New York City Opera is proud to present the company premiere of Samuel Barber's Antony and Cleopatra in concert on January 15 and 16, 2009 at 8 PM in Carnegie Hall's Stern Auditorium. Soprano Lauren Flanigan sings the role of Cleopatra opposite baritone Teddy Tahu Rhodes, in his New York City Opera debut, as Antony. The cast includes rising tenor Simon O'Neill as Caesar and City Opera favorites David Pittsinger as Enobarbus, Sandra Piques Eddy as Charmian and Laura Vlasak Nolen as Iras. City Opera Music Director George Manahan will conduct. The company's celebration of Samuel Barber's upcoming centennial will also include a Symposium on Antony and Cleopatra on Saturday, January 10, co-presented by and taking place at Miller Theatre at Columbia University, which will feature City Opera soprano Elizabeth Futral in a unique recital of musical depictions and evocations of Cleopatra.
"By presenting this masterpiece, New York City Opera is continuing its tradition of championing important 20th-century American repertoire. We hope to spark new and lasting interest in Antony and Cleopatra, as we have done for other rarely performed American works including Barber's Pulitzer Prize-Winning opera Vanessa, which we presented last season," says Music Director George Manahan.
* CONCERT: Thursday, January 15 and Friday, January 16, 2009 at 8:00 PM
Carnegie Hall Stern Auditorium, 57th Street and Seventh Avenue
Tickets: $24 - $130 | 212-247-7800 | www.carnegiehall.org
* SYMPOSIUM: Saturday, January 10, 2009, 12:00 - 5:00 PM
Miller Theatre at Columbia University, 2960 Broadway at 116th Street
Tickets: $20 ($15 for Students/Seniors) | 212-854-7799 | www.millertheatre.com
* WINTER GALA: Thursday, January 15, 2009 at 6:00 PM
Carnegie Hall, 57th Street and Seventh Avenue
Tickets: Begin at $1,000 (limited availability) | 212-870-4291 | City Opera Special Events
Winter Gala at Carnegie Hall
On Thursday, January 15, 2009, New York City Opera will present its Winter Gala accompanying a concert performance of Samuel Barber's Antony and Cleopatra. Gala guests will join us for pre-performance cocktails and dinner, and return during intermission for champagne. Gala tickets begin at $1,000. VIP guests ($2,500+ tickets or $15,000+ tables) will be invited to the cast party following the performance. For more information or to purchase gala tickets, please call City Opera Special Events at 212-870-4291.
Antony and Cleopatra is made possible with the leadership support of The Peter Jay Sharp Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Additional support is provided by the New York State Council on the Arts and New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. Official Piano is provided by Steinway & Sons.
Antony and Cleopatra Symposium
"What Becomes a Legend Most?"
Saturday, January 10, 2009, 12:00 - 5:00 PM, Miller Theatre, 2960 Broadway at 116th Street
Experts in diverse disciplines will offer a wide-angle view of this American masterwork and its sources, and will explore the world's enduring fascination with its larger-than-life heroine.
"Setting the Record Straight" - Barbara Heyman, author of Samuel Barber: The Composer and His Music, the definitive biography of the composer, will open the Symposium with a talk on the creation, performance history, and musical highlights of Barber's Antony and Cleopatra, offering special insight into the composer's view of its legendary heroine.
"From Plutarch to Shakespeare to Liz Taylor: Images of Cleopatra on Canvas, Stage, and Screen" - A critical survey of Cleopatra iconography, illustrated by slides and film clips. Speaker: Prudence J. Jones, Assistant Professor of Classics and Humanities, Montclair State University, and author of the biography Cleopatra as well as Cleopatra: A Sourcebook.
"Creating Cleopatra" - A panel discussion offering highly personal viewpoints on interpreting and representing the famed Queen of the Nile, her cultural significance today, and related racial and feminist issues. Panelists: three-time Tony Award-winning actress Zoe Caldwell; Francesca Royster, author of Becoming Cleopatra: The Shifting Image of an Icon, and Associate Professor of English, DePaul University; Ann Macy Roth, Associate Professor of Egyptology, New York University.
