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Juilliard Opera Presents the U.S. Premiere of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies' "Kommilitonen!" As the Opening Production of Its 2011-2012 Vocal Arts and Opera Season

Start Date

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Press Release Images

Sir Peter Maxwell Davies by John Batten
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies by John Batten
Michele Losier
Michele Losier

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Juilliard Vocal Arts opens its 2011-2012 season with the U.S. premiere of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies’ new full-length opera, Kommilitonen!, (translated from German as ‘fellow students’) on Wednesday, November 16 and Friday, November 18at 8 PM, and Sunday, November 20 at 2 PM in Juilliard’s Peter Jay Sharp Theater. The libretto is by David Pountney, who also directs this production of the opera. Anne Manson conducts the Juilliard Orchestra and Juilliard Opera singers. The Juilliard School and the Royal Academy of Music have co-commissioned the new opera, a cross-generational, multi-national work utilizing life-sized puppets and traditional techniques, which had its world premiere at the Royal Academy of Music on March 18, 2011. Sets and costumes are by Robert Innes Hopkins, and puppetry is by Blind Summit Theatre. Carolyn Choa will choreograph the piece.

Kommilitonen! features three interlocking stories – crossing generations, time-zones and cultures – about three groups of students who are involved in political action: the activities of Die Weisse Rose, a group of students at the University of Munich who produced leaflets protesting against the National Socialist government in 1942/3; the lives of two characters, Wu and Zhou, who are involved on opposite sides of the Cultural Revolution; and James Meredith’s lonely battle against segregation and racial prejudice to become the first black student to enroll in the University of Mississippi, ‘Ole Miss’, in 1962. 

Kommilitonen! opened in London in March 2011 to rave reviews. From John Allison of The Sunday Telegraph: “The Royal Academy offers a gripping account of student protest.” From Kieron Quirke of the London Evening Standard: “Kommilitonen! is a glorious, heart-warming pageant of humanity.” To view a documentary about the new opera and interviews with Sir Peter Maxwell Davies and David Pountney, please visit the Royal Academy of Music’s Web site at: http://www.ram.ac.uk/video.

Composer Sir Peter Maxwell Davies is universally acknowledged as a foremost composer of our time. He lives in the Orkney Islands off the most rugged north coast of Scotland, where he writes most of his music. His major works includes operas and music-theater works, orchestral works, including eight symphonies, fourteen concerti, several light orchestral works, and five large-scale works for chorus. Chamber music includes the landmark cycle of ten string quartets commissioned by Naxos Records. He is internationally active as a conductor, having held the position of composer/conductor with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the BBC Philharmonic, and is the composer laureate of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. He is a University of London professor of composition at the Royal Academy of Music, where he works regularly with student composers and performers.

Director and librettist David Pountney was recently appointed the new chief executive and artistic director of the Welsh National Opera (Cardiff). He was director of productions at the English National Opera from 1982-1992, directing more than twenty operas for the company. As a freelance director, he has worked regularly in Zurich, at the Vienna State Opera, at the Bayerische Staatsoper Munich, as well as in the United States and Japan, and in the UK has a long-standing association with Opera North. He has directed more than ten world premieres, including two by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies for which he also wrote the librettos, and has translated many operas into English from Russian, Czech, German, and Italian. His productions have twice won an Olivier award. Kommilitonen! is his third opera with Sir Peter Maxwell Davies.  

Conductor Anne Manson is presently the music director of Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, with whom she has led two hugely successful tours with soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian and percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie. She made her debut with the American Composers Orchestra at Carnegie Hall last season, and she works regularly with the Orquesta de Extremadura in Spain. Projects of the upcoming seasons, in addition to Juilliard’s opera, include two orchestral recordings with the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra – one of the music of Philip Glass, the other with soloist Dame Evelyn Glennie. Ms. Manson has had successful appearances at Juilliard conducting the Juilliard Orchestra in FOCUS! festival concerts in 2004 and 2006, a Juilliard Orchestra concert in October 2007, and with Juilliard Opera productions of Orpheus in the Underworld in November 2006, Ned Rorem’s Our Town in April 2008, and Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmelites in April 2010.

