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Concert Program Cover

Fourth Concert of the 64th Season

Music from Opera and Musical Theater

Sunday, May 11th, 2003
Cordier Auditorium
Robert Jones, Conductor

  Overture to Banditenstreiche Franz von Suppé  
       
  Ave Maria, D. 839 Franz Schubert
arr. Ryden
 
  "La donna è mobile" from Rigoletto Giuseppe Verdi  
  Nick Reynolds, tenor  
       
  "Che farò senza Eurydice" from Orphée et Eurydice Christoph von Gluck  
  "Près des remparts de Séville" from Carmen Georges Bizet  
  Kim Reuter, mezzo-soprano  
     
  "Les Toréadors" from Carmen Georges Bizet  
       
  Intermission  
       
  Overture to Die Schöne Helena Jacques Offenbach  
       
  "Batti, batti" from Don Giovanni Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  
  "Monica's Waltz" from The Medium Gian Carlo Menotti  
  Amanda Myers-Walls, soprano  
       
  Selections from West Side Story Leonard Bernstein
arr. Mason
 
       
 

Program Notes by James R. C. Adams

 
  Overture to Banditenstreiche (Jolly Robbers) Franz von Suppé
(1819-1895)
 
 

Suppé, one of the most Viennese of composers, was born in Dalmatia with the marvelously Italo-Gothic name of Francesco Ezecchiele Ermenegildo Cabaliere Suppé-Demelli; but he was taken to Vienna at an early age, and was certainly Viennese by upbringing.

He is one of those composers who is very well known, but for only a very small proportion of their output. Although he has over 150 works to his credit, over sixty of them operas, he is known almost entirely for two or three overtures. Best known are the Poet and Peasant, and the Light Cavalry.

This work begins with a fanfare, then some very soft, almost funereal music, with a repeat of the fanfare, in a higher register. This is followed by a march, with bugle-like sounds. Soon, the music becomes dramatic, only to be followed by a lyrical midsection. There then appears a "trotting" rhythm, turning sprightly, and reminding us of a horse parade. The work ends with the usual rousing finale characteristic of Suppé.


 
       
  Ave Maria Franz Schubert
(1797-1828)
 
 

The musical character of Schubert still provokes debate. Schubert, like Beethoven, is considered by many to be a "transitional" figure, bridging the Classical and the Romantic periods. The first six symphonies, written before Schubert was twenty-one, are in the Classical style, while the eighth and ninth are much more Romantic. It is the Romantic Schubert that is most admired by the musical public. Recently I read a spirited argument that Schubert should be considered a Classical rather than Romantic composer. The argument, however, focused on the symphonic works rather than the songs.

It is not simply that a certain age Schubert developed into a Romantic composer, since his undeniably "Classical" symphonies were still being written at a time when he had long since perfected the Romantic song cycle. A likely explanation is that he virtually originated the German art song, better known as a Lied (Lieder in the plural), and had no models to emulate. The symphony, on the other hand, had been developed as a Classical form by Mozart and Haydn, and the youthful Schubert must have been hesitant about risking innovation in a form so well established by the masters. By the 1820s, Schubert had gained the confidence to compose more than "charming" symphonies, and produced the marvelous Eighth (Unfinished) and Ninth (The Great).

Perhaps Schubert's best-known Lied is Der Erlkönig, but surely the Ave Maria is his second most popular song. Ave Maria means "Hail Mary." The text is of Biblical origin, coming partly from the words of the Archangel Gabriel, and partly from the words of Elizabeth, both from the gospel of Luke. It has been set to music by many composers ever since the 15th century. The two versions sung most often these days are by Gounod (the melody sung over a Bach prelude), and the one by Schubert that we will hear today.


 
       
  "La donna è mobile" from Rigoletto Giuseppi Verdi
(1813-1901)
 
 

For a person who was denied a scholarship at the Milan Conservatory because he "lacked musical aptitude," he had remarkable success with his many operas. Few opera composers have had the staying power of Verdi. Only Mozart and Wagner come to mind. Even non-oper-lovers will find familiar strains from Il Trovatore, La Traviata, Aida, (even when they don't know the source) and of course, today's aria from Rigoletto.

