April 6, 2003 at 3pm
Barber's "Antony and Cleopatra"
SAMUEL BARBER: Antony and Cleopatra, Op. 40
Tickets are $15, $34, & $45. Call CarnegieCharge: 212-247-7800
Pre-concert discussion, moderated by ACO Artistic Director Robert Beaser, is free to all ticket holders and begins at 1:45 pm.
Presents Carnegie Hall Premiere of Samuel Barber's "Antony and Cleopatra"
American Composers Orchestra brings Barber's Antony and Cleopatra to Carnegie Hall for the first time on Sunday, April 6, 2003, at 3 pm. The performance will be conducted by ACO Music Director Steven Sloane, and features Carol Vaness as Cleopatra, Louis Otey as Antony, Neil Rosenshein as Caesar, Arthur Woodley as Enobarbus, and the New York Concert Singers, Judith Clurman, music director.
Antony and Cleopatra is both one of the most overlooked masterpieces of American opera and one of the most sensational flops of the 20th Century. It was Barber's final work for the stage, occupying-some would say preoccupying-the composer during the last productive decade of his life. The work was commissioned for the grand opening of the new Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center in 1966 with Leontyne Price and Justino Diaz in the title roles. Despite some of the composer's most stunning and heart-felt music, the premier production was widely viewed as a failure-mostly due to an overly elaborate production by Franco Zeffirelli, who sought to utilize every aspect of technical wizardry available in the new opera house.
Following the premiere, Barber virtually hid from public view, spending the next five years ensconced in the Italian Alps. In a stunning development, Francis Goelet, who underwrote the original commission (and whose Estate has provided lead funding for ACO's performance) asked Barber to re-work the musical material, giving Antony and Cleopatra the distinction of being possibly the only work to have been commissioned twice!
In 1974, Barber revised the opera with the assistance of Gian Carlo Menotti. This version was performed in a student production at The Juilliard School in 1975, with additional performances at the Spoleto Festival in 1983 and Chicago Lyric Opera in 1991. The opera has not been heard in New York City in nearly 30 years.
"We felt it was high-time for a re-appraisal of this gorgeous work," says ACO artistic director Robert Beaser. "Barber was one of the truly exceptional and truly American composers of the late 20th-century. The history of Antony and Cleopatra is one of unfortunate luck, as a flawed production in its theatrical premiere, coming at a time when American music was moving away from the romantic lyricism that was Barber's great strength," Beaser adds.
About the Artists
A major stage personality noted for his incisive and provocative interpretations, baritone Louis Otey has performed with leading theaters throughout the world. Notable roles he has performed include the title role in Don Giovanni with Houston Grand Opera, Escamillo in Carmen at Opera Theatre of St. Louis, and Eisenstein in Die Fledermaus with the Lyric Opera of Chicago [find out more...]
American soprano Carol Vaness's illustrious career has encompassed regular appearances at all the world's major opera houses, collaborations with today's foremost conductors in operatic and symphonic repertoire, a distinguished catalogue of recordings, and frequent television broadcasts in Europe and North America. [find out more...]
Founded in 1988 by music director and conductor Judith Clurman, the New York Concert Singers is an innovative professional ensemble that performs as a chamber chorus, full chorus, a cappella group, or quartet. [find out more...]
Sloane, Music Director
Tickets & Information:
Barber's "Antony and Cleopatra" will be performed on Sunday, April 6, 2003 at 3pm in Carnegie Hall. Tickets are $15, $34, and $45 and may be purchased through CarnegieCharge at 212-247-7800, by visiting Carnegie Hall's website at www.carnegiehall.org, or at the Carnegie Hall box office on 57th Street at 7th Ave. The concert is preceded by a discussion, free to ticket-holders, at 1:45pm.