Bard College Conservatory of Music and Graduate Vocal Arts Program Present Orphée aux enfers on March 8 and 10ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.—The Bard College Conservatory of Music and Graduate Vocal Arts Program present Jacques Offenbach’s Orphée aux enfers (Orpheus in the Underworld). In a production by stage director Katherine M. Carter, the opera will be performed by Bard Conservatory of Music’s Vocal Arts Program singers with the Bard Conservatory Orchestra, conducted by James Bagwell, director of music performance studies and professor of music at Bard. The opera will be sung in French with English supertitles, and dialog will be in English. The performances will be held on Friday, March 8 at 8pm and on Sunday, March 10 at 2pm in the Fisher Center’s Sosnoff Theater. Tickets start at $25, with $5 tickets for Bard students made possible by the Passloff Pass. The first performance (March 8) will be livestreamed. Virtual livestream tickets are pay what you wish. All ticket sales benefit the Bard Conservatory Graduate Vocal Arts Scholarship Fund. To purchase or reserve tickets visit fishercenter.bard.edu, call 845-758-7900 (Mon-Fri 10am-5pm), or email [email protected].
Orphée aux enfers (Orpheus in the Underworld) welcomes the audience to a world of humans, gods, and goddesses that seems all too familiar. This is Olympus High, a place where the tipping scales of popularity and power provide the perfect backdrop for a tale of love, jealousy, and intrigue. This is prom and circumstance for the ages, a lively, witty operetta springing from the genius of a young, aspiring Jacques Offenbach in 1858, playing out here in the year 1986, where relationships and hierarchy haven’t changed a bit.
“It has been exciting to see the opera evolve under the artistic guidance of director Katherine Carter, who, along with the cast, is creating new dialogue to set the story in a 1980’s American high school,” says Associate Director of the Graduate Vocal Arts Program Kayo Iwama. “If you ever thought high school was ‘hell’, you will relate to this ironic twist on the classic love story of Orpheus and Eurydice!”
About the Artists
With performances described as “triumphant” (Tulsa World) and “galvanizing” (New York Classical Review), James Bagwell (conductor) maintains an active schedule as a conductor of choral, orchestral, and opera repertoire. He is professor of music and music program director at Bard College, and director of performance studies in the Bard College Conservatory of Music. He serves as co-director of the Bard Conservatory Graduate Program in Conducting. From 2009-2015 he served as music director of The Collegiate Chorale. Highlights with the Chorale included conducting rarely performed operas at Carnegie Hall, including Bellini’s Beatrice di Tenda, Rossini’s Möise et Pharaon, and Boito’s Mefistofele. He conducted the New York premiere of Philip Glass’s Toltec Symphony and Osvaldo Golijov’s Oceana at Carnegie Hall. His performance of Kurt Weill’s Knickerbocker Holiday at Alice Tully Hall was recorded live for Gaslight Records and is the only complete recording of the work. Bagwell has trained choruses for other American and international orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Mostly Mozart Orchestra, NHK Symphony (Japan), St. Petersburg Symphony, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, and Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. Since 2003 he has been director of choruses for the Bard Music Festival, conducting and preparing choral works during the summer festival at The Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College. With singer Natalie Merchant he has appeared with The National Symphony Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, among others. He has been a regular guest conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony and Tulsa Symphony. In 2015 Bagwell was named associate conductor of The Orchestra Now, and in 2009 he was appointed principal guest conductor of the American Symphony Orchestra. He has led both ensembles in concerts at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center.
Katherine M. Carter (director) is a New York City-based stage director of theater & opera dedicated to bringing a consent and community-based approach to her work. Recent engagements include La bohème with Canadian Opera Company, Carousel with Intermountain Opera, and the world premiere of Song of the Nightingale with On Site Opera. Katherine’s work has also been seen at Houston Grand Opera, Sarasota Opera, Santa Fe Opera, The Juilliard School, Ryan Opera Center at Lyric Opera of Chicago, The Alley Theatre, Manhattan School of Music, Mannes Opera at the New School, The Rose Theatre, Carnegie Mellon University, Rice University Opera, and Parallel 45 Theatre. Katherine’s upcoming season includes new productions of La Rondine with Manhattan School of Music, La Boheme with Wolf Trap Opera, and a return to the Canadian Opera Company in the fall of 2024. Katherine is a certified Intimacy Director for theater and opera, trained by IDC Professionals. Her work as an ID has been seen at the Metropolitan Opera on the revival of Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, and the new productions of Champion, Don Giovanni, and Carmen.
About the Bard Graduate Vocal Arts Program
The Graduate Vocal Arts Program is a unique master of music program led by the renowned mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe, who brings her wealth of experience as a groundbreaking recitalist and international star of the operatic stage to the young artists in the program. The program was conceived and designed by soprano Dawn Upshaw, who served as the artistic director of the program from its inception in 2006 to the spring of 2019. In addition to receiving individual private lessons in voice, vocal coaching, and the Alexander Technique, students delve into the study of art song, chamber music, contemporary music, oratorio and operatic repertoire throughout their coursework, and give public performances each semester. Opera is performed in curated scene programs, concert versions with orchestra, and in fully staged productions. The innovative curriculum also includes workshops in professional development, diction, language, and acting, and a special course focusing on preparation of the final degree recital. The core teaching faculty includes Associate Director Kayo Iwama, pianist and vocal coach, and is supplemented by guest artists from the professional music world. bard.edu/conservatory/vap/
About Bard College
Founded in 1860, Bard College is a four-year residential college of the liberal arts and sciences located 90 miles north of New York City. With the addition of the Montgomery Place and Massena properties, Bard’s campus consists of more than 1,200 parklike acres in the Hudson River Valley. It offers bachelor of arts, bachelor of science, and bachelor of music degrees, with majors in nearly 40 academic programs; advanced degrees through 13 graduate programs; nine early colleges; and numerous dual-degree programs nationally and internationally. Building on its 164-year history as a competitive and innovative undergraduate institution, Bard College has expanded its mission as a private institution acting in the public interest across the country and around the world to meet broader student needs and increase access to liberal arts education. The undergraduate program at the main campus in upstate New York has a reputation for scholarly excellence, a focus on the arts, and civic engagement. Bard is committed to enriching culture, public life, and democratic discourse by training tomorrow’s thought leaders. For more information about Bard College, visit bard.edu.
PHOTO CAPTION: Graduate Bard Conservatory of Music VAP students in rehearsal for the 2024 VAP Opera production of Orphée aux enfers (by Jacques Offenbach). L-R: Joseph Breslau, Emily Finke (seated in deep background), Nisha Caiozzi, Jun Mo Yang, Georgia Perdikoulias, Jacob Hunter, Sam Warshauer, Megan Maloney, Colton Cook, Abbegael Greene. Photo by Katrine Ottosen
Bard Press Contact:Jennifer Wai-Lan Strodl
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