Eklund Opera will present Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin in Russian with English titles

‘Wonderfully Romantic piece’ is musically appealing, educationally valuable

By Peter Alexander March 14 at 1:22 p.m.

The University of Colorado Eklund Opera Program is doing something it has never done before: perform a full opera in Russian, with English surtitles.

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Publicity still for CU Opera production of Eguene Onegin. (Photo by Glenn Asakawa/University of Colorado)

The opera is Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, one of the most well known and popular Russian operas, in and outside of Russia. Performances will be March 15–17 in Macky Auditorium. The cast of CU students will be directed by Leigh Holman, director of the Eklund Opera Program, and conducted by Nicholas Carthy, the program’s music director.

Eugene Onegin is about the unrequited love between Onegin, a bored ne’er-do-well aristocrat, and Tatyana, a naive country girl whose sister is engaged to Onegin’s friend, Lensky. Tatyana impulsively writes a letter declaring her love to Onegin, who brushes her aside.

Soon after, Onegin kills Lensky in an impetuous duel that neither man wants, and then wanders the world for several years in despair. Returning to St. Petersburg, he realizes he is in love with Tatyana, now married to an older nobleman. When he declares his love, Onegin finds the shoe is on the other foot, as Tatyana turns him aside out of loyalty to her husband.

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Nicholas Carthy

Carthy has wanted to conduct Eugene Onegin since he coached singers in a production at the Salzburg Festival 30 year ago. “I thought, ‘I really need to do this,’ and I’ve been waiting ever since,” he says.

Because it requires bigger voices, Onegin is not an opera that a university company can always perform. This year the stars aligned and the singers were available for Onegin at CU. Holman called Carthy while he was on sabbatical last year to say she thought this would be the year.

“We’re just excited to have the big voices now that can do [Onegin]”, she says.

Read more in Boulder Weekly.

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EugeneOnejin-X4 copyEugene Onegin by Tchaikovsky
CU Eklund Opera Program
Leigh Holman, director and Nicholas Carthy, conductor
Sets designed by Peter Dean Beck, costumes by Tom Robbins

7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, March 15 and 16
2 p.m. March 17
Macky Auditorium

Sung in Russian with English titles

Tickets 

 

 

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‘West Side Story’: 61 years old and still as relevant as today’s headlines

CU Eklund Opera presents Bernstein’s masterpiece

By Peter Alexander Oct. 25 at 12:15 p.m.

Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story opened on Broadway just over 61 years ago — Sept. 26, 1957 — but for Leigh Holman, the story does not get old.

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West Side Story cast members Christine Honein as Maria and Patrick Bessenbecher as Tony. Photo by Glenn Asakawa/University of Colorado.

Holman is the director of the Eklund Opera Program at the CU College of Music, which will be presenting Bernstein’s masterpiece Friday through Sunday, Oct. 26–28. The cast of CU students, freshman though graduate students, will be stage-directed by Holman. Guest conductor Philip Hesketh will lead the singers and student orchestra.

The show is a transplanted version of Romeo and Juliet, with New York street gangs replacing the rival families. The conflict is between immigrants and newer immigrants, the Jets and the Sharks, a white gang and a Puerto Rican gang.

West Side Story has a theme that’s important to talk about right now,” Holman says. “It’s a story about people who are immigrants, and nothing could be more relevant. When someone moves into our area, is in the workplace or in school with us, people who don’t look like us, what sort of fear ignites in us and how do we act upon that?

“To me it sounds like a story from 2018.”

Read more in Boulder Weekly.

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Art by Janalee Robison for CU Presents

West Side Story
By Leonard Bernstein
Book by Arthur Laurents; Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Eklund Opera Theater

7:30 pm. Friday Oct. 26 and Sunday, Oct. 27
2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 28
Macky Auditorium

Tickets

CU NOW presents selections from new opera by Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer

If I Were You’ addresses questions of identity, life and death

By Peter Alexander June 14 at 6:30 p.m.

