Numi Opera Presents Inaugural Production DER ZWERG
Numi Opera and its inaugural production -- Alexander Von Zemlinsky's Der Zwerg based on a story by Oscar Wilde -- is announced. Directed by Numi Opera Executive Director Gail R. Gordon with musical direction by Christopher Luthi, the rarely performed opera will have two performances on Thursday, May 30 at 7:30pm and Sunday, June 2 at 2:00pm at The Theatre at Ace Hotel, located at 929 South Broadway in downtown Los Angeles.
The production will feature acclaimed singers Shana Blake Hill, Oriana Falla, Roberto Perlas G mez and Rodell Rosel. Tickets for Der Zwerg are now on sale at NumiOpera.org or by phone at 888-929-7849.
The Numi Opera Inaugural Season also includes Der Ring Des Polykrates, Erich Korngold's first opera, which he composed in 1914 to be performed in December.
The mission of Numi Opera is to perform and bring modern relevance to lesser-known operas of all eras. Conceived by Founder and Artistic Director Gail R. Gordon, Numi Opera is a company inspired by her desire to stage works such as these two debut productions. The name Numi was chosen to evoke the Italian meaning of the gods or the heavens as in Verdi's Aida when the divine spirit is invoked by a Priestess for the protection of Egypt, or appealed to by Aida for mercy Numi, pieta.
It also is meant to recall the term Numinous or many. Ms. Gordon's hope is that Numi Opera will guard and protect the many forgotten voices of opera composers, reaching through the barriers of time and space to reanimate their creative forces so that they may return victorious to the stage and to the repertoire.
These two works have an interesting connection, as Gustav Mahler suggested to Korngold's family that he study composition with Zemlinsky in Vienna. These works are also rarely performed, and share the fate of having been suppressed and banned by the Nazi regime due to the Jewish Heritage of the composers. Although popular when they were first produced, with the rise of the Third Reich the two composers were forced to flee, with Zemlinsky eventually resettling in New York and Korngold in Los Angeles, and these works fell into near-complete obscurity.
Ms. Gordon says, As the child of Jewish immigrants I feel an acute responsibility to champion the work of those whose voices have been lost for too long beyond the veil of war and genocide. I have been deeply inspired by the work of other programs toward this goal, and Numi Opera now marks my personal effort to give these 'recovered' works a home and an opportunity to breathe again in the atmosphere of our rich and diverse community in Los Angeles. We hope we can bring a freshness to performing these works with the lens of a century of history since they were both introduced.
While these operas were originally debuted in opera houses in Germany, The Ace Hotel Theater is a particularly appropriate venue for them as it embodies the 1920s aesthetic that was the essence of elegant modernity at the time these operas were first performed. The original United Artists venue has enjoyed a revival in recent years, and as Korngold is famous for his film scores for films like The Adventures of Robin Hood and Captain Blood, the old Hollywood connection brings a full circle relevance to these productions.
Der Zwerg by Alexander Von Zemlinsky (May 30th and June 2nd, 2019)
Zemlinsky crafted Der Zwerg (The Dwarf) from the short story "The Birthday of the Infanta" by Oscar Wilde. The nightmarish fairy tale concerns the protagonist (The Dwarf) who is given as a gift to, smitten by, and rejected by his love interest (The Infanta), only to discover for the first time his gruesome appearance . The story is loosely autobiographical, and echoes Zemlinsky's own failed love affair with the young Alma, who was to become Alma Mahler. The opera parable explores themes of innocence, the meaning of true love and beauty, discrimination, social rejection, and crushing loss. After fleeing Nazi Germany and finding a home in America, Zemlinsky's work remained largely unknown in his new country. Der Zwerg has been performed only a handful of times since its debut in Cologne, Germany in 1922.
Der Ring Des Polykrates by Erich Korngold (December 2019)
Korngold composed Der Ring Des Polykrates when he was only seventeen years old. The libretto, written by Leo Feld and reworked (unattributed) by Korngold's father Julius, is based on a drama by Heinrich Teweles. This one act comic opera premiered in 1916 at the National Theatre Munich. The librettist Leo Feld placed the story in the 18th century, when Friedrich Schiller's ballade of the same title was new. Set in the 18th century, the protagonist of the Der Ring Des Polykrates, musician Wilhelm Arndt, seems to have everything going for him: he is happily married to Laura, he has been appointed Hoffkapellmeister and he has just inherited a small fortune.
But when Wilhelm's long lost friend Peter returns, he is jealous of Wilhelm's happiness, and convinces him that in order not to challenge fate, he should sacrifice something (after the example set in Schiller's ballade Der Ring des Polykrates). Tensions ensue between Wilhelm and his wife over the question of her past, but ultimately all agree that the sacrifice to be offered is the cause of all the mayhem himself: Peter!
Gail R. Gordon, Founder and Artistic Director of Numi Opera, began producing operas in 2000 with her first company, Opera Nova, which she founded to give young singers an opportunity to perform standard repertoire. She went on to lead the Santa Monica College Opera Theater in 2008. Ms. Gordon has produced many traditional operas from the master works of Mozart, Puccini, Verdi and Bizet. In addition she was responsible for the acclaimed West Coast Premiere of Tobias Picker's An American Tragedy. In producing this epic work that had only previously been heard at The Metropolitan Opera, Ms. Gordon discovered that there was a real desire from the Los Angeles public to experience new works. She carries this spirit of discovery forward into Numi Opera's debut 2019/20 season. Ms. Gordon is passionate about her vision for Numi and has elected to donate her time and expertise until the company finds its footing in the community.
Christopher Luthi, Musical Director, received his Master's and Bachelor Degrees in Music at the University of Southern California. He has been a top prizewinner in competitions at both the national and international levels. While a student at USC, Mr. Luthi was awarded a Teacher's Assistantship and received the USC Keyboard Collaborative Arts Departmental Award. During the summer of 1999, Mr. Luthi was awarded a full fellowship at Tanglewood Music Center, where he participated as one of 6 vocal pianists. Mr. Luthi is currently the full-time Staff Accompanist and Vocal Coach at Fullerton College where he began his work in February of 2017. From 2006 to 2013, he was the full-time staff Accompanist at the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music at California State University, Long Beach. He has also worked as staff accompanist at both Santa Monica College and Pasadena City College. In 2003, Mr. Luthi conducted the fully staged and orchestral production of Puccini's Suor Angelica for Opera Nova.