Ellie Dehn (photo Victoria Janashvili)
(ANNANDALE-on-HUDSON, N.Y.) – “Euryanthe,” the 1823 opera by Carl Maria von Weber, receives its first American revival in 100 years at Bard SummerScape beginning Friday, July 25, 2014, and running for five performances through August 3. Starring Ellie Dehn, “a charismatic soprano with great stage presence” (Wall Street Journal), Bard’s original staging features the festival’s resident American Symphony Orchestra under the leadership of music director Leon Botstein.
The new production runs for five performances (July 25, 27 & 30; August 1 & 3), with an Opera Talk, free and open to the public, before the matinee on July 27.
A scene from ‘Euryanthe’ (photo Cory Weaver)
It was Schubert’s contemporary Carl Maria von Weber (1786–1826) who established Germany’s homegrown Romantic opera tradition, yet his opera “Euryanthe” – despite being hailed as “musically sublime” (The Guardian) and arguably “Weber’s greatest masterpiece” (NPR) – remains largely neglected. Revivals of the complete opera are rare, not least in America, where it has not been seen since the Metropolitan Opera’s staging 100 years ago, in 1914.
Bard’s upcoming production therefore marks a major historical milestone. Irish Times Theatre Award-winner Kevin Newbury returns to direct, following his success with Richard Strauss’s Die Liebe der Danae at SummerScape three years ago; WQXR named the production one of the “Best of 2011,” and the New York Times observed: “An opera needs to be able to catch fire onstage, and in the SummerScape production, directed with imagination and emotional nuance by Kevin Newbury, Danae certainly does.”
Ellie Dehn in ‘Euryanthe’ (photo Cory Weaver)
In an illuminating program note, Newbury explains:
“As a director, I have always been drawn to operas that have fallen out of favor due to the alleged ‘credibility gaps’ inherent in their librettos. Strauss’s Die Liebe der Danae, which I directed here at Bard in 2011, is often called ‘unstageable,’ … [and] Weber’s Euryanthe contains similar story-telling challenges due to Helmina von Chézy’s confusing libretto and incongruous stage directions. … After some initial head-scratching, my design team and I found several visual and narrative solutions to these textual problems.
“It is a joy directing an opera like Euryanthe, with its rich characters and gorgeous music. Once we set aside any literal interpretation of the bizarre stage directions, the piece began to reveal itself in fascinating ways; in fact, for us, the problems in the text became its virtues.”
In the title role of his SummerScape production is Ellie Dehn, whose “melting yet clear soprano” impressed the New York Times when she portrayed Catherine of Aragon with “eloquence and power” in Saint-Saëns’s Henry VIII at SummerScape two years ago. Opposite her, as Euryanthe’s fiancé Adolar, is lyric tenor William Burden, who may be heard on the Metropolitan Opera’s 2013 Grammy Award-winning recording of The Tempest by Thomas Adès, with soprano Wendy Bryn Harmer as Euryanthe’s ill-fated rival Eglantine, bass-baritone Ryan Kuster as Lysiart, and bass Peter Volpe – whose “robust voice and charismatic presence” (New York Times) graced Bard’s staging of Les Huguenots – as King Ludwig.
For tickets and further information on all SummerScape events, call the Fisher Center box office at 845-758-7900 or visit Bard SummerScape. Fisher Center members receive priority access to the best seats in advance, and those who join the Center’s email list receive advance booking opportunities as well as regular news and updates.