Jake Heggie, composer of the opera Dead Man Walking, and Gene Scheer, who wrote librettos for Heggie’s Moby Dick and It’s a Wonderful Life, are hard at work again.

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CU NOW Rehearsal. L to R: Erin Hodgson, assistant to the composer and librettist; Gene Scheer, librettist; Jake Heggie, composer (photo by Glenn Asakawa)

Their latest project, an opera that addresses existential questions about identity, life and death, has brought them to Boulder and CU Eklund Opera’s New Operatic Workshop (CU NOW). Selected excerpts from the new work, If I Were You, will be presented to the public for free, performed by CU student singers.  The Composer Fellows’ Initiative (CFI), a separate project of CU NOW will present four short operas by CU composition students: three 8-minute works and one 30-minute work.

CU NOW invites a composer and librettist every year to come to Boulder for a couple of weeks in June as they develop a new opera and work with student singers. The composers have the opportunity to hear portions of their own work and make changes as necessary before it’s complete. As part of his association with CU NOW, Heggie has also been working with the students whose works will be presented by the Composer Fellows’ Initiative.

If I Were You, as Heggie describes it, is “a modern-day Faust story” with an overlay of Gothic romance. “It’s about a disillusioned young man who wishes he could be anyone else,” he says. Heggie and Scheer will decide which portions of the opera to perform during the workshop. They will introduce the musical excerpts to the audience and explain the plot as they go along.

Read more in Boulder Weekly.

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CU New Opera Workshop festival (CU NOW)
Leigh Holman, director
Jeremy Reger, director of music

 

If I Were You (selected excerpts)
Libretto by Gene Scheer
Music by Jake Heggie
Adam Turner, guest conductor

7:30 p.m. Friday, June 15, and 2 p.m. Sunday, June 17
Music Theater, CU Imig Music Building

Composer Fellows’ Initiative (CU NOW—CFI)
Daniel Kellogg, managing director
Four short operas by student composers
Steven Aguillo, guest music director
Bud Coleman, stage director

7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 16
ATLAS Blackbox, Roser ATLAS Center

Performances free and open to the public

 

 

CU Presents Update: Eklund Opera will present ‘West Side Story’ Oct. 26–28

By Peter Alexander May 1 at 5:40 p.m.

When first announced as part of the coming 2018–19 CU Presents season, Eklund Opera’s major fall production was listed somewhat mysteriously as Title TBA, music by Leonard Bernstein.

Art by Janalee Robison for CU Presents.png

Art by Janalee Robison for CU Presents

In case you haven’t guessed, the title, which can NBA (now be announced), is West Side Story. As noted previously, contractual arrangements did not allow for the title to be revealed until May 1.

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Leonard Bernstein

The production will be part of the year-long, globe-spanning celebration of of the 100th anniversary of Bernstein’s birth. Boulder has already seen a sold-out concert performance of West Side Story presented by the Boulder Philharmonic and Central City Opera (April 28).

Later this month the Colorado Symphony will present music by Bernstein paired with one of his favorite composers, Gustav Mahler (May 25–27),  and several Bernstein works will be featured as part of this summer’s Colorado Music Festival. It is not difficult to find other Bernstein tributes at summer festivals around the country, including Bravo! Vail and the Aspen Music Festival.

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Scene from the original 1957 production of ‘West Side Story’ with Jerome Robbins’ landmark choreography

When it first appeared in 1957, West Side Story was truly genre-changing for Broadway. A New York-based updating of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, the show did not shy away from  serious social issues or a tragic ending. Its book, lyrics, music and dance were conceived not as separate pieces but as a unified work of art, which therefore required a cast equally skilled as actors, dancers and singers. Bernstein’s music was unusually complex and difficult for both players and singers, and Jerome Robbins’ choreography set a new standard for singer-dancers.

