Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Penguin and the Troll

Tough to do improv opera with only animals and mythical creatures! Large number of very wee folk in the woods today, and they seemed to love that we relied heavily on physical humor:)

Once upon a time in a cave, a penguin and a troll danced every day until a dragon came along and breathed fire on them.

The tenor penguin sang high B's, a soprano dancing teacher cajoled a grumpy troll into doing a time step, and the mezzo dragon was missing her fire until the prescribed happy ending.

Unfinished Portrait

This, in Opera News online, on the loss of bass-baritone Robert Samels, who would've been with us this summer. Cited here:

The most haunting of the likenesses we have of Mozart is the portrait of the composer done by his brother-in-law, Joseph Lange, whose wife, Aloysia, was the elder sister of Mozart’s bride, Constanze Weber. Lange’s relationship with Mozart must have been a complicated one — before their marriages, Aloysia Weber Lange and the composer had been briefly and feverishly “involved,” to use a modern euphemism — but Lange painted his brother-in-law almost tenderly, with the young Mozart’s eyes communicating an extraordinary depth of expression. As the painting is incomplete, the bottom of its canvas left blank, it is not only a picture of the man but a metaphor for his cruelly shortened life. Mozart, whose 250th birthday year we celebrate in 2006, was only thirty-five when he died, in early December 1791. The world’s admiration for Mozart is tinged with melancholy; one cannot help wondering what glories the composer might have achieved had he lived longer.

Wolf Trap Opera is one of the many American summer festivals celebrating the Mozart anniversary year, but the opening night of its Le Nozze di Figaro, on August 18, will have a special poignance. Robert Samels, the twenty-four-year-old bass-baritone originally cast as Wolf Trap’s Bartolo this summer, was one of five young Indiana University students killed on April 20, when the small plane carrying them home from a community concert rehearsal crashed as it approached the Monroe County airport. Samels, who had created the role of Dr. Gibbs in IU’s world premiere of Ned Rorem’s Our Town in February of this year, was just beginning a career of great promise, as were the friends and colleagues who died with him: baritone Chris Carducci, twenty-seven, scheduled to cover the role of Don Giovanni at Central City Opera this summer; tenor Garth Eppley, twenty-five, whose roles at IU included Lysander in Colin Graham’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream; twenty-four-year-old soprano Georgina Joshi, a Royal College of Music graduate who was Despina in IU’s Così Fan Tutte this past September; and Zachary Novak, also twenty-five, who was due to graduate from IU in early May with a master of music degree in choral conducting.

The deaths of these five artists represent an incalculable loss to their families, friends and fellow students, and it is natural to mourn them and the music that they would have made in the future. But it is a powerful testament to the impact and integrity of these five brief lives that so many have chosen to celebrate them through music. On Sunday, April 23, Eppley and Joshi had been scheduled to join 300 other chorus members in a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony at IU. That concert was dedicated to them and to Carducci, Novak and Samels, as were several other events this spring on the IU campus and beyond, in the many other communities that the lives of these brilliant young people had touched. Their music continues.

F. PAUL DRISCOLL

1 comment:

Ann said...

I wish I could see the Improv opera...sounds like a blast.

Thanks for pointing out the Opera News article; I'm glad that my friends are getting recognition post-humously.

Robert would've been a fantastic Bartolo; but of course, you know that.