University of Hartford "H" Magazine - Winter 2019

University of Hartford

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Sunday Afternoon at the Opera - Harbison: Winter's Tale

01/09/2022 1:00 pm
01/09/2022 4:30 pm


Sunday Afternoon at the Opera host Keith Brown writes:

You heard Shakespeare's original play on the last Sunday of 2021. Keep it in mind as you listen this Sunday to a twentieth-century operatic treatment by American composer John Harbison (b. 1938). He adroitly edited Shakespeare's text into the more concise form of an opera libretto, cutting the five acts of the play down to two, and retitling it simply, Winter's Tale. This, the first of Harbison's three operas, premiered in 1974 in a chamber version tailored for San Francisco Opera's American Opera Project. Harbison revised and expanded upon his score in 1991. Interpolated into the operatic action are six "Dumbshows" or pantomimes inspired by Elizabethan theatrical practice.

Boston Modern Orchestra Project revived Winter's Tale in 2005 on stage, and again in 2009 as an unstaged recording made at Mechanics' Hall in Worcester, Mass. Gil Rose conducts the BMOP orchestra with a cast of thirteen vocal soloists. The proprietary BMOP Sound label released Winter's Tale on silver disc in 2012. Harbison's opera was the featured work presented on Sunday, January 13, 2013. It makes for great Wintertime listening again today.