2011-2012 Boston University Opera Season Announced

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2001 Fall Fringe Festival

The Fringe Festival, now in its 15th season, is a collaboration between the Schools of Music and Theatre and The Opera Institute.  Its mission is to produce new or rarely performed works of significance in the opera and theater repertoire, bringing performers and audiences close together in unique theatrical settings.

October 2011

Bluebeard’s Castle

Composer: Béla Bartók

Librettist: Béla Balázs

Based on a French fairy tale by Charles Perrault

Conductor: William Lumpkin

Stage Director: Jim Petosa

Friday, October 7, 8:00pm

Saturday, October 8, 6:00pm and 8:00pm

Sunday, October 9, 2:00pm

Lane-Conley Studio 210

A psychologically probing tale of a young bride’s insistence on opening all the locked doors of her new husband’s castle.  Despite his protestations she persists, with disturbing consequences.

Three Decembers

Composer: Jake Heggie

Librettist: Gene Scheer

Based on an original play by Terrence McNally

Conductor: Allison Voth

Stage Director: Tomer Zvulun

Friday, Saturday, October 14,15 at 8:00 pm;  Sunday, October 16, 2:00pm and 6:00pm

Lane-Conley Studio 210

This powerful and poignant one act opera explores the painful and complex relationships between a famous actress and her two grown children through three Decembers of their lives (between 1986 and 2006), as they unfold the family’s hidden truths: infidelity, separation, homophobia and aids, tragedy, and loss.

Jake Heggie on Jake Heggie

(Art Song Meets Theatre)

Friday, October 28, 8:00pm

Lane-Conley Studio 210

This evening of staged songs is the culmination of a residency by renowned composer Jake Heggie (Moby Dick, Three Decembers, Dead Man Walking). Mr. Heggie will be at the piano, having coached the repertoire both musically and dramatically.  The program, selected from his vast song literature to enhance the CFA year-long theme of VIOLENCE, will include selections from a new cycle on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of 9/11, plus songs on themes of war, spousal abuse, and duets from A Word or a Touch, about the persecution of gays during the holocaust.

The evening will feature singers from The Opera Institute and Vocal Performance degree programs.

Limited seating:  Admission is Free, but requires a ticket.

December 2011

Winter Opera Scenes

December 3, 4,  Saturday and Sunday at 7:30 pm

Concert Hall, 855 Commonwealth Ave

Singers from the Opera Institute, Opera Theatre and Opera Workshops, with musical and stage direction by opera faculty and guests, perform staged scenes and arias, and a one-act opera from the standard and “not-so-standard” operatic repertoire.

February

FEBRUARY MAINSTAGE

Il Matrimonio Segreto

Composer: Domenico Cimarosa

Librettist: Giovanni Bertati

after The Clandestine Marriage (1766) by George Colman the Elder and David Garrick.

Conductor:  William Lumpkin

Stage Director:  TBA

February 23 – 26, Thursday, Friday, Saturday at 7:30

February 26, Sunday at 2:00

Boston University Theater, Mainstage

This farcical domestic comedy features arranged marriages, dowries, feuding sisters, tangled circumstances, banishment to convents, and misdirected romantic aspirations.  Inspired in part by Hogarth’s painting series “Marriage A-la-Mode,” it lives as a musical bridge between Mozart and Rossini, with both beautiful lyrical melodies, and brilliant challenging ensembles.

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March Opera Marathon

March 3, Saturday

March 4, Sunday

Concert Hall, 855 Commonwealth Ave

Please see BU calendar on the web after February 1 for specific times and venues

Now in its third year, the Marathon brings together singers from all opera programs who join forces to present one act operas and operatic and theatrical scenes spaced throughout the weekend. Musically directed and staged by BU opera faculty, guest artists and directing students, this year’s Marathon especially celebrates the 100th birthday of Gian Carlo Menotti.

Free admission

April

APRIL MAINSTAGE

The Dialogues of the Carmelites

Composer: Francis Poulenc

Libretto by Francis Poulenc and Emmet Lavery

from the drama by Georges Bernanos,

based on the novel by Gertrude von Le Fort

Conductor: William Lumpkin

Stage Director: Sharon Daniels

April 19,20, 21, Thursday, Friday, Saturday at 7:30

April 22, Sunday at 2:00

Boston University Theater, Mainstage

A poignant and tragic look at the French Revolution from the viewpoint of a young woman from an aristocratic family who has entered a monastery of Carmelite nuns in Compiegne to deal with her pathological fear of life itself, only to witness the revolution unfold around her.  The opera is based on the true story of the thirteen sisters of Compiegne, who defied the dictates of the revolution even after their order was dissolved, by meeting secretly to worship, and were ultimately martyred at the guillotine.

