Santa Fe Opera to Present a New Opera about Oscar Wilde
SANTA FE OPERA TO PRESENT NEW OPERA ABOUT OSCAR WILDE
Oscar, a new opera by Theodore Morrison, based on the trial and imprisonment of Oscar Wilde, will receive its world premiere as a highlight of The Santa Fe Opera 2013 Summer Festival Season.The title role will be sung by countertenor David Daniels for whom the opera was written. The libretto is by the British director John Cox and the composer.
Morrison had wanted to write an opera for Daniels and the opportunity presented itself in London in 2004 when the countertenor was performing a song cycle on the poems of James Joyce that Morrison had written for him. John Cox was at the recital and upon meeting the composer suggested that he should write an opera. Conversations between the three men ensued and in 2006 the subject of Oscar Wilde was decided upon.
As Act I begins, Oscar Wilde, London’s most famous writer and biggest celebrity, has been charged by the court of “gross indecency with other male persons,” a result of his relationship with Lord Alfred Douglas, known as Bosie. In disgrace, Wilde becomes an outcast in society without friends or a place to live. He takes refuge in the nursery apartment at the home of a friend, the English writer Ada Leverson. Frank Harris, the brilliant editor of the Saturday Review, also a friend, brings Ada news of the verdict. Wilde is found guilty and sentenced to two years of hard labor.
Act II takes place in Reading Gaol. The prisoners, subjected to the harshest conditions, are confined to dismal cells and kept separate from one another. Wilde is denied paper for writing and books to read. He becomes gravely ill, and it is while he is in the infirmary that he hears his fellow inmates’ stories and his compassion grows. The result is Wilde’s famous The Ballad of Reading Gaol, sections of which are included in the opera.
“We present Oscar Wilde as hero, not as victim,” commented Morrison. “His life, and all he stood for, has great relevance today.” He became an iconic figure in the struggle for gay rights and universal human rights.
The characters in Oscar include Walt Whitman (sung by Dwayne Croft) as commentator, speaking from the Halls of Immortality. Bosie, Wilde’s great love, is portrayed by dancer Reed Luplau. Frank Harris will be sung by William Burden, Ada Leverson by Heidi Stober. Evan Rogister is the conductor, Kevin Newbury the director. David Korins is scenic designer, David Woolard costume designer, and Rick Fisher lighting designer. Seán Curran is the choreographer.
The World Premiere of Oscar will take place Saturday, July 27, followed by performances on July 31, August 9, 12 and 17. The opera is a co-production with Opera Company of Philadelphia which will perform the work in the 2015 season.
Tickets may be purchased by calling The Santa Fe Opera Box Office, 505 986 5900; toll free 800 280 4654, and online at www.santafeopera.org.
Several activities are planned for the opening weekend. On Friday, July 26, Wilde experts will gather in Santa Fe to discuss his life and work.Saturday morning members of the Oscar creative team will be on hand to talk about the opera including Morrison, Cox, Newbury, and others. Times and venues to be announced.
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