Beyond NY: Opera Dimitrij at Bard SummerScape in Annandale-on-Hudson, NY

Beyond NY: Opera Dimitrij at Bard SummerScape in Annandale-on-Hudson, NY

Antonin Dvorak’s Rarely Performed Masterwork 

Dvorak Opera Dimitrij at Bard SummerScape in Annandale-on-Hudson, NY
Scene from Dimitrij; photo by Todd Norwood

This year Bard SummerScape is dedicated to the Romanticism in music and is celebrating ChopinAdding  Antonin Dvorak’s rarely staged operatic jewel Dimitrij  to the program makes a lot of sense as Dvorak is rightly considered to carry on Chopin’s Romantic tradition, and this complicated drama is well placed in the lineup celebrating Slavic roots and historic influences.

The opera brings back a murky history of Russian Tsars at the “time of troubles” at the beginning of 17th century. The story starts at exactly where Mussorgsky’s “Boris Godunov” leaves off with the death of Tsar Boris and the dark times of uncertainty approaching. The plot of Dimitrij is centered around a young pretender to the throne who appears in Moscow surrounded by Polish nobles and claims to be Dimitrij. His quest to rule is validated when the widow of Ivan, The Terrible recognizes him as her long lost son attempting to avenge her own grievances with the rulers. But the secret is bound to be revealed with all the ambitions at play. The intrigues of the power struggle, society division in pledging loyalty to competing clans, conspiracy theories and treacherous deceptions are only amplified by gorgeous music and powerful choral renditions. Sounds too familiar? It might be because a drive for power is as universal as love and death. The director of this Dimitrij production Anne Bogart thinks that the subject is particularly relevant today.

In the words of the Boston Globe “Shakespeare could hardly have bettered” this tragic story. In fact the story was developed by a librettist Marie Cervikova-Riegrova who based it on an unfinished plot by F. Schiller’s Demetrius. It is also worth noting that apparently Dvorak, working on the opera in 1881-1882, was not familiar with Mussorgsky’s “Boris Godunov” which was completed between 1868-1873 to A. Pushkin’s drama with the same title.

Beyond NY: Opera Dimitrij at Bard SummerScape in Annandale-on-Hudson, NY
Fischer Center; Photo: Peter Aaron ’68/Esto

Bard SummerScape opera performance takes place at the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Art which is located on the campus of a picturesque Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, NY. Bard College is well known for its rigorous and diverse art education program and the best in class roster of summer performances in upstate NY. Only two hours away from hustle and bustle of New York City, the campus is sufficiently insulated for full concentration and study, yet affords a convenience of being accessible via train connection to the city.

The Richard B. Fisher Center is an architectural jewel in itself being designed by Frank Gehry and hosting a multitude of adventurous programs at the world class facilities.

Book the tickets for Dimitrij  here.

 

Venue: Richard B. Fisher Center, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY

Dates: July 28 & 30, August 2,4 & 6, 2017 

Places to eat around Bard College.

 

Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival: Don Giovanni by Budapest Festival Orchestra

Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival: Don Giovanni by Budapest Festival Orchestra

Ivan Fischer, conductor and director 

Lincoln Center's Mostly Mozart Festival: Don Giovanni by Budapest Festival Orchestra
Don Giovanni by Max Slevogt, 1912

This year Mostly Mozart Festival at Lincoln Center brings back to New York a fascinating production of opera Don Giovanni. The performance will take place at the Rose Theater at the Jazz at Lincoln Center Frederick P. Rose Hall.

Mozart wrote this opera to a libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte which was based on the legend about Don Juan, a philanderer and seducer. Premiered at the National Theater of Bohemia in Prague in 1787, it was billed by Mozart himself as opera buffa. However, this particular rendition of the story is much more a tragedy and a learning lesson than a comedy or a melodrama.

Ivan Fischer, co-founder and conductor of Budapest Festival Orchestra, was also directing the production. In an interview  by NPR in anticipation of the opening in 2011, Fischer points out that this dual role as conductor and director lets him offer “much more unified experience” for the actors. The resulting accents in the story are on bringing the villain to justice. The costume, stage design and casting of the students of Bucharest Acting Academy in the supporting ensemble are both innovative and highly appropriate. Instead of a singing statue, the actors costumes are designed to resemble the stones serving as both the silent elements of the design and the embodiment of the fate and consequence that gets a final say. The New York Times review of the performance back in 2011 highlights the “climactic moment staged to such haunting effect” under Fischer’s direction.

Venue: Rose Theater at Jazz at Lincoln Center, 10 Columbus Circle, NY                               Dates: August 17, 19, 20

April 2017 Opera in NYC: Rigoletto at Met Opera

April 2017 Opera in NYC: Rigoletto at Met Opera

April 2017 Opera in NYC: Rigoletto at the Met Opera
Scene from the opera / image source metopera.org

Rigoletto in Las-Vegas?  This vibrant and colorful production of Giuseppe Verdi’s beloved opera is sure to entertain and engage everyone. For the original opening of the opera in 1851, Verdi and his librettist Francesco Maria Piave shifted the setting in Victor Hugo play which the opera is based on  from early-16th century french court to Renaissance time Mantua, Italy.

It seems the story is destined for such transformations in time and place as the current production is set in Las Vegas in the 60s with all the bells and whistles of that turbulent era. Even if you are not a big fun of modern adaptation for traditional art forms, you will enjoy the time-tested tunes and passionate performance. Think about finding repeating patterns of history and savor the music in all its glory. The New York Times review for 2013 opening of this production called it “the Rat Pack “Rigoletto'”.

You can buy tickets here.

 

Venue: Met Opera, Lincoln Center, NY                                  Dates: April 19, April 22, April 27