The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 United States Thursday, November 23, 2017


Reviving rare Dvorak opera and finding the present
Bard College President Leon Botstein conducts the American Symphony Orchestra during a rehearsal at the Stephen Wise Synagogue on July 17, 2017 in New York. It was a time of chaos and intrigue in Russia, laden with hard questions about political legitimacy. So goes the plot of a rare Dvorak opera, which is being revived with an eye on its present-day relevance by leading music scholar Leon Botstein. Bryan R. Smith / AFP.

by Shaun Tandon


NEW YORK (AFP).- It was a time of chaos and intrigue in Russia, laden with questions about political legitimacy. So goes the plot of a rare Dvorak opera, which is being revived with an eye on its modern relevance.

"Dimitrij" was a validating success for Antonin Dvorak after its premiere in Prague in 1882 but he later drastically revised it. More than a century later, it is little performed outside of his native Czech Republic.

The opera will be fully staged for the first time in the United States starting Friday north of New York City at Bard College, whose longtime president Leon Botstein is a prominent scholar and conductor who champions lesser-known works.

"Dimitrij" takes place during the Time of Troubles, the period of war and famine in the early 17th century when Russia bled through an anarchic power vacuum until the Romanovs, who would become the country's final monarchic dynasty, consolidated control.

A sequel of sorts to Modest Mussorgsky's opera "Boris Godunov," "Dimitrij" opens with the title character marching with his Polish army into Moscow, inflaming a battle for control of Russia as questions swirl about his provenance and claim to govern.

With a story centered on Russian scheming and doubts over political legitimacy, "Dimitrij" offers unnerving parallels to US audiences in 2017, with President Donald Trump's administration rocked by incessant allegations of ties to Moscow during last year's election.

The opera's storyline is also about Russia itself. The Bard College production sets "Dimitrij" partially in the late 1980s and early 1990s, seeing another Time of Troubles between the fall of the Soviet Union and President Vladimir Putin's assumption of power.

A different side of Dvorak
Botstein was drawn to the themes of "Dimitrij" but also intrigued by the music -- finely developed harmonies, as are characteristic of Dvorak, yet with a strong influence from Italian opera.

"The whole thing is just a stunning piece of work -- riveting and, one might even say, germane. And so what the hell is this thing doing in obscurity?" Botstein told AFP.

The 70-year-old musicologist -- who had led Bard since 1975, building the college on the Hudson River into a hub for public intellectuals -- has long devoted his energies to reviving forgotten operas.

"Dimitrij" is part of Bard SummerScape, a season of music which this year will highlight Frederic Chopin, the Polish-born Romantic.

Botstein -- who also leads the American Symphony Orchestra in New York, which will play in performances of "Dimitrij" -- is outspoken in his criticism of opera houses, especially in the United States.

He says they are too attached to well-worn works and too driven by the search for big-name singers.

"This is all chasing what they think is the new star, the Enrico Caruso of our time," he said of the celebrated Italian tenor of a century ago.

"Which is of course ridiculous because opera no longer has the place in the culture that catapulted Enrico Caruso to world fame," he said, while offering Placido Domingo as a notable exception.

'Masterpiece syndrome'
Only one Dvorak opera remains commonly performed -- "Rusalka," the fairy tale with its popular "Song to the Moon."

Modern audiences frequently hear Dvorak's "New World Symphony," his celebration of the sounds of America, and the mournful "Stabat Mater" composed after his daughter's death.

Botstein, while supportive of new works, is perplexed by how many lesser-known pieces by earlier composers fall out of the repertory.

"Is the only reason why we are concerned with Leonardo (da Vinci) because of the Mona Lisa? No! Painting doesn't suffer from this, literature doesn't suffer from this, but music does. It's a kind of masterpiece syndrome," he said.

He said that music has become "a kind of passive Olympic sport" where "the only people we remember are the gold medalists, and the gold medalists only remember one victory."

"It's ridiculous and extremely heart-breaking," Botstein said. "It's a cultural tragedy."


© Agence France-Presse





Today's News

July 27, 2017

Evidence of Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem found at the City of David

Basquiat: A darling of pop culture, but not museums

Banksy work comes top of poll of UK's favourite artworks

Major exhibition of works by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec on view at AMO-Palazzo Forti

Quirky US-French museum to offer night on Orient Express

V&A appoints new Keeper of Design, Architecture and Digital

Heart rate study tests emotional impact of Shakespeare

Phillips hosts 'The Sky in a Room' a private selling exhibition of contemporary art

Jack and Sandra Guthman donate major gift to honor 50th anniversary of MCA Chicago

First space 'selfie' to be offered by Bloomsbury Auctions

Exhibition focuses on one of the most important and influential cinematographers in cinema

Rosenberg & Co. opens exhibition of works by contemporary artist Tom H. John

Latino portraits given to San Antonio Museum of Art

Amanda Donnan named Curator at the Frye Art Museum

Reviving rare Dvorak opera and finding the present

Leo and Kate will be your date, for the right price

Doris Kearns Goodwin named Honorary Chair of the Campaign for the Concord Museum

German opera festival confronts Wagner anti-Semitism head-on

The Ringling appoints Dr. Rhiannon Paget As Curator of Asian Art

Gallery commissions new photograph of This Is England and Skins actor Jack O'Connell

Pat Brassington awarded the inaugural Don Macfarlane Prize

Robert Crumb cover art set to lead Heritage Auctions' Vintage Comic event

Monash University Museum of Art presents a range of contemporary Australian and international artists

Most Popular Last Seven Days



1.- Design Museum in London opens major exhibition to mark the 70th anniversary of Ferrari

2.- 'Salvator Mundi' by Leonardo da Vinci sells for $450mn in auction record: Christie's

3.- Pricing the priceless: the $450mn Da Vinci record

4.- Marc Chagall's "Les Amoureux" sets auction record at $28.5 million at Sotheby's

5.- Jackson Pollock's largest painting makes DC debut at the National Gallery of Art

6.- First major exhibition to reposition the history of 18th-century Mexican painting opens

7.- Exhibition brings together the largest group of original drawings by Michelangelo

8.- Rare Holocaust 'bread card' brooch recovered near Auschwitz

9.- Exhibition presents an homage to the late French artist Raymond Hains by Jérémy Demester

10.- China's futuristic library: More fiction than books



Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .

 

Founder:
Ignacio Villarreal
Editor & Publisher:Jose Villarreal - Consultant: Ignacio Villarreal Jr.
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez


Royalville Communications, Inc
produces:

ignaciovillarreal.org avemariasound.org juncodelavega.com facundocabral-elfinal.org
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
Hommage
to a Mexican poet.
Hommage
       

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful