Out of the Bizarre on the Ordway


St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Minnesota Opera discover uncommon repertoire

By Peter Alexander Feb. 7 at 9:35 p.m.

A weekend in St. Paul, Minn., supplied the chance to listen to some musical works that have been utterly new to me, and to most within the viewers. On Friday (Feb. 4) the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra performed music by Thomas Adès, Karl Amadeus Hartmann and a few Austrian named Joseph Haydn. And Saturday (Feb. 5) Minnesota Opera offered the corporate premiere of The Nameless Lover by Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges.

The Ordway Live performance Corridor earlier than the SPCO live performance. Photograph by Peter Alexander.

Adès is a Grammy-winning British composer greatest recognized on this nation for his operas The Tempest and The Exterminating Angel, each offered by the Metropolitan Opera (2012 and 2017, respectively). The SPCO opened their COVID-impacted, intermissionless, limited-capacity live performance within the Ordway live performance corridor with “O Albion” from his Arcadiana for string quartet, one in all his gentlest, most audience-friendly if not fairly typical actions. 

Thomas Adès

First carried out on the 1994 Cambridge Elgar Pageant, the transient piece remembers in temper and gesture the “Nimrod” variation from Elgar’s Enigma Variations. Performed with heat and expression by 4 gamers from the SPCO, this was a quiet and genial starting to this system.

Hartmann deserves to be higher recognized, for each musical and political causes. Born in Munich, Germany, in 1905, he survived the Second World Struggle regardless of his profound however largely silent opposition to the Nazi regime. In the course of the conflict he withdrew from public life and declined to have any of his music carried out so long as the Nazis remained in energy, a place generally described as “inside emigration.”

His music principally conforms to the modernist aesthetic of the Thirties. He’s remembered mainly because the composer of eight nicely structured symphonies. The work chosen by the SPCO was Hartmann’s Chamber Concerto for the weird mixture of clarinet, string quartet and string orchestra. The clarinet, right here performed by SPCO principal Sang Yoon Kim, is the virtuoso star of the work. 

Impressed by and written in honor of Zoltán Kodály, the Chamber Concerto is permeated by Hungarian idioms. A central set of variations is framed by melancholy, reflective actions that allowed Kim to point out his dynamic management and delightful tone within the softest passages. Following the craving temper of the opening, the variations erupt in propulsive people dance rhythms and a collection of virtuoso variations that Kim carried off with spectacular method. The ultimate Fantasie motion returns to the quiet character of the opening, with the clarinet and string quartet gamers fading out and in as their elements intertwine. On the finish all of them vanish in silence.

That is a horny piece that I’d love to listen to once more, particularly carried out with such dedication and polish. Anybody in Boulder keen to take up this unfamiliar gem?

SPCO concertmaster Steven Copes

Like the remainder of the live performance, Haydn’s Symphony No. 43 in E-flat was ably led from the concertmaster’s chair by violinist Steven Copes. Typically known as the “Mercury” Symphony for causes unknown, it was written in 1771—early within the improvement of the symphony. It contains 4 comparatively brief actions.

Taking part in on trendy devices, the SPCO gave a spirited studying of the symphony. They introduced out all of the drama of the primary motion, with consideration to the expressive potential of each motive and gesture. They made the many of the comparatively routine gradual motion, which isn’t the strongest a part of the work.

The fashionable stringed devices created a sturdy sound, particularly for the repeated chords that mark the minuet. Apart from slight smudges getting began, the finale was clear and exact, characterised by nice vitality and robust contrasts in dynamics. The winds—pairs of oboes, bassoons and horns—are restricted to harmonic help within the symphony, and in that position they performed with admirable restraint.

This is a perfect program: enticing newer items deserving of consideration mixed with lesser recognized works by acquainted composers. Such a program can increase the horizons of audiences in each instructions. I’d love to listen to extra concert events constructed on this mannequin, rather than the same old repetitions of well-trod repertoire with solely the occasional unfamiliar piece thrown in. 

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Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Sanit-Georges

The son of a French aristocrat and a teenaged Afro-Caribbean slave, Bolonge was born  in Guadeloupe in 1745 and spent most of his life in Paris, the place he was famend as a swordsman. As a violinist he rose to the place of concertmaster and conductor of a preferred live performance collection,  Le Live performance des Amateurs, within the 1770s. He composed at the very least six operas, of which solely The Nameless Lover (1780) has survived full.

Bologne has obtained lengthy overdue consideration over the previous two years, as each the COVID hiatus in performing schedules and political occasions have stimulated explorations of music by composers of shade. His Violin Concerto in G main was carried out by Harumi Rhodes with the Colorado Professional Musica Chamber Orchestra in October, and others of his works have been offered from Bangor, Maine, to Los Angeles and abroad. The Nameless Lover has obtained a number of productions, each staged and digital.