Verdi went through three "phases," the third one when he was in his eighties being one of his most creative. Rigoletto, however, is from his first period. As striking as this opera is, there are hints of greater things to come. The story concerns a hunchbacked jester in the court of the Duke of Mantua, who is a lecherous sort of Don Juan. Rigoletto is no better, acting as the Duke's agent in helping him seduce every woman the Duke takes a fancy to. Two neighboring Counts whose wife and daughter, respectively, have been dishonored by the Duke confront him and Rigoletto in rage, and put a curse on the two of them.

Rigoletto has a beautiful daughter, Gilda, whom he has guarded all her life, not permitting her to leave the house except to go to chapel. But that has not saved her from the attentions of the evil Duke. He presents himself as a student, and inspires affection. Neither knows who the other is (typical of grand opera!) He knows only that she is an innocent young charmer, whom he must have. He secures the aid of some thugs to kidnap Gilda and take her to his palace. By the time Rigoletto discovers the deed and manages to recover his daughter, she has not only been dishonored, but has fallen in love with the Duke.

Rigoletto plots to have the Duke murdered to avenge his daughter, but she pleads for mercy, something Rigoletto cannot understand. He has her watch the Duke through a peephole in an inn as he tries to seduce the sister of the hired killer. This is the point where the aria which we will hear today occurs. The Duke has just entered the inn and ordered a room and some wine. He sings La donna è mobile (Woman is fickle), "How fickle women are, fleeting as a falling star. Changing forever, Constant, ah! Never. Like feathers flying on the wind..." Of course the listening Rigoletto and Gilda recognize the irony in this sentiment, considering what a rake the Duke is. Rigoletto sends Gilda away, and makes an agreement with the killer, that he will pay him half before, and half after the deed, and that the body should be put in a sack so that Rigoletto can throw him in the river, personally. Once he is gone, the sister begins to argue with her brother because she, too, has fallen for the Duke. Gilda has returned, disguised as a soldier, and overhears the two plotting. The sister suggests that her brother kill someone else, and put that body in the sack. Rigoletto would never know. Gilda resolves to save the Duke by losing her own life, enters the inn, and is stabbed and put in the sack. When it is turned over to Rigoletto and he is about to heave it into the river, he hears the Duke singing in the distance, opens the sack, and finds Gilda breathing her last. The curse has come true.


 
       
  "Che farò senza Eurydice" from Orphée et Eurydice Christoph Willibald von Gluck
(1714-1787)
 
 

Gluck was born in Bavaria and died in Vienna. Of the many operas he wrote, only Orpheus and Euridice remains in the standard repertoire. The story, of course, is Greek, and had been set to music many times before Gluck addressed it, and many times since. Several Renaissance composers used the story to restore the Greek sense of tragedy. The first known performance of Peri's version was in Florence in 1600.

The great Claudio Monteverdi, sometimes described as the "inventor" of opera, produced his version, Orfeo, in 1607, in which he introduced the duet (operas had been made up of alternating solos), and he increased the size of the orchestra to thirty-eight! A hundred years later, Gluck took up the challenge. He was disgusted by the excesses of the singers of the past, who were encouraged to embellish the melodies and did so without regard to the meaning of the text. He insisted on a straightforward approach, and he even banished the standard harpsichord accompaniment in order to emphasize the orchestra. The only concession to public taste, and an insult to the tradition of Greek tragedy, was his happy ending.

There are many versions of this opera, some rearranged by Gluck himself, and others "improved" upon by more recent composers. Some are in French, others in Italian. Originally, the role of Orpheus was sung by castrati, and later by countertenors, but as both sorts of voices went out of fashion for one reason or another, the role was given over to the female voice, normally a mezzo-soprano. Arias were added, and bellt music as well. In the twentieth century, many of these innovations have been removed in an attempt to restore authenticity, and there are several recordings available featuring a countertenor in the role of Orpheus. Today, we hear the version established as "standard" in the nineteenth century, with a female in the lead. The role of Amore is also commonly sung by a female.

The opera begins with Euridice lying in her tomb while her husband, Orpheus, mourns. Orpheus is the son of Apollo, god of music, and Calliope, muse of epic poetry. He is so distraught that Amore, god of love, decides to help him. He tells Orpheus that he can go to the underworld to find Euridice and lead her out, but he must not look at her until they have crossed the river Styx. He cannot even tell her why he cannot look at her. On the way to the surface, she is perplexed by Orpheus' reluctance to look at her, and interprets that as a sign that he no longer loves her. She hangs back and, in despair, Orpheus turns to look at her, at which point she sinks to the ground, dead. He is then even more anguished than before, because this time he was the cause of her death. He then sings the aria we hear today: Che farò senza Eurydice? ("What shall I do without Euridice?"). Amore has been watching, and is moved to restore Euridice to life.