Michael Chiklis To Host July 4th Boston Pops Celebration

Michael Chiklis will host the annual national broadcast of the Independence Day Boston Pops Celebration on the Esplanade.  He is a graduate of the School of Theatre.  I look forward to being there as his guest.   363px-Michael_Chiklis

Keyword: VIOLENCE

Artist: Joaquín

Reproduction of Picasso's Guernica. Artist: Joaquín. Location: Madrid, Spain

Violence, a Keyword for Interdisciplinary Collaboration

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
Martin Luther King, Jr. ’55  ’59 (Hon)

I invite our community: CFA faculty, students, alumni and friends, as well as the greater Boston University community to participate in a year of creative discussion and action on the concept of violence. Every layer of society is touched by violence.  It weaves through the individual and into family and culture, threading its way through war and sports, medicine and politics, constantly fueled by a voracious news media, and via this overload finds its way back to the individual again. Violence – “horrible and heroic, disgusting and exciting, the most condemned and glorified of human acts” (R. Collins) – is one of the world’s most complex problems, and finding solutions requires a holistic, interdisciplinary approach.

The participation we seek may come in the form of attending or hosting activities related to performances or exhibits that comment on different aspects of violence. We are fortunate to work within a University that includes most disciplines; an enriching, plural dialogue can be developed.  A successful example is Visions and Voices: The USC Arts + Humanities Initiative.  This program focuses on the vibrant community of Los Angeles as an extended campus of the University of Southern California. We aim to go further by utilizing the wealth of resources available in our diverse community to explore solutions to a devastating societal issue.

Our goal is to build a two way street between text and context, in order to develop paths through conflict and obsession to resolution and stability.  In choosing to develop a year of programming on the keyword of violence, the College of Fine Arts is taking our School of Theatre’s lead, which will consider violence in drama, from Shakespeare to Masked, a look at the Palestinian Intifada, and Execution of Justice, a play about the murders of Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone of San Francisco.  The other Schools have already begun programming, with the School of Visual Arts welcoming Enrique Chagoya, head of the painting program at Stanford University, whose recent work denouncing the abuse of children at the hands of priests met with a violent response from one viewer, and the School of Music choosing to present works written in times of violence, such as the French, Mexican and Bolshevik Revolutions, as well as the Second World War.

This initiative welcomes participation by our own students, and faculty, as well as commission and presentation of works from alumni and other members of the community.  Our friends at the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and the Huntington Theatre Company will present exhibits, plays and concerts that invite discussion on our keyword.

‘Perspective’ is an important word in this discussion, as no piece of art, no matter how forceful, reflective or coherent, can offer final answers – it can only provoke discussion by presenting one perspective on a multifaceted issue.  As John F. Kennedy said, “We must never forget that art is not a form of propaganda; it is a form of truth.”

BU alumna Nancy Livingston and her husband Fred Levin, have made a generous gift that will help the yearly development of this initiative.  We eagerly invite your diverse perspectives on this issue, and welcome all suggestions and feedback as an integral part of the collaborative process.  In developing opportunities for cultural participation across the BU campuses and beyond, the College of Fine Arts looks forward to creating new space for the arts within our community and defining a new role for itself within the University.

Benjamín E. Juárez
Dean
College of Fine Arts

“crackling with conflict…deeply satisfying” –Washington Post on Opus

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Opus. Olney Theatre Company Image.

If you are in the Washington D.C. area, try to see Opus, directed by our own  Jim Petosa, director, School of Theatre, at the Olney Theatre in Maryland, where he is artistic director.

Performance pressure is a constant with musicians.  Add passion and ego to the mix and you have an atmosphere ready to boil over.  And now, just before they are to perform in a televised concert at the White House, one of their players is missing.

Runs through July 3. Ticket information: call 301-924-3400 or visit olneytheatre.org.

Director Jim Petosa makes a fine show of all this. The stage is a floating wedge suspended by thin cables — taut, fragile strings. It’s an elegant platform for the actors, and they perform solo and en masse with flair.

Benjamin Evett is magnetically spontaneous as Dorian, the soul of the group. Dorian is funky and flaky, and Evett effortlessly suggests the character’s immense talent and psychic fragility.

Evett’s soulful turn anchors the performance: His Dorian is the emotional wild card that gives Elliot license to be a domineering taskmaster, a hissing part that Michael Kaye plays to the hilt. A good deal of depth and intrigue are added by the fact that Elliot and Dorian have been quietly having an affair.

Shelley Bolman strikes a note of lonely professionalism as Alan, Paul Morella makes a blissful art of being casual as the cool cellist Carl, and Becky Webber is superb as Grace, the admired but tentative new member of the group. Each performance is sharply etched, and you rapidly come to feel rather deeply for these figures. The evening hurtles along at less than two hours (no intermission), crackling with conflict but alert to ache; it’s a deeply satisfying show, and utterly well composed.

