Highlights of the 2019/20 season at the Royal Conservatory

There are a few interesting items in the initial announcement of the RCM’s 2019/20 season:

  • The Amici Chamber Ensemble with Russell Braun and the Elmer Iseler Singers offer a celebration of the 150th birthday of Armenian composer Komitas Vardapet. That’s on October 25th 2019.
  • Karina Gauvin and the Paciifica Baroque Orchestra have a programme called Russian White Nights: Opera arias from 18th century St. Petersburg.  That’s on November 1st 2019.
  • Phillipe Sly and Le Chimera Project are presenting a staged version of Schubert’s Winterreise with chamber ensemble.  That’s on January 17th 2020.
  • Perhaps the biggest deal of all is Peter Sellars directing the Los Angeles Master Chorale in a staged performance of Orlando di Lasso’s final work, Lagrime di San Pietro; 27 madrigals sung a cappella in seven parts by 21 singers.  That’s on February 1st and 2nd 2020.
  • And after all the fancy stuff there is a classic Liederabend with Matthias Goerne and Jan Lisiecki in an all Beethoven programme on April 24th 2020.

All of the above are at Koerner Hall.

Tiefland

Eugen d’Albert is largely forgotten as a composer but his seventh (of twenty) opera, Tiefland, is still performed occasionally in German speaking countries.  It’s an odd work.  The plot is melodramatic with a cloying degree of sentimentality; sort of Mascagni meets Gounod, while the music is like pastoral Wagner (think the way the woodwinds are used in Tristan) with touches of Carmen and, just occasionally, hints of Sullivan (one of d’Albert’s teachers).  For a 1903 work it feels curiously retro.

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At any price

Hans Werner Henze conceived of L’Upupa und der Triumph der Sohnesliebe as his farewell to the stage although, as it turned out, it wasn’t.  It’s a combination of Arabian Nights type themes crossed with elements from German folklore not unlike Die Zauberflöte, which is an obvious infuence.  So obvious, in fact, that in the scene where Kasim rescues his beloved she is given a line straight out of Schikaneder.  For the 2003 world premiere in the Kleinesfestspielhaus in Salzburg, director Dieter Dorn and designer Jürgen Rose chose a simple stage concept.  The action is encircled by an arch, at the apex of which is a tower room.  The old man, the ruler of the principality, inhabits the room.  The action mostly takes place in brightly coloured scenes under the arch.

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