MANHATTAN SCHOOL OF MUSIC OPERA THEATER to present
JOHN CORIGLIANO’S “THE GHOSTS OF VERSAILLES”
Set to a Libretto by William M. Hoffman
Performed will be the New York Premiere of the Reduced Orchestra Production
STEVEN OSGOOD, conductor; JAY LESENGER, director
Wednesday, April 25 and
Friday, April 27 at 7:30 PM
Sunday, April 29 at 2:30 PM
in the School’s John C. Borden Auditorium
Pre-Performance Talk to take place on Wednesday, April 25 at 6:00 PM in Greenfield Hall
The Manhattan School of Music Opera Theater
, Dona D. Vaughn, Artistic Director,
will be presenting John Corigliano’s “The Ghosts of Versailles,”
on Wednesday, April 25 and Friday, April 27 at 7:30 pm.; and on Sunday, April 29 at 2:30 p.m. in the School’s Borden Auditorium. The libretto, based after Beaumarchais’ play La Mère coupable (The Guilty Mother),
is by William Hoffman. It will be performed in English with English supertitles.
Jay Lesenger is stage director and Steven Osgood conducts the MSM Opera Orchestra. The artistic team also includes Steven Capone, set design; Daniel James Cole, costume design; Lee Fiskness, lighting design and Anne Ford-Coates, hair and makeup design. The choreography is by Francis Patrelle and Rod Kinter is the fight choreographer.
Manhattan School of Music Opera Theater’s presentation of The Ghosts of Versailles
will offer the New York premiere of the new performing edition, orchestra reduction by John David Earnest, that was first presented by the Opera Theatre of St. Louis in 2009 and was co-produced with the Wexford Opera Festival (October 2009) and the Vancouver Opera (November 2011). Jay Lesenger and Steven Osgood also teamed to mount this production at Northwestern University in May 2010. Since the original production, premiered at the Metropolitan Opera in 1991, boasted close to 300 singers, and two orchestras, at Corigliano’s suggestion in 2008, it was scaled back to make it accessible for performances taking place in smaller opera houses. The reduced orchestra version runs 2 hours and 30 minutes.
The Ghosts of Versailles
, an opera in two acts, is an opera-within-an-opera and is described by John Corigliano as “grand opera buffa.” The story recounts the afterlife of the Court of Louis XVI. For 200 years, the ghosts of the Court of Louis XVI have haunted the wings of the Queen’s “Petit Theatre” at Versailles. Beaumarchais, the playwright renowned for The Barber of Seville and The Marriage of Figaro, has fallen in love with the melancholy Marie-Antoinette who still laments her own violent death. Beaumarchais promises, that by rewriting history in his newest play, “A Figaro for Antonia,” he will save the Queen from her tragic fate. But the characters in the play and the ghosts of the Revolution have other plans.
Since its Metropolitan Opera premiere that took place on December 19, 1999, “
The Ghosts of Versailles” has been recognized as a masterpiece. Andrew Porter, writing for the London Times
called it “a triumph with the public, a success with the new York press, and a sellout at the box office … It is heartening to find a new opera greeted with a standing ovation.”
At the time of its first performance, “The Ghosts of Versailles”
held the distinction of being the first new opera performed at the Met since 1967. Colin Graham was the original production’s stage director and James Levine conducted the cast that included Teresa Stratas (Marie Antoinette), Håken Hagegård (Beaumarchais), Gino Quilico (Figaro), Renee Fleming (Rosina), Graham Clark (Bégearss), Neil Rosenshein (Léon), and Marilyn Horne (Samira), among others.
An opening night Pre-Performance Talk with Gordon Ostrowski, assistant dean of opera studies and production will take place on Wednesday, April 25 at 6:00 p.m. in the School’s Greenfield Hall. This Pre-Performance Talk allows interested audience members the opportunity to hear directly from the production’s artistic team on the ins-and-outs of this production as well as hear a sampling of the evening’s music. The event is free and tickets are not required.
Tickets, priced at $20; $12 for students/seniors are required for The Ghosts of Versailles
. For information please visit the Manhattan School of Music website at www.msmnyc.edu., or by phone at 917 493 4428. MSM is located on the northwest corner of Broadway and 122nd Street and is easily reached by public transportation.
John Corigliano, Composer
The American John Corigliano
continues to add to one of the richest, most unusual, and most widely celebrated bodies of work any composer has created over the last forty years. Corigliano’s scores, now numbering more than one hundred, have won him the Pulitzer Prize, the Grawemeyer Award, three Grammy Awards, and an Academy Award (“Oscar”) and have been performed and recorded by many of the most prominent orchestras, soloists, and chamber musicians in the world. His scores include Conjurer
(2008), for percussion and string orchestra, commissioned for and introduced by Dame Evelyn Glennie; Concerto for Violin and Orchestra: The Red Violin
(2005), developed from the themes of the score to the Francois Girard’s film of the same name, which won Corigliano an Oscar in 1999; Mr. Tambourine Man: Seven Poems of Bob Dylan
(2000) for orchestra and amplified soprano, the recording which won the Grammy for Best Contemporary Composition in 2008; Symphony No. 3: Circus Maximus
(2004), scored simultaneously for wind orchestra and a multitude of wind ensembles; and Symphony No. 2 (2001: Pulitzer Prize in Music.) Other important scores include String Quartet (1995: Grammy Award, Best Contemporary Composition); Symphony No. 1 (1991: Grawemeyer and Grammy Awards); the opera The Ghosts of Versailles
(Metropolitan Opera commission, 1991, International Classical Music Award 1992); and the Clarinet Concerto (1977). One of the few living composers to have a string quartet named for him, Corigliano serves on the composition faculty at the Juilliard School of Music and holds the position of Distinguished Professor of Music at Lehman College, City University of New York, which has established a scholarship in his name.
