations. So often composers get caught up in the nitty-gritty of pitches and rhythm, failing to see the ramifications of the decisions they make in the real world of performance. The Etudes project is set to address this and to perhaps set in motion new opera collaborations in the future. All of the composers seemed to gain a great deal of experience from the process. In the first place, how often do student composers get to have other musicians spend a year learning and memorizing their work? More fundamentally, in working with all these different elements – librettists, singers and directors – composers start to see how to think in different dimensions as well as how to collaborate; both of which should stand them in good stead for the future.
The commitment from the opera department is crucial. These are always fully committed performances. The singers have, of course memorized the music, but they approach this project in the same way as they would any opera in the repertory and this is fundamentally what is so satisfying about the exercise. Finally, the environment in which the scenes are presented – a packed house in the main concert hall – really makes this feel like an event. I know from personal observation that many music schools round out the year with a big production: but how many do this featuring the music of their own students?
Ultimately all of this bodes well for the future. In years past some of the most successful projects have lead to bigger operas, again put on by the opera department. I wonder how many of this year’s works will lead to new opera productions both at Peabody and elsewhere?
Composer Oscar Bettison teaches at the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University. His music is published by Boosey and Hawkes.
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