Strong convictions make for strong emotion, and in Michael J. Evans' case, emotion transforms into operatic scenes. A FINE AGITATION is an eight-part stage work based on Susan B. Anthony's letters during her infamous voting trial, which sheds light on the beloved social reformer from a personal, intimate, and profoundly charming angle.
Both biographies and political subjects are notoriously difficult to set to music without becoming either dry tragedies or kitschy pastiches, but Evans circumvents this pitfall with a compositional style that is subtly, tastefully shaded, and at times almost light-footed. It shows Anthony, an American social justice icon, from a perspective that might have been disregarded for the better part of a century – the perspective of being human.
Navona Records presents HAMLET from Joseph Summer. In this installment of the Shakespeare Concert Series, composer Joseph Summer brings us along to Elsinore with The Bard’s classic play in an all new setting complete with the lyric integrity of Shakespeare’s words in a contemporary musical arrangement. Performed by Bulgaria’s State Opera Ruse orchestra, choir, and selected Bulgarian soloists with nine international soloists singing the lead roles, the celebrated revenge tragedy bursts with a new modern flair while keeping the spirit and riveting narrative of the original alive.
Everybody knows Rumpelstiltskin’s name, but what if there’s more to his story? On RUMPELSTILTSKIN, composer Marti Epstein reimagines the classic fairy tale as a sympathetic opera, transforming the titular character into a tragic figure to propose that villains are made, rather than born. Guerilla Opera, conducted by Jeffrey Means, brings the alternate version to life across six scenes, deftly conveying the emotions and motivations of each character as they interpret Epstein’s carefully crafted soundscapes of shifting harmonic palettes and interweaving rhythmic pulses.
The Janáček Philharmonic Ostrava stuns with a new recording of Richard Wagner's three-act opera TRISTAN AND ISOLDE. Skillfully conducted by German conductor Robert Reimer, this new, vibrant performance is likely to claim its place as one of the reference recordings of Wagner's innovative work.
On his seventh release on Navona Records, THE ADVENTURES OF FLORIAN, Michael J. Evans presents an epic, modern adaptation of Henry Beston’s fairytale of the same name. Over the course of four orchestral acts, Evans reframes the story as a tale of trans heroship, with Prince Florizel marrying Florian himself presenting as a boy, rather than revealing Florian as Isabella.
Longtime Navona Records artist Michael G. Cunningham showcases his penchant for storytelling on THREE THEATRE PIECES AND CHOPIN, an album rife with theatrical wonders that delight both the ears and the imagination.
Composer Nicholas Vines’ surreal opera Loose, Wet, Perforated comes to life in this Navona Records release. Commissioned by the Boston-based experimental opera company Guerilla Opera, and premiered in 2011, this recording coincides with a new production of Loose, Wet, Perforated that involves video projection and audience interaction.
Chicago-based composer Ross Crean’s opera The Great God Pan soars in this new release, the first collaboration between the composer and PARMA recordings. The Great God Pan takes its story from an eponymous 1890 novella by Welsh author Arthur Machen, which explores themes of scientific hubris, transcendental medicine, and unexplainable supernatural behavior. Impressively, Crean adapted Machen’s narrative into the work’s libretto himself, an ambitious and rare undertaking for a composer. Crean’s familiarity with the story shows through in the emotional resonance of his music, which matches and communicates the character’s concerns and feelings with unflinching precision.
THE ROAD OF PROMISE represents a concert adaptation of Kurt Weill’s 1937 opera-oratorio The Eternal Road. Performed by members of the New York City-based performing arts organization MasterVoices (formerly The Collegiate Chorale), under the baton of Ted Sperling, this pseudo-allegorical work was conceived by European Jewish emigrants in the US as an attempt to inform the American public about Adolf Hitler’s persecution of German Jews.
THE FAIR OPHELIA, the second installment on Navona Records' The Shakespeare Concerts Series, features works by composer Joseph Summer that are inspired by Shakespeare's The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark! With Shakespeare's texts accompanied with music by Brahms, Strauss, Berlioz, Saint-Saëns, Schumann, and Joseph Summer, this album for vocal and chamber music consists of diverse settings that present the listener with an opportunity to hear Ophelia in a three dimensional perspective. Summer's works have been described as "[varying] in mood and compositional technique from piece to piece, but always beautifully expressive and deeply emotional" (Shakespeare Matters).
WIND DEVIL & CO. is a selection of sound scores commissioned by choreographers and dance companies that were performed nationally and internationally at venues such as Berlin's Akademie der Kunste and three Next Wave Festivals at Brooklyn Academy of Music. WIND DEVIL & CO. was created, composed, and performed by Sergio Cervetti, and is his third Navona release.
Composed by Pulitzer Prize-winner Lewis Spratlan with librettist and electroacoustic composers Jenny Kallick and John Downey, ARCHITECT is an exploration of the relationship between the aural and visual, how they interact, intertwine, and define each other. Based on the life and work of renowned twentieth-century architect Louis I. Kahn, the opera portrays the powerful emotions that inspire his creative journey as he seeks to discover the principles that will guide his life's work, namely, the relationships between sound and space, connections between the past and present, and the incorporation of a material's innate characteristics into a larger whole.
TORRID NATURE SCENES, an album of chamber works from Australian composer Nicholas Vines, presents a series of musical landscapes that instill both anxiety and ebullience in the listener. Through his innovative use of woodwinds, voice, and chamber ensemble, Vines - a composer lauded for his "crackling style" (NewMusicBox) and called "compellingly original" (Boston Phoenix) and "both humorous and unsettling" (WGBH) - asks us to consider representations of nature fueled not by a passing glance of a wondrous vista, but by a series of creative engines wracked with self-burning energy, profound fury, and breath-filled life.
GALLERY is a collection of works by composer Michael G. Cunningham, containing three of his narrative ballets and the Gastein Masterwork. The ballets Nyadina, based on a Balanchine film ballet; She, based on the 1887 Haggard novel; and Chrysalis at Mardi Gras, based on the Saint Joseph story resembling Cinderella contain a narrative, choreographic flow with emotional and fable-like undertones.
RASPBERRY MAN is an Enhanced EP featuring two works for narrator and instrumental ensemble by composer William Vollinger. The first, Raspberry Man, draws its inspiration from a man who made a loud raspberry noise at passersby outside a bar in New York. The second, Emmanuel Changed, draws from the change Vollinger witnessed in a troublesome chorus student.
CARMEN'S REVENGE is Osias Wilenski's humorous homage to Bizet's Carmen. Wilenskidraws from the works of Bizet, Mozart, and others to create a sort of operatic medley that places Carmen within modern society. This recording features soprano Maria Rosa López and baritone César Puente.
Lawrence Siegel’s Kaddish is an evening-length cycle of fifteen original songs for chorus, soloists, and chamber ensemble that serves to find a common ground with those who survived the Holocaust. The choral masterpiece’s libretto is drawn from interviews with Holocaust survivors and incorporates elements of folk songs and traditional Klezmer music. As a whole, Kaddish brings us on a journey through the cultural identities of pre-Holocaust central Europe, reflections of the atrocities that occurred during those years, and the victims’ desire for ordinariness.