April 28, 2011
Two Jilted Lovers Sharing a Stage, but Not Their Men
By STEVE SMITH
At the heart of both “El Amor Brujo” and “La Vida Breve,” striking works by the Spanish composer Manuel de Falla, is a woman of low social standing, jilted in love. Each incorporates the
influence of flamenco music and Gypsy culture. Where they part ways drastically is in how each central character deals with betrayal: one bedevils, the other expires.
Stylistically, though, the pieces have little in common. “La Vida Breve,” composed for a 1905 contest and first staged in France in 1913, is potent verismo, with Italianate lyricism and French
iridescence. “El Amor Brujo,” in its original 1915 version, is effectively a monodrama created for a singing flamenco dancer, with secondary roles mostly spoken. French Impressionism wafts
through its orchestrations, as well.
In staging these works for a Manhattan School of Music Opera Theater production — part of “Visiones,” the school’s season-long focus on Spanish and Latin American music — the director Nic
Muni conjoined them through shared stage resources and duplicate casting. Presented at the John C. Borden Auditorium on Wednesday evening, the double bill represented one of the more
audacious, intriguing operatic undertakings to hit a New York stage this season.
“El Amor Brujo” — usually translated as “Love, the Magician,” but rendered here as “Love, Bewitched” — posed the greater challenge: few opera singers, students or otherwise, are also
accomplished dancers. Mr. Muni addressed this by casting a dancer to shadow each singer and actor.
As Candelas, a prostitute who sells her soul to ensnare her lover, the striking mezzo-soprano Raehann Bryce-Davis sang and spoke potently and moved vivaciously. Kaitlyn Costello, her
counterpart, writhed alluringly in seductive dances choreographed by La Meira.
Secondary players from “El Amor Brujo” took on primary roles in “La Vida Breve” (“The Brief Life”), in which Salud, a poor Gypsy girl, is abandoned by her wealthy lover, Paco, then turns up at
his wedding to die of heartbreak. Rebecca Krynski, a vibrant soprano who played an unwitting rival to Candelas, sang Salud with a secure, appealing sound and eye-opening volume. The tenor
David Sauer, previously Candelas’s ensorcelled lover, sang handsomely as Paco.
Nicole Weigelt and Robert Mellon were admirable as Salud’s grandmother and uncle. Ms. Bryce-Davis returned as Carmela, Paco’s bride. Brian Wahlstrom, charismatic as a silent Devil in “El
Amor Brujo,” sang strongly as Carmela’s brother. Brett Sprague’s honeyed tenor floated sweetly in selections sung offstage; as a wedding singer, Jhosoa Agosto showed an impressive grasp of
flamenco’s throaty, melismatic “cante jondo” (“deep song”).
Abetting the cast’s impressive achievements was solid work from choristers and dancers. The conductor José De Eusebio conjured fire and refinement from the orchestra. And in minimal sets by
Andrew Jackness and moody lighting by Japhy Weideman, you were reminded that ingenuity doesn’t always require an extravagant budget.
Tamara Wilson, already an established singer, was awarded one of two Richard Tucker Career Grants of $10,000 recognizing her talent and artistry.
Andrew Stenson was awarded a one of five $5,000 Sarah Tucker Study Grants which are given to young singers who display enormous promise at the beginning of their professional careers.
The awards are chosen by a panel of opera professionals following auditions held at New York’s 92nd St. Y. More than 120 singers were nominated by more than 100 opera professionals including artistic administrators, conductors and directors.
For more information about the Richard Tucker Music Foundation visit their website at http://www.richardtucker.org.
Hilary Ginther recording & performing in the World Premier of John Musto and Mark Campbell’s opera, The Inspector
CCM Opera Proud of Mezzo-Soprano Hilary Ginther (MM) who was called in as a last minute replacement for the World Premier of John Musto’s new opera The Inspector.
Hilary has been a young artist at Wolf Trap Opera for two consecutive years and Kim Whitman knew she could count on her to save the day!
Click here to read about this production on Wolf Trap Opera’s website.
So, I just wanted to give you an update. I got to wolf trap yesterday, got my costume fitted, got a score and listened to the sitz. Today, I learned the music (hardest 5 hours of my life), got walked through and rehearsed the staging for 2 hours while John Musto and Kim Whitman were at the pianos, and did a dress rehearsal with orchestra tonight….. They are recording all 3 performances, which are Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, and are using the best takes from all three to make the world premiere recording! I will then pack my stuff up, scrape my brain off the floor, and head back to cincy on Monday, May 2. Thank you (all) for being so supportive!