Set and costume designer Robert Innes Hopkins’ many opera designs include Rossini’s Italiana in Algeri and Britten’s Peter Grimes at the Santa Fe Opera, Puccini’s Manon Lescaut and Smetana’s Bartered Bride at Opera North, Janáĉek’s Cunning Little Vixen at San Francisco Opera and Bregenz Festspiele, and Stephen Sondheim’s Passion at Minnesota Opera. Mr. Hopkins has designed several dance productions for British choreographer Yolande Snaith, and numerous theater productions. His awards include the 1996 Critics’ Circle Designer of the Year Award for The Comedy of Errors (Royal Shakespeare Company) at Stratford-upon-Avon and then in London.

Puppetry for the opera is provided by Blind Summit Theatre. The company provided life-size hands, feet and glasses for a giant mother character, and a trio of marionette Red Guards. The singers operate the puppets, which were designed and made by Mark Down, Nick Barnes, Greta Schuckert, and Billie Achileos.

Tickets to Juilliard Opera productions are $30 and are available at the Janet and Leonard Kramer Box Office at Juilliard, as well as through CenterCharge at (212) 721-6500, five weeks in advance of the production. Half-price student and senior citizen tickets are available with a valid ID at the Juilliard Box Office; TDF vouchers are accepted. For further information, call (212) 769-7406 or visit Juilliard’s Web site at www.juilliard.edu.

The Juilliard Opera season continues with a double-bill of one-act operas by Rossini featuring Juilliard singers and the Juilliard Orchestra, directed by David Paul and conducted by Vlad Iftinca, on Friday, February 3 (8 PM), Sunday, February 5 (2 PM), Tuesday, February 7 (8 PM) and Thursday, February 9 (8 PM) in the Willson Theater. Limited FREE tickets will be available two weeks prior to the production.

In the spring semester, Juilliard Opera presents Mozart’s Don Giovanni on Wednesday, April 25 and Friday, April 27 at 8 PM, and Sunday, April 29 at 2 PM in Juilliard’s Peter Jay Sharp TheaterStephen Wadsworth, James S. Marcus Faculty Fellow at Juilliard, directs the production, and Gary Thor Wedow conducts the Juilliard Opera singers and the Juilliard Orchestra.

Stephen Wadsworth is director of Terrence McNally’s Master Class with actress Tyne Daly, currently on Broadway. Last season, Mr. Wadsworth directed the new production of Boris Godunov and a revival of Gluck's Iphigénie en Tauride at the Metropolitan Opera (both telecast in HD). He also directed Smetana’s Bartered Bride, the first collaborative production between Juilliard Opera and the Met's Lindemann Young Artist Development Program. At New York City Opera, he staged the New York premiere of A Quiet Place, the opera he wrote with Leonard Bernstein. Mr. Wadsworth is head of dramatic studies for the Lindemann program and is the James S. Marcus Faculty Fellow at Juilliard, where he guides the post-graduate advanced training (Artist Diploma of Opera Studies). He has directed operas for La Scala, Vienna State Opera, Covent Garden, the Met and many other companies, including Seattle Opera, where he has enjoyed a long association and staged ten new productions. Mr. Wadsworth is an artist in residence at the Aspen Institute and a script consultant for the Sundance Institute.

Gary Thor Wedow, a member of Juilliard’s faculty, has established a reputation for dramatically exciting and historically-informed performances with opera companies, festivals and choral organizations throughout North America. Last season, he led productions for Seattle Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, and an opera highlights festival with the Seattle Symphony. Mr. Wedow collaborates with countertenor Lawrence Lipnik, and the two have prepared several performing editions of Baroque operas; he was for many years associate conductor of Boston’s Handel and Haydn Society.Alice Tully Vocal Arts Debut Recital

Juilliard’s 15th Alice Tully Vocal Arts Debut Recital takes place on Thursday, December 1 at 8 PM in Alice Tully Hall and features Canadian mezzo-soprano and Juilliard alumna, Michèle Losier, accompanied by pianist Brian Zeger, artistic director of Juilliard’s Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts. Ms. Losier appears at the Met Opera next season in the role of Siebel in Faust. The annual Alice Tully Vocal Arts Debut Recital was created with a permanently endowed grant from the Alice Tully Foundation and provides an important public debut for a young singer on the threshold of a professional career.

