Long Beach Opera's MACBETH Begins Tonight

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An overwhelming lust for power, a manipulative wife, and witches' prophecies spur a Scottish general onto a tragic path of betrayal, murder and madness. Long Beach Opera (LBO) closes its 2013 season with Macbeth, Swiss-American composer Ernest Bloch's re-discovered powerhouse, sung in English. Performances at the World Cruise Center in San Pedro, CA. begin tonight, June 15, 2013 and continue on June 22 and 23.

Bringing the role of Macbeth to life will be Panamanian-American baritone, Nmon Ford, whose rich voice and handsome good looks has him in demand across the Americas, Japan, and Europe. Classique News said of his recent performance as Jochanaan in Salome, "Mr. Ford's great physique and chilling charisma made him the perfect prophet, both seductive and unattainable. Because he possesses and amazing and powerful voice, he creates a character that burns with the fire of a blinding faith."

LBO Artistic and General Director Andreas Mitisek will conduct as well as direct an original concept for the staging at the World Cruise Center in San Pedro, California, the largest cruise port on the West Coast. Mitisek comments, "The young Bloch, inspired by the likes of Wagner, Mussorgsky and Debussy, created a fiery score that heightens the bloody story and provides spectacular insight into the dark soul of Macbeth."

Premiered at the Opéra Comique in Paris in 1910, Macbeth has only recently been rediscovered in Europe and hasn't been produced in the United States since 1973.

CAST:

Macbeth: Nmon Ford Lady Macbeth: Suzan Hanson
Banquo, Duncan: Doug Jones
1st Witch: Ariel Pisturino
2nd Witch: Danielle Marcelle Bond
3rd Witch: Nandani Sinha
Macduff, 1ST Murdrerer: Robin Buck
Chorus: Long Beach Camerata Singers LBO Orchestra

NMON FORD (Macbeth)

Baritone Nmon Ford was featured on the 2010 Grammy-winning recording, Transmigrations (Telarc), and the three-time 2006 Grammy-winning recording, Songs of Innocence and of Experience (Naxos). His repertoire includes leading baritone roles in Tosca, Otello, Parsifal, Salome, Lohengrin, Il trovatore, Don Giovanni, and Carmen, with appearances at the opera houses of Bologna, Hamburg, Bordeaux, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Cincinnati and Detroit, as well as the appearances with the New York and Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestras and the Chicago, Pittsburgh and Atlanta Symphonies. He has also recorded for Universal/Decca, Koch and Concord.

Suzan Hanson (Lady Macbeth)

Suzan Hanson has sung many major roles with LBO, including Madeline (Fall of the House of Usher), Mrs. P (The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat), Margarita (Ainadamar), Medea (Cherubini's Medea), Mrs. Williamson (The Difficulty of Crossing a Field), Pat Nixon (Nixon in China), both women in Sound of a Voice/Hotel of Dreams), and Brünnhilde (Siegfried, Götterdämmerung). She has premiered several works by Philip Glass (including Fall of the House of Usher and Sound of a Voice/Hotel of Dreams), Rinde Eckert, Michel Legrand, and Henry Mollicone. Appearances at other opera companies include San Francisco, Connecticut, Arizona, Pittsburgh, Verona, Tel Aviv, Madrid, Spoleto, Florence, among others. She has had leading roles at major theatrical companies including The Old Globe, the Denver Center, San Jose Rep and many others. Ms. Hanson was Sharon in the National Tour of Master Class with Faye Dunaway. Her recordings include: The Tender Land (Koch).

PRODUCTION CREDITS: Conductor/ Stage Director/ Concept: Andreas Mitisek. Lighting Designer : Dan Weingarten Sound Designer: Bob Christian.

The show will run on Sat,. June 15 at 8:00 pm (limited availability) Sat . June 22 at 8:00 pm Sun. June 23 at 8:00 pm. Pre-opera talks one hour before each performance. All events take place at the World Cruise Center, 100 Swinford Way, San Pedro, Calif. Single tickets range in price from $39-$160 and are available online at www.longbeachopera.org/tickets or from the LBO Box Office at 562-432-5934. Group discounts can be purchased through the LBO Box Office.

ABOUT MACBETH (1904-1909)

Composer: Ernest Bloch Original French Libretto: Edmond Fleg English Libretto (published 1951): Ernest Bloch and Alex Cohen

Although he was a prolific composer, Ernest Bloch wrote only one opera, Macbeth. He began the work in 1904 at a time when he was occupied creating other pieces. Over the years, he kept returning to Macbeth, eventually finishing the opera in1909. The composer's daughter, Suzanne, wrote in Ernest Bloch: Creative Spirit, "His conception of the music was to express the inner ferments of the characters, more important to him than the actual external drama." Bloch scholar Dr. Alexander Knapp refers to Bloch's treatment of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth as "a fusion of music and psychology."

Swiss writer, playwright and essayist Edmond Fleg wrote the original libretto in French, basing the text on the original Shakespeare play.

In 1910, Bloch's Macbeth had its world premiere in Paris at the Opéra Comique at a time when Verdi's 1846 Macbeth was infrequently performed. After several performances, the opera closed amid rumors of disputes within the cast. In 1938, the first post-World War I staging of Macbeth took place at the Teatro San Carlo in Naples, only to be halted by a decree by Mussolini's Fascist anti-Semitic government. At the publisher's request following the decree, Bloch extracted from the full score the two Interludes, which had served as transitions between the first and second scenes of the first act and between the first and second (final) scene of the last act. The Interludes have since been presented in concert around the world and today are better known than the opera.

