ENCOMPASS MAINSTAGE PRODUCTION
ENCOMPASS NEW OPERA THEATRE’S
SPRING 2003 PRODUCTION
Approaching Infinity explores a modern mythic world of compelling confrontations with man, nature and the supernatural.
PAIRS ONE-ACT OPERAS BY COMPOSERS JOHN HARBISON AND A NEW YORK PREMIERE BY HANS WERNER HENZE, MARCH 7– 30, 2003
There will be an audience talk-back with John Harbison, composer of A Full Moon In March, moderated by Marc Scorco, Executive Director of Opera America.
A Full Moon in March
End of A World
For its Spring 2003 mainstage production, Encompass New Opera Theatre presents "Approaching Infinity," a double-bill of two compelling one-act operas, at Manhattan’s historic Connelly Theatre (220 East 4th Street) -- the New York Premiere of the comic opera The End of A World by the composer Hans Werner Henze, with libretto by Wolfgang Hildesheimer (English translation by Wesley Balk); and the powerful A Full Moon in March by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer John Harbison, with libretto based on the W.B. Yeats play. Encompass will bookend the two operas with a selection from the song-cycle In a Persian Gardencomposed by Liza Lehmann, based on "The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam." By joining these works together into a unified performance of opera-theatre, "Approaching Infinity" explores a modern mythic world of compelling confrontations with man, nature and the supernatural.
Encompass Artistic Director Nancy Rhodes has conceived the production and is stage director for the company of twelve performers. Maestro Kenneth Hamrick serves as music director and conductor for the chamber orchestra. Sets and costumes are designed by John Scheffler; lighting designed by Izzy Einsidler; projections by Kirby Malone and Gail Scott White.
The pre-eminent German composer Hans Werner Henze’s comic opera The End of A World was first composed for radio in 1953 and later revised for the stage in 1964. Encompass’ 2003 production marks the New York premiere of this distinguished, progressive work.
From the libretto by acclaimed Comedy of the Absurd writer Wolfgang Hildesheimer (translated by Wesley Balk), the Marchesa Montetristo has gathered a colorful entourage for a musical soiree at her home on a man-made island near Venice. Observed by a narrator called Herr Fallersleben, the revelry escalates when, oblivious to their environment, the guests call for an encore as the island sinks beneath them - a necessary end to a world that won’t change, won’t grow, won’t connect. Tenor Christopher Vettel is featured in the role of ‘Herr Fallersleben’, mezzo Wilma Wever sings ‘The Marchesa’, and internationally renowned counter-tenor Derek Lee Ragin (the voice of castrato ‘Farinelli’ in the award-winning feature film) is ‘Die Dombrowska’.
Among Henze’s major operatic works are Elegy for Young Lovers and The Bassarids (both in collaboration with W.H. Auden). Henze’s newest opera, L'Upupa and the Triumph of Filial Love, will be premiered at the 2003 Salzburg Festival.
John Harbison, one of America’s most prominent composers, wrote the libretto (adapted from the verse play by William Butler Yeats) and music for A Full Moon in March in 1977. This fantastical tale -- a Queen who promises herself and her realm to any worthy suitor; the filthy swineherd who comes to seduce her and is beheaded -- reflects Yeats’ mysticism and the influence of Celtic mythology. A rebirth, a new vision for the world, is created; it is up to us to carry out the vision. All this is accompanied by, as the reviewer K. Robert Schwarz has stated, "deeply moving music" that "needs only to be heard to be remembered." For the Encompass production, soprano Desiree Halac sings the role of ‘The Queen’, baritone Dominic Inferrera is ‘The Swineherd’, with Kerry Stichweh (from the Merce Cunningham company) in a featured dance role.
Harbison received a Kennedy Center Friedheim Award in 1980; won the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for his cantata The Flight into Egypt; was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in 1989 and the Heinz Award in 1997. His opera The Great Gatsby was commissioned and premiered by the Metropolitan Opera.
Connecting the two operas of "Approaching Infinity," and commenting on them, the song "Ah, Moon of My Delight" is excerpted from the song-cycle In a Persian Garden, music by Liza Lehmann, based on poetry from "The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam," the 12th century Muslim poet. The song reminds us: "Ah, fill the Cup! How time is slipping underneath our feet!" Live fully, fruitfully, and in harmony with all living creatures.
A Full Moon In March
The End of the World
"A FULL MOON IN MARCH"
Jean Marie Miller
"THE END OF A WORLD"
Wilma H. Wever
Derek Lee Ragin
Signora Sgambati, astrologer:
Der Golch, cultural dignitary:
Professor Kuntz-Sartori, politician:
Guests & Servants:
Dèsirée Halac, Dominic Inferrera, Jean Marie Miller, Pedro Porro, Kerry Stichweh