Canadian mezzo-soprano and Juilliard alumna, Michèle Losier, will appear in the Alice Tully Vocal Arts Debut Recital. In addition to her Met appearance in Faust, other upcoming appearances include debuts at the Salzburg Festival and Royal Opera House, Covent Garden as Dorabella in Così fan tutte, in the title role of Cherubini’s Medée at Théatre des Champs-Élysées, and as Dulcinée in Don Quichotte in Nice. She recently appeared at the Arizona Opera, Palm Beach Opera, Washington National Opera, and with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra for the first time in her home town, where she sang a world premiere conducted by Kent Nagano. Ms. Losier was a laureate at the 2008 Queen Elisabeth of Belgium International Competition. Also a laureate at the Metropolitan Opera Auditions in 2005, she made her debut in the fall of 2007 at the Met performing the role of Diane in Gluck’sIphigénie en Tauride, conducted by Louis Langrée. A recording of the works of Duparc, entitled Complete Melodies with pianist Daniel Blumenthal, was released in April 2009 on the Fuga Libera label. Ms. Losier received her Artist Diploma from Juilliard. She is an alumna of McGill University and was a member of San Francisco’s Merola Program and the Opéra de Montréal’s Atelier Lyrique.

Brian Zeger, pianist and artistic director of Juilliard’s Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts, has built an important career not only as a pianist, appearing in distinguished concert venues throughout the United States and Europe, but also as an ensemble performer, radio broadcaster, artistic administrator and educator. In a career spanning more than two decades, Mr. Zeger has enjoyed collaborations with many of the world’s top artists, including Marilyn Horne, Kathleen Battle, Arleen Auger, René Pape, Deborah Voigt, Dame Kiri te Kanawa, Frederica von Stade, Susan Graham, Denyce Graves, Bryn Terfel, Thomas Hampson, Adrianne Pieczonka, Hei-Kyung Hong, Juliane Banse, and Joyce DiDonato. Recent and upcoming engagements include recitals with Dame Kiri te Kanawa, Frederica von Stade, Adrianne Pieczonka, and René Pape. He is director of the vocal program at the Steans Institute at the Ravinia Festival, and recently has taken on the role of Executive Director of the Metropolitan Opera Lindemann Young Artists Development Program.

Tickets to the Alice Tully Vocal Arts Debut Recital are $30 and will be available at the Janet and Leonard Kramer Box Office at Juilliard, as well as through CenterCharge at (212) 721-6500, five weeks in advance of the production. Half-price student and senior citizen tickets will be available with a valid ID at the Juilliard Box Office; TDF vouchers are accepted. For further information, call (212) 769-7406 or visit Juilliard’s Web site at www.juilliard.edu.

New York Festival of Song

Steven Blier, Juilliard faculty member and artistic director of the New York Festival of Song (NYFOS), and Michael Barrett, associate director of NYFOS and general director of Caramoor, have featured Juilliard singers for the last six seasons in a co-presentation with Juilliard for a mid-winter edition of the popular New York Festival of Song series. This season’s FREE concert takes place on Wednesday, January 18 at 8 PM in Juilliard’s Peter Jay Sharp Theater.

Vocal Arts Honors Recital

Juilliard’s annual Vocal Arts Honors Recital takes place on Thursday, March 22 at 8 PM in Alice Tully Hall. Singers are nominated by Juilliard’s voice faculty and selected by a group of distinguished judges. The Vocal Arts Honors Recital provides an important opportunity for Juilliard singers to perform before the general public. This season’s singers will be announced in December. FREE tickets will be available at the Janet and Leonard Kramer Box Office at Juilliard.

Liederabend and Songbook

Juilliard’s Liederabend and Songbook series showcase singers from Juilliard’s Vocal Arts Department in performances of song literature. Liederabend performances pair singers with students from Juilliard’s Collaborative Piano Department and take place next season on Thursdays at 6 PM in Paul Hall on October 6December 8December 15February 23March 29, and April 26.Performances are FREE; no tickets are required.

Juilliard Songbook performances, in which singers are supported by faculty pianists, will take place on Monday, February 20 at 8 PM in Morse Hall and on Thursday, April 19 at 8 PM in Paul Hall. Performances are FREE; no tickets are required.

Wednesdays at One

Juilliard presents its Wednesdays at One series each week in Alice Tully Hall throughout the school year. The series features FREE hour-long lunchtime concerts performed by Juilliard artists. Juilliard singers are featured on December 7 and April 4 in Alice Tully Hall. Performances are FREE; no tickets are required.

About the Ellen and James S. Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts at Juilliard

One of America’s most prestigious programs for educating singers, The Juilliard School’s newly-named Ellen and James S. Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts offers young artists programs tailored to their talents and needs. From bachelor and master of music degrees to advanced artist diploma programs in voice and opera studies, Juilliard provides frequent performance opportunities, featuring singers in its own recital halls, on Lincoln Center’s stages, and around New York City.

