Opera in America
The 2011–12 Peabody Opera season is dedicated, for the most part, to modern American opera. This is reflected in the two major productions, The Rake’s Progress and The Crucible, and the Theatre Project production of Postcard from Morocco by Peabody alumnus Dominick Argento. The outreach show, Ariel’s Tempest, is a new musical treatment of the Shakespeare play by Douglas Buchanan and Roger Brunyate. The season begins in Richmond with the preview production of two short operas by American composers for the College Music, and will end with the biennial program of Opera Etudes, new one-act operas written by Peabody composers in conjunction with the singers who will perform them. More traditional opera is represented by scenes in the October Opera Potpourri, the co-production of Vivaldi’s Griselda in conjunction with the American Opera Theatre, and of course in the regular classes and coaching programs of the department.
Illustrations and links to other pages will be added as they become available.
Peabody Opera Workshop
Friedberg Hall, October 31
Staged with piano accompaniment, this program will combine original-language scenes from the standard opera repertoire together with excerpts from two brand-new American operas. These will include the prologue and epilogue from A Confederacy of Dunces by Lance R. Hulme and the complete one-act opera Review by Jeremy Beck. The program will be coached by Eileen Cornett and JoAnn Kulesza, and directed by Roger Brunyate and Jennifer Blades. Admission is free.
Peabody Opera Outreach
Outreach performances, November through April
Throughout the year, the Peabody Opera generally offers condensed versions of well-known operas, complete with scenery and costumes, for performance in Maryland schools, including pro bono performances at Peabody itself. This year, however, we are breaking new ground by commissioning a 50-minute version of Shakespeare’s Tempest from composer Douglas Allan Buchanan. Shakespeare is seen actually writing the play and conjuring up the characters of Prospero, Miranda, and Ferdinand, the quicksilver Ariel and the brutish Caliban. Other parts are taken by Shakespeare himself and a singing Stage Manager. Roger Brunyate directs his own adaptation of the text. In conjunction with the Annapolis Opera.
The Rake’s ProgressModell Lyric Opera House, November 18 & 20
Igor Stravinsky’s opera The Rake’s Progress was hailed at its 1951 Venice premiere as bringing the tradition of classical European opera into the American century. The brilliant libretto by W. H. Auden and Chester Kallman, its story of Tom Rakewell’s unfortunate pact with Nick Shadow, the devil, and his redemption through the constancy of Anne Trulove matches the ribaldry of Hogarth’s engravings to the musical glitter of Stravinsky in his heyday. This production, which is the first in what we hope will be an annual series at the Modell Lyric Opera, is conducted by Hajime Teri Murai with the Peabody Symphony Orchestra; it is directed by Garnett Bruce, with sets by Luke Hegel-Cantarella and lighting by Douglas Nelson. Musical preparation is by JoAnn Kulesza.
Postcard from MoroccoTheatre Project, February 9–12
Peabody alumnus Dominick Argento is one of the most distinguished opera of composers in America today. We are proud to present his brilliant operatic fantasy from 1971, to a text by John Donahue. The setting is perhaps a railroad station, perhaps the palm court of a grand hotel. Seven travelers are waiting, each with a piece of luggage that they keep jealously guarded from the others. Until Mr. Owen, the only traveler to be given a name, is foolish enough to allow his suitcase to fall open, showing that it is quite empty. The others leave for destinations unknown, but Mr. Owen undergoes an operatic apotheosis. This is the work with which we opened the Miriam A Friedberg Concert Hall in 1984, now seen in a more intimate space appropriate to its chamber writing. The production will be directed by Jennifer Blades, with chamber ensemble conducted by Blair Skinner. Musical preparation is by Eileen Cornett.
in association with American Opera Theatre
and the Department of Early Music.
Georg Friedrich Handel’s
Giulio CesareTheatre Project, February 16–19
Baroque specialist Timothy Nelson returns to Peabody and Theatre Project with a new production of Handel’s Giulio Cesare in Egitto (Julius Caesar in Egypt). It is the epic and eternal story of power, honor, justice, and vengeance. It is a profound exploration of the fine line separating justice and revenge, defense and terror, martyrdom and annihilation. Timothy Nelson brings his unique contemporary take on the baroque by setting the opera in the context of the modern struggle between East and West playing out today in the Middle East. Music director is Adam Pearl, leading the Baltimore Baroque Band.
The CrucibleFriedberg Hall, March 14–17
Robert Ward won the Pulitzer Prize in 1962 for this setting of the celebrated Arthur Miller play in an adaptation by Bernard Stambler, and it has remained one of the defining works of mid-century American opera. Although Miller wrote his play as an oblique commentary on the McCarthy era, Ward plays the drama of the 17th-century Salem witch trials for all the passion and drama it contains in its own time, and for the ethical dilemmas it poses. Roger Brunyate, who has collaborated with the composer on this and other operas, will design and direct this production. JoAnn Kulesza conducts the Peabody Concert Orchestra.
Last ThingsFriedberg Hall, May 7
The Peabody Opera Workshop presents another evening of new operas by Peabody student composers in its ground-breaking program of Opera Études. 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 program is under the overall artistic direction of Roger Brunyate, who will also stage the scenes; music director is JoAnn Kulesza. Admission is free.