Utah Opera’s Cinderella ~ Blog Reviews

I was able to find two great reviews from bloggers who attended Utah Opera’s Cinderella. Both of them loved it as much as I did (I actually went twice!).

The Kelly Fambam 

We went to the Utah Symphony and Utah Opera’s production of “Cinderella” at the Capital Theatre in SLC last night. Whoa. Klint and I had such a great time! The talented musicians and vocalists were amazing! I had perma-goosebumps the whole time. The vocalists have so much control and power, it’s boggling! As we left Klint said, “I’ll never knock opera again…”

Klint, that’s exactly how I felt after my first Opera. The talent it takes to sing opera is amazing.

Almost Halfway There

Friday evening, Wes and I were treated with his dad’s 3rd row tickets to see the Utah Opera at the Capitol Theater. We saw Cinderella by Rossini and it was delightful. I haven’t been to an opera for a long time but I loved it. My first experience with opera at the Capitol Theater was when I was a child – my parents took me to see Madame Butterfly. They related the story to me in the car on the way about the tragic love story between an American Lieutenant and a beautiful Japanese Geisha. I hate to admit I was a little disappointed when the lovely Madame Butterfly was portrayed by a very large, very overpowering, middle-aged African-American woman (no offense intended – I was just a little girl expecting a young asian beauty). I really loved the music, though. Anyway, thanks to Dave and Connie for a marvelous experience.

I’m happy to hear you enjoyed Cinderella. Both of you mentioned Madame Butterfly, which Utah Opera will be producing next year.  There are four great operas next season, and I’m sure you won’t want to miss any of them. Season subscriptions for our upcoming season are currently on sale for as little as $42. Visit utahopera.org/subscriptions to download a season brochure.

Composer Spotlight: David Crumb

Born in Boulder, Colorado, May 21, 1962; now living in Eugene, Oregon

David Crumb has no need to invoke his famous father to command respect and recognition, for he is a composer of the front rank with a raft of prestigious commissions, performances and awards to his credit. David’s musical education took place at the Eastman School of Music (B.M. in composition, 1985), and at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia (M.A. in composition, 1991; Ph.D. in 1992). He spent the year 1989-90 at the Rubin Academy of Music and Dance in Jerusalem, Israel, where he studied composition and conducting. Crumb is an accomplished cellist as well, having studied with members of both the Philadelphia Orchestra and Boston Symphony. In 1997 he joined the music faculty at the University of Oregon in Eugene, where he is still a member of the composition department. The following year he won a Guggenheim Fellowship.

September Elegy was Crumb’s intensely emotional response to 9/11 and is dedicated to the victims of that attack. “It reflects the underlying feelings of sadness and uncertainty that I experienced following that tragic event,” writes the composer. “I tend to experience the conceptualization and ultimate realization of my music as a nonlinear and rather mysterious process.”

David Crumb will join the Utah Symphony at Ancient Voices of Children on March 13.

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Composer Spotlight: George Crumb

Born in Charleston, West Virginia, October 24, 1929; now living in Media, Pennsylvania (near Philadelphia).

“Crumb has just about the most adventurous command of small, delicate shades of timbre of any composer around. I know of no other who has invented so many fascinating new things for singers and instrumentalists to do, or has used the older, familiar inventions . . . with such exquisite finesse.”

Thus did New Yorker critic Andrew Porter sum up his response to George Crumb’s Ancient Voices of Children. Porter, known as a fervid but highly discriminating champion of new music, based this opinion on repeated encounters with the work, admitting that at the first performance he was “bowled over, like just about everyone else,” but that familiarity deepened his admiration for “one of the most delicate, poetic and beautiful compositions of our day.”

The composer of Ancient Voices and Makrokosmos was born into a musical household (his father was a bandmaster) and went on to obtain his M.A. and D.M.A. at the Universities of Illinois and Michigan. He also studied composition with Boris Blacher at Tanglewood and at the Hochschule in Berlin. His first major teaching position was at the University of Colorado (1959-1965), following which he joined the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania, where he taught for more than thirty years. Crumb has won most of the prestigious awards and grants available to American composers: Fulbright, Koussevitzky, Rockefeller, Guggenheim, Grammy and National Institute of Arts and Letters among them. He received the Pulitzer Prize in 1968 for Echoes of Time and the River, and Ancient Voices of Children won him both the International Rostrum of Composers Award and the Koussevitzky International Recording Award.

The Utah Symphony will be performing George Crumb’s Ancient Voices of Children and Makrokosmos on March 13 as part of its New Music @ The Rose Chamber Concert Series.  David Crumb, George’s son, will attend the performance.

Ancient Voices of Children
New Music @ The Rose
Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center
138 West 300 South, SLC
Thursday, March 13 @ 8:00 PM
Tickets: (801) 355-ARTS (2787)
Buy Tickets Online >>

Bravo Broadway Blog Reviews

Utah Symphony’s performance of Bravo Broadway last weekend really had the blog world talking, and I was excited to see that people really loved the concert. I attended the Friday night performance with a few friends, and we all thought that Melissa Errico, Debbie Gravitte, and Marc Kudisch were fantastic. Each of the guest singers also had nice words to say about the Symphony.