Official Press Release from the Lotte Lenya Competition Recognizing CCM Opera Students Caitlin Mathes and Alisa Jordheim
Lotte Lenya Competition
Exceptional talents from the United States, England and China win top prizes in 2011 competition
Caitlin Mathes (AD), mezzo-soprano of Dayville, Connecticut, won the $15,000 First Prize in the finals of the 2011 Lotte Lenya Competition, held on April 16, 2011, at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y. Instead of awarding Second and Third Prizes, judges presented three equal prizes of $8,000 each to Jing Lin, soprano, of Putian, China; Emma Sewell, soprano, of London, England; and Jacob Lewis Smith, bass/baritone, of Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Judges for the competition were three-time Tony Award nominee Rebecca Luker, Broadway and Encores! music director Rob Berman, and the Artistic Director of the Kurt Weill Festival in Dessau, Germany, Michael Kaufmann.
The Kurt Weill Foundation for Music, which sponsors the competition, distributed a record $58,000 in prizes this year. In addition to the top prizes, judges presented three Lys Symonette Awards of $2,500 each, named in honor of Kurt Weill’s musical assistant on Broadway. Baritone Daniel Schwait of Baltimore and tenor John Viscardi of Philadelphia received awards for Outstanding Performance of an Individual Number, and baritone Jorell Williams of Brentwood, N.Y., received one for Outstanding Vocal Talent. The remaining five finalists each received a total award of $1,000: Alisa Suzanne Jordheim (DMA), soprano, of Appleton, Wisc.; Matt Leisy, tenor, of New York; Chris Pinnella, bari-tenor, of Brielle, N.J.; Peabody Southwell, mezzo-soprano, of Los Angeles; and Trevor Strader, tenor, of Queensbury, N.Y.
Now in its 14th year, the Lotte Lenya Competition recognizes versatile singing actors, aged 19-30, who are dramatically and musically convincing in a wide variety of musical theater styles. For the 2011 competition, each contestant presented a diverse program that included an aria from the opera or operetta repertoire; two songs from the American musical theater repertoire (one pre-1968 and one from 1968 or later); and a theatrical selection by Kurt Weill. After a preliminary round of auditions by video submission, twelve finalists were selected from a group of thirty semi-finalists who auditioned in New York City for adjudicator/coaches David Loud, Carolyn Marlow and Vicki Shaghoian.
He will now have the opportunity to perform in the foundation’s gala concert at Rose Theater, Jazz at Lincoln Center on Sunday, October 16, 2011.
CCM Opera is proud to announce that alumna Caitlin Mathes took first prize at the 2011 Lotte Lenya Competition this past weekend in Rochester New York. Click here for more information.
History of the Lotte Lenya Competition:
In 1998, to honor the centenary of the birth of Lotte Lenya (1898-1981), an extraordinary singer/actress and one of the foremost interpreters of the music of her husband, Kurt Weill (1900-1950), the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music established an annual Lotte Lenya Competition.
Acclaimed and beloved composer Daniel Catán passed away suddenly on Saturday April 9 at the age of 62. He was in Austin, TX at the time where he was teaching for a semester at the Butler School of Music, University of Texas.
Catán is known best for his lyrical romantic style and especially his operas, the most recent of which, Il Postino premiered with great success at Los Angeles Opera in September 2010, starring Plácido Domingo. His second opera Florencia en el Amazonas was frequently performed and garnered great acclaim when it premiered at Houston Grand Opera in 1996. Florencia en el Amazonas has the distinction of being the first opera in Spanish commissioned by a major American company. The success of that opera led to the commission of Salsipuedes for Houston Grand Opera. Catán had recently created a new chamber version of his first opera La Hija de Rappaccini (which was performed here at CCM in 2008) and was currently at work on his fifth opera Meet John Doe which was due to premiere in October 2012.
In 2008 Mr. Catán visited CCM and graciously offered his time and talents to students who where preparing his opera La Haja de Rappaccini. Below we’ve posted a clip from the CCM Studio Opera production of La Hija de Rappaccini with Wesley Lawrence (DMA) as Giovanni.