Moderator: Cori Ellison, City Opera Dramaturg
"Cleopatra Sings" - Elizabeth Futral, soprano, and Susan Caldwell, pianist
City Opera's beloved star soprano offers an offbeat piano-vocal recital of musical depictions and evocations of Cleopatra. The selections, spanning three centuries, include music by Handel, Massenet, the Rolling Stones and Pam Tillis, and the world premiere of a specially-commissioned song by VOX composer Justine Chen. Elizabeth Futral has sung the title roles in Semele, Lakmé, The Ballad of Baby Doe, and Daphne, as well as Gilda in Rigoletto, Pamina in Die Zauberflöte, Alexandra in Regina and Bella in The Midsummer Marriage for New York City Opera.
Background on Antony and Cleopatra
Antony and Cleopatra, based on Shakespeare's historical romance of the same name, was first performed on September 16, 1966, when the Metropolitan Opera inaugurated its new home at Lincoln Center. Commissioned soon after the composition of Vanessa, Barber's Pulitzer Prize-winning first opera, Antony and Cleopatra met a strikingly different fate, "strangled by a costly, confusing, overloaded production that did not even function," in Barber's own words. Convinced that the opera boasted some of his finest music, Barber and his longtime companion Gian Carlo Menotti extensively revised the score. This revamped version-more intimate, more dramatically focused and musically developed, and an hour shorter-was premiered at the Juilliard School in 1975, staged by Menotti.
Though this new version of Antony and Cleopatra was more enthusiastically received, the opera continued to suffer neglect for its perceived conservatism during an era of musical radicalism. With these performances, New York City Opera becomes only the third American opera company to present the work since its world premiere over four decades ago.
-Cori Ellison, City Opera Dramaturg
About the Artists
New York City Opera Music Director George Manahan made his City Opera debut conducting Die tote Stadt in 1991. In his tenure at City Opera, he has conducted 53 different operas, including two world premieres, four US stage premieres and 41 new productions, including but not limited to: Margaret Garner, Cavalleria rusticana, Pagliacci, Cendrillon, Madama Butterfly, Falstaff, Candide, L'elisir d'amore, La donna del lago, Capriccio, Il viaggio a Reims, The Mines of Sulphur, Lysistrata, Il trittico, Little Women, Flavio, The Flying Dutchman, Xerxes, Intermezzo, The Cunning Little Vixen, Emmeline, Macbeth, La finta giardiniera, Mourning Becomes Electra, Ermione, Lizzie Borden, La bohème (the latter two "Live from Lincoln Center" telecasts). Elsewhere, he has conducted Rigoletto, Falstaff, and L'italiana in Algeri at Glimmerglass Opera; premieres at Santa Fe Opera including Modern Painters and A Night at the Chinese Opera; productions at Seattle Opera, Opéra National de Paris, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Opera Australia, and Opera Theatre of Saint Louis; concerts with San Francisco Symphony, New Jersey Symphony, National Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, and Verona Filarmonica. Recordings include Desire Under the Elms with London Symphony Orchestra (Grammy nomination).
Lauren Flanigan, soprano. Birthplace: San Francisco, California. City Opera debut: Musetta in La bohème, 1991. Career highlights: Samuel Barber's Vanessa; Mourning Becomes Electra, Macbeth, Lilith, Central Park, The Mother of Us All, Intermezzo, Lizzie Borden, The Seven Deadly Sins, The Turn of the Screw, Mathis der Maler, Esther (world premiere), Roberto Devereux, and Die tote Stadt at City Opera. Career highlights: La Scala, Teatro San Carlo, Metropolitan Opera, Glyndebourne, San Francisco Opera, Bayerische Staatsoper, London Philharmonica, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Brucknerhaus Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Santa Fe Opera, and English National Opera. Recordings include: Richard Strauss' Die Liebe der Danae, Howard Hanson's Merry Mount, Deems Taylor's Peter Ibbetson, Philip Glass' Symphony #6, Thomas Pasatieri's Frau Margot and Monologues. Film/TV: Ice Skating Opera Diva in Death to Smoochy, Nabucco, Central Park, Richard Tucker Gala, I Lombardi. Upcoming: Irene in Rienzi with Opera Orchestra of New York and world premiere of Séance on a Wet Afternoon by Stephen Schwarz. Awards: City Opera Diva Award, Betty Allen Prize.