Bard SummerScape 2014 Features 25th Anniversary of Bard Music Festival, 6/27-8/17
The roots of Austro-German Romanticism will be explored at the 2014 annual Bard SummerScape festival, which once again offers a sensational summer of music, opera, theater, dance, film, and cabaret, keyed to the theme of the 25th anniversary season of the world-renowned Bard Music Festival, Schubert and His World.
Held in the Frank Gehry-designed Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts and other venues on Bard College's idyllic Hudson River campus, the seven-week festival opens on June 27 with the first of three performances of Proscenium Works: 1979-2011 by the Trisha Brown Dance Company, and closes on August 17 with the conclusion of the Bard Music Festival. Complementing the Bard Music Festival's exploration of "Schubert and His World," some of the great Viennese composer's most important contemporariesprovide key SummerScape highlights. These include the first American revival in 100 years of Carl Maria von Weber's opera Euryanthe, as well as a single semi-staged performance of Schubert's rarely performed opera Fierrebras; the world premiere theater production Love in the Wars, an adaptation of Heinrich von Kleist's Penthesilea by the Booker Prize-winning novelist John Banville; and a film series titled "Schubert and the Long 19th Century." Together, SummerScape's offerings help celebrate the Silver Jubilee of the Bard Music Festival which has since its founding in 1990 done so much to revitalize the classical concert experience.
It is the Bard Music Festival that provides SummerScape's creative inspiration. Drawing on recent scholarship, the festival's thematic programming, multi-disciplinary approach, and emphasis on context and reception history make for a depth and breadth of cultural discovery that appeals to classical music novices and aficionados alike. Since its inception a quarter-century ago, the Bard Music Festival has enriched the standard concert repertory with a wealth of important rediscoveries.
The 25th-anniversary season presents "Schubert and His World," an illuminating series of orchestral, choral, vocal, and chamber concerts - as well as pre-concert talks, panel discussions, and special events - all devoted to examining the life and times of Franz Schubert (1797-1828). One of the most revered and influential composers of the Western tradition, the Viennese composer remains paradoxically elusive. His greatest fame rests on music discovered decades after his death, for although in his lifetime he won recognition as the "Prince of Song" and for his two- and four-hand keyboard music, it was only subsequently that the majority of his large-scale chamber, orchestral, and dramatic works came to light. The 2014 Bard Music Festival will consider Schubert both as he was known in his lifetime and as posterity has understood him, through performances of a wide range of his music, from the perennially popular songs to the once-favored, now-forgotten Singspiel Die Verschworenen, and from such posthumously canonized masterworks as the "Unfinished" Symphony and transcendent String Quintet in C to neglected rarities like his opera Fierrabras, which will be heard in a semi-staged performance comprising the Bard Music Festival's final program.
The American Symphony Orchestra, under its music director, Leon Botstein, is in residence at Bard throughout SummerScape. Besides leading the Bard Music Festival's orchestral programs, Botstein will also conduct this season's annual staged opera, Euryanthe (1823), by Schubert's contemporary Carl Maria von Weber (1786-1826). Returning to direct Euryanthe's first American revival in 100 years is Kevin Newbury, creator of SummerScape's production of Richard Strauss's Die Liebe der Danae. In theater, Bard will present the world premiere production of Love in the Wars - a new and playful take on Heinrich von Kleist's Penthesilea from Booker Prize-winning novelist John Banville - by Ken Rus Schmoll.Continuing SummerScape's tradition of opening each year with a significant dance performance, this season the Trisha Brown Dance Company returns to launch the festival with Proscenium Works: 1979-2011, as part of the company's farewell tour.
Imported from Europe for its ninth SummerScape season, Bard's authentic and sensationally popular Spiegeltent is hosted all summer long by Justin Vivian Bond. A handmade pavilion decorated with mirrors and stained glass evoking a bygone era of glamour, the mirrored tent provides a sumptuous and magical environment to enjoy cutting-edge cabaret and world-class musical performances - almost all of which have sold out in recent years - plus dining and a late-night salon throughout the festival.
The numerous offerings that make up the comprehensive 25th annual Bard Music Festival, "Schubert and His World," take place during SummerScape's two final weekends: August 8-10 and August 15-17. Through the prism of Schubert's life and career, this year's festival will explore the native city with which he is so closely identified. Vienna was the site of an enduring grandeur, but also a city where cozy Biedermeier domesticity would soon succumb to Romanticism, and where artistic restraint was as much a function of Metternich's police state as of bourgeois respectability. Such tensions are reflected in Schubert's art, in which nostalgia and innovation - like the minor and major modes - are always inextricably entwined.
The present year is a fitting one in which to honor Schubert, for it marks the bicentennial of his setting of Goethe's Gretchen am Spinnrade, long recognized as his first masterpiece, on October 19, 1814; the date has come to be known as the "Birthday of the German Lied." For the composer once overshadowed by Beethoven and Rossini and best known for his lyrical miniatures, then sentimentalized as shy and lovelorn but surrounded by jovial friends, and more recently cast as a sexually ambiguous subversive who set the course of music history away from Beethoven's monumental example, the time is ripe for Bard's scholarly reappraisal.
The Music Festival's programs, built thematically and spaced over the two weekends, range from "The Legacy of a Life Cut Short" to "Schubert and Opera." Along with music by his predecessors, contemporaries, and musical descendants, a broad sampling of Schubert's own compositions will be heard. Two thought-provoking panel discussions will be supplemented by informative pre-concert talks and commentaries, which illuminate each concert's themes and are free to ticket holders.
Weekend One, August 8-10: The Making of a Romantic Legend: The opening weekend of the Bard Music Festival contextualizes Schubert's early life and career alongside the music of his contemporaries, including his teacher, Antonio Salieri, and such Viennese trends as the development of the art song, the Beethoven legacy, the post-1815 obsession with Italian opera, and the virtuoso cult. The weekend concludes with a double-bill of rarities: Schubert's one-act stage-work Die Verschworenen and Franz von Suppé's hit operetta Franz Schubert.