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Full-length opera program at Bard SummerScape 2014

Ellie Dehn in her costume for the role of Euryanthe
Ellie Dehn in her costume for the role of Euryanthe
by Todd Norwood, from the Fisher Center Web site

Last February, as I have done for several years, I announced the plans for the Bard Music Festival, held during the final two weekends of Bard SummerScape 2014 at the Richard B. Fischer Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College. This year the title of the Festival will be Schubert and His World, and two of the programs will present operas both by and about Franz Schubert. However, because Bard SummerScape 2014 will also be presenting a full-length opera, which was composed during Schubert’s lifetime, I felt it would be appropriate to provide a general summary particularly for the interests of opera lovers.

The SummerScape opera will be Carl Maria von Weber’s Opus 81 Euryanthe. While less frequently performed than the Opus 77 Der Freischütz, Opus 81 has the distinction of having no spoken dialog, serving as a harbinger for the through-composed practices of Richard Wagner. Nevertheless, Euryanthe has not been staged in the United States since a Metropolitan Opera production in 1914.

This summer’s production will be staged by Kevin Newbury. The featured vocalists will be Ellie Dehn in the title role, William Burden as Adolar, Wendy Bryn Harmer as Eglantine, Ryan Kuster as Lysiart, and Peter Volpe as King Ludwig. There will be five performances at 7 p.m. on July 25 and August 1 and at 2 p.m. on July 27, July 30, and August 3. There will also be a free talk about the opera at noon on July 27.

The first of the Festival opera programs will present two one-act pieces. The first will be the D. 787 “Die Verschworenen,” based on two of the comedies of Aristophanes, “Ecclesiazusae” and “Lysistrata,” both of which involve women imposing themselves on affairs of state. This will be followed by an operetta about Schubert (entitled simply Franz Schubert) composed by Franz von Suppé in 1864. Vocal soloists will be soprano Deanna Breiwick, mezzo Cecelia Hall, tenors Paul Appleby and Nicholas Phan, and bass-baritone Ryan Speedo Green. These two works will be performed on August 10 at 5:30 p.m. with a pre-performance talk at 5 p.m.

The following week will see the performance of Schubert’s three-act opera Fierrabras (D. 769), based on an old French romance of the same title. The title character will be sung by Joseph Kaiser. Other major roles will be taken by Sara Jakubiak (Emma), Eric Halfvarson (King Karl), Roland (Andrew Schroeder), and Eric Barry (Eginhard). In addition, Hall will return to sing the role of Florinda. This performance will begin at 4:30 p.m. on August 17 with a pre-performance talk at 3:30 p.m.

Leon Botstein will conduct the American Symphony Orchestra for all three of these performances. They will all be given in the Sosnoff Theater of the Fisher Center. Each production has its own event page (given in the above summary) on the Web site for the Fisher Center. The event pages then have hyperlinks for the online purchase of tickets. In addition, the Fisher Center box office may be reached at 845-758-7900.