Here’s a few blog reviews that I came across today:

Art History Ali

“Every performance was breathtakingly magical and to top of the stunning evening, all three performers came out into the lobby under the Dale Chahuly sculpture afterwards to sign autographs (and sell CDs). We waited in line and were at the very end so we weren’t rushed whilst talking to them. We got all their autographs and I planned on scanning the program into the computer, but just haven’t yet. This will keep you all coming back to check for updates!”

Catching Up with David Luker

“[Bravo Broadway] was probably the best thing I’ve seen in a long time. Stuff like that really gets me worked up. Well, I was so excited after the performance that I somehow (not going to say how and embarrass myself) I fell down. Here’s the resulting injury.”

As We Live, So We Learn

“The concert was a series of Broadway songs, such as “For Good” from Wicked, “All I Ask of You” and “Music of the Night” from Phantom “Don’t Cry for me Argentina” from Evita (just to name a few), sung by three singers who have performed on Broadway. It was so much fun. I didn’t know all of the songs, but the energy and entertainment of the singers made every song so much fun.”

Bonehead’s Twisted Parade

“In looking back over the playbill from the night’s performance, I would be hard pressed to come up with an absolute favorite number for the evening because of the varied nature and the fact that they were all so well done. I just found a review of the show and it is clear that I was not the only one captivated by it. In many ways it set the tone for the whole weekend.”

Thanks for all your great comments! We really appreciate your support of Utah Symphony.

Reviews from the Blogosphere

Thanks to the internet anyone can be a critic these days. Here’s what people in the blog world have been saying about Utah Symphony | Utah Opera lately.

Scott and Marsha
“The performance [of Peer Gynt] was amazing. It was symphony and chorus, along with vocal solo parts and a narrator that was fantastic. I have said it before, and I will say it again, there is nothing like symphony and choir.”

Wasn’t it fun to hear the words to the music in Peer Gynt (for example, In the Hall of the Mountain King)? I bet lots of you never knew that the song was about a guy being chased by trolls who were trying to kill him! Knowing that makes it clear why the song has become standard for those scary Halloween haunted houses.

A Peek into my Life – Nick Ferrin
“Last Friday, Wendy and I went to Abravanel Hall, which is where the Utah Symphony plays. They were playing Edvard Grieg’s fantasy music, and it was amazing…I am committing myself to going more often.”

We’re going to hold you to that Nick! Season tickets for 2008-2009 go on sale next month. Keep checking our online subscriptions page for more information.

Thanks for all the great comments. Blog about the Utah Symphony | Utah Opera and you might be lucky enough to be featured in one of our upcoming e-notes newsletters!

Program Notes:Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini (Rachmaninoff)

The Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini is not, as the title falsely implies, really a rhapsody at all. The term “rhapsody” suggests a loosely organized structure, but in fact, Rachmaninoff’s work follows a very clear, taut design – a set of twenty-four variations. One might, however, associate the piano soloist with the role of the ancient Greek rhapsode, the specially trained singer or reciter of epic poems. Wit, charm, romance, rhythmic verve, and masterly orchestration combine in what many consider to be one of Rachmaninoff’s greatest compositions. It was first performed on November 7, 1934 in Baltimore with Leopold Stokowski leading The Philadelphia Orchestra and the composer at the piano.

The work begins with the curiously “misplaced” first variation; only afterwards do we hear the theme in its original, intact form, played by violins with piano accentuations. Variations 2-5 all retain rhythmic tautness and drive. Only in Variation 6 does a more rhythmically free and sentimental tone creep in. A new theme enters at Variation 7, that old funeral chant for the dead, the “Dies irae,” which Rachmaninoff had incorporated into so many of his previous works. In fact, though, there is a melodic kinship between the chant theme and Paganini’s. The “Dies irae” returns in Variation l0, a grotesque march. In between (Variations 8 and 9), a demonic quality is maintained, especially in Variation 9 with its col legno (string players use the wooden part of their bows) tappings and frenzied rhythmic conflict between orchestra and soloist. Variation ll is essentially a highly florid cadenza with a true rhapsodic flavor to it. Two variations in D minor follow: one a nostalgic, wistful minuet set to Paganini’s fragmented theme; the other a sturdy pronouncement of the theme, still in triple meter, in a more straightforward presentation. Variations l4 and l5 are in F major, with the latter almost entirely for piano alone. Dark, ominous, even ghostly stirrings seem to emanate from Variation l6. The next one does nothing to lighten the oppressive mood.

Suddenly, as if emerging into the light of day, we hear the sounds of an old friend softly intoned, that famous eighteenth variation. This lush, glorious music is no intrusion, for, like the “Dies irae,” it too bears a melodic relationship to the Paganini theme; in fact, it is almost an inverted image of it. The music, from now on in the original key of A minor, proceeds swiftly to its conclusion, each variation more scintillating than the last. The gathering momentum and dazzling passage work for the soloist lead one to expect a conclusion of overwhelming bravura and force. Indeed, this expectation is almost fulfilled, but at the last moment, Rachmaninoff pulls back and, with a wicked chuckle, ends his Rhapsody quietly with a last, lost fragment of the memorable theme.

Andrew Cohen will join the Utah Symphony this weekend (January 11 & 12, 2008) to perform Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. For tickets call (801) 533-6683 0r visit UtahSymphony.org.