Ravinia Engages Pianist Kevin Murphy as Director of the Vocal Program at its Summer Conservatory, the Steans Music Institute
HIGHLAND PARK, IL—North America’s oldest and most programmatically diverse music festival, Ravinia, has named renowned pianist, music administrator and educator Kevin Murphy director of the festival’s summer music conservatory, the Steans Music Institute. He replaces Brian Zeger, who steps down in August after six years in the position. Murphy’s duties will include selecting 15 singers and five pianists from a worldwide pool of applicants to participate in the program each summer as well as securing faculty who will work with these artists over an intensive three-week residency. In consultation with the faculty, he will program four concerts of art song and three master classes each summer.
Kevin Murphy remains director of music administration at the New York City Opera, a position he has held since September of 2008. Before that time, he was director of musical studies at the National Opera of Paris. In 1992 he was the first pianist invited by Maestro James Levine (former Ravinia music director) to participate in the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program and continued as an assistant conductor from 1993 through June of 2006. In addition to his on- and off-stage partnership with his wife, soprano Heidi Grant Murphy, he has collaborated in concert and recital with many of today’s leading artists including Steans Music Institute alumna Michelle DeYoung; Nathan Gunn; Bryn Terfel; Placido Domingo; Renee Fleming; and others, including performances of Mozart operas with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Ravinia.
“I can think of no better fit for Ravinia and the Steans Music Institute than Kevin, a truly respected and talented pedagogue who will spark and inspire the young professional musicians who will study with him,” said Ravinia Festival Music Director James Conlon. “Kevin is a friend, and I look forward to having him as a festival colleague.”
“I would like to thank Welz Kauffman for asking me to become the next director of the vocal program at the Steans Music Institute, and Maestro Conlon for his musical leadership and confidence in me,” Murphy said. “Having performed at Ravinia several times, I’ve always admired the high level of work and performance in the vocal program under the leadership of Brian Zeger. The collaboration between singer and pianist is uniquely intimate and expressive, and I’m honored to have the opportunity, along with distinguished colleagues, to guide the very best young vocal talent as they study, rehearse and perform the art song literature.”
“When Brian Zeger told me that his increasingly busy schedule would leave me faced with the daunting task of filling his shoes, I turned to an international array of advisors as well as local leaders who are invested in our music institute, and they all came up with one name: Kevin Murphy,” Welz Kauffman said. “Ravinia’s staff director of the Steans Music Institute, Anthony Roberts, and I can’t wait to roll up our sleeves with Kevin. As rewarding as it is to make music, it’s even more fascinating to make musicians.”
Murphy joins Steans Music Institute faculty leaders Miriam Fried, who is director of the piano and strings program; and David Baker, who is director of the Jazz program. Ravinia Festival Trustee leaders of the Steans Music Institute are Robert Krebs, Lois and Harrison Steans, Betsey Pinkert and Harry Bernbaum, who consulted with Kauffman during the hiring process.
The summer conservatory of Ravinia Festival, the Steans Music Institute offers fully paid fellowships to about 70 world-class young artists from around the world who audition for these coveted slots in the vocal program, a jazz program and a piano and strings program. The Steans Music Institute, similar to programs at the Aspen, Marlboro and Tanglewood festivals, focuses on turning skilled and trained musicians into stage-commanding performers. In addition to working with the esteemed Steans Music Institute faculty, they also work with artists who frequent the festival and participate in master classes which are open to the public. Steans participants also perform concerts at Ravinia throughout the annual summer season, which regularly programs more than 100 separate events to audiences exceeding 600,000 people.
“Kevin Murphy is in the vanguard for Americans who have turned song
accompaniment into an art. The pianism was so absorbing, the singer’s entry
seemed like an intrusion. There can be no finer compliment.”
—The San Francisco Examiner
KEVIN MURPHY BIOGRAPHY
Pianist Kevin Murphy has been director of music administration at the New York City Opera since September 2008. Prior to joining the New York City Opera staff, he was appointed by Gerard Mortier as the directeur des etudes musicales at the Opéra National de Paris. In 1992 he was the first pianist invited by Maestro James Levine to participate in the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, and he continued as an assistant conductor from 1993 through June 2006. He has played continuo harpsichord with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in productions of Così fan tutte, La Cenerentola, Le nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni, La Clemenza di Tito and Idomene, and traveled with the company on tour in Japan.
In addition to his on- and off-stage partnership with his wife, soprano Heidi Grant Murphy, he has collaborated in concert and recital with many of today’s leading artists. He is also respected for his work in master classes and as a private coach, and has performed in chamber music collaborations with the Zukerman ChamberPlayers as well as members of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and New York Philharmonic.
