Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


facebook-icon.png


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780393088953.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Commentary

When Performance Gets Political: A Brooklyn Concert Benefiting the ACLU

What’s an artist’s place in politics? That’s the question many were asking after actress Meryl Streep made a pointed speech criticizing President Trump at the Golden Globes. Trump responded directly to Streep, using his preferred communication medium of Twitter to call Streep “overrated.”

Bampton Classical Opera 2017

In 2015, Bampton Classical Opera’s production of Salieri’s La grotta di Trofonio - a UK premiere - received well-deserved accolades: ‘a revelation ... the music is magnificent’ (Seen and Heard International), ‘giddily exciting, propelled by wit, charm and bags of joy’ (The Spectator), ‘lively, inventive ... a joy from start to finish’ (The Oxford Times), ‘They have done Salieri proud’ (The Arts Desk) and ‘an enthusiastic performance of riotously spirited music’ (Opera Britannia) were just some of the superlative compliments festooned by the critical press.

The nature of narropera?

How many singers does it take to make an opera? There are single-role operas - Schönberg’s Erwartung (1924) and Eight Songs for a Mad King by Peter Maxwell Davies (1969) spring immediately to mind - and there are operas that just require a pair of performers, such as Rimsky-Korsakov’s Mozart i Salieri (1897) or The Telephone by Menotti (1947).

Battles administration neglects FLO’s assets by defunding the program

The college administration and President Denise Battles’ recent decision to defund the Finger Lakes Opera came as a shock to many and a concern to more. This decision reflects the administration’s blatant disregard for the arts and reveals a mindset that is counterproductive to the mission of the college.

2017 Summer Festival at Lucerne

Lucerne Festival announces its 2017 Summer Festival.

BEMF Chamber Opera Series Presents Splendors of Versailles

The GRAMMY Award-winning BEMF Chamber Opera Series returns with an all-new production inspired by the splendor and music of the palace of Versailles. King Louis XIV transformed his father’s pastoral hunting lodge at Versailles into a lavish palace that served as the seat of government and culture in France.

Center for Contemporary Opera presents Jane Eyre (World Premiere)

Louis Karchin’s Jane Eyre, a full-length opera in three acts with a libretto by Diane Osen based on Charlotte Bronte’s novel, will receive its world premiere at The Kaye Playhouse (Hunter College) on Thursday, October 20, 7:30pm with a second performance on Saturday, October 22, 8pm. Jane Eyre is Karchin’s second opera, composed in 2014, following his critically acclaimed one-act comic opera Romulus.

Boston Early Music Festival announces the appointment of Melinda Sullivan to the new position of the Lucy Graham Dance Director

Cambridge, MA–The Boston Early Music Festival (BEMF) is pleased to announce the appointment of Melinda Sullivan to the new position of the Lucy Graham Dance Director.

2016 Elizabeth Connell Prize Winner Announced

Kseniia Muslanova from the Russian Federation has won the 3rd annual Elizabeth Connell Prize for aspiring dramatic sopranos held at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music in Sydney Australia on 3 September 2016.

A New Opera Company with a True Story of Forbidden Love

Victory Hall Opera is a new company making its debut in Charlottesville Virginia on August 14, 2016. Its first presentation will be Richard Strauss’s and Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s Der Rosenkavalier.

Interview with Star of Florencia en el Amazonas, Elizabeth Caballero

Lyric soprano Elizabeth Caballero’s signature role is Violetta in La traviata, which she portrays with a compelling interpretation, focused sound, and elegant coloratura that floats through the opera house as naturally as waves on the ocean.

A Chat With Baritone Brian Mulligan

Maria Nockin interviews baritone Brian Mulligan.

An interview with Tobias Ringborg

I arrive at the Jerwood Space, where rehearsals are underway for Garsington Opera’s forthcoming production of Idomeneo, to find that the afternoon rehearsal has finished a little early.

Opera Las Vegas Announces Full Production of Carmen

Tickets on Sale NOW for June 10 & 12 Performances at UNLV’s Performing Arts Center Box Office

Bampton Classical Opera 2016

A Double-Bill of Divine Comedies

A Conversation with Sir Nicholas Jackson

With its merry-go-round exchange of deluded and bewitched lovers, an orphan-turned-princess, a usurped prince, a jewel and a flower with magical properties, a march to the scaffold and a meddling ‘mistress-of-ceremonies’ who encourages the young lovers to disguise and deceive, William Makepeace Thackeray’s The Rose and the Ring has all the ingredients of an opera buffa.

A Chat With Up-and-Coming Conductor Kathleen Kelly

Kathleen Kelly is an internationally renowned pianist, coach, conductor, and master teacher. She was the first woman and first American named Director of Musical Studies at the Vienna State Opera.

Atsuto Sawakami — Sponsor of Italian Opera in Japan

Atsuto Sawakami is a slightly built man in his late sixties with impeccable, gentlemanly manners. He communicates a certain restless energy and his piercingly bright eyes reveal an undimmed appetite for life.

