Conductor Mark Gibson and stage director Steven Goldstein from opening night of Dialogues of the Carmelites
This production marked the first mainstage opera production for Steven Goldstein as the Weinberger Chair of Acting at CCM.
Click here to read Janelle Gelfand’s interview with Steven about Dialogues of the Carmelites and his interpretation of the opera.
CCM Opera continues its season with the Spring mainstage production of Francis Poulenc’s masterpiece “Dialogues of the Carmelites” (Dialogues des carmélites). Based on a true story, this heartbreaking saga of martyred nuns runs from May 12-15, 2011 in CCM’s Corbett Auditorium. Conductor Mark Gibson and stage director Steven Goldstein collaborate on this intense, dramatic opera based on a true story. Learn more about the production at ccm.uc.edu/opera
Director Steven Goldstein recognizes the beauty of the Carmelite’s story.
“The simplicity of the story is what’s gripping in the end. The storytelling Poulenc accomplishes draws an audience into the tragic story of how innocents were slaughtered for their pure beliefs, and how in that process grace is achieved,” explains Goldstein. He also feels that the basis of the plot-line on a true event also reveals a lesson on humanity. “Unfortunately, events such as this are repetitive historically, even to our days today. Dialogues of the Carmelites shows how a society can lose its moral center and become vicious.”
WVXU’s Anne Arenstein sat down with talked with the Steven about this CCM Opera production. Click here to listen to the interview online.
Danielle Messina, a second-year graduate student from Poughkeepsie, New York, plays Blanche in CCM’s production. She too sees the unique simplicity of Poulenc’s opera. “The fact that the opera is different from other operas is reflected in the name- Dialogues of the Carmelites. I think of Mozart operas where we have these great duets and great arias, but the music of Dialogues is a different take on opera. We’re not singing duets- we’re talking, sometimes giving monologues- and because of that, there’s a lot of listening involved. We’re trying to find this stoic, cloistered life not only in the plot-line, but in the music as well.”
Written over a four-year period and completed in 1957, Dialogues of the Carmelites follows the life of Blanche de la Force, a shy, aristocratic young woman who seeks refuge in a Carmelite nunnery during the French Revolution. The opera is based on the true account of the Martyrs of Compiègne, a group of 16 Carmelite nuns who were sent to their deaths during the Reign of Terror following the overthrow of the French monarchy.
May 12-15, 2011
- Thursday, Friday and Saturday, May 12-14, 8 p.m.
- Sunday, May 15, 2:30 p.m.
Location: Corbett Auditorium
Tickets: $27-$29 general admission, $17-$19 students
Ordering or Additional Information
Box Office: 513-556-4183 or firstname.lastname@example.org
From The Cincinnati Enquirer
By Janelle Gelfand
January 29th 2011
The frenzied crowd called for blood, trumpets and trombones blared from the balconies and, as the first act rose to a fever pitch, the Prince cried out “Turandot!” and struck the gong loudly three times.
The University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music mounted an electrifying concert version of Puccini’s opera “Turandot” on Friday night in Corbett Auditorium. The professionalism of the student forces, from choristers and musicians to soloists, was impressive. Despite the decibel level, which rose perilously high at times, the audience offered enthusiastic ovations after each act.
Seats were at a premium for the sold-out performance, with throngs waiting outside for turned-in tickets. A first for CCM, the massive effort hailed a 12-year collaboration between the school and the Central Conservatory of Beijing. It was presented in collaboration with Central Opera, Beijing and the Greater Cincinnati Chinese Music Society.
Even though there were no sets or costumes, there was the spectacle of the immense forces crammed into every inch of the stage. Two choirs – the CCM Chorale and CCM Chamber Choir, flanked the CCM Philharmonia, with the red-jacketed Cincinnati Children’s Choir arrayed across the back. Across the front stood the soloists, with the CCM Brass Choir in the balconies.
