Three weeks and counting: San Francisco Opera has been lavish with rehearsal time for The Gospel of Mary Magdalene, the conductor and director have been amazingly precise, generous, and inventive, and the singers go from strength to strength. And word is getting out: this New York Times/IHT preview piece includes Henry Fair’s beautiful imagery, and Listen Magazine has been gracious enough to permit me to include the eloquent preview Damian Fowler wrote for them here. (Pictured: Nathan Gunn as Yeshua and Sasha Cooke in the title rôle. Image courtesy of J. Henry Fair.)
…is the name of the extraordinary Billy Collins poem on which I based my new piece for baritone and string quartet: Music Accord commissioned it for the matchless Thomas Hampson and the Jupiter String Quartet, and now that it’s complete and off to the artists (it was touch and go there for a while) I’m happy to announce the performances. The première will be in Davis, California, at the Mondavi Center on April 24th: then we all travel to Boston, for its début on the Celebrity Series before concluding the initial tour at Tully Hall, under the auspices of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.
As I mentioned in May, I can hardly be objective about the piece, but I thought Fort Worth Opera’s production of Lysistrata was exemplary in every way: so I couldn’t be happier for the company that both Olin Chism of the Star-Telegram and Wayne Lee Gay of D Magazine have included Lysistrata among their best musical events of 2012.
The author and annotator Thomas May, whose 2002 article (for andante.com) on Little Women and other new operas made a gracious and lucid argument for that score, has written for the November issue of San Francisco Opera’s magazine a preview piece (.pdf) on The Gospel of Mary Magdalene. Tom is the author of Decoding Wagner: An Invitation to His World of Music-Drama, and The John Adams Reader: Essential Writings on an American Composer; his article makes as eloquent an introduction to the world of the piece as one could wish. (Portraits by the peerless Henry Fair.)
The Constella Festival, a festival in Cincinnati only beginning its second season, has hit the ground running–Anthony McGill, Anne Akiko Meyers, and Jean-YvesThibaudet are performing, and Nico Muhly is composer-in-residence–so of course I’m delighted they’ve announced the premiere of my concertino for two flutes and string quartet, which is named August Music but will be introduced on the opening concert on September 30th. Hearty thanks to Nina Perlove (pictured), co-soloist with Randy Bowman, and to festival leader Tatiana Berman for for making it happen.
…is the name of the wonderful painter Rebecca Allan’s new portrait series, in which John and I, when asked, were delighted to take part: as the accompanying video attests, Sophie (principal beast-in-residence) lobbied pointedly (07:45, 12:08) for inclusion, but the series is limited to couples, not families, in the arts, and moreover Sophie’s attempts at the viola have not, so far, been promising. The show opens June 12: more details here.
I recently wrote a song as wedding gift to Steven Blier and James Russell with Mark Campbell, who is the only librettist (as opposed to poet) I’ve ever collaborated with who is neither myself nor dead. Mark mentioned this to the opera composer and prolific songwriter Jake Heggie, who, understandably, asked, “has Mark Adamo written any songs?” I know, I know: you’d think, as an opera composer, I’d have a thick stack of such, but you’d be wrong; apart from these three lyrics to J’s music, and a solo cantata for voice and piano on Dickinson adapted from Late Victorians, there haven’t been any recital sets: until now. New York Festival of Song has just announced that the sovereign mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, who will create the title rôle in The Gospel of Mary Magdalene next June, will sing the premiére this winter of my song cycle (with piano and ‘cello) The Racer’s Widow, on poetry of Linda Pastan, Marge Piercy, Tennessee Williams, Louise Gluck, and Sara Teasdale: more details here.
The West Coast’s year of Magdalene music-drama begins: this weekend the Los Angeles Philharmonic gives the world premiere of John Adams’ and Peter Sellars’ The Gospel According to the Other Mary, with Gustavo Dudamel leading the Los Angeles Master Chorale and, in the title role, the sterling mezzo-soprano Kelley O’Connor. I haven’t heard the score, but the libretto is beautiful–an allusive and evocative blend of the New Testament with texts of Dorothy Day, Primo Levi, Louise Erdrich, and others–and I wish the creators and interpreters every success with the piece.
Lysistrata opened at Fort Worth Opera Saturday night: about the piece itself, obviously, I can hardly be objective, but I was utterly delighted with FWO’s elegant and knowing production and its winning cast. Darren and his companies (he also leads the Seagle Young Artist program in northern New York) have been stalwart supporters of what I do—next month’s Little Women will be the fifth production he’s mounted of an opera of mine–so I’m particularly gratified that Lysistrata has been a substantial critical success (not unqualified, of course) for the company.