For the first time since 1993, The Santa Fe Opera presents two shorter operas paired as a double bill.
Divas vie for a plum role while a producer struggles to cope with their rivalry and with the stresses of work in the music business. That’s the scenario of Mozart’s brief, witty opera The Impresario, but it could also be a news story in tomorrow’s issue of The Hollywood Reporter. In these ingeniously framed productions, the stars’ rivalry centers on casting for Stravinsky’s exquisite one-act opera Le Rossignol, which forms the second half of a perfectly balanced double-bill. With English dialogue by the British dramatist Ranjit Bolt and additional Mozart concert arias folded into the score, The Impresario takes us to 1920s Paris for the high-stress auditions. With the same cast, Le Rossignol enfolds us in Hans Christian Andersen’s poetic fable in which an emperor learns the lesson of humility. Sopranos Erin Morley and Brenda Rae face off as the dueling divas. Making his Company debut is English stage director, Michael Gieleta. Kenneth Montgomery will conduct. This production of Le Rossignol honors the centennial of the opera’s premiere in Paris in 1914.
8:30 pm July 19, 23
8:00 pm August 1, 7, 15
Composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Libretto Gottlieb Stephanie
The one-act opera, The Impresario shares the trials and tribulations an impresario encounters in leading a group of traveling players. Herr Puff suggests to the impresario that he should sign the actors at low wages, and he recommends bribing the critics and disregarding artistic merit. The banker takes care of the finances for the impresario in return to have his mistress play a role in the production. As the impresario begins to hold auditions, it’s clear that Madame Tintement and Madame Popescu are divas trying to outdo each other for the same role. The two women continue their rivalry and the competition heats up. When the impresario cannot choose and threatens to cancel the production, the singers decide that only through peaceful collaboration can art thrive.
Based on the story by Hans Christian Andersen
Composer Igor Stravinsky
Libretto Stepan Mitussov
Sung in Russian
Set in Ancient China, the fisherman acts as a narrator for the story’s events.
Just before dawn, a fisherman awaits the arrival of the singing nightingale. The cook arrives bringing court officials and says how the bird’s beautiful song makes her cry. The Chamberlain, unable to hear, tells her he will appoint her as private cook to the Emperor if she can find the bird. The nightingale appears and the cook and Chamberlain invite it to sing for the Emperor. The nightingale accepts the invitation but reminds them that her sweetest song is in the forest.
Couriers prepare the palace for the nightingale’s song with lanterns. They ask the cook about the bird and she responds that though the nightingale appears plain, tears of happiness will flow from listener’s eyes. The Emperor’s procession enters and he commands the bird to sing. The Emperor is moved by the beautiful singing and offers the bird a reward of a golden slipper. Three Japanese Envoys enter the palace and offer the Emperor a mechanical nightingale. The mechanical bird sings and the nightingale flies away. The Emperor banishes it from the empire. He names the mechanical bird “first singer” in the court.
As the Emperor is dying and Death is near his side, the ghosts of his past deeds visit him. He calls for his court musicians, but instead the nightingale appears – disregarding the banishment. Death hears the nightingale sing and asks it to continue. The nightingale agrees, but only if Death returns the crown, sword and standard to the Emperor. Death agrees and the Emperor offers the nightingale “first singer” – the nightingale declines, stating that the Emperor’s tears are reward enough, and promises to sing each night from dusk until dawn.
- Mme. Tintement/Nightingale - Erin Morley
- Mme. Popescu/The Cook - Brenda Rae
- Mon. Popescu/The Fisherman - Bruce Sledge
- Impresario/The Emperor - Anthony Michaels-Moore
- Fraulein Krone/Death - Meredith Arwady
- Herr Puff/Chamberlain - Kevin Burdette
- Eiler/The Bonze - Bradley Smoak
- Conductor - Kenneth Montgomery
- Director - Michael Gieleta
- Scenic Designer - James Macnamara
- Costume Designer - Fabio Toblini
- Lighting Designer - Christopher Akerlind
- Video Designer - Andrzej Goulding
- Choreographer - Seán Curran
The Impresario & Le Rossignol