He has appeared on The Today Show with soprano Renée Fleming, Good Morning America with soprano Cecilia Bartoli, and The Tonight Show with tenor Gary Lakes. He has been musical assistant and played continuo harpsichord for the Seiji Ozawa Opera Project in Japan, at the Tanglewood Music Festival and Verbier for James Levine and worked with Esa-Pekka Salonnen at La Jolla’s SummerFest. Additional festival appearances have included Music@Menlo, Bellingham Festival of Music and Vin et Musique in Burgundy. Murphy has been in residence with the Canadian Opera Company and the Vocal Arts Program at The Juilliard School. He is a regular adjudicator for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and will collaborate with members of the Merola Opera Program at the San Francisco Opera in May.
A native of Syracuse, New York, Murphy received his bachelor of music in piano performance from Indiana University and master of music in piano accompaniment from The Curtis Institute. Kevin Murphy makes his home in New York, NY with his wife and their four children.
CCM Opera alumnus Miachel Maniaci will perform the role of Sesto with Opera Atelier in their production of Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito. The production runs April 22nd through May 1st. Click this link to read more about this production and Opera Atelier.
CCM Opera is pleased to report that 5 CCM Opera students placed at the 2011 Palm Beach Opera Vocal Competition.
• In the advanced division counter tenor John Holiday placed 5th and baritone Kenneth Stavert placed 7th.
• In the junior division baritone Joseph Lattanzi placed 2nd, baritone Emmett O’Hanlon placed 3rd and soprano Danielle Adams placed 7th.
Congratulations to all of you!
We are pleased to announce two CCM Opera students have advanced to the finals of the senior division of Palm Beach Opera Competition. Baritone Kenneth Stavert (MM) and countertenor John Holiday (MM) have been asked to compete in the Grand Finals Concert at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts this Sunday, April 10th at 3:00pm.
Visit the Palm Beach Opera website for more details.
Congratulations to both of you and good luck!
• The 2011 CCM Opera Scholarship competition was also reviewed by Rafael de Acha, one of the many correspondents from ConcertoNet.com.
If you were not able to attend last weekend’s exciting competition, you can read Rafael’s account by clicking here.
CCM Opera’s Spring studio production this year is Handel’s Giulio Cesare in Egitto. Here are events in April and May happening around Cincinnati that tie into this opera’s historical story.
- Cincinnati Shakespeare Company presents Julius Caesar Tickets
The Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s current production is Julius Caesar which will be running until April 23rd.
This week (April 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th) they are offering 50% regular ticket prices.
Click this link to go to the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s Groupon site.
Click here to visit Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s homepage.
- Cincinnati Museum Center’s current exhibit, Cleopatra: The Search for the Last Queen of Egypt
The Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal is presenting an exhibit that focuses on the life of the famous Egyptian queen Cleopatra. This stunning exhibit is based on the discovery of her lost palace in Alexandria and runs until September.
Click here to visit the Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal’s website
- CCM Opera’s Studio Opera Production “Giulio Cesare in Egitto”
May 27th, 28th & 29th CCM Opera will present Handel’s Giulio Cesare in Egitto as the final opera of the 2010-2011 season.
Click here to visit the CCM Opera website for all the production details.
Congratulations to Jason Slayden (MM) and Joelle Harvey (MM) who are General Division First Place Winners in the Gerda Lissner Foundation International Vocal Competition. Each will receive $10,000 and will sing on the winners concert in May. Click here to read more about The Gerda Lissner Foundation.
CCM Opera is proud to announce the winners of the 2011 CCM Opera Scholarship Competition. This year the performers were exceptionally talented and it made for an exciting afternoon of singing.
• Tonight and tomorrow night in The Cohen Family Studio Theater CCM Opera d’Arte will present Leoš Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen. Because this is a popular event and tickets are free it is recommended that you call the CCM Box Office at 513-556-4183 to check for availability. Click here to visit the CCM Opera site for production details.
• Tomorrow, April 2nd starting at 10:00am in Corbett Auditorium the College-Conservatory of Music will present the annual CCM Opera Scholarship Competition. This year 26 talented young singers will compete for over $70,000 in scholarships and prize money. In addition to the awards given by our esteemed judges one singer will receive a special award in which you the audience will be the judge.