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Wednesday | Apr 01, 2015

Guest Blogger Hal France on Getting to Know Fidelio

Hal France

It is with pleasure I join in this spring and share a few thoughts on the coming production directed by Michael Shell, conducted by Nicholas Cleobury and designed by Jun Kaneko.

Beethoven’s Fidelio stands large in the repertoire as the sole operatic work of this extraordinary composer. It is a model for the use of orchestra in a serious drama and a powerful reflection of its revolutionary times. Philosopher Arthur Danto in the book Fidelio/Leonore/Jun Kaneko characterizes this as “a time when the Rights of Man became recognized as a political reality and the storming of the bastille an iconic event.” Beethoven was determined to be a voice for a changing and hopeful world. In Fidelio he accomplished a large part of his mission.

The ultimate completion of the opera as we know it was a long and arduous one. Spanning nearly ten years from its first version premiered in 1805 to the definitive third version in 1814, Fidelio is a study of the composer’s legendary perseverance.

Irving Kolodin in his book: “The Interior Beethoven” writes, “it was inherent in the condition of being born Beethoven that a problem existed in order to be solved.” Even by Beethoven’s rigorous standards, this opera presented extraordinary challenges. According to his personal assistant Anton Schindler, “ This child of his intellect had caused him more than any other (of his works) the greatest birth pangs as well as the greatest vexation, and that therefore it was the one dearest to him.”

After it’s second failure in 1806, the work sat nearly eight years until a third performance opportunity and a new partner in Viennese court librettist, Georg Friedrich Treitschke came along in 1814. Treitschke is credited with re-structuring the opera and helping the composer achieve his message. He also helped pave the way for a fresh look by the public when he wrote in June of 1814 “The libretto and music are not to be confused with the opera of the same name which was performed several years ago at the Theater an der Wien…. The whole piece has been remodeled in accordance with altered notions of theatrical effectiveness, and more than half of it has been newly composed.”

Opera Philadelphia’s 2009 production of Jun Kaneko’s Fidelio. Photo by Takashi Hatakeyama.

Historical accounts and quotes such as these present us an opportunity to learn more and enrich our experience. I will share a few more in subsequent blogs. I have found the book “Fidelio/Leonore/Jun Kaneko published by the Jun Kaneko Studio to be rich in interesting articles and images.

Hal France

Tuesday | Feb 04, 2014

Super Mezzo Soprano Jennifer Rivera (and Opera Omaha’s Nero in the upcoming Agrippina) blogs in Huffington Post about what you need to know about opera before you start your SuperBowl partying!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jennifer-rivera/5-things–about-opera_b_4690074.html?utm_hp_ref=fb&src=sp&comm_ref=false

Friday | Nov 01, 2013

Twelve Days of Carmen–Day Twelve

Day Twelve: November 1, 2013

A final message from our Carmen Conductor, Hal France:

It’s the opening night of Carmen and the Breaking Boundaries season, a night full of promise and opportunity.  A phase has ended and another begins as the final ingredient joins the recipe. All of the work, thought, teamwork, spontaneity, and inspiration is now joined by our fabulous audience.  Without the audience, this masterpiece, Carmen, and this art form, opera, would be without meaning or purpose.

Our final video features our two lead actors Leann and Jonathan. Thank you for joining us. Enjoy.

Video shot at the Strauss Performing Art Center in community partnership between Opera Omaha and University of Nebraska at Omaha College of Communication Fine Arts and Media, CFAM.

Do you need tickets for our production of Carmen? Visit Ticket Omaha online or call 402-345-0606 to order by phone.

Thursday | Oct 31, 2013

Twelve Days of Carmen–Day Eleven

Day Eleven: October 31, 2013

Video shot at the Strauss Performing Art Center in community partnership between Opera Omaha and University of Nebraska at Omaha College of Communication Fine Arts and Media, CFAM.

From Conductor, Hal France:

As we head toward the twelfth day final day of this video blog and the opening of Carmen , I send my compliments to Roger Weitz, his staff and his board for the trio of operas and productions of their Breaking Boundaries Season. Each opera is different and the theme that unites them is provocative. This is a fine company and group of people, truly a pleasure.  Bravo Roger and company!

Today, Lillian Groag talks about ‘people who should never meet’ and others who happily have met here in Omaha.

Do you need tickets for our production of Carmen? Visit Ticket Omaha online or call 402-345-0606 to order by phone.

Wednesday | Oct 30, 2013

Twelve Days of Carmen–Day Ten

Day Ten: October 30, 2013

The gypsy characters in this story come from the fringes of Spanish society.  Carmen herself is one of a disenfranchised people faced with racism and discrimination. They choose survival through whatever means they can. Her ‘in your face’ attitude in Act One and her iron-like defiance at the opera’s climax make us uncomfortable, but it represents a supreme courage to stand up to anything. In this sense, she is the heroine of this story.

Listen to Lillian Groag discuss the social and cultural setting of this story.

Video shot at the Strauss Performing Art Center in community partnership between Opera Omaha and University of Nebraska at Omaha College of Communication Fine Arts and Media, CFAM.

Do you need tickets for our production of Carmen? Visit Ticket Omaha online or call 402-345-0606 to order by phone.

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