Fancy and Fantasy
Welcome to this season of Fancy and Fantasy! The larger Opera Theatre production of the year, The Magic Flute, one of the great operatic fantasies of all time, sets the tone for the entire season, which begins with a workshop performance of L'enfant et les sortilèges, Ravel’s magic evocation of childhood, and ends with new operas by Peabody composers in which almost anything might happen. Representing the darker side of fantasy are two classic turn-of-the-century ghost stories, The Turn of the Screw and The Yellow Wallpaper. Even in our early-music offering, Dido and Aeneas, romance is turned into tragedy through the action of malevolent supernatural powers. So prepare for some chills… and much delight!
Peabody Opera Workshop
World premiere of an opera by H. L. Mencken and Louis Cheslock
Maryland Historical Society, September 15
In 1912, H. L. Mencken, the “Sage of Baltimore,” wrote a short play satirizing the adulation of American audiences for anything European. The title character is a German pianist giving a recital. To the audience he appears engrossed in the music; actually he is thinking of women and beer. Peabody composer Louis Cheslock borrowed piano music by Beethoven to set the play to music around 1950, but his version was never performed in public. So this performance, under the direction of Roger Brunyate and JoAnn Kulesza, will celebrate Mencken Day with a world premiere.
Peabody Opera Workshop
Two French Operas
Friedberg Hall, October 22
The Peabody Opera Workshop presents simply-staged performances with piano of two one-act operas written in France around 1925: Darius Milhaud’s Les malheurs d’Orphée, offering a down-to-earth new take on an old myth, and Maurice Ravel’s L'enfant et les sortilèges, which has created a childhood myth all of its own. The program will be directed by Eileen Cornett, Jennifer Blades, and Roger Brunyate.
Peabody Department of Early Music
Dido and AeneasGrace and St. Peters’ Church, November 3
The Peabody Chamber Opera, in conjunction with the Department of Early Music and the Peabody Baroque Band, presents a semi-staged performance of Purcell’s masterpiece Dido and Aeneas together with selections from his other theatre music. Adam Pearl, making his faculty debut, will direct from the harpsichord. The staging is a collaboration between choreographer Lisa Green-Cudek, and director Roger Brunyate.
The Turn of the ScrewFriedberg Hall, November 15–18
Britten’s 1954 setting of the celebrated Henry James ghost story is one of his masterpieces in the chamber-opera form. A naive impressionable young woman comes to take charge of two children on an English country estate — but idyll turns inexorably to horror as she becomes convinced that they are possessed by the ghosts of the former governess and valet. The production is conducted by JoAnn Kulesza and directed by Garnett Bruce, with the set designed by Erhard Rom.
The Yellow WallpaperTheatre Project, February 14–17
Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s 1892 story The Yellow Wallpaper is an early feminist classic. The protagonist, a professional writer, suffering from postpartum depression misdiagnosed as “nervous prostration”, is forced by her husband to give up her work and spend her days resting in a bedroom covered with yellow wallpaper that she comes to believe is haunted by the ghosts of the many other women similarly trapped and denied. Using the simplest of means — soprano, baritone, five women’s voices, piano, and synthesizer — librettist Judith Lane and composer Catherine Reid have crafted an opera of overwhelming power. It will be conducted by JoAnn Kulesza and directed by Garnett Bruce.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s
Die ZauberflöteFriedberg Hall, March 12–15
The Magic Flute, Mozart’s last opera to be performed, is at once a childlike fable and a profound philosophical statement. Written for a popular Viennese theater, the opera makes free use of traditional farce, fantasy, and theatrical effects. But the happy outcome of its romantic story also reflects Mozart’s Masonic belief that true nobility springs from a commitment to basic human values. The opera will be performed in German. Hajime Teri Murai conducts the Peabody Concert Orchestra, and Roger Brunyate, directs. The set designs will be created as a joint project with the Illustration Department of the Maryland Institute College of Art.
with additional support from the Maryland State Arts Council
Peabody Opera Workshop
Friedberg Hall, April 29
The Peabody Opera Workshop presents another evening of new operas in its ground-breaking program of Opera Etudes. Whether serious or comic, these seven short operas by student composers will focus on those moments of sudden enlightenment after which one’s entire world seems changed, and explore how the telling of stories through music can illuminate life. The unique aspect of this process is that the operas are written from the beginning in collaboration with the singers who will perform in them, and their texts are based on dramatic improvisations by the performers before a note of music has been composed. The scenes will be staged by Jennifer Blades and Roger Brunyate.