With the combined team of Bernstein, Robbins and lyricist Stephen Sondheim, West Side Story is certainly one of the most influential musicals in the history of Broadway. It has also become one of the most loved Broadway shows in history, revived by theaters and opera companies world wide. And be warned: it often sells out.

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West Side Story
Music by Leonard Bernstein
Book by Arthur Laurents; lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Based on a concept by Jerome Robbins
7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 26, and Saturday, Oct. 27
2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 28
Macky Auditorium

Subscription tickets 2018–19 CU Presents performances, including West Side Story and other Eklund Opera performances, are available here.

Tickets to individual performances will be available starting Aug. 20.
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Edited 5/1 to replace generic West Side Story poster image with art created for CU Presents by Janalee Robison.

CU Eklund Opera melds Handel’s Ariodante with Game of Thrones

‘Probably a dozen of the greatest arias of the early 18th century’

By Peter Alexander April 26 at 11:40 p.m.

Handel’s opera Ariodante is as old as 1516 when its story was first recorded, and as new as today.

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Photo by Glenn Asakawa, courtesy of  CU Presents. L to R: Maureen Bailey, Rebecca Myers, Steven Groth

Its theme, the lynchpin of many operas, is timeless: a man being believed before a woman. “Hashtag MeToo, right?” Leigh Homan, the director of CU’s Eklund Opera Program, says. “This is so relevant!”

The next CU opera production, Ariodantewill be presented Thursday through Sunday (April 26–29) in the intimate Music Theatre. Holman is the stage director, and Zachary Carrettin, director of the Boulder Bach Festival, will conduct the orchestra and a cast of CU students.

For a Baroque opera, the plot is fairly simple, a human drama with no divine intervention and no magic. The scheming Polinesso wants to marry princess Ginevra in order to gain the throne of Scotland, but Ginevra and her father, the King, are celebrating her engagement to Ariodante. With the help of Dalinda, a lady-in-waiting, Polinesso frames Ginevra for infidelity. The King cancels the wedding and renounces his daughter.\

“It says a lot that they believe the male who’s not in the royal family over the princess,” Carretin says. But all is not lost: Ariodante, who is thought to have killed himself in despair, returns in time to implicate Polinesso, the latter is killed in a duel, and the opera ends with the villain vanquished and the true lovers wed.

Read more in Boulder Weekly.

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Ariodante by George Frideric Handel
CU Eklund Opera Program
Zachary Carrettin, conductor
Leigh Holman, stage director

7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, April 26–28
2 p.m. Sunday, April 29
Music Theatre, Imig Music Building

Tickets 

 

CU Presents Artists Series 2018–19 features Venice Baroque, Sarah Chang, Tafelmusik

Dates announced for Takács Quartet, Eklund Opera performances, other events

By Peter Alexander April 1 at 11:40 p.m.

CU Presents has announced its 2018–19 season of music, dance and theater, including significant classical music performances by guest artists and CU organizations.

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Venice Baroque Orchestra

The return of the Venice Baroque Orchestra to Macky Auditorium  will lead off the schedule of classical guest artists Nov. 2. Violinist Sarah Chang will present a solo recital Nov. 16, and Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, the Toronto-based historical-performance group, will present “The Leipzig-Damascus Coffee House” March 4.

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Sarah Chang. Photo by Colin Bell for EMI

There is also good news for those interested in world music. The Silkroad Ensemble, founded 20 years ago by cellist Yo-Yo Ma, will perform in Macky Jan. 31, and the remarkable Japanese drumming ensemble Kodo is scheduled for Feb. 16.

Boulder audiences have long relished the world-renowned Takács Quartet. With new second violinist Harumi Rhodes, they will present two performances each of five programs September through April. The Carpe Diem Quartet, featuring CU assistant prof. and Boulder Philharmonic concertmaster Charles Wetherbee as first violinist, will appear on another pair of concerts on the Takács series in November.