 
       
  Selections from Carmen
"Près des remparts de Séville"
(By the walls of Seville)
Georges Bizet
(1838-1875)
 
 

Georges Bizet was born in Paris, and died there at the age of thirty-seven. He is often cited as an example of the misunderstood genius driven to an early grave by an indifferent or hostile public, his death being attributed to the "failure" of Carmen. Actually, although the opera received some adverse criticism for the "indelicacy" of its subject, it met with fair success at the box office, being performed some thirty-three times in the two-month period between its premiere and the death of Bizet from a ruptured artery. Carmen came to be the most often performed opera in the world.

Don José, a young Corporal of the Guard, is betrothed to Micaëla, his childhood sweetheart. He is soon seduced and corrupted by the fiery Gypsy girl, Carmen, who works at the cigarette factory in Seville. She quickly tires of him and takes up with the matador, Escamillo. Don José, in a fit of jealous rage, stabs her, and she and the curtain fall.

The aria, Près des remparts de Séville is sung early in the opera when Carmen has succeeded in arousing José's interest. She has also gotten herself arrested for fighting with a factory girl, and she is in Don José's custody. Although he ties her to a chair, she vows that he will free her. She sings of meeting a certain young corporal at the café of Lillas Pastia, and while it is obvious that she is thinking of Don José, she taunts him with a denial. With a tacit promise to bestow her favors upon him, Carmen persaudes Don José to allow her to escape. Thus begins his downfall.

The lines can be translated: Near the ramparts of Seville, at my friend Lillas Pastia, I will dance the seguidilla and drink Manzanilla (a type of Sherry). The seguidilla is a popular song/dance in Spain, especially in the south. It is similar to a bolero.


 
       
  Les Toreadors    
 

Carmen became so popular that an orchestral suite was produced, made from themes heard throughout the opera. Most of the suite consists of what alreay were orchestral entr'actes, orchestral interludes meant to entertain the audience while the scenery was being changed, but two of them are orchestral arrangements of arias. This one is derived from the aria sung in the second act by Escamillo, the matador (toreador in French and English). No sooner has Carmen ensnared José, than she sees the matador Escamillo. In this aria, he tries to interest her, but appears to fail. It is not long, however, before Carmen ruins José, then takes up with Escamillo, provoking the despondent José to stab her to death. In this aria, Escamillo sings of the similarity of matadors to soldiers, sings prophetically of danger, and mentions the "Two dark eyes upon them." We won't hear the words in this version, but the military character of the music is unmistakable.


 
       
  Overture to Die Schöne Helena
(La Belle Hèlène)
Jacques Offenbach
(1819-1880)
 
 

It is interesting that the best-known representative of the lighthearted, even frivolous side of the French musical character is, in fact, German-born. Jakob Eberst (or Winer, according to musicologist Scholes) was born in the village of Offenbach, Germany. His father was cantor at the synagogue in Cologne. At an early age (one source says twenty-four, another says thirteen), Jakob Eberst/Wiener took up residence in Paris where, under the name of Jacques Offenbach, he took the post of cellist in the orchestra of the Paris Opéra-Comique. He later became conductor at the Théâtre Français. He was a prolific composer of light music, producing some ninety operettas in the next twenty-five years. Parisian audiences were delighted by the frivolous attitude he took to classical subjects. He wrote with such infectious wit that he could provoke audiences to laugh, even when their own society was the butt of the joke.

In Die Schöne Helena (the subject being Helen of Troy), Offenback pokes fun at the Heroic Greek Ideal, and at the whole idea of Neo-Classicism which had dominated Western art prior to his time. He is often compared with Gilbert and Sullivan, who battered away at the British class-system in their music. But his irreverence in attacking the Establishment was not quite as daring as theirs, since Neo-Classicism was already on the way out by the time Offenbach attacked it.

His music is still popular even among those who pay little attention to operatic music. Most would be able to whistle along with the "Can-Can" from La Vie Parisienne, or the "Barcarole" from Tales of Hoffmann, even if they couldn't name the source. To my knowledge, his operetta La Péricole has the signal distinction of being the only such work to be repeated by request on the College radio station, WBKE!