Mark Stone — Oxford Lieder Festival

‘Lieder v. Opera’? At first glance it might seem to be a pointless or nonsensical question.

Rhymes With Opera Presents New Opera About Dolly Parton Fans

Extreme Dolly Parton fans may sound like unlikely subjects for an opera, but they are the major characters in Heartbreak Express, a collaboration of composer George Lam and librettist John Clum.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Commentary

Someone Younger [Image courtesy of Victory Hall Opera]
13 Jul 2016

A New Opera Company with a True Story of Forbidden Love

Victory Hall Opera is a new company making its debut in Charlottesville Virginia on August 14, 2016. Its first presentation will be Richard Strauss’s and Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s Der Rosenkavalier.

A New Opera Company with a True Story of Forbidden Love

By Maria Nockin

Above: Someone Younger [Image courtesy of Victory Hall Opera]

 

Only after that deciding on it's opening opera, did company executives learn of a bittersweet relationship between the mother of Charlottesville citizen Mary (aka Marie-Therese von Degenfeld) Miller and the librettist. Mary grew up in Europe, but married an American diplomat and eventually moved to Yule Farm, just outside of Charlottesville.

Mary’s mother, German Countess Ottonie von Degenfeld, met the librettist at Neubeuern Castle in Southeast Bavaria in 1906. She must have impressed him deeply, because two years later he wrote, “Although I only met her one day in my life, my thoughts kept returning to her.” Ottonie was a widow, but Hofmannsthal was married so the countess kept the correspondence they exchanged a secret up until 1912. It was only after Ottonie’s death in 1970 that Mary found the letters, carefully bound in blue ribbon, among her mother’s papers. By that time von Hofmannsthal’s artistically important letters had already been published.

What the new discovery tells us is that Ottonie was the librettist’s muse during the time he was working on Der Rosenkavalier. Much of what he wrote about the Marschallin and Octavian may have been inspired by his dreams of the lovely countess. He definitely tried to relieve the pain she felt because of the loss of her husband. She was depressed and he tried hard to bring her out of it by his expressions of devotion to her and his recommendations of reading material. They did meet at other times, sometimes on trains, but those assignations had to be short and discreet.

Hofmannsthal tried hard to convince Ottonie to attend the world premiere of Der Rosenkavalier on January 26, 1911, in Dresden, but she did not appear. He left tickets for her at the box office many times after that and she finally did attend a performance, unescorted. He also saw that when she returned to her hotel room it was full of roses. Although the librettist’s shy muse would remain unknown for many years after Dresden, Der Rosenkavalier was soon on its way to becoming a valuable part of the operatic repertoire.

Victory Hall Opera offers a pioneering new model for an opera company. It places the creative reins in the hands of the one who knows opera best: the singer. By featuring a core ensemble of exceptional masters of their craft, this company endeavors to develop a new opera aesthetic resulting in performances that are personal, vital, and relevant to every member of the audience.

"Victory Halls" were community theaters built all over the world after WWI to encourage touring musicians to perform concerts in regional towns. Victory Hall Opera harkens back to this time and seeks, once again, to bring the best the opera world has to offer back home to Charlottesville, VA.

Co-founders of Victory Hall Opera are: Maggie Bell, Miriam Gordon-Stewart and Brenda Patterson. Charlottesville native Maggie Bell worked extensively in opera productions throughout the United States before becoming the dramaturg at Berlin’s Volksbühne. Internationally acclaimed Australian soprano Miriam Gordon-Stewart, who specializes in the music of Wagner and Strauss, gained recognition across four continents for her powerful voice and dramatic ability. Virginia-raised mezzo-soprano Brenda Patterson is noted for her roles in contemporary American opera. She spent several years at Hamburg State Opera before continuing at La Scala and the Metropolitan Opera.

About the premiere performances:

Victory Hall Opera presents a chamber version of Someone Younger (Der Rosenkavalier) on August 14, 17, and 20 at The V. Earl Dickinson Theater, Piedmont Virginia Community College, 501 College Drive, Charlottesville, VA. For more information, please visit www.victoryhallopera.org.

Maria Nockin


References:

[1] The Poet and the Countess: Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s Correspondence with the Countess Ottonie von Degenfeld. Edited by Marie-Therese Miller-Degenfeld. Camden House, 2000. Hugo von Hofmannsthal letters to Ottonie Gräfin von Degenfeld-Schonberg and Julie Freifrau von Wendelstadt, 1908-1918.

[2] Memoirs of Marie Therese Miller-Degenfeld, An International Life in the 20th Century. Marie-Therese Miller-Degenfeld. Trafford, 2006.

Send to a friend

Send a link to this article to a friend with an optional message.

Friend's Email Address: (required)

Your Email Address: (required)

Message (optional):