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Weber’s Euryanthe Opens at Bard SummerScape on July 25,
in First U.S. Revival for 100 Years;
Plus Semi-Staged Fierrabras and More in August

“An indispensable part of the summer operatic landscape.”
Musical America on Bard SummerScape


Mark Primoff
845-758-7412
edavis@bard.edu
07-21-2014
Image Credit: Cory Weaver
 

Annandale-on-Hudson, NY—To enrich its immersion in “Schubert and His World,” Bard SummerScape 2014 presents Euryanthe (1823) by Carl Maria von Weber, marking the opera’s first American revival in 100 years. Headlined by Ellie Dehn, “a charismatic soprano with great stage presence” (Wall Street Journal), Bard’s original staging is by Kevin Newbury, creator of SummerScape’s “gold standard production” (WQXR) of Richard Strauss’s Die Liebe der Danae. Euryanthe’s five performances (July 25, 27 & 30; August 1 & 3) feature the festival’s resident American Symphony Orchestra under the leadership of music director Leon Botstein, who also leads semi-staged performances of Schubert’s own seldom-heard opera Fierrabras, starring Joseph Kaiser, on August 17, and of a double-bill of rarities – Schubert’s one-act Singspiel Die Verschworenen and the first American presentation of Franz von Suppé’s operetta Franz Schubert – on August 10. As the Financial Times concluded last season, “Some of the most important summer opera experiences in the U.S. are not at the better known festivals but at Bard SummerScape.

It was Schubert’s contemporary Carl Maria von Weber (1786–1826) who established Germany’s homegrown Romantic opera tradition, yet his opera Euryanthe – despite being hailed as “musically sublime” (The Guardian) and arguably “Weber’s greatest masterpiece” (NPR) – remains largely neglected. Revivals of the complete opera are rare, not least in America, where it has not been seen since the Metropolitan Opera’s staging 100 years ago, in 1914.

Bard’s upcoming production therefore marks a major historical milestone. Irish Times Theatre Award-winner Kevin Newbury returns to direct, following his success with Richard Strauss’s Die Liebe der Danae at SummerScape three years ago; WQXR named the production one of theBest of 2011,” and the New York Times observed: “An opera needs to be able to catch fire onstage, and in the SummerScape production, directed with imagination and emotional nuance by Kevin Newbury, Danae certainly does.”

In an illuminating program note, Newbury explains:

“As a director, I have always been drawn to operas that have fallen out of favor due to the alleged ‘credibility gaps’ inherent in their librettos. Strauss’s Die Liebe der Danae, which I directed here at Bard in 2011, is often called ‘unstageable,’ … [and] Weber’s Euryanthe contains similar story-telling challenges due to Helmina von Chézy’s confusing libretto and incongruous stage directions. … After some initial head-scratching, my design team and I found several visual and narrative solutions to these textual problems.

“It is a joy directing an opera like Euryanthe, with its rich characters and gorgeous music. Once we set aside any literal interpretation of the bizarre stage directions, the piece began to reveal itself in fascinating ways; in fact, for us, the problems in the text became its virtues.”

In the title role of his SummerScape production is Ellie Dehn, whose “melting yet clear soprano” impressed the New York Times when she portrayed Catherine of Aragon with eloquence and power” in Saint-Saëns’s Henry VIII at SummerScape two years ago. Opposite her, as Euryanthe’s fiancé Adolar, is lyric tenor William Burden, who may be heard on the Metropolitan Opera’s 2013 Grammy Award-winning recording of The Tempest by Thomas Adès, with soprano Wendy Bryn Harmer as Euryanthe’s ill-fated rival Eglantine, bass-baritone Ryan Kuster as Lysiart, and bass Peter Volpe – whose “robust voice and charismatic presence” (New York Times) graced Bard’s staging of Les Huguenots – as King Ludwig. The new production runs for five performances (July 25, 27 & 30; August 1 & 3), with an Opera Talk, free and open to the public, before the matinee on July 27.

Franz Schubert (1797–1828) attempted more than a dozen works for the stage, of which Fierrabras (1823) is perhaps the finest. Although it was never staged during his lifetime, the opera – the story of a fictitious Saracen knight at the time of Charlemagne – has since found a following; at its 1988 Austrian premiere, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung declared that, “against the judgment of history,” Fierrabras was “triumphantly rescued” at last. Heading Bard’s cast in the title role is tenor Joseph Kaiser, “a singer of unnerving ability, blessed with a muscular but flexible sound, plenty of tonal color and technical proficiency – not to mention a full helping of charismatic good looks” (San Francisco Chronicle). Bass Eric Halfvarson, who recently took London’s BBC Proms by storm as Fafner, sings Karl (aka Charlemagne), with soprano Sara Jakubiak as his daughter Emma, and baritone Andrew Schroeder and tenor Eric Barry as his knights Roland and Eginhard. Bard’s semi-staged production is the creation of Dmitry Troyanovsky, Zane Pihlstrom, and S. Katy Tucker. Led by Leon Botstein, it is Fierrabras on August 17 that draws the 25th anniversary season of the Bard Music Festival – and, indeed, the entire seven-week Bard SummerScape festival – to a gripping close.