 
       
  "Batti, batti" from Don Giovanni Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
(1756-1791)
 
 

The operas of Mozart are, for the most part, light. Mozart considered them all light, even Don Giovanni, which he referred to as a dramma giocoso. Don Giovanni differs from the rest in treating deeply serious matters in a jocular way.

Conflict, in many of Mozart's operas, is usually between the social classes, with the aristocrats usually being outwitted by their social inferiors (a device which frequently got Mozart in trouble with his patrons!). In Don Giovanni, however, the conflict is between society as a whole and a moral threat to all its levels. Don Giovanni is the Italian version of the Spanish Don Juan; the story takes place in Seville.

Don Giovanni and his comic sidekick Leporello have just arrived in Seville, and while Leporello stands guard outside the mansion of the Commandant, Giovanni enters in an attempt to seduce Anna, the daughter of the Commandant. Anna chases him out, and in the ensuing commotion, Don Giovanni kills the Commandant. She and her fiancée, Ottavio, vow vengeance.

Donna Elvira recognizes Don Giovanni as the man who wooed her and abandoned her seven years before. She has mixed feelings about him, but she is determined to protect other women from his intrigues. The third woman in the story is Zerlina, who is a village girl about to marry Masetto. As soon as Giovanni sees her, he decides to add her to his list of conquests. He fails at this as he fails at every turn; he is nearly at the end of his rope. The climax comes when he defies Fate, who comes to his door in the form of the statue of the dead Commandant. The Commandant orders Don Giovanni to repent, which he arrogantly refuses to do, whereupon he is swallowed up by the flames of Hell.

The aria we are to hear is sung by Zerlina. Out of context, the lyrics sound masochistic: Batti, batti, o bel Masetto, "Beat me, dear Masetto, beat your poor Zerlina"). Masetto has just accused her of being unfaithful, and she is defending herself. She admits she was briefly attracted to Don Giovanni, but nothing happened; he never touched her. The whole aria can be summarized as "Strike me dead if I'm lying!" It is sung in a coquettish fashion.

Beat me, dear Masetto, beat your poor Zerlina.
I'll stand here as meek as a lamb and bear the blows you lay upon me.
You can tear my hair out, put out my eyes,
Yet gladly I'll kiss your dear hands.
Ah! I see you've no mind to: Let's make peace, dearest love!
In happiness and joy, let's pass our days and nights.


 
       
  "Monica's Waltz" from The Medium Gian Carlo Menotti
(b. 1911)
 
 

In his nineties, Menotti is still active, and his operas are still very much in the standard repertoire. Several of them are scheduled for production worldwide this year. Menotti was of Italian birth, but has spent much of his life in the United States, and is considered by many to be American, even though he has retained his Italian citizenship. By the age of thirteen, when he entered the Milan Conservatory, he had already written two operas. Four years later, he entered the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. There, he met the American composer Samuel Barber, with whom he formed a close friendship that lasted until Barber's death. They collaborated on a number of works, including Barber's Vanessa, for which Menotti wrote the libretto.

Among Menotti's works are Amelia Goes to the Ball, The Consul, and the ever-popular Christmas piece, Amahl and the Night Visitors, written for television. The Medium is a tragedy in two acts for a small chamber orchestra. Menotti describes it as the "tragedy of a person caught between two worlds, the world of reality which she cannot comprehend, and the supernatural world in which she cannot believe."


 
       
  Selections from West Side Story Leonard Bernstein
(1918-1990)
 
 

By this time, everyone knows that West Side Story is an updated version of Romeo and Juliet. (You DID know that, right?) The idea came from the choreographer Jerome Robbins in 1949, and originally was to have involved feuding between the Catholics and the Jews of New York around the time of Easter-Passover. The plan "marinated" for several years while Bernstein worked on other projects like Candide. By 1955, the Jewist-Catholic conflict had given way to the Puerto Rican-American rivalry, for a more contemporary theme.

This work is so well established that we tend to overlook its innovations. The movie version was a real landmark, containing almost twice as much music as the standard Hollywood musical.

Also, unlike typical Hollywood musicals, it was filmed on location on West 68th Street in New York. The street no longer exists, and the buildings have been razed to provide space for Lincoln Center, home of the New York Philharmonic, conducted for years by Leonard Bernstein, and the Metropolitan Opera, where, about ten years ago the work was resurrected as a full-fledged opera . . . conducted by Leonard Bernstein.