At the epicenter of all this, behind the large Chinese gong, Mark Gibson, conductor and CCM director of orchestral studies, worked his magic with Puccini’s final opera score. (Franco Alfano finished the final scene after Puccini’s death.) “Turandot,” an opera set in legendary Peking, is the tale of “ice princess” Turandot, who beheads suitors unable answer three riddles. Liù is the slave girl who secretly loves the “unknown prince” Calaf who is vying for Turandot’s hand.
Soprano Helen Lyons, who received her artist diploma at CCM in 2008, returned to sing the title role. She made an excellent “ice princess,” regal and mesmerizing as she told the story of her ancestors in “In questa reggia.” She sang consistently with dramatic power and navigated treacherous leaps thrillingly. Later, as her veneer of ice melted, she became noticeably more human.
In the role of the Prince, tenor Wang Feng, a guest artist from Central Opera, Beijing, was confident and firm, offering a stentorian voice and a commanding presence. However more warmth in his vocal style would have enhanced his performance.
The role of Liù was shared by two excellent CCM sopranos, Xi Wang and Amanda Woodbury. In Acts I and II, Wang was deeply affecting and projected warmth and beauty of tone in “Signore, ascolta.” In Act III, Woodbury sang with expressive beauty in her famous “Tu che di gel sei cinta” (You who are bound by ice).
As the courtiers, Hunter Enoch (Ping), William Compton (Pang), and Wes Lawrence (Pong) were well-matched and brought humor to their roles. There were also fine portrayals as Timur (Timothy Bruno), the Mandarin (Emmett O’Hanlon) and the Emperor (Will Reed).
The idea of placing the choirs downstage was to note that the chorus is “a major protagonist” in the opera, Gibson wrote in program notes. The choruses were well-prepared, provided glorious atmosphere and enunciated their texts well as they cried for blood, implored Turandot for mercy, and finally recapped one of the most famous tunes of all time, “Nessun dorma.” The pure-toned sound of the Children’s Choir was a joy to hear.
Still, the visceral impact of the combined choral and orchestral forces sometimes overwhelmed the hall. Gibson animatedly propelled the tempos and created a big, lush atmosphere that captured the grandeur of Puccini’s music.
CCM Opera Artist Diploma student Xi Wang sits down with Janelle Gelfand from the Cincinnati Enquirer
From The Cincinnati Enquirer, January 23rd, 2011
By Janelle Gefland
Soprano Xi Wang, a student at the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music, remembers standing on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera in New York two years ago, when she was a national semifinalist in the National Council Auditions.
“Being on that stage at age 25, I thought, ‘Oh my God, I have already fulfilled my dream.’ The stage was so huge, but you could hear a penny drop,” the singer says. “Even though I didn’t advance to the finals, I felt so grateful, so lucky to be that far.” Wang sings the role of Liù in a concert presentation of Puccini’s “Turandot” Friday and Saturday in Corbett Auditorium at CCM.
In a rehearsal last week, Wang sang with beauty, passion and bell-like timbre as she rehearsed Liù’s famous Act I aria, “Signore Ascolta,” with Gibson and the CCM Philharmonia. “I feel amazed by the music, and there is some resonance to my culture,” Wang says, struggling to find the right words in English. “(The music) is big and huge. It reminds me of China, where everything is big. And the tragic story has such beauty.”
CCM begins its Winter Orchestra Series with a concert version of Puccini’s thrilling opera Turandot. The story of the beautiful but cold princess and the prince who wishes for her love is presented at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, January 28 in CCM’s Corbett Auditorium on the University of Cincinnati campus.
This production of Turandot is quite unique. A collaboration between Central Opera, Beijing, the Greater Cincinnati Chinese Music Society and CCM, this massive undertaking will include the talents of CCM’s Philharmonia Orchestra, Brass Choir, Chamber Choir, Chorale and Cincinnati Children’s Choir, as well as the talents of a CCM Opera alumna (Helen Lyons), a student from Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, several current CCM Opera students and local Chinese singers.
For ticket information on Turandot or any other CCM event contact the CCM Box Office: 513-556-4183 or email@example.com.