Presented as fully-staged chamber operas, these three song cycles by Jake Heggie share one common theme: the deep human desire for love and acceptance.
Sunday, August 23, 2020
Lesher Center for the Arts, Walnut Creek
At the Statue of Venus
Libretto: Terrence McNally
Rose: Carrie Hennessey
Jake Heggie, piano
An attractive woman waits in a museum by a statue of Venus to meet a man she has never seen. Her thoughts and emotions are a jumble of hope, uncertainty and self-doubt. Will he like her? Will she like him? Why did she—a proudly successful modern woman, probably divorced—allow her friends to convince her that they had found a Mr. Right for her? Nothing ventured, nothing gained. To be willing to be judged by another person—does anything make us more vulnerable but human, too?
Camille Claudel: Into the Fire
Libretto: Gene Scheer
Camille: Diana Tash
The French sculptor Camille Claudel (1864-1943) was an artistic genius at a time when a woman was rarely taken seriously on her own. Claudel knew how gifted she was – and one of her great frustrations was that she was primarily known in connection with a man: Rodin, the mighty sculptor who had been her mentor, teacher and lover. Their stormy and ill-fated romance, warring egos, clashing genius, her bold life choices, his broken promises, and the mental illness that resulted in her isolation and confinement. In 1913, on her mother and brother’s order, Claudel was taken to an asylum. The cycle takes place the day she is to be taken to the asylum. As dawn breaks, Camille wakes to the strange reality of what is about to happen and addresses her sculptures.
For a Look or a Touch
Libretto: Gene Scheer
Manfred: Zachary Gordin
Gad: Curt Branom
The deeply-moving song cycle For a Look or a Touch illuminates Nazi persecution of homosexuals, informing historical realities through an intensely intimate story of memory and loss. Manfred and Gad were lovers as teenagers in Berlin until Manfred and his family were taken and murdered. Gad, in the present day, is visited by Manfred as a ghost one night. Gad wants only to forget the horrors he lived through; while Manfred wants only to be remembered, and for Gad to remember their powerful, timeless love.
Conducted by Bryan Nies with members of the Festival Opera Orchestra