Tonight, July 7, Caramoor's Director of Opera Will Crutchfield, leading the Orchestra of St. Luke's, will open the 16th season of the Bel Canto at Caramoor series with the American premiere of Gioachino Rossini's Ciro in Babilonia in collaboration with the renowned Rossini Festival in Pesaro, Italy.
Celebrated contralto Ewa Podles returns to the Venetian Theater in the role of Ciro in a production semi-staged with high-tech projected images designed by stage director Davide Livermore. The performance features tenor Michael Spyres as Baldassare and soprano Jessica Pratt in her American debut as Amira, among others. The production with the cast led by Mr. Crutchfield will perform at the Rossini Festival on August 10, 13, 16, 19 and 22.
Ciro in Babilonia was written when Rossini was just shy of 20 years old. With four operas already to his credit, he received the contract to compose Ciro in Babilonia for the Teatro Comunale of Ferrara early in 1812, to a libretto by Francesco Aventi. Operas based on Old Testament stories were popular in Italy in the early 19th century, and in some cities were obligatory for performances during Lent; other examples include Rossini's own Mose in Egitto, Donizetti's Il diluvio universale (telling of Noah and the Flood), and Verdi's Nabucco (about Belshazzar's forefather Nebuchadnezzar). The usual dramatic strategy for these works was to insert a love story or other personal complication into the outline of the familiar narrative. According to Mr. Crutchfield, "this opera is early Rossini, and you can see Baroque opera turning into
Romantic opera before your eyes."
SATURDAY JULY 7 AT 8:30PM – VENETIAN THEATER
CIRO IN BABILONIA BY GIOACHINO ROSSINI
EWA PODLES, CONTRALTO (Ciro)
JESSICA PRATT, SOPRANO (Amira)
MICHAEL SPYRES, TENOR (Baldassare)
SCOTT BEARDEN, BARITONE (Zambri)
ERIC BARRY, TENOR (Arbace)
SHARIN APOSTOLOU, SOPRANO (Argene)
KRASSEN KARAGIOZOV, BARITONE (Daniello)
Orchestra of St. Luke's
Will Crutchfield, conductor
Davide Livermore, stage director and video projections designer
The performance will be semi-staged and sung in Italian with English supertitles.
Pre-Opera Events: Ciro in Babilonia – During the afternoon prior to the performance, beginning at 3:30 PM, all ticket- holders can also enjoy a selection of lectures and recitals along with the chance to picnic in Caramoor's famous gardens:
3:30pm | Young Rossini and his Revolution: Stendhal compared Rossini's impact on music with Napoleon's on Europe. Will Crutchfield and Guest (to be announced) discuss the nature of his "revolution" and how he carried it out.
4:30pm | Bel Canto a due: Duets in close harmony - brilliant and virtuosic or delicate and tender - were a staple feature of bel canto opera, highlighted in both of this season's Caramoor titles. The same genre was immensely popular as chamber music for home performance; our Bel Canto Apprentices present a sampler of this rich repertory.
5:30pm | Belshazzar and his Feast: The chilling biblical story of the "handwriting on the wall" is the centerpiece of Ciro's second act. The Bel Canto Young Artists present musical treatments of the same episode by Handel, Schumann, William Walton and others.
6:30pm | Dinner break 7:30pm | Lecture (Lecturer to be announced)
Order tickets by calling the Box Office at 914.232.1252 or online at www.caramoor.org. Groups of 16 or more may purchase discounted tickets by contacting Matthew Scarella at 914.232.5035 ext. 252 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For a full festival listing, click here. And for more about the perfomers featured in this premiere, directions to the festival and more, visit www.caramoor.org.