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.