A Jake Heggie Triptych

Summer 2021

Presented as fully-staged chamber operas — with the composer at the keyboard in the opening act — these three song cycles by Jake Heggie share one common theme: the deep human desire for love and acceptance.

Mark Foehringer, Director
Bryan Nies, Conductor
with members of the Festival Opera Orchestra

Summer 2021
Lesher Center for the Arts, Walnut Creek

1. 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?

2. Camille Claudel: Into the Fire
    Libretto: Gene Scheer
    Camille: Diana Tash

French sculptor Camille Claudel (1864-1943) was a genius in her own right, but was known only in connection with a man: Rodin, the mighty sculptor who had been her mentor, teacher and lover. Shattered by their stormy and ill-fated love affair, and a career sabotaged at every turn, Claudel was taken to an asylum on the order of her own family. The song cycle takes place on the day she is taken away. As dawn breaks, Camille wakes to the strange reality of what is about to happen and addresses her sculptures.

3. For a Look or a Touch
    Libretto: Gene Scheer
    Manfred: Zachary Gordin
    Gad: Curt Branom

This deeply-moving song cycle illuminates Nazi persecution of homosexuals, reflecting historical realities through an intensely intimate lens. 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.