Finally, the Eklund opera program will feature two Macky Auditorium productions—a work celebrating the Leonard Bernstein centennial Oct. 26–28, and Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin March 15–17—and Benjamin Britten’s setting of Henry James’s creepy ghost story Turn of the Screw in the Imig Music Building Music Theatre April 25–28.

The full listing of classical music events is below. Season ticket sales begin at 10 a.m. Monday, April 2, and single tickets will be available beginning Aug. 20. A listing of all CU Presents events, including theater and dance, popular attractions, and Holiday performances, can be found at the CU Presents Web page.

Tickets are available here,  or by phone at 303-942-8008.

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CU Presents Classical Guest Artists 2018–19
Performances in Macky Auditorium

Venice Baroque Orchestra
With Anna Fusek, recorder
7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 2

Sarah Chang, violin
7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 16

Tafelmusik
“The Leipzig-Damascus Coffee House”
7:30 p.m. Monday, March 4

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Tafelmusik. Photo by Sian Richards.

Takács Quartet
Sundays sold out by subscription; Mondays have limited availability
All performances in Grusin Music Hall

4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 23
7:30 p.m. Monday, Sept 24

4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 28
7:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 29

Sunday, Nov. 25, 4 p.m. (featuring the Carpe Diem String Quartet)
7:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 26 (featuring the Carpe Diem String Quartet)

4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 13
7:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 14

4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 10,
7:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 11

4 p.m. Sunday, April 28
7:30 p.m. Monday, April 29

Eklund Opera Program

Title TBA*
Music by Leonard Bernstein
7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 26, and Saturday, Oct. 27
2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 28
Macky Auditorium
*Due to contractual obligations, the title of this production will not be announced until May 1, 2018

Eugene Onegin
By Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
7:30 p.m. Friday, March 15, and Saturday, March 16
2 p.m. Sunday, March 17
Macky Auditorium

The Turn of the Screw
By Benjamin Britten
7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 25; Friday, April 26; and Saturday, April 27
2 p.m. Sunday, April 28
Music Theatre, Imig Music Building

World Music Events

Silkroad Ensemble
7:30 p.m.. Thursday, Jan. 31
Macky Auditorium

Kodo
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16, 7:30 p.m.
Macky Auditorium

Eklund Opera, guest director Garfein selected semifinalist for national award

The American Prize in Stage Direction honors CU’s 2017 Magic Flute

By Peter Alexander March 28 at 2:20 p.m.

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Michael Hoffman and Katia Kotcherguina in the CU Eklund Opera production of The Magic Flute (Photo by Glenn Asakawa/University of Colorado)

The American Prize recently announced 13 semi-finalists for the 2017–18 prize for stage directors, including Herschel Garfein for his direction of the CU Eklund Opera’s production of Mozart’s Magic Flute, performed in Macky Auditorium March 17–18, 2017.

The American Prize is a series of national competitions in the performing arts that was founded in 2009. Every year awards are given in 16 categories, including composition, soloists, chamber ensembles, orchestras, opera companies, theater companies and stage directors.

The winners represent the best performance in each category, as determined by the judges. The panel of judges in the opera categories includes soprano Sharon Sweet and mezzo-soprano Susanne Mentzer, both artists who have performed at opera houses around the world, including New York’s Metropolitan Opera. Winners will receive a modest cash prize and award certificate.

Garfein

Herschel Garfein

Garfein is a stage director, opera librettist and two-time Grammy Award-winning composer. He teaches music composition and script analysis at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development of New York University, where he has won an NYU Teaching Excellence Award.

In addition to his stage direction, Garfein also adapted the English dialog for The Magic Flute. He has written librettos for Sister Carrie and Elmer Gantry with composer Robert Aldridge, and both music and libretto for an operatic adaptation of Tom Stoppard’s Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern are Dead that was presented as part of the CU New Opera Workshop (CU NOW) program.

Read more about The American Prize on their Web page.  The full list of semi-finalists may be seen here.

The American Prize is administered by Hat City Music Theater, a 501(c)3 non-profit arts organization based in Danbury, Conn.