The Minnesota Opera manufacturing took full benefit of Bologne’s background, putting the occasions in 18th-century Guadaloupe. With that Caribbean inspiration, the unit set was stuffed with dazzling colours and flooded with tropical daylight for the daytime—a welcome sight in subfreezing St. Paul!—and romantic moonlight for night time. The choreography and a few stage course have been impressed by Latin dance, with exuberant festivity on stage generally overlaying the music. 

Forged and set for the Minnesota Opera manufacturing of The Nameless Lover. Manufacturing images by Cory Weaver.

There have been a number of different improvements for this manufacturing. Bologne is portrayed onstage by a dancer, who overlooks the proceedings from a balcony whereas pretending to be an motionless piece of ornament when observed by the operatic characters under. This simply too-clever system generally upstaged the principle motion and detracted from the singing, however served to remind the viewers of the composer’s place as a mixed-race man legally outlined as a slave.

There have been different hints of Bologne’s life as nicely: some adroit fencing strikes within the opera’s first duet, a violin candenza inserted into the Overture. In different modifications, two songs by Bologne have been added to the rating for Dorothèe, in any other case a purely spoken position.

Main solid members of The Nameless Lover: Zoie Reams (Dorothèe), Symone Harcum (Lèontine) , Carlos Enrique Santelli (Valcour), and Aaron Kenney (Ophémon).

Any pedantic reservations apart, the manufacturing is endlessly enjoyable, brilliant and beautiful to see, and stuffed with motion. Stage director Maria Todaro has created a extremely entertaining and interesting model of an opera that’s in any other case inconceivable in its motion and infrequently shallow in its feelings. Typically her limitless creativeness obtained in the way in which of the bigger image—as with the determine of Bologne, or the characters who saved hiding from each other, till all of the ducking out and in of alcoves turned tedious. However, the opening night time viewers was delighted.

One innovation for which Todaro claims credit score is that the main feminine character Léontine overhears the supposedly nameless lover, in order that she knowns the reality all through. A welcome interpolation in a usually male-centric operatic story, this serves to even the rating: since she is aware of all through who the nameless admirer actually is, she is manipulating him as a lot as the opposite method round.

The dancers Brian Bose as Bologne and his companion Jennifer Mack as Madame de Genlis have been decorous and swish. It’s not their fault they often distracted from the remainder of the efficiency. Particular person musical numbers are separated by intensive passages of spoken dialog, however conductor Christopher Franklin saved the music transferring at a suitably brisk tempo. 

Symone Harcum (Lèontine)

A standout member of the solid was Symone Harcum as Léontine, the girl who’s receiving the eye of the nameless lover. Her sturdy, commanding voice rang out nicely within the 1900 seat Music Theater, and he or she discovered satisfying expressive content material in her music. Her minor-key entrances, with ideas of tension and frustration, are the strongest arias within the opera, and so they have been strongly offered.

As Valcour, the lover himself, Carols Enrique Santelli was challenged by the top quality, the place his brilliant tenor developed a tough edge, however was in any other case a sympathetic character. As his co-conspirator in anonymity, Ophémon, Aaron Keeney acted his half nicely and sang with confidence. Although dry in sound, his baritone blended nicely within the ensembles which might be the biggest a part of his position.

Leah Brzyski (Jeanette) and Joseph Leppek (Colin)

As Dorothèe, Zoie Reams milked her interpolated arias for all they have been value musically and dramatically. Some stagey enterprise with a handkerchief, reprised for curtain calls, turned hers right into a memorable position. Because the younger lovers Jeanette and Colin—a form of Caribbean Zerlina and Masetto—Leah Brzyski and Joseph Leppek was each bit as charming as they have been meant to be. Along with her brilliant soprano and present for perkiness, Brzyski has a future within the so-called “ina” roles, ought to she need them.

Todaro and Harrison David Rivers are credited with the translations of the dialog, which have been as pure as one cared hope for. The truth is, The Nameless Lover is a completely synthetic 18th-century comedy. The motion is implausible and superficial, however Bologne’s music is polished and by no means lower than pleasant, even when it doesn’t rise to the Mozartian stage of transcending its materials. Minnesota Opera and their succesful solid have made Bologne’s beforehand ignored opera right into a deal with nicely value a visit to St. Paul for the remaining performances subsequent weekend (Feb. 10, 12 and 13).

At 90 minutes, The Nameless Lover is right for efficiency throughout a pandemic, as it could actually simply be performed with out intermission. The not-quite bought out Ordway viewers remained safely masked through the efficiency.

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