This November, in Juilliard School's Peter Jay Sharp Theater, Anne Manson will conduct the U.S. premiere of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies' KOMMILITONEN! (Young Blood!) - an opera co-commissioned by Juilliard and the Royal Academy of Music - which received its world premiere in London this past March to remarkable critical acclaim. The production opens Juilliard's 2011-12 Vocal Arts season on Wednesday, November 16 at 8 PM, with additional performances on Friday, November 18 at 8 PM and Sunday, November 20 at 2 PM. David Pountney, librettist of the opera, provides stage direction, sets and costumes are by Robert Innes Hopkins, and choreography is by Carolum Choa.
"My new opera deals with brave students who stood up for what they believed in and triggers a wonderful example of adversity. It is very educational, probes deeply into the human psyche, and shows we should never underestimate young people," says Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. "I especially enjoy working with the young singers rising to the challenges of this project. The whole point [of the opera], knowing we were writing for students, is to tell the story of young people who may not have changed the world but whose work had a positive resonance that echoes through the ages. At the end, everything comes together in a great cry of freedom."
KOMMILITONEN - translating more literally as "fellow students" in German - crosses generations, time-zones and cultures with three interlocking stories about groups of students who are involved in political action. The first story follows the activities of Die Weisse Rose (The White Rose), a group of students at the University of Munich led by siblings Sophie and Hans Scholl, who protested against the National Socialist government in the early 1940s and were executed; the second story, Soar to Heaven, follows Wu and Zhou, two young people involved on opposite sides of the Chinese Cultural Revolution from 1966-76; the third, The Oxford Revolution, is about James Meredith, who fought a lonely battle against segregation and racial prejudice to become the first black student to enroll in the University of Mississippi, 'Ole Miss', in 1962. These three stories unfold in parallel and eventually come together in a climax of devastating emotional impact.
"With the libretto written mostly in English, it's the music itself that provides cultural and political identity to each of these highly-charged stories," says conductor Anne Manson. "Maxwell Davies makes brilliant references to spirituals of the American south, German lieder, and propagandizing songs from the Cultural Revolution in China, within his original music- all the while allowing each of these diverse elements to come together as a beautifully constructed masterpiece. As the scenes quickly pass, from one story to another, Maxwell Davies weaves the music, seamlessly bridging these gaps in time and place."
To view a documentary about the new opera and interviews with Sir Peter Maxwell Davies and David Pountney, please visit the Royal Academy of Music's Web site at: http://www.ram.ac.uk/video.
Tickets to Juilliard Opera productions are $30 and are available at the Janet and Leonard Kramer Box Office at Juilliard, as well as through CenterCharge at (212) 721-6500, five weeks in advance of the production. Half-price student and senior citizen tickets are available with a valid ID at the Juilliard Box Office; TDF vouchers are accepted. For further information, call (212) 769-7406 or visit Juilliard's Web site at www.juilliard.edu
Conductor Anne Manson, hailed by The New York Times for her "significant achievements in the international opera world", has come to the forefront as one of the most exciting interpreters of opera in America today. Of her recent performance in Poulenc's DIALOGUES DES CAMELITES at The Juilliard School, the New York Daily News reported that Manson's "magnificent" conducting delivered "one of the most thrilling musical experiences I've ever had". After leading New York City Opera in Samuel Barber's VANESSA - a production that earned her the company's Richard F. Gold Debut Award - The New York Times said Manson "has broken into the New York opera scene, and it's about time". She also recently received Canada's DORA Award for outstanding musical direction, for her work with the Canadian Opera Company on Benjamin Britten's A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM. Manson conducted Philip Glass' ORPHEE with Portland Opera, and a subsequent recording of the opera was chosen as an Opera News "Critics' Pick" of the month. Other recent opera projects include: Donizetti's MARIA STUARDA and the U.S. premiere of Jonathan Dove's THE ADVENTURES OF PINOCCHIO at Minnesota Opera; Mozart's COSI FAN TUTTE at San Francisco Opera; and Offenbach's ORPHEE AUX ENFERS at The Julliard School, of which The Financial Times raved "The chief attraction was the conductor, Anne Manson. She untied every rhythmic and melodic knot of this naughty opéra bouffon with flair that buoyed both a splendid orchestra and an eager cast... it was an elegant achievement".
Anne Manson is presently the Music Director of Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, with whom she has led two hugely successful tours with world famous soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian and percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie. She also recently made her debut with the American Composers Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, a performance The New York Times described as "outstanding", and she works regularly with the Orquesta de Extremadura in Spain. Projects of the upcoming seasons include: the U.S. premiere of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies' KOMMILITONEN, an opera commissioned by Juilliard and the Royal Academy of Music, in November 2011; two orchestral recordings with the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra - one of the music of Philip Glass, the other with soloist Evelyn Glennie - in 2012; and a return to Portland opera in 2012 for productions of Puccini's MADAMA BUTTERFLY and Glass' GALILEO GALILEI.