bard summer opera the demon

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lennygoran
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bard summer opera the demon

Post by lennygoran » Tue Feb 13, 2018 9:41 pm

Just back from another wonderful day around st petersburg-beautiful weather and plenty of water views! Meantime an email arrived with bard's major opera event for the summer-we're definitely interested in this! Len

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/12/arts ... =version_A

THEHORN
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Re: bard summer opera the demon

Post by THEHORN » Fri Feb 16, 2018 1:33 pm

I have a live performance of this opera on CD from the Wexford festival in Ireland conducted by Alexander Anissimov , and have seen production of it from the Riga, Latvia opera .
It's certainly an interesting opera , worth doing .
The story deals with a demon who is weary of being evil and wants to experience human love. He becomes enamored of a Georgian princess who is about to be married and arranges for bandits to kill her betrothed on the way to the wedding .
Overcome by grief , so retreats to a nunnery and the demon has now lost her . He returns to his former state ,also stricken by grief . Not exactly a fleeced story, but a pretty good opera .

John F
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Re: bard summer opera the demon

Post by John F » Fri Feb 16, 2018 3:53 pm

The demon's big aria, "I am he whom you called," is pretty well known to collectors of vocal records, as it was often recorded by major Russian basses and baritones including Chaliapin. And I find more recent versions on YouTube by Ghiaurov and Hvorostovsky. I've heard nothing else from the opera.
John Francis

lennygoran
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Re: bard summer opera the demon

Post by lennygoran » Fri Feb 16, 2018 5:39 pm

THEHORN wrote:
Fri Feb 16, 2018 1:33 pm
Not exactly a fleeced story, but a pretty good opera .
Thanks I definitely want to go to this-Bard has done alot of operas we've enjoyed-unfortunately they didn't make last season's Dimitrij as lavish as I wanted it-more grand opera needed and less looking like a school gymnasium. It's a wonderful opera and the Met should do it right some time. Regards, Len

lennygoran
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Re: bard summer opera the demon

Post by lennygoran » Fri Feb 16, 2018 5:44 pm

John F wrote:
Fri Feb 16, 2018 3:53 pm
The demon's big aria, "I am he whom you called," is pretty well known to collectors of vocal records, as it was often recorded by major Russian basses and baritones including Chaliapin. And I find more recent versions on YouTube by Ghiaurov and Hvorostovsky. I've heard nothing else from the opera.
Thanks, I just listened to the aria on youtube-enjoyed even on first listening! Regards, Len


John F
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Re: bard summer opera the demon

Post by John F » Sat Feb 17, 2018 2:15 am

And what a singer Pavel Lisitsian was! They don't make 'em like that any more.
John Francis

lennygoran
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Re: bard summer opera the demon

Post by lennygoran » Sat Feb 17, 2018 6:12 am

John F wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 2:15 am
And what a singer Pavel Lisitsian was! They don't make 'em like that any more.
Gotta admit I never heard of him-he sounded great! Regards, Len :)

John F
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Re: bard summer opera the demon

Post by John F » Sat Feb 17, 2018 7:32 am

Lisitsian's recording of Prince Yeletsky's aria from "Queen of Spades" is so beautifully sung that you have to wonder why Lisa dumps him for a nut like Hermann.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kgXU1VEEKkA
John Francis

lennygoran
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Re: bard summer opera the demon

Post by lennygoran » Sat Feb 17, 2018 8:11 am

John F wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 7:32 am
Lisitsian's recording of Prince Yeletsky's aria from "Queen of Spades" is so beautifully sung that you have to wonder why Lisa dumps him for a nut like Hermann.
:lol: :lol: :lol: Regards, Len

lennygoran
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Re: bard summer opera the demon

Post by lennygoran » Thu Feb 22, 2018 8:31 pm

THEHORN wrote:
Fri Feb 16, 2018 1:33 pm
I have a live performance of this opera on CD from the Wexford festival in Ireland conducted by Alexander Anissimov , and have seen production of it from the Riga, Latvia opera .
It's certainly an interesting opera , worth doing .
Someone I know sent me this. Regards, Len

The world premiere of Anton Rubinstein’s Moses, called the “undertaking of the century”!




Global echoes of the world premiere of Anton Rubinstein’s Moses, called the “undertaking of the century” by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung!



