New College Chapel
7 June 2017
Tickets £10/£5 from TicketSource
Or on the door
First performed in 1750, Handel’s The Choice of Hercules deals with a choice offered to the god Hercules, a choice between the paths of pleasure and virtue. The two women offer various arguments to Hercules, which culminates in the trio ‘Where shall I go’? In the end, Hercules chooses Virtue. Similar stories of choice were set in England throughout the 18th century, most notably The Judgement of Paris; Handel’s text, probably by Thomas Morell, comes from Robert Lowth’s 1743 poem of the same title.
Conductor – Steven Devine; Director – Michael Burden
5 (Preview), 8, 11, 12, 14, 15 July 2017
The Warden’s Garden, New College
The Evening’s Events
6.00pm: Drink in the Cloisters
6.30pm: Opera Part I, The Warden’s Garden
Picnic Interval in the Cloisters (approximately 90 minutes)
9.00pm: Opera Part II, The Warden’s Garden
5 & 11 https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/newchamberopera
8 & 14 Old Members and Friends of New College (01865) 279509 (open to general public from one week prior)
11 OXPIP (01865) 778 043
12 Friends of Oxford Botanic Gardens (07722) 605 787
15 Friends of WNO (01865) 408 045
The story of The Barber of Seville, best known to modern audiences through Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia, had a number of previous settings, the most popular of which was by Giovanni Paisiello (1740 – 1816). The libretto comes straight from Beaumarchais, and is by the prolific (and capable) poet, Giuseppe Petrosellini. The opera was performed on 26 September 1782 at the Imperial Court in St Petersburg, and had lasting success; even after the premiere of Rossini’s version, Paisiello’s setting continued to be performed for some years afterward. Paisiello studied at the Conservatorio di S. Onoforio in Naples, originally as a singer. His years there were very successful, and he eventually became the composer for the Conservatorio’s theatre. His works there were mainly intermezzos, but they won him operatic commissions for Bologna and Rome, and when he departed the Conservatorio in 1763, he was in a position to launch a successful career. In 1776 Paisiello was invited by Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia, and it was there that The Barber of Seville was conceived.
Tenor 1: William Rowland
Tenor 2: Alexander Gebhard
Baritone 1: Eunseog Lee
Baritone 2: Frederick Crowley
William Walton The Bear; an Extravaganza
Madam Popova: Johanna Harrison
The Bear: Daniel Tate
Luka: Frederick Crowley
Conductor: Chloe Rooke
Director: Michael Burden
9 & 10 March 2017 8.30pm
New College Ante-Chapel
Tickets £12/£7 from https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/newchamberopera
Or on the door
William Walton’s The Bear and Igor Stravinsky’s Renard, have more in common than it might appear for, both are based on Russian tales: Walton’s ‘Extravaganza’ uses Chekhov’s play of the same name as its source, while Stravinsky’s ‘Histoire burlesque’ was based by the composer on Russian folk tales from a collection by Alexander Afanasyev. The full title of Renard can be translated as The fable of the Vixen, the Cock the Cat and the Ram, which is a vicious moralizing tale, satirising both religion and the Church. The Cock is caught twice by the Fox, and is twice rescued by the Cat and the Ram; after the second rescue, the Cat and Ram kill the Fox. The Bear is a more light- hearted piece, and tells the story of Popova, who has been recently widowed. However, her attempts to remain faithful to her husband receive a blow as it emerges that Popov was promiscuous and unfaithful. One of her husband’ creditors, Smirnov, arrives; he is boorish and crass (the Bear), but Popova falls in love with him, and the opera ends with Luka, the servant looking aghast at the turn of events. The Bear, a Koussevitzky commission, premiered at Jubilee Hall, Aldeburgh, on 3 June 1967; Renard was commissioned by Princesse Edmond de Polignac and was ﬁrst performed in Paris on 18 May 1922, by the Ballets Russes.
Friday 27 January @ 5 pm in the T.S Eliot Lecture Theatre, Merton College (to be followed by a drinks reception in the foyer)
Woman. Alone: Directing opera now.
Katie Mitchell is one of the few senior women working in opera in Britain and mainland Europe today. She has worked here at English National Opera, The Royal Opera House, Glyndebourne Festival and Welsh National Opera. She is currently opening the revival of George Benjamin’s Written on Skin at the Royal Opera House whilst preparing for George Benjamin’s second commission scheduled for 2018. She has also worked extensively in Germany, France, Austria and Scandinavia at houses like The Staatsoper, Berlin, The Salzburg Festival and Royal Danish Opera. She is currently a resident artist at The Aix en Provence Festival where she has directed five operas including Pelleas and Melisande and Handel’s Alcina. IN her first ‘Conversation’, she will describe her background in theatre and how she fell into opera to become one of its leading international lights.
Saturday 28 January @ 9.30 am in the Ante-Chapel, New College
Acting Handel: How to bring the da capo aria to life on stage.
Katie Mitchell will draw on her recent experience of directing Handel’s Alcina at the Aix en Provence Festival to run a workshop giving insights into how to make the da capo aria work dramatically. These arias are notoriously difficult for opera singers to perform on stage and the workshop will be offer acting ideas and concrete tips to help the young singer navigate this tricky form. The workshop will take the form of a ‘masterclass’ where young singers are directed live by Katie in front of the audience. There will also be opportunities for some audience participation. Footage of the original production of Alcina will also be seen as part of the workshop.
Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas is one of the most popular Baroque operas in the repertory today; paradoxically, it is also one of the slightest, lasting less than one hour, with a small chorus and band, only a few characters, and no spectacle. And yet Purcell’s Dido emerges as one of the greatest and strongest 17th-century opera heroines, a woman with great decision, and one who, even after the great 19th-century tragic figures have trod the stage, still has appeal for a contemporary audience.
Bach’s canata 54, Widerstehe doch der Sünde appears to have been written for performance in 1714, and there are various suggestions as to which was the intended Sunday. The text was originally written by Georg Christian Lehms for Oculi, the third Sunday in Lent, and was published in 1711. The canata may have already been composed when Bach began his regular cantata compositions in Weimar in 1714, where, as concertmaster, he assumed the principal responsibility for new compositions. This is his first extant church cantata for a solo voice, and the first of four written for a single alto soloist.
The second work on the programme, Handel’s Dixit Dominus, was composed while the composer was working in Rome. Written in 1707 when Handel was 22, it is a setting of Psalm 110, and is believed to have formed part of a setting of the Carmelite Vespers for the feast of the Madonna del Carmine. The psalm shows Christ portrayed as a prophet, priest and king not only of his own people, but of all nations. Handel’s Rome sojourn produced much elaborate and complex vocal music, including operas, cantatas, and his oratorio, La resurrezione, performed on the Easter Sunday of 1708 under Handel’s patron, Francesco Ruspoli. Dixit Dominus was supported by another patron, the Colonna family, and is most likely been performed on 16 July 1707 in the Church of Santa Maria in Montesanto.
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