Winter sweets

contemporary opera 12

Mozartian Chamber Treats

This dessert consists of three courses. Mozart’s one-act theatre parody, Der Schauspieldirektor, shows how the life of a theatre director is certainly not an easy one when several singers are vying for the prima donna spot. The second piece, about the wives of King Henry VIII, a monarch who was liberal in dispensing both kisses and death, is a production that employs text by Shakespeare and music by the king himself, and not without a bit of black humour, either. And finally: The Telephone. A boy wants to confess his love to a girl, except the girl is next to the telephone, and any time it rings, she has to pick it up. Through a charming opera from the 1970s, the audience will get to see a problem that has since grown to serious proportions.

The Wives of Henry VIII

THE CRITICS RESPOND:

Perhaps sensing that the tragic overtones had to be dealt with gingerly, the director (…) thus focused on humorous aspects with the fourth and fifth wives. (…) This process works well. Also fortunately executed are the flow of emotions and atmosphere, which are administered in the appropriate dosages, with altogether nine musical interludes contributing to them.” (Zsuzsa Makk, Mezei néző)
Henry VIII
Pallag Márton
Henry's wives
Eszter Zavaros
Coutrier
Balázs Csémy

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Der Schauspieldirektor (The Impresario)

Conductor
Sámuel Csaba Tóth
Hans Buff, an impresario
Zoltán Bátki Fazekas
Brigitte Herz, his wife
Orsolya Hajnalka Rőser
Julia Silberklang, an amateur primadonna
Lilla Horti

Gian Carlo Menotti

The Telephone

In the entire history of men asking women to marry them, anything that could go wrong has gone wrong at one time or another: the parents don't consent, the bride is in love with someone else, or perhaps the groom is, somebody dies, a war breaks out – the list goes on and on. An American fellow named Ben also runs into a hurdle as he attempts to pop the question. While his is not quite as dramatic as the ones enumerated above, those whose partners in life happen to be addicted to their telephones shouldn't be surprised by what it is. L’amour à trois.

By arrangement with G. Schirmer, INC. publisher and copyright owner.

THE CRITICS RESPOND:

“This two-person piece augmented by a few dancers and a walking telephone is quite a lot of fun, and in the era of the smart phone actually makes for very timely entertainment.” (Wolfgang Kutzschbach, Das Opernglas)

Events

Synopsis

The Wives of Henry VIII
The court of Henry VIII, sultry with eroticism and filthy with scandal and betrayal. A venue for fraud and deceit, slander and valid accusations, legitimate and groundless lawsuits, and of great – and sometimes fatal – amusement. The unbridled and mortally dangerous monarch was „in his heart of hearts” a poet and a composer of music. In the mirror of his plans, decisions and choices appear five different women, the king’s happily married – or resting in eternal happiness – wives: Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves and Catherine Howard. The programme features the people of the royal court as well as Henry VIII’s own musical compositions and poems, masterworks by the poets attached to the courts, excerpts from Shakespeare’s plays, as well as selections from Romantic operas and contemporary music.

Der Schauspieldirektor
The singers are trampling over each other for positions in the company and attempting to squeeze as much cash as they can out of the director, who is (naturally) in a financial pickle and wondering what to perform at the theatre: “Put your hand on your heart: is it not true that the worst pieces bring us the most money, and masterpieces leave the auditorium empty?” A “patron” of Madame Silberklang promises to furnish the director with funds if he signs his favourite singer. The ladies indulge in a “singing competition”, with each of them delivering a bravura aria to show off their vocal virtuosity, and while both sing about serious subjects, each attempts to “out-sing” their rival. Then, in a trio, they hysterically try to surpass each other’s coloratura’s in order to prove which of them is the prima donna.

The Telephone
Before leaving on a journey, Ben is paying a visit to Lucy, the object of his affection, and he's secretly got a big plan in the works: he's going to ask for the girl's hand in marriage. Whenever he gets to the big moment, however, the telephone rings, leading to a lengthy session of chattering on the part of his beloved. Out of desperation, Ben even attempts to sever the telephone cord, but in the end still doesn't manage to ask the momentous question: he has to leave in order to catch his train. Shortly after he departs, Lucy's telephone rings again. It's Ben. By calling from a telephone booth, he's finally able to ask Lucy to marry him, and she happily agrees. A love duet ensues – via telephone.

Reviews

[Henry VIII] “The director perhaps guessed that he had to go easy with the tragic overtones, (…) and so by the fourth and fifth wife, the humorous elements come to the fore. (…) This process is a good one, the emotions and the waves of atmosphere work well, with a total of nine musical pauses, apportioned in the appropriate measure, contributing to them.” 
Zsuzsa Makk, Mezei néző

[The Telephone] “This piece for two singers supplemented by a few dancers and a walking telephone is quite fun and, in the age of the smart phone, offers relevant entertainment.”  
Wolfgang Kutzschbach, Das Opernglas