The contemporary premiere of Anton Rubinstein’s forgotten sacral opera Moses was long-expected event, vividly commented on even before the concert (15 October 2017 at the National Philharmonic). The work, which the author himself considered to be his magnum opus, was the subject of legends, and the lack of any recordings, the very limited number of comments from the time of its creation, as well as the small amount of musicological literature devoted to the work (as well as the geistliche Oper genre, in which Rubinstein wanted to see a counterbalance to Wagner’s musical drama) intensified interest in it. The difficult and complex task was initiated and carried out by Russian conductor Michail Jurowski, who entrusted it to the Polish Sinfonia Iuventus Orchestra, a multitude of excellent soloists, as well as the National Philharmonic Choir and the Artos Children’s choir, which played a very important role here. The commentator of the event asked various questions before the event – about the circumstances of the discovery of the score, the reasons for it being forgotten, the historical context, and finally, whether the concert restoration of such a great opera would stand on its own.
The broad promotional campaign answered many historical questions, but of course no one could review a composition without any modern receptions. The concert’s echoes turned out to be very interesting – the numerous personal opinions, backstage opinions from the audience and the performers were dominated by a tone of amazement with the powerful dimensions of the work, its extraordinary cast, musical richness and unique expression. Many people noted the eclectic nature of the composition, also perceived by musicologists, which corresponds to the “academic” painting of the same period – which is hardly an accusation. This was the convention of the era, and it was the style of the great composer, who saw himself as the heir to the Classical and Romantic traditions of the generation of Mendelssohn and Schumann, which stood in opposition to the “modernisms” of the 19th century, especially the so-called New German school. Regardless of the evaluation of the work itself (where a tone of positive surprise prevailed), the excellence of the performance was emphasised, especially appreciating the very careful, adequate selection of soloists, admitting (aside from the qualities of the voice itself) the impressive vocal and acting condition and flexibility of the main star, Stanisław Kuflyuk, who carried the burden of the whole of the narrative, taking on the role of a biblical prophet in various times of his life. Other great stars were also admired: Małgorzata Walewska and Torsten Kerl, known among others for his dazzling Wagnerian roles, and of course the acting craftsmanship of the great Jerzy Trela in the narrator’s part. In an agreed-upon opinion, the soloists’ cast had no weak points. The perfectly prepared choirs – philharmonic and the Artos children’s choir, which played an extremely important role in the course of the work full of impressive group scenes – also aroused unambiguous enthusiasm. Finally, the Sinfonia Iuventus orchestra’s reviews were also very high – the ensemble (with numerous rehearsals and exhausting opera recording sessions behind them) successfully faced off with the difficult, dense, multi-layered texture of Moses and its complex dramaturgy, once again proving that they can handle any repertoire, even those less typical of concert stages.
After the high-profile premiere, and before the release of the work on CD, let us recall its media echoes:

“In October, the audience at the National Philharmonic witnessed an unprecedented event in music culture: the first concert performance in modern history of a work of exceptional spiritual depth – Anton Rubinstein’s opera Moses took place under the auspices of UNESCO. Thanks to the titanic efforts of Michail Jurowski, an artist of world renown and main guest conductor of the Polish Sinfonia Iuventus Orchestra, the score of the work took on a new life. Michail Jurowski told Muzykalnaja Zhizn, about the preparations for the “undertaking of the century” (according to one of the most respected German periodicals, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung):
“[…] We got lucky in Warsaw with the choir and the main choirmaster, Bartosz Michałowski. In the West, we usually come across amateur choirs. There are few professional ensembles left, and they usually belong to the radio or theatre. In this aspect, Warsaw has an excellent situation, as there is a professional choir at the philharmonic. It is rather expensive luxury and not every orchestra can afford such a thing. The Artos Children’s Choir (choirmaster Danuta Chmurska) also performed at a high level […] I can’t fail to mention the exceptional work of the great youth ensemble, Polish Sinfonia Iuventus Orchestra, which managed to cope very well with all the stages of rehearsals, recordings and the concert. Working with this orchestra gives a lot of joy. I also can’t ignore the significance of the orchestra’s management (director Anna Kościelna), who undertook this unique task. Already very familiar with the European audiences, I had some concerns about the length of Moses. However, the audience understood that they were witnessing an historic event, important not only to the musical culture of Russia and Germany, but also to the entire music world. Throughout the whole story, I felt like Moses, because only I knew where I was leading my great ensemble of performers. My conviction that everything would succeed was supported by persistence, belief in the success and the spiritual need of this undertaking.”
From an interview with Michail Jurowski in the Muzykalnaja Zhizn magazine, 2017, no. 11.