–Nelson Pressley, Washington Post

Opus

by Michael Hollinger. Directed by Jim Petosa. Set, Cristina Todesco; costumes, Kathleen Geldard; lights, Daniel MacLean Wagner; sound design, GW Rodriguez. Through July 3 at the Olney Theatre Center, 2001 Olney-Sandy Spring Rd., Olney. 

Joshua Feinberg’s Contrafactual: hommage á Scelsi

Giacinto Scelsi

Giacinto Scelsi (1905-1982)

I was pleased to see a good crowd on hand at a concert in the CFA Concert Hall this past Sunday night, which was the culminating event of the Callithumpian Consort Sprectral Summer Workshop. I fully support this kind of initiative.

A commissioned piece composed by our own Joshua Feinberg was performed: Counterfactual:  hommage á Scelsi.  “The piece…takes the central gesture of Scelsi’s trio Okanagon and reimagines a new sound-world out of that gesture, creating a completely new work.”

On Scelsi:

Giacinto Scelsi was born on January 8th, 1905 to an aristocratic family living on an old estate in the country surrounding Naples in southern Italy. Though he had little formal musical training, he is now recognized as one of the most creative composers of our century.

Scelsi’s mature music is marked by a supreme concentration on single notes, combined with a masterly sense of form. Scelsi revolutionized the role of sound in western music – his best known work is the Quattro Pezzi per Orchestra, each on a single note. These single notes are elaborated through microtonal shadings, harmonic allusions, and variations in timbre and dynamics. It is impossible to express the immense power of this apparently simple music in words. –www.classicalnet.com

Meanwhile at the Centre Pompidou…

Photo Still by Sunil Gupta from the film, Looking for Langston

Photo Still by Sunil Gupta from the film, Looking for Langston

I also saw the show, Paris-Delhi-Bombay…which asks “what is India today?”

The work of over 50 artists from India and France seeks to cover six aspects of Indian society: politics, religion, the home, arts and crafts, town planning and the environment, and identity.  Although it is the largest democracy in the world and an economic power, India remains a mystery to many in France and this show is an effort to begin a conversation between the two cultures.  The work of Sunil Gupta, perhaps India’s best known photographer, was included (image above).

The exhibit demonstrates how open the French are to other cultures, while also showing those cultures in a somewhat idealized state.  As often happens, the depiction of another culture no matter how well intended, cannot entirely escape its own cultural assumptions.

Kapoor in Paris

Anish Kapoor’s Work Shown at the Grand Palais, Paris Ecole Nationale, and Galerie Kamel Mennour

Photo: Arrestedmotion.com

Leviathon Photo: Arrestedmotion.com

“Swallowed by the Monster”

While in Paris, I saw Anish Kapoor’s work in three locations in Paris. As part of the Monumenta Programme, Amish’s Leviathon was at the Grand Palais (pictured above).  To walk inside his gargantuan Leviathon is to submit, to become a Jonah.

In the chapel of the the Beaux-arts de Paris L’ecole nationale superieure, Kapoor mounted a series of cement sculptures — tall, grey and hallowed out. Kapoor’s work is a kind of “proto-architecture, …of edifaces from the dawn of humanity.”

While at the Kamel Mennour Galerie, a one-man exhibit Almost Nothing, showed Kapoor’s work “based on the idea of the void and immateriality.”

Kapoor’s pieces trick our perceptions in illuminating and delightful ways.

From The Guardian:

What Kapoor has created he’s called Leviathan, a 35-metre tall work – inflated, it’s 13,500 square metres .

Visitors first of all walk inside it, like going into the belly of a whale or a cathedral with three chambers veering off it. Then outside you see what it actually is – four connected balloon-type structures. Something from a science fiction film, perhaps, that’s taken refuge in this grand 19th-century glass building by the Seine.

Kapoor has dedicated Leviathon to Ai Weiwei, a dissident Chinese artist who has not been heard from  for the past month.  Kapoor wants all museums and galleries to close for one day in protest of Weiwi’s possible mistreatment by authorities.

The BU Paris Center

A BU student with French family (left) and La Fondation des Etats-Unis (Residence Hall)

BU student Christine chez Monsieur et Madame D.

I’ve just returned from a short trip to Paris. I was able to see the BU Paris Center where our students can take courses such as Paris Aujourd’hui: French Society and Civilization Through the Performing Arts and La France a Paris: Paris in Literature.  Students can opt to live with families (as above) or in a residence hall.

