- October 18, 2018
- 8:00 pm
- Bailey Performance Center
An evening of music to excite and delight! The GSO opens the 68th season classical series with beloved operatic favorites including music by Wagner, Verdi, Mozart and more. The GSO also welcomes back stellar soprano Arietha Lockhart to enchant you while the GSO Chorus sings operas most moving choruses.
Overture to The Barber of Seville
Barcarole from The Tales of Hoffman
Quando me'n vo from La Boheme
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Die Holle Rache from The Magic Flute
Willow Song from The Ballad of Baby Doe
Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana
The Bell Song from Lakmé
Pilgrim's Chorus From Tannhauser
Va, pensiero from Nabucco
Les oiseaux dans la charmille from The Tales of Hoffman
Opening Act I Chorus from The Bartered Bride
Polovetsian Dances from Prince Igor
Saturday , October 20, 2018 8:00 pm
Encompassing as is does virtually every aspect of sonic and visual artistry, opera may well be considered the epitome of the arts. But for all of its splendid theatrics and staging, at its heart is the human voice, its glory celebrated in solos, duets, ensembles and choruses, supported by orchestral overtures, interludes, entr’actes and intermezzos, many of them now standard concert fare. Tonight’s concert serves up operatic masterpieces from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Gioacchino Rossini (1792-1868), whose first opera was produced when he was 18, was the foremost Italian musician of his day, one whose success drove many an “old school” opera composer into retirement. His Tancredi, based on a play by Voltaire, gained him an international reputation, a reputation solidified with The Barber of Seville of 1816, a comedic satire of the French ruling class. The “Overture,” written earlier and performed previously with different operas, does not present themes heard in The Barber, as might be expected, but stands on its own as an effective and rousing concert piece.
In 1855, Jacques Offenbach (1819-1880) opened a theater devoted to the presentation of musical farces and comedies. The theater barely survived for three years until the production of his operetta Orpheus in the Underworld (famous for its scandalous “can-can”). Orpheus so outraged Parisians that it was, of course, a great success. The Tales of Hoffman, an “opéra fantastique” produced after Offenbach’s death in 1891, is based on three short stories by author E. T. A. Hoffmann (1776-1822), whose The Nutcracker and the Mouse King became the basis for Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker. The third tale, “A New Year’s Eve Adventure,” opens with the “Barcarolle” (“Belle nuit, ô nuit d’amour”).
Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924) was first and foremost a composer of Romantic operas, among them La Bohème, Tosca, Madama Butterfly, and Turandot. Dismissed by the academics of his day as sentimental and unsophisticated, Puccini’s immense popularity and his ability to communicate with audiences on both musical and emotional levels were also the envy of his peers. La Bohème (1896) is based on the novel Scènes de la vie de Bohème by Henry Murger, a portrait of the lives and loves of poor artists living in Paris. “Quando me'n vo,” also known as “Musetta’s Waltz,” is sung by the character Musetta in an attempt to make one of her friends jealous.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) is equally famous for operas, symphonies, concertos, and chamber music. Yet for all his versatility, Mozart’s greatest ambition was to write opera. Die Zauberflöte, or The Magic Flute, is an allegory with spiritual overtones and exotic staging which originally masked its true intention as a representation of Freemasonry. Its premiere in 1791, the year of Mozart’s death, was a great success. “Die Holle Rache” (“The Vengeance of Hell”), also known as “The Queen of the Night Aria,” is the ultimate in masterful showpieces for coloratura soprano, sung by the vengeful Queen as she descends upon her daughter's room. Eager to see her husband Sarastro dead, the Queen gives her daughter Pamina a dagger, threatening to disown her if she doesn't kill Sarastro.
American composer Douglas Moore (1893-1969) is best known for his operas, rich in tonal harmony, that depict rural or pioneer life. Moore’s The Ballad of Baby Doe (1956) is based on the lives of Horace Tabor, a Colorado prospector, businessman and politician, his first wife Augusta, and Elizabeth “Baby Doe,” whom he scandalously married after divorcing Augusta. When terminally ill, Horace insisted that Baby Doe run the Matchless Mine; after losing it to satisfy a debt, she lived in the mine’s tool shed until her body was found frozen to death after a snowstorm. In Moore’s opera, which opens with the opening of an opera house in Leadville, Colorado, Horace directs a young woman - Baby Doe - to a hotel. He later returns to the hotel, where he hears her singing “The Willow Song.”
