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Gerald Carpenter: Opera Scenes, Orchestral Glory to Spark Academy Saturday

'Opera Scenes' at 2 p.m. in the Lobero will be followed by a Festival Orchestra concert at 8 p.m. in the Granada

It’s shaping up to be another dynamite Saturday at the Music Academy of the West.

Henri Dutilleux is in the tradition of great French mavericks.
Henri Dutilleux is in the tradition of great French mavericks.

At 2 p.m. in the Lobero Theatre, we will be treated to “Opera Scenes,” always one of the most popular events of the whole summer festival. The stagings will be directed by the Metropolitan Opera’s Fabrizio Melano and performed by Academy vocal fellows, under the musical direction of academy faculty artists John Churchwell, Jonathan Kelly and Carrie-Ann Matheson.

Then, at 8 p.m. in the Granada Theatre, there will be a concert by that miraculous ensemble, the Academy Festival Orchestra, conducted by principal conductor of the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra, Yan Pascal Tortelier, in a program of French and English works.

The Opera Scenes program will consist of excerpts from Giuseppi Verdi’s La Traviata and Falstaff, Gaetano Donizetti’s Lucrezia Borgia, Claude Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande, Wolfgang Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro and Giacomo Puccini’s Suor Angelica.

This is a generous program, to be sure, and overall an exciting one. The high reputation of Falstaff has always baffled me, to be sure — but so has the high reputation of the Shakespearean original, among fun-loving, convivial literary types. Though pre-disposed to like characters played by Sydney Greenstreet or Robert Morley — or Marlon Brando in his swollen twilight years — not even Orson Welles was able to persuade me to take more than a passing interest in Jack Falstaff.

As for Pelléas, it demands total, passive surrender, but if that is achieved, the piece is a tour de force of sustained mood and atmosphere and dread. The program will be repeated at 7:30 p.m. Monday in the same venue.

The Academy Festival Orchestra will perform three works: Maurice Ravel’s Mother Goose Suite, Henri Dutilleux’s Métaboles and Sir Edward Elgar’s Enigma Variations. Bon Bastille, everybody.

“What I reject is the dogma and the authoritarianism which manifested themselves in that period.” That was Dutilleux on the age of serialism and other musical ideologies. He rejects them all, insofar as they inhibit the expression of the individual personality, the refinement of a personal medium. Yet he himself has, occasionally, employed serial techniques to achieve specific ends. It is only when the ideology purports to answer all questions that it poses a serious threat to creativity and imagination. Dutilleux takes his influence where he finds it, and he turns it over and over until he finds a way to fit it into his personal musical language. Métaboles, from 1964, is a study in metamorphoses, how one small change can alter an entire picture.

Reserved seats to Opera Scenes are $40 (including Lobero facility fee). They can be purchased by phone at 805.969.8787 or online by clicking here.

Tickets are also available from the Lobero box office at 805.963.0761. Tickets to the Festival Orchestra are $100 (loge box seat), $48, $38 and $10. They can be purchased by phone at 805.969.8787 or online by clicking here. Tickets are also available from the Granada box office at 805.899.2222.

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributor. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews.

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