“It’s great that it’s possible to perform this opera. There is a tendency in the world to perform the same repertoire all the time – they play Tosca everywhere! I’d like this opera to be performed on stages in other countries, maybe in Germany or in Russia? These are the countries where Rubinstein lived, where he came from. May this opera be a great success.”
Torsten Kerl, quote from the report by Kinga A. Wojciechowska, www.prostoomuzyce.pl

“Michail Jurowski decided that the almost four-hour work was worth bringing out of oblivion […] He also felt himself to be, like Moses, called to lead the huge project ‘through the desert’. He succeeded and after the premiere in the hall of the Warsaw Philharmonic, one has to admit: it was worth it. Rubinstein’s composition – which next to the great orchestra includes almost twenty solo parts – is a giant confession of faith […] which, for fully committed people, like the orchestra director Anna Kościelna, is a confession of culture. She sees the late re-birth of Rubinstein’s forgotten opera […] as a European achievement.”
Michael Ernst, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 20.10.2017, no. 244

“A logical decision – and due to the simultaneously scheduled recordings of an album for Warner, even a necessary one – was to involve an international group of soloists in addition to the phenomenally performing orchestra and excellent choir. The title part was sung by Stanisław Kuflyuk, while Małgorzata Walewska with her strong mezzosoprano played Moses’ mother, Jochebed and Chen Reiss gave a convincing performance as her daughter, Miriam. Evelina Dobračeva, playing Asnath, the daughter of the pharaoh, equally thrillingly. It is also worth mentioning the many artists who performed in Moses. Jerzy Trela, one of the most important theatre actors, was cast as the narrator for a better understanding of the eight scenes. The actor also gave the project the full expressiveness of his face. Bastian Kohl played the role of Aaron, Moses’ brother, an internally torn defender and guardian of the spiritual heritage. Torsten Kerl, who had to perform as both the Pharaoh, the persecutor of the Jews, and as the Voice of God, who was the only spiritual leader, had an even more difficult task. The tenor handled both roles convincingly and comprehensibly, always appropriately dosing his strong voice. In any case, the “promised land” is not yet visible on the horizon. Moses, the legendary miracle worker, was presented impressively thanks to Michail Jurowki’s lasting commitment to Anton Rubinstein’s oratorio opera. While waiting with joy for the CD, one can hope that some music theatres have become interested in this work.”
Michael Ernst, nmz.de

“Moses contains spectacular choirs and a huge sound landscape with oriental instruments, including copper cymbals. The numerous cast, featuring Stanisław Kuflyuk as Moses and Małgorzata Walewska as Jochebed, was excellent. In a dazzling performance by the Warsaw National Philharmonic Choir and Sinfonia Iuventus, Jurowski not only restored the unjustly forgotten work, but also made a commendable attempt to move Anton Rubinstein from musical periphery to the mainstream.”
Mihai Cosma, Opera Magazine, February 2018

“This is definitely music from the German tradition – Jurowski mentions Beethoven and Schumann in this context, I would rather do with Mendelssohn and Brahms. But what is interesting is the introduction of clear oriental motifs, along with instrumentation. The work is also very illustrative, with all the Egyptian plagues, including frogs and locusts, the parting of the Red Sea, thunder and lightning – it is interesting how the Voice of God, which appears several times, is portrayed, especially when proclaiming the commandments: against a background of drums, with organ entrances. […] It is difficult to list all the soloists, but most of them were very well cast. Stanisław Kuflyuk in the title role had the hardest job. In total, it was worth spending these few hours at the National Philharmonic.”
Dorota Szwarcman, szwarcman.blog.polityka.pl

“The number of solo parts – around twenty – is surprising. It would be difficult to find an opera with a similarly numerous cast. Stanisław Kuflyuk, with his cultured and precisely executed baritone, appeared at the eponymous protagonist.
The heroic tenor of Torsten Kerl, highly regarded in the international world of opera, sounded wonderful in the roles of the Pharaoh and the Voice of God. The graceful part of Asnath, the daughter of the Pharaoh, was performed by soloist Evelina Dobračeva from Germany; another renowned soprano, Chen Reiss, appeared as Miriam, and Małgorzata Walewska as Jochebed, Moses’ mother. It is impossible to list all the names. A truly great, ensemble of soloists on an even skill level, from near and far, from east and west, was assembled for the recording and the concert.
The great actor Jerzy Trela lent his face for the cover of the programme and read the summaries of the subsequent scenes. A key component of the performance and a true guarantee of the level of performance, however, was the superbly sounding and precise choir of the National Philharmonic.
It is difficult to judge the first performance of a previously unheard piece, but one could feel beyond any doubt that the young orchestra (because it is still possible to call a ten-year-old orchestra that) is very well prepared and trained, even if its sound sometimes left something to be desired.
Michail Jurowski was able to convince them to the music of Anton Grigorevich Rubinstein.”
Olgierd Pisarenko, Ruch Muzyczny, January 2018