 
       
 

Manchester Symphony Orchestra Personnel

 
  Violin
Linda Kanzawa Ard, Concertmaster
Joyce Dubach *
Benita Barber
Martha Barker
David Blakely
Sarah Cole
Linda Kummernuss
Adele Maxfield
Margaret Piety

Viola
Naida MacDermid *
Peter Collins
Emily Mondock
Julie Sadler

Cello
Tim Spahr *
Sarah Reed +^
Susan Robison
Sara Thomas

Bass
Darrel Fiene *
Mark Huxhold
George Scheerer

Piccolo
Barbi Pyrah

Flute
Kathy Urbani *
Crystal Waggy +

Oboe
Rita K. Merrick *
George Donner

Clarinet
Lila D. Hammer *
Mark W. Huntington
Bassoon
Erich Zummack *
Jessica Kleckler

Horn
Nancy A. Bremer *
John Morse
Tammy Keirn
Kim Reuter +^
Charles Wysong

Trumpet
Steven Hammer *
Nathan Reynolds +^ (Asst.)
Ray Hart +
Rich Pepple

Trombone
Jon Hartman *
Matt Gratton
Scott Hippensteel

Tuba
William DeWitt

Timpani
Jason Spangler

Percussion
David Robbins
Greg Wolff

Harp
Megan Stout

Piano
Debora DeWitt

* Denotes principal
+ Denotes MC student
^ Denotes Keister Scholarship recipient
       
 
Amanda Myers-Walls, Kim Reuter, Nick ReynoldsAmanda Myers-Walls, soprano, is a senior at Manchester College with a major in psychology and a minor in music. As a Scholarship in the Arts recipient, she has participated in A Cappella choir for the past four years and has served as section leader during her junior and senior years. Amanda was also a member of the Chamber Singers her sophomore-senior years. Additionally, she has participated in various small vocal ensembles and has been a regular song leader and soloist at campus chapel services. Amanda's musical thretre involvement while at Manchester has included playing Kitty Clive in the production of Joyful Noise last spring and the role of Peppermint Patty in the musical Snoopy earlier this month. Her opera experience while at Manchester includes the part of Laeticia in Menotti's The Old Maid and the Thief and the title role in Suor Angelica by Puccini. She has completed full junior and senior recitals during her time at Manchester. During the summer of 2002 Amanda earned a scholarship to attend the Western Wind's Workshop in Ensemble Singing at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. During her senior year at Lafayette Jefferson High School she was awarded the Director's Choice Award. Amanda is the daughter of Richard and Judith Myers-Walls of Lafayette, Indiana.

Kim Reuter, mezzo-soprano, is a junior applied voice major at Manchester College. She participates in Manchester's A Cappella Choir, Chamber Singers, Symphonic Band, and Symphony Orchestra. Kim is currently studying voice with Dr. Debra Lynn. She has appeared in several musicals, opera scenes, and madrigals while at Manchester, and one Wabash Area Community Theatre musical production. Kim is a section leader in Symphonic Band and A Cappella Choir. She has been a member of the Manchester Symphony Orchestra for three years and a recipient of a Symphony Society orchestra scholarship for the past two years. She is also a recipient of a Manchester College presidential scholarship. She received Wawasee High School's music department award upon graduation. Kim resides in Milford, Indiana, and is the daughter of Herb and Pat Reuter.
Nick Reynolds, tenor, is a senior Communication Major with a Music minor at Manchester College. He is from Wabash, Indiana, where he graduated from Wabash High School. He has studied voice for four years under the teaching of Dr. Debra Lynn. At Manchester College his activities have included A Cappella Choir, Chamber Singers, and Barbershop quartet. Nick has served as President of the A Cappella Choir, tenor section leader, and is serving his second year as Assistant Conductor for the A Cappella Choir. He has also performed an opera chorus solo from Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor at Carnegie Hall his sophomore year. He has performed lead roles in Menotti's The Old Maid and the Thief and a few scenes from Mozart's Die Zauberflöte. Nick is the son of Shelby Smith of Lafayette, Indiana, and Randy Reynolds of Wabash, Indiana. Nick plans to graduate this month and eventually attend graduate school in Communication.