The Eternal Feminine
Most of our productions this year center around women: women who are fascinating yet unpredictable, seductive or innocent, tormented or tormenting, figures of power or the victims of it, and sometimes all of these in turn. Indeed, there are so many sides to the title character of Verdi’s La traviata that three different singers will play her in Garnett Bruce’s innovative production. True, the female in Janacek’s Adventures of Sharp-Ears the Vixen is an animal rather than a human being, but the beauty of this remarkable opera is the way it reflects human characteristics. The teenage title character of Dora — a pseudonym given by Sigmund Freud to his most conspicuous failure — is the victim of a sexual danse macabre being performed by her elders. But the greatest victim in the season is also the strongest woman: the Irish matriarch Maurya who loses all her sons by drowning in Riders to the Sea but still finds the strength to keep on living.
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Opera in EnglishFriedberg Hall, October 20
An evening of one-act operas, either written in English or sung in English translation. Headlining the program will be Riders to the Sea, Ralph Vaughan-Williams’ powerful setting of the play by J. M. Synge about women on the Aran Islands off the coast of Ireland, who wait on the return of their menfolk from the sea. Roger Brunyate is the stage director, and the chamber ensemble will be conducted by Simeone Tartaglione. The evening will conclude in a lighter vein with one or more short operas with piano accompaniment, such as A Game of Chance by Seymour Barab, and/or Marriage by Lanternlight by Jacques Offenbach.
Peabody Opera Outreach
Hansel and Gretel
Outreach performances, November through April
Throughout the year, the Peabody Opera offers condensed versions of well-known operas, complete with scenery and costumes, for performance in Maryland schools, including pro bonoperformances at Peabody itself. This year's presentation is a 50-minute version of Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel sung in an English translation by Carol Palca, prepared by Eileen Cornett, and staged by Jennifer Blades.
The Adventures of
Sharp-Ears the VixenFriedberg Hall, November 20–23
Janacek’s last opera is filled with love for his native Bohemian countryside. The interplay of human and animal characters, based on the serialized novel Bystrouska by Rudolf Teshnolidek, presents a vision in which human joys and failures, even death, take second place to the constant cycle of renewal in nature. The story follows the adventures of the fox cub Sharp-Ears from her capture as a household pet by the Forester, her wily domination of the other farmyard animals, her escape, courtship, and marriage, ending with her death while teaching a lesson to her own cubs. The music for the Forester at the end is what Janacek chose for his funeral. The opera, which is also known as The Cunning Little Vixen, will be performed in English. Hajime Teri Murai conducts the Peabody Symphony Orchestra, and Roger Brunyate directs. Set and costume designs are by Misha Kachman and Kristina Lucka respectively, two artists formerly from Eastern Europe, now making their Peabody debuts.
Peabody Opera Workshop
Opera in Italian
Friedberg Hall, February 21
Although the details of this program have yet to be determined, the broad outlines are known. The first half will consist of Italian baroque music, possibly including a complete short opera by Monteverdi, accompanied by an instrumental ensemble under the direction of Adam Pearl. The second half will contain scenes from Italian opera of the classical and romantic eras, coached by Simeone Tartaglione. The scenes will be staged by student directors under the supervision of Roger Brunyate.
La traviataFriedberg Hall, March 11–14
Verdi’s La traviata (“The woman who went astray”) is the only one of his works to be given a contemporary setting, the Paris salons of Dumas’ La dame aux camellias. The heroine, Violetta, is a courtesan who leaves the bright city to live quietly with her lover Alfredo, only to be forced away from him by Alfredo's father. The role calls for almost the full expressive range of the soprano voice and is jokingly said to have been written for three different types of singer. Taking advantage of the unique opportunity of working in a conservatory setting, this innovative production by Garnett Bruce will actually use three singers in the role to explore the many personalities of this fascinating character. The opera will be performed in Italian, led by Hajime Teri Murai conducting the Peabody Concert Orchestra. The set designs are the work of Luke Hegel-Cantarella, making his Peabody debut.
DoraTheatre Project, April 23–26
Dora, by Melissa Shiflett, with a brilliant text by Nancy Fales Garrett, is based on Sigmund Freud’s Fragment of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria, the study of a young girl who developed hysterical symptoms in an effort to extricate herself from the sexual danse macabre being performed by her father, his mistress, and the mistress’s husband. Freud unmasked the etiology of Dora’s illness, but did not support her resistance. For this reason, she broke off her analysis, becoming the only one of Freud’s patients who disobeyed him. Dora marks yet another in the series of challenging contemporary music dramas that the Peabody Chamber Opera has staged at Theatre Project over the past decade. The opera, which is sung in English, will be conducted by Karin Hendrickson and designed and directed by Roger Brunyate. The composer and librettist will be present for public discussions at certain performances.