Juilliard Opera has presented numerous premieres of new operas as well as works from the standard repertoire. Juilliard graduates may be heard on recordings and in opera houses and concert halls throughout the world; diverse alumni artists include well-known performers such as Simon Estes, Renée Fleming, Leontyne Price, Risë Stevens, Tatiana Troyanos and Shirley Verrett, as well as more recent alumni including Paul Appleby, Julie Boulianne, Sasha Cooke, Isabel Leonard, Simon O’Neill, Susanna Phillips, and Emalie Savoy.

2011-2012 JUILLIARD VOCAL ARTS AND OPERA

CALENDAR OF EVENTS

JUILLIARD OPERA

KOMMILITONEN! By Sir Peter Maxwell Davies

David Pountney, Librettist and Director

Anne Manson, Conductor

Juilliard Orchestra

Robert Innes Hopkins, Set and Costume Designer

Carolyn Choa, Choreographer

Blind Summit Theatre

Wednesday, November 16 and Friday, November 18, 8 PM

Sunday, November 20, 2 PM, Peter Jay Sharp Theater 

Tickets to Juilliard Opera productions are $30 and are available at the Janet and Leonard Kramer Box Office at Juilliard, as well as through CenterCharge at (212) 721-6500, five weeks in advance of the production. Half-price student and senior citizen tickets are available with a valid ID at the Janet and Leonard Kramer Box Office at Juilliard. TDF vouchers are accepted. For further information, call (212) 769-7406 or visit Juilliard’s Web site at www.juilliard.edu. 

ROSSINI – Double-Bill of Two One-Act Operas

Friday, February 3 (8 PM), Sunday, February 5 (2 PM), Tuesday, February 7 (8 PM), and Thursday, February 9 (8 PM), Willson Theater

David Paul, Director

Vlad Iftinca, Conductor

Limited, FREE tickets for this production will be available at the Janet and Leonard Kramer Box Office at Juilliard. 

MOZART’S DON GIOVANNI

Stephen Wadsworth, Director

Gary Thor Wedow, Conductor

Juilliard Orchestra 

Wednesday, April 25 and Friday, April 27, 8 PM

Sunday, April 29 at 2 PM, Peter Jay Sharp Theater 

Tickets to Juilliard Opera productions are $30 and are available at the Janet and Leonard Kramer Box Office at Juilliard, as well as through CenterCharge at (212) 721-6500, five weeks in advance of the production. Half-price student and senior citizen tickets are available with a valid ID at the Janet and Leonard Kramer Box Office at Juilliard. TDF vouchers are accepted. For further information, call (212) 769-7406 or visit Juilliard’s Web site at www.juilliard.edu. 

Juilliard Opera is supported by the vision and generous lead funding of the International Foundation for Arts and Culture and its Chairman, Dr. Haruhisa Handa. 

RECITALS AND CONCERTS 

ALICE TULLY VOCAL ARTS DEBUT RECITAL

Michèle Losier, mezzo-soprano, and Brian Zeger, piano

Thursday, December 1, 8 PM, Alice Tully Hall 

Tickets for this recital are $30 and are available at the Janet and Leonard Kramer Box Office at Juilliard, as well as through CenterCharge at (212) 721-6500, five weeks in advance of the production. Half-price student and senior citizen tickets are available with a valid ID at the Juilliard Box Office. TDF vouchers are accepted. For further information, call (212) 769-7406 or visit Juilliard’s Web site atwww.juilliard.edu. 

WEDNESDAYS AT ONE

Wednesday, December 7, 1 PM, Alice Tully Hall and Wednesday, April 4, 1 PM, Alice Tully Hall

FREE; no tickets are required. 

NEW YORK FESTIVAL OF SONG

Wednesday, January 18, 8 PM, Peter Jay Sharp Theater

FREE tickets will be available at the Janet and Leonard Kramer Box Office at Juilliard. 

VOCAL ARTS HONORS RECITAL (Singers to be announced)

Thursday, March 22, 8 PM, Alice Tully Hall

FREE tickets will be available at the Janet and Leonard Kramer Box Office at Juilliard.

JUILLIARD SONGBOOK

Monday, February 20, 8 PM, Morse Hall and Thursday, April 19, 8 PM, Paul Hall

FREE; no tickets are required.

JUILLIARD LIEDERABEND

Throughout the season on Thursdays at 6 PM in Paul Hall on October 6, December 8, December 15, February 23, March 29, andApril 26.

FREE; no tickets are required.