Born in 1938 to John Corigliano Sr., a former concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic, and Rose Buzen, an accomplished pianist and educator, Corigliano has lived in New York City all of his life; for the past fourteen years he and his partner, the composer-librettist Mark Adamo, have divided their time between Manhattan and Kent Cliffs, N.Y. At Manhattan School of Music, John Corigliano studied composition with Vittorio Giannini as a Special Graduate Student, and was a member of the composition department from 1971 – 1991. MSM honored Corigliano with an Honorary Doctoral degree in 1992.
William M. Hoffman, Librettist
The American playwright, editor and educator, William M. Hoffman, was born in New York City. His earliest works were either mounted in small, experimental off-off Broadway theaters New York City or remain unproduced. It was not until 1985 that he achieved critical acclaim and public recognition when the production of his play, As Is, one of the first plays to focus on Aids, opened in New York City at the Lyceum Theater. Hoffman won a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play (1985) and an Obie Award (1984-85 for Playwriting) as well as nominations for a Tony Award for Best Play (1985). In 1991, Hoffman was commissioned by The Metropolitan Opera to write the libretto for The Ghosts of Versailles first produced in celebration of the company’s centennial. A 1993-televised production starred Teresa Stratas, Renee Fleming and Graham Clark. Hoffman earned an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Classical Music/Dance Programming. As an editor at Hill and Wang, Hoffman promoted the careers of Lanford Wilson, tom Eyen and Joe Orton, among others, by including their plays in either his New American Plays series or his anthology, Gay Plays: A First Collection. William M. Hoffman currently is an Associate Professor of Theatre at Lehman College at The City University of New York.
Steven Osgood, Conductor
Steven Osgood has proven his expertise in conducting repertoire ranging from the Baroque through the contemporary era’s most challenging works. From 2001 – 2008 he was Artistic Director of American Opera Projects, a company dedicated to the development and production of new operatic works. With AOP he conducted the premieres of Paula Kimper’s Patience and Sarah and Janice Hamer’s Lost Childhood. He also created the company’s nationally recognized Composers and the Voice Workshop Series. In recent seasons he has continued collaborating with AOP, conducting workshops of Tarik O’Regan’s Heart of Darkness, Conrad Cummings’ The Golden Gate, and Séance on a Wet Afternoon by Stephen Schwartz. Mr. Osgood’s prepared the world premiere production of Tan Dun’s first opera Marco Polo for the Munich Bienalle in 1996, as well as the composer’s second opera Peony Pavilion with Peter Sellars. He also led the world premiere of Jonathan Sheffer’s Blood on the Dining Room Floor and for the Santa Fe Opera, he was Assistant Conductor for the world premieres of Peter Lieberson’s Ashoka’s Dream and Bright Sheng’s Madame Mao, as well as the American premieres of Hans Werner Henze’s Venus und Adonis and Kaija Saariaho’s L’amour de loin. At Manhattan School of Music Steven Osgood has led productions of Lukas Foss’s Griffelkin and Lee Hoiby’s A Month in the Country and Summer and Smoke.
Jay Lesenger, Stage Director
Jay Lesenger has staged close to 200 productions during his almost 35-year career a stage director. He is known for intelligent, honest productions which are dramatically compelling and musically sensitive. Lesenger first came to public attention with his debut at the New York State Theater when his production of Anna Bolena opened Beverly Sills’ first season as General Director of the New York City Opera. He was soon re-engaged for productions of The Magic Flute, Don Giovanni and Street Scene. As General and Artistic Director as well as principal stage director of Chautauqua Opera since the1995, he has directed forty productions for the Company. He introduced audiences to works including Vanessa (Barber), Two Widows (Smetana), and the American musicals A Little Night Music (Sondheim), and She Loves Me (Bock & Harnick). He also produced overlooked Italian masterpieces: Macbeth and Stiffelio by Verdi and Maria Stuarda by Donizetti. His innovative production of Richard Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos has been produced in Atlanta, Chautauqua, Virginia and Milwaukee where it was telecast on PBS from the Florentine Opera. In recent seasons a co-production relationship with Opera Boston has resulted in shared productions of The Crucible, Lucrezia Borgia and The Gondoliers between Opera Boston and Chautauqua Opera with Mr. Lesenger staging the first two. Among other companies that Mr. Lesenger has directed include the San Diego Opera: Werther; Turandot, Lohengrin and Anna Bolena; Opera Pacific: Cavalleria Rusticana and I Pagliacci, Samson et Dalilah, The Magic Flute, Brundibar (Krasa) and Der Rosenkavalier; Pittsburgh Opera: Don Giovanni and The Magic Flute; Michigan Opera Theater: The Magic Flute and Samson et Dalilah; and New Orleans Opera: The Ballad of Baby Doe, The Magic Flute, Lucia di Lammermoor, Salome and Die Walküre. Mr. Lesenger made his European debut directing Puccini’s La Bohème for Opera Nordfjord in Eid, Norway where his production of Carmen opened the new opera house in Nordfjord in 2009. Mr. Lesenger is a nationally recognized teacher of acting for singers and for five years was an Associate Professor of Music at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where he directed the School of Music Opera Theatre. He is a member of the Board of Directors of OPERA America and is a frequent adjudicator for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Jay Lesenger holds a master’s degree from Indiana University and a bachelor’s degree from Hofstra University.
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