by Daniel Hathaway
Five operas will receive their premieres in Northeast Ohio today, four of them composed by students at the Cleveland Institute of Music, the fifth marking the return of the Baroque ensemble Les Délices to live performances.
CIM’s Opera Theater and New Music Ensemble are up first tonight at 7 with “A Pocketful of Operas,” four short chamber works in Mixon Hall. A Storm We Call Progress by Emma Cardon features an original libretto by Kirsten Barker and Laurana Wheeler Roderer. Ruth by Daniel DiMarino, with libretto by the composer, is based on the eponymous story in the Hebrew bible. Arseniy Gusev’s The Blind has been adapted by Tikhon Antonov from the Maurice Maeterlinck play. And Yoav Sadeh’s Loneliness is based on a short story by Bruno Shulz.
At 7:30 this evening at the Akron Public Library, Les Délices will present the first of four performances of The White Cat, a Baroque opera pastiche with puppets and projected imagery based on Catherine D’Aulnoy’s 17th century feminist retelling of Puss in Boots.
The 65-minute production features soprano Elena Mullins and tenor Jason McStoots (who also stage directs), backed up by violinists Julie Andrijeski and Shelby Yamin, oboists and recorder players Kathryn Montoya and Debra Nagy, gambist and cellist Rebecca Reed, and harpsichordist Mark Edwards. The set design is by Ian Petroni, who also created the puppets that will be operated by puppeteer and dancer Samara Steele, and projection designs are by Camilla Tassi. Read a preview here and follow the link to reserve tickets. Performances run through Sunday, April 3.
IN THE NEWS:
A third format change has visited the radio waves in Northeast Ohio following the frequency shifts that reassigned WCLV and WKSU last Monday. WTAM 1100 made the surprise announcement today that it would depart from its all-news format and begin broadcasting only classical music, effective immediately. “We think that the news these days has become too volatile and divisive,” wrote an unidentified spokesperson on the station’s website. “We hope to reunite the community by playing recordings of the most popular works of classical music 24-7.”
The playlist for this week will feature end-to-end performances of a single work, Bedřich Smetana’s The Moldau, which had formerly been played at least once a day on WCLV. “We think that April 1 is a very appropriate date to begin this new schedule.” Click here for more information.
American composer and pianist Scott Joplin went to his reward on this date in 1917, having established ragtime as so important a genre that William Bolcom and William Albright took up the cause of recording his music in the mid-20th century and got musicologist Josha Rifkin interested as well. In between his groundbreaking Bach studies, Rifkin recorded an album of piano rags on the Nonesuch label in 1970 that sold 100,000 copies in the first year. Click here to listen to a restored piano roll of Joplin playing his Maple Leaf Rag.
Joplin also composed a ragtime opera, Treemonisha, that has now received a number of productions, although it was never staged during his lifetime. Click here for a production by Houston Grand Opera (notes in Portuguese!)
And in 1991, American choreographer and dancer Martha Graham joined the heavenly corps de ballet, having moved American dance away from sheer entertainment to an art form that could embrace weighty subjects. Her collaborations with prominent composers raised the bar for dance scores — the most famous being Appalachian Spring, subtitled by composer Aaron Copland “Ballet for Martha.” Click here to watch a production of the 1944 ballet recorded in 1959, and here to watch Martha Graham, the dancer revealed, a full length documentary about her life and career.
Published on ClevelandClassical.com April 1, 2022.