by Mike Telin
In the words of Dorota Sobieska, Schumann art song belongs to the handful of best artworks in the world. “I started singing them when I was at music school back in Poland. The more I sing those songs the more I want to sing them,” the soprano said during a telephone conversation. “And the more I sing them the more I discover about them.”
On Saturday, November 11 at 7:30 pm at the First United Church of Christ in New Philadelphia, The Cleveland Opera will present the first of ten area performances of Two Portraits. The new production features staged-and-costumed versions of Robert Schumann’s song cycles Dichterliebe and Frauenliebe und -leben, performed by soprano Dorota Sobieska, tenor Brian Skoog, and pianist Jacek Sobieski. Sung in German with projected English translation, the free, 50-minute concerts run through December 3. Click here for times and locations.
Sobieska said that Schumann’s settings of the Romantic poetry of Heinrich Heine and Adalbert von Chamisso are “extraordinary.” They tell two stories of life and love — one by a man and one by a woman. “In Dichterliebe, the man is a young poet whose imagination paints a collection of images symbolizing powerful emotions. Frauenliebe und -leben represents milestones in a woman’s life — her love, her marriage, a child, and the death of her husband.”
Two Portraits is part of the company’s “Opera Free to All” series. “I’m aware that many people are not familiar with art song,” the soprano said. “I think that adding a touch of theatre with the costumes and staging will make it more enjoyable for audiences who are new to the genre. The costuming will be mid-19th century, and the staging will reflect the poetry in each of the songs.”
Sobieska, who holds a doctoral degree in English from Kent State University and an Artist Diploma in voice from the F. Chopin School of Music in Warsaw, Poland, said that creating Two Portraits was a natural combination for her. “I’ve wanted to do this program for a long time, and since I’ve been working with Brian, who is a fantastic tenor, I knew the time was right. For me everything is possible when performing art song.”
Published on ClevelandClassical.com November 9, 2017.
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