Cavalleria rusticana (“Rustic Chivalry”) of 1890 by Pietro Mascagni (1863-1945) is a one-act opera based on a play by Giovanni Verga (1840-1922). Submitted at the last minute to a music publisher’s competition, Mascagni’s opera won 1st prize after a preliminary performance that prompted 40 curtain calls. Cavalleria rusticana is regarded as the first verismo play, part of a literary movement which sought to portray the world realistically, using as its subjects not the rich and the nobility, but poor and average men and women. In this tale of forbidden love, jealously, betrayal and murder, the intense “Intermezzo” is performed between the opera’s two scenes.
Léo Delibes (1836-1891), a Romantic composer of ballets, operas and stage works, is best known for his ballets Coppélia and Sylvia, and his operas Le roi l'a dit and Lakmé. Written in 1883, Lakmé captures the spirit of the East as viewed by Westerners, an artistic element quite in vogue in the latter part of the 19th century. Set in India at a time when many Hindus were forced by the British to practice their religion in secret, it is the story of love between Lakmé, a Hindu girl, and a British officer. In Act II, Lakmé is forced to sing “The Bell Song” in order to lure a trespasser (her love) into the open.
Richard Wagner (1813-1883) called his operas “music dramas,” marriages of music and words with rich, drawn-out melodies and constantly modulating harmonies that seldom come to rest. His Tannhäuser, premiered in Paris in 1861, is the story of a medieval minstrel knight who engages in a singing contest in order to win the hand of Elisabeth, his lover. While waiting for Tannhäuser to return from Rome, where he has gone to seek forgiveness for his sins, Elisabeth listens to the prayer of returning pilgrims – “The Pilgrim’s Chorus” - hoping that he is among them.
Nabucco (1842), the first popular success of the prolific Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901), is based on the biblical story of the Babylonian emperor Nebuchadnezzar and his conquering and exile of the Jews. One of the opera’s best-known themes is from the chorus in Act III, “Va, pensiero,” also known as the “Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves,” in which the captive Jews voice their longing for Jerusalem as they labor on the banks of the Euphrates. This chorus reflected the spirit of an Italian unification movement represented by Verdi and it was so loved by Italians that mourners attending his funeral spontaneously sang it in his memory.
Jacques Offenbach’s “Les oiseaux dans la charmille” (“The birds in the arbor,” nicknamed "The Doll Song"), is from the first act of The Tales of Hoffmann. In this tale, Hoffmann falls in love with Olympia, a mechanical doll. As Olympia sings, she periodically runs down and must be wound up before she can continue.
Widely regarded as the father of Czechoslovakian music, Bedřich Smetana (1824-1884) is best known for his series of symphonic poems called Má vlast, or “My Homeland,” and for his comic opera The Bartered Bride of 1866. Set in a country village, the opera tells the tale of a true love which ultimately prevails and thwarts the ambitions of parents and a marriage broker. The opening chorus to Act 1, “Let’s rejoice and be merry,” is sung by villagers celebrating at a church fair.
As a composer of comfortable means, Alexander Borodin (1833-1887), one of Russia’s “Mighty Five,” only composed when his schedule permitted. Thus his opera, Prince Igor, the tale of a Slavonic prince’s campaign against an oriental khan, was begun in 1869 and remained unfinished at the time of his death. Only the opera’s “Polovtsian Dances” were performed during his lifetime, in 1879, with composers Rimsky-Korsakov and Alexander Glazunov completing the remainder of the opera for its premiere in 1890. The “Polovtsian Dances” are an exhilarating climax to the opera’s second act, set in an enemy camp where Prince Igor and his son are being held prisoner by the Polovtsian Khan. The Khan entertains his “guests” lavishly, calling on his slaves to perform the thrilling dances.
- Michaelene Gorney
Bailey Center for the Performing Arts
488 Prillaman Way, Kennesaw, GA 30144
Located on the campus of Kennesaw State University, The Dr. Bobbie Bailey & Family Performance Center is an acoustically superb 624-seat performance hall, designed by John Abbott of Stevens & Wilkinson Stang & Newdow Inc., with acoustic design by David Kahn of Acoustic Dimensions Inc. The variable acoustics in the space allow it to be optimally configured for a variety of musical presentations.
Free event parking for guests is available after 7 p.m. in parking lots E, D, C, and J with additional parking available in the Jolly Lodge overflow lot and North Parking Deck. View KSU Parking Map