After World War II, Macbeth was once again rediscovered and performed, this time in an Italian translation. Stagings took place in Rome (1953), Trieste (1957), Brussels (1958) and, following Bloch's death, at La Scala in Milan (1959). In 1975, the opera finally had its United Kingdom premiere in a concert staging using the French libretto at the Royal Festival Hall in London. During the last decade, Bloch's Macbeth has enjoyed a revival in Europe. The most recent overseas production was in 2009 by the University College London.

Ernest Bloch emigrated to the United States in 1917. In 1950, he and Alex Cohen created an English version of the Macbeth libretto. Although essentially the same as the French libretto, some of the text was changed to bring it closer to Shakespeare's dialogue.

LBO will be the first professional opera company in the United States to stage Ernest Bloch's Macbeth. Previous US performances of the opera (each one using the English libretto) began in 1957 at Cleveland's Karamu House, a Black-American theatrical company that performed the American premiere of the work in a truncated version with a piano and no chorus or orchestra. The only other US performances have been at the University of California Berkeley (1960), at Baylor University (1970) and at the Juilliard School of Music (1973) in a production directed by John Houseman.

NOTE: Information about the opera's history was graciously provided by members of the Bloch Family (Ernie Bloch II, Sita Milchev, and Lucienne Allen); Frank Geltner (Ernest Bloch Legacy Foundation); and Bloch scholars, Drs. Stanley Henig, Alexander Knapp and David Z. Kushner.)

ABOUT ERNEST BLOCH: (reprinted from the International Ernest Bloch Society)

Born 24 July 1880 Geneva Switzerland
Died 15 July 1959 Portland Oregon, USA

Ernest Bloch was so admired in his heyday that many considered him the fourth 'B' after Bach, Beethoven and Brahms. He was one of the most original composers of the 20th century whose music, whilst intellectually challenging, was accessible to a wide audience. His works were regularly performed from the 1920s to the 1950s, particularly in the USA, UK and Italy...

Bloch has often been referred to as a 'Jewish composer' because of the substantial number of his works that carry Jewish titles. Yet his repertoire incorporates a variety of influences such as Renaissance, neo-Classical, neo-Romantic, Swiss, Native American, Chinese, and Gregorian chant. Although he never founded a 'school' of composition, many of the most prominent American composers of the 20th century were his students.

He visited Britain in the 1930s, where concerts of his chamber music were presented. In 1949 his Concerto Symphonique for piano and orchestra was premiered at the Edinburgh Festival; he also conducted a major concert at the Royal Albert Hall, including Schelomo with cellist Zara Nelsova and The Sacred Service with baritone Aron Rothmüller and the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus. Following the founding of the American Ernest Bloch society, an Ernest Bloch Society was founded in London in 1937 with Albert Einstein, Sir Thomas Beecham, Sir Arthur Bliss, Sir Arnold Bax and Sir John Barbirolli, among others, as honorary officers.

Amongst his many other attributes, Bloch was an accomplished photographer, a lover of mushrooms, a collector and polisher of agates and a prolific letter writer.

Additional information about Bloch's life and compositions is available in the Oregon Encyclopaedia, click here.

ABOUT William Shakespeare'S MACBETH:

Macbeth was written by William Shakespeare sometime between 1603 and 1607. The play is a psychological study of ambition, treachery and consuming guilt. Overcome by their lust for power, Scottish lord Macbeth and his wife Lady Macbeth plot the overthrow and murder of the King with the intention of taking his throne and controlling the country. Once Macbeth murders the King, the heinous act leads to more killing and eventual civil war. Haunted by their deadly deeds, Macbeth and his wife lose everything they wished to gain, including their lives. Famous lines from the play include:

--Fair is foul, and foul is fair --There's daggers in men's smiles --Double, double toil and trouble; fire burn and cauldron bubble --I have no spur to prick the sides of my intent, but only vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself and falls on the other --Is this a dagger which I see before me, the handle toward my hand? --Sleep no more! Macbeth does murder sleep

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

LBO COINCIDENCE (Special Event): AMBITION OR OBSESSION :

On Saturday afternoon June 1, 2013 at 1:00 pm, as a prelude to performances of Ernest Bloch's opera Macbeth later in June, LBO will explore how Macbeth blurs the border separating determination and madness. Shakespeare savants, psychologists and opera-philes will dissect the title character's wicked hubris and LBO cast members will present scenes from both Verdi and Bloch's illuminations of this bloody, cautionary tale.

When: Saturday, June 1, 2013 at 1:00 pm

Where: Art Theater of Long Beach, 2025 East 4th Street, Long Beach, CA.

Tickets: General Admission tickets are $20 and are available from the Art Theater on the day of the event or online at www.longbeachopera.org.

Long Beach Opera (LBO) is internationally known for cutting-edge interpretations of unconventional repertoire. LBO creates immediate, inventive and often boldly avant-garde productions for an adventurous audience and stands apart from most other companies in the number of world, American and West Coast premieres it has staged. Founded in 1979, LBO is one of the largest professional opera organizations in Southern California and the oldest in the Los Angeles/Orange County region. LBO's performance history includes more than 100 operas ranging from the earliest works of the 17th century to the new operas of the 21st.