John F
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Re: bard summer opera the demon

Post by John F » Thu Mar 01, 2018 10:50 am

Back in 2003, the Maryinsky Theater ensemble gave a concert performance of "Demon" at Lincoln Center conducted by Valery Gergiev. Some of us in CompuServe Music Forum were there - I believe Lenny may have been, but am not sure - and afterwards I wrote these comments.

Rubinstein's music is certainly listenable and effective, but to my ears it is no more than that. It's mostly a string of rather empty rhetorical gestures,with occasional unconventional touches that seem less inspired than odd. An example of this is the woodblock tock tick tock tick that accompanies the bass--role not mentioned in the program--who tells us at the beginning of Act 3 that everything is quiet in the convent. A blatant example of the empty rhetoric is the very end of the opera, when the female choir of angels has sung of Tamara's redemption, the orchestra plays their final high-pitched chord in a diminuendo to silence--and then concludes with three needless, meaningless loud cadential chords.

The dramatic content of the piece, based on a celebrated poem by Lermontov, is extremely skimpy. Each character's nature and motives are fully revealed to us in their first minute or two on the stage, and their musical nature as well; the rest is mainly redundant padding. Lermontov may be partly to blame; though I haven't read his poem, the New Grove/Opera says that it provides the almost verbatim text of the 25-minute duet in Act 3. Full of repetitive rant, it rambles on and on. Both the poem and the opera broke enough 19th century religious tabus to be banned for a time as blasphemous, and I'm sure 19th century readers and operagoers felt the thrill of the forbidden. But nowadays I should think it would take a rather retro piety to take the blasphemy thing seriously.

Rubinstein composed "The Demon" in 1871, the year of "Aida." It was premiered in St. Petersburg in 1875, the year of "Carmen," with the "Ring" cycle completed the year before and awaiting its premiere. Musorgsky had already changed the face of Russian opera with "Boris Godunov," though nobody knew it yet because it hadn't been performed; and by the end of the 1870s, Tchaikovsky had trumped Rubinstein's Lermontov opera with his own Pushkin opera, "Eugene Onegin." Not that Tchaikovsky immediately put Rubinstein in the shade; "Demon's" early success took it to London before any other Russian opera, and it spread around the world, with the New York premiere in 1922 coming at the end of its successful progress, after which it was soon forgotten outside Russia, and for that matter not often revived even there. If a star bass were to take up the opera today, it might have a chance of new productions in the West. Otherwise, I don't expect the new Kirov Opera production will have many successors.

It wasn't an entirely empty evening for me; the Demon's monologues have a certain impressiveness and sweep, and in the Act 3 duet Rubinstein sustains his best qualities the longest. Even there he overplays his hand, and after about 15 minutes of the characters saying essentially the same thing over and over, and not really connecting with each other (the Demon keeps offering Tamara riches and power that she shows no sign of actually desiring), I started wondering if it was ever going to end. But the quality of the performance got us through.

I'm glad to have heard this once-celebrated opera in a good performance, and would have enjoyed seeing a staged production--though what I've read about the Maryinsky's staging, new this year and reviewed in _Opera_ magazine, suggests that it's kind of a generic job and the opera's requirements of spectacle are not being met. But I don't really need to hear it again.
John Francis

lennygoran
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Re: bard summer opera the demon

Post by lennygoran » Thu Mar 01, 2018 7:51 pm

John F wrote:
Thu Mar 01, 2018 10:50 am
Back in 2003, the Maryinsky Theater ensemble gave a concert performance of "Demon" at Lincoln Center conducted by Valery Gergiev. Some of us in CompuServe Music Forum were there - I believe Lenny may have been, but am not sure - and afterwards I wrote these comments.
John thanks for this interesting message-no I don't think we were there-either that or my memory is completely shot. Regards, Len

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