Professor Judith Chafee Awarded BU’s Highest Teaching Honor

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I was very pleased to learn that our own Judith Chafee, Associate Professor of Movement, was awarded the Metcalf Cup and Prize for Excellence in Teaching.

“She challenges students, encourages them to explore, and gives them the courage to take risks,” reads her Metcalf citation.

“I got to fully unleash my imagination,” says Francesca Blanchard (CFA’14). When Chaffee asked them to imagine a familiar odor, “The first smell that came was apple pie,” she recalls. “I have no idea where that came from.”

“Welcome to acting,” her teacher says, obviously satisfied by Blanchard’s stretching her imaginative muscles.

The human body is a universal language, and every student has some artistic potential to use that language. That is the associate professor of movement’s day-in, day-out operating philosophy at CFA’s School of Theatre, one she personally demonstrated this month by training for and winning a runner-up slot in the University’s Dancing with the Professors competition. (She won doing the swing.) Her charges confirm that they are able to realize their personal potential under her tutelage. Their written commendations marvel at what they’ve accomplished with her (“When are you going to teach us to fly?”).

Congratulations, Judith!

Renowned Painter Frank Stella Gives CFA Graduation Convocation Address

Here is the address Frank Stella gave to the CFA Class of 2011:

“Art appreciation” is perhaps a dated term, but not a dated idea. In fact, it might be an idea whose time has come. We assume that as the product of the efforts of a faculty of Fine Arts, you do appreciate art, or at least still appreciate art after you have gone beyond appreciation towards the practice of art. Although this is a convocation address for the College of Fine Arts, I don’t want my remarks to exclude all the possibilities offered by the commercial and educational world. I take Fine Arts to be a holdover from the Renaissance, which includes architecture, painting, and sculpture. But there is certainly no reason why your original impulse of art appreciation and your training or education, or both, here won’t lead you beyond these limits. Of course I don’t need to remind you that wherever you go you will face constraints – psychological and practical.

Hopefully, you won’t lose sight of the original insights of art appreciation that put you in the predicament you find yourself in today. I can only suggest that finding a way to expand and enjoy those original impulses is a good idea.

Now I am sure the tone of this address is beginning to sound simplistic. Okay, okay — we get art appreciation, but will it really help us make our way in the world? You notice I didn’t say will it help us get a job – that euphemistic abbreviation for gainful and meaningful employment.

My thought is that you have gotten this far riding on the back of art appreciation. If you continue to love him and nurture him, you might be surprised to see how far he can carry you. Perhaps he can get you to the finish line at Pimlico, as Animal Kingdom will be trying for this afternoon.

I wrote about art in the mid-eighties in a series of lectures called “Working Space.” Some of you — I guess that doesn’t really work, age-wise – rather, some of your faculty will remember that I delivered them at that school across the river, the one with the maroon hockey jerseys. At the time I was reluctant and fearful to write about art. I was really afraid of words, especially words about art coming from my mouth.

I suppose that this turned out to be a mini-midlife crisis. I had been painting, making art for at least twenty-five years, but when I looked back at the art that had driven me into this predicament – Francisco Zurbarán at the Louvre, Rogier van der Weyden at the Philadelphia Museum, Manet’s “Christ” at The Metropolitan and many more, I didn’t really know anything about it. There seemed to be a gap to some, a gulf to others, between the great Western art of the past and the abstract art of the 20th century. I wasn’t worried about defending abstract art, after all if there hadn’t been great Western art of the past there wouldn’t have been modern abstract art – for sure Malevich, Kandinsky and Mondrian.

But the problem was how to really understand the art that I had appreciated so deeply. The trick is obvious – I had to appreciate it more. In the end it came down to two things: I had to see and know more. Seeing meant shunning reproductions and facing the works directly. For me, the best and most informative experience is to find a work of art of the past that is still preserved in the space it was intended to fill. The best example, because it is so exquisite and so manageable at the same time, is the Annibale Caracci and Caravaggio Chapel in Santa Maria del Popolo in Rome.

Seeing more is in a sense obvious, and so is knowing more. Art appreciation has taught us that the literature counts. Art history is not for the faint of heart. And I think this is as good a time as any to express my regrets that “Working Space” has no footnotes or bibliography. Most of the ideas and a lot of the inspiration to carry on came from art historians I loved and respected. It all started at school with Bobbie Rosenblum, Tim Holderbaum, Bill Seitz, Kurt Weitzman, Rudolph Wittkower, Julius Held, and on to Meyer Schapiro – the whole faculty of the NYU School of Fine Arts, and on again to the writers and editors such as Michael Fried and Phil Leider.

And so I hope that the surviving art and its literature which make up your experience of art appreciation continue to give you a lift, an affordable high.

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Image from artstory.com