Another of Schubert’s works for the stage is Die Verschworenen (“The Conspirators,” 1823). With a libretto derived from Aristophanes’s satire Lysistrata, this one-act Singspiel is a sparkling, attractively scored comedy that enjoyed a brief spell of popularity in the 1860s. On August 10, Bard pairs a semi-staged performance of Die Verschworenen with the first American presentation of another long-forgotten Viennese favorite: Franz von Suppé’s one-act operetta Franz Schubert (1864), a hit in its day, which incorporates Schubert’s own melodies into a loosely biographical piece depicting – with considerable artistic license – the inspiration behind the songs of Die schöne Müllerin. With Leon Botstein leading members of the American Symphony Orchestra and James Bagwell directing the Bard Festival Chorale, the SummerScape performances boast a first-rate cast, with soprano Deanna Breiwick, and tenors Paul Appleby and Nicholas Phan, who, “with his sweet, clear voice, is on a career roll” (New York Times).

 

Opera at Bard SummerScape 2014

 

Carl Maria von Weber (1786–1826)

Euryanthe (1823)

 

American Symphony Orchestra

Conducted by Leon Botstein, music director

Directed by Kevin Newbury

Set design by Victoria Tzykun

Costume design by Jessica Jahn

Lighting design by D.M. Wood

Hair and makeup design by Dave Bova

 

Euryanthe: Ellie Dehn

Adolar: William Burden

Eglantine: Wendy Bryn Harmer

Lysiart: Ryan Kuster

King Ludwig: Peter Volpe

 

Sosnoff Theater

July 25* and Aug 1 at 7 pm

July 27, 30, and Aug 3 at 2 pm

 

Opera Talk

July 27 at 12 pm

Free and open to the public

 

Special support for this program is provided by Emily H. Fisher and John Alexander.

 

Franz Schubert (1797–1828)

Fierrabras, D796 (1823)

 

 (Bard Music Festival, Program 12)

 

American Symphony Orchestra

Conducted by Leon Botstein, music director

Bard Festival Chorale

James Bagwell, choral director

Direction and design by Dmitry Troyanovsky and Zane Pihlstrom; video projections by S. Katy Tucker; lighting by Jeanette Yew

 

Fierrabras: Joseph Kaiser

Emma: Sara Jakubiak

König Karl: Eric Halfvarson

Roland: Andrew Schroeder

Eginhard: Eric Barry

 

Sosnoff Theater

Aug 17* at 4:30 pm (with pre-concert talk by Michael P. Steinberg at 3:30 pm)

 

* Round-trip transportation from Manhattan to Bard is available for this performance. The round-trip fare is $20 and reservations are required; see further details below.

 

Franz Schubert (1797–1828)

Die Verschworenen (1823)

 

Franz von Suppé (1819–95)

Franz Schubert (1864)

 

(Bard Music Festival, Program 6)

 

Members of the American Symphony Orchestra

Conducted by Leon Botstein, music director

Bard Festival Chorale

James Bagwell, choral director

Direction and design by Eric Einhorn; lighting by Jeanette Yew

 

Deanna Breiwick, soprano

Camille Zamora, soprano

Paul Appleby, tenor

Nicholas Phan, tenor

Nathan Stark, bass-baritone

 

Sosnoff Theater

Aug 10 at 5:30 pm (with pre-concert talk by Morten Solvik at 5 pm)

 

SummerScape 2014: other key performance dates by genre

 

MUSIC

Bard Music Festival, Weekend One: “The Making of a Romantic Legend” (Aug 8–10)

Bard Music Festival, Weekend Two: “A New Aesthetics of Music” (Aug 15–17)

 

* Round-trip transportation from Manhattan to Bard is available for certain performances on August 8, 10, 15, and 17. The round-trip fare is $20 and reservations are required; see further details below.

 

THEATER

John Banville: Love in the Wars – A version of Heinrich von Kleist’s Penthesilea

LUMA Theater

Previews July 10 and 11 at 7:30pm

Performances July 12*, 17, 18, and 19 at 7:30 pm and July 13*, 16, 19, and 20* at 2 pm

 

FILM SERIES

“Schubert and the Long 19th Century”

Thursdays and Sundays July 3 to August 3 at 7pm

Ottaway Film Center

 

SPIEGELTENT

Live Music, Cabaret, Festival Dining, and After Hours salon

Dates, Times, and Prices vary

 

Venues:

SummerScape opera, theater, and dance performances and most Bard Music Festival programs are held in the Sosnoff Theater or LUMA Theater in Bard’s Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts, designed by Frank Gehry and celebrated since its opening as a major architectural landmark in the region. Some chamber programs and other BMF events are in Olin Hall. The Spiegeltent has its own schedule of events, in addition to serving as a restaurant, café, and bar before and after performances. Film Series screenings are at the Jim Ottaway Jr. Film Center in the Milton and Sally Avery Arts Center.

 

New York City Round-Trip Bus Transportation:

To make a reservation on the round-trip SummerScape coach provided exclusively to ticket holders for specific performances indicated by * in the listings above, call the box office at 845-758-7900 or select this option when purchasing tickets. The round-trip fare is $20 and reservations are required. The coach departs from behind Lincoln Center, on Amsterdam Avenue between 64th and 65th Street. Bus departure time will be included on the ticket order receipt, or visit fishercenter.bard.edu/visit/transportation.

 

Bard SummerScape Ticket Information

 

For tickets and further information on all SummerScape events, call the Fisher Center box office at 845-758-7900 or visit www.fishercenter.bard.edu. Fisher Center members receive priority access to the best seats in advance, and those who join the Center’s email list receive advance booking opportunities as well as regular news and updates.

 

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This event was last updated on 07-24-2014