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An Evening with Renée Fleming

An Evening with Renée Fleming 2018-09-26T20:49:29+00:00

Conducted by Rune Bergmann
Featured Artist: Renée Fleming
Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra

Der Rosenkavalier: Suite
Richard Strauss (1864 to 1949)

The emotionally bruising operatic dramas Salome (1905) and Elektra (1909) purged a taste for such ghoulish material from Strauss’s system. For his next stage project, he produced the delicious, supremely tuneful “comedy for music” Der Rosenkavalier (The Knight of the Rose). Audiences gave it a swift and eager embrace as soon as it premièred in January 1911, and it remains his most popular opera. It combines Classical period charm à la Mozart, with nineteenth-century dance rhythms, all of it clothed in Strauss’s ripe, late-Romantic orchestration. The plot unfolds in Vienna during the eighteenth-century reign of Empress Maria Theresa. The Marschallin, a worldly woman in her thirties, is having an affair with a young nobleman, Octavian. When Octavian falls in love with Sophie, a more suitable match for him, the Marschallin graciously steps aside and allows true, young love to take its course. This concert suite appeared in 1945, without crediting an arranger. It presents an enchanting medley of the opera’s most glorious passages.

Vier letzte Lieder (Four Last Songs)
Richard Strauss

In 1946, four years after he had composed the most recent of his 200 songs, Strauss came across Im Abendrot (In the Evening’s Glow), a poem by Joseph von Eichendorff (1788 to1857). Its mood suited his world-weary, post-war frame of mind perfectly. The characters, an elderly couple gazing into the sunset, reflected his and his wife Pauline’s situation like a glove. He completed his setting on 6 May 1948. An admirer had recently sent him a volume of poems by Hermann Hesse (1877 to 1962). From it he chose four pieces, possibly intending to join them together with Im Abendrot to form a song-cycle. He completed three of them: Frühling (Spring), Beim Schlafengehen (Falling Asleep), and September. He died without hearing them in concert. He left no indication that he intended them to be performed together, and therefore no sequence of presentation. Ernst Roth, an editor at his publishing company, Boosey and Hawkes, decided that they formed a cycle. The performing order upon which he settled — Beim Schlafengehen, September, Frühling, and Im Abendrot — was followed at the première. That took place in London on 22 May 1950, eight months after Strauss’s death, with Norwegian soprano Kirsten Flagstad as the soloist. Roth, with the benefit of having heard the songs performed, revised the order into the one by which they have been known ever since. These mellow, achingly beautiful works represent — consciously so — Strauss’s musical last will and testament. In them, he put aside the realistic horrors of mid-twentieth century life and returned to the ripely Romantic style of his own early music, deepened by vast intervening experience. After the soprano has sung the final words, “ist dies etwa der Tod?” (can this, perhaps, be death?), Strauss quoted the “transfiguration” theme from Death and Transfiguration, a tone poem he had composed 60 years previously. Pauline died less than a year later, nine days after the first performance of the Four Last Songs.

Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana
Pietro Mascagni (1863 to 1945)

Verismo (truthfulness) was a down-to- earth style of Italian opera that emerged late in the nineteenth century. Cavalleria rusticana (Rustic Chivalry, 1890), Mascagni’s first opera, was also verismo’s first big hit. It is a powerful story of love and betrayal, set in a Sicilian village on Easter Sunday. The Intermezzo, heard between the two scenes of this one-act opera, presents an outpouring of heartfelt emotion.

Programme notes by Don Anderson © 2018

Maestro Rune Bergmann

Soloists Renée Fleming

Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra

Diana Cohen, John Lowry, Donovan Seidle, Hojean Yoo, Genevieve Micheletti, Erica Hudson, Edmund Chung, Hangyul Kim, Alicia Venables, Bonnie Louie, Austin Hansen, Olga Kotova, Lorna Tsai, Stephanie Soltice-Johnson, Theresa Lane, Jeremy Gabbert, Min-Kyung Kwon, Erin Burkholder, Steven Lubiarz, Craig Hutchenreuther, Andrea Neumann, Eric Auerbach, Laurent Grillet-Kim, Marcin Swoboda, Arthur Bachmann, Carl Boychuk, Peter Blake, Jeremy Bauman, Michael Bursey, John Thompson, Arnold Choi, Josue Valdepenas, David Morrissey, Daniel Poceta, Kathleen de Caen, Karen Youngquist, Thomas Megee, Joan Kent, Sam Loeck, Kyle Sanborn, Matthew Heller, Patrick Staples, Graeme Mudd, Patricia Reid, Gwen Klassen, Sarah Gieck, Heather Schienbein, Lauren Eselson, Liam Boisset, David Sussman, Aidan Dugan, Slavko Popovic, Jocelyn Colquhoun, Ilana Dahl, Stan Climie, Antoine St-Onge, Michael Hope, John Feldberg, Robert McCosh, Jennifer Frank, William Hopson, Laurie Matiation, Heather Wootton, Miranda Canonico, Richard Scholz, Dan Mills, James Scott, Michael Thomson, David Reid, Tom McCaslin, Alex Cohen, Joshua Jones, Timothy Borton, Malcolm Lim, Sean Buckley, Nia Devetzis, Tisha Murvihill, Gianetta Baril, Penny Sanborn, Neil McVey, Rolf Bertsch

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