Opera

A Minute with Miles
SC Public Radio/Mary Noble Ours

No piece of music is ever just “about” any one thing. In Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni, Don Giovanni stands beneath Donna Elvira’s window and sings the aria Deh vieni alla finestra, “Come to the window, O my treasure.” It’s a serenade, a love song, and a very beautiful one. But there’s one big problem: it’s a fake.


Aria Part 4

Apr 10, 2019
A Minute with Miles
SC Public Radio/Mary Noble Ours

The da capo aria, which I talked about yesterday, was a form that by 1750 had begun to lose its once enormous popularity. It was a form that was essentially killed by excess. The reign of the da capo aria coincided with the reign of the castrati as the stars of Italian opera.


Aria Part 3

Apr 9, 2019
A Minute with Miles
SC Public Radio/Mary Noble Ours

For about a hundred years, roughly from 1650 to 1750, the principal type of aria in opera, and also in the oratorios and cantatas of such composers as Bach and Handel, was the da capo aria.


Aria Part 2

Apr 8, 2019
A Minute with Miles
SC Public Radio/Mary Noble Ours

The aria - a musical form that’s a kind of song, but more elaborate and vocally demanding than the pieces we usually call songs. The development of opera in Italy in the 1600's is what brought the aria to glory.


A Minute with Miles
SC Public Radio/Mary Noble Ours

Here are the names of seven composers of Italian opera who were contemporaries of Giuseppe Verdi:

Filippo Marchetti, Errico Petrella, Pietro Antonio Coppola, Luigi Ricci, Federico Ricci, Antonio Cagnoni, and Giovani Pacini. Ever heard of them? Neither had I. 


A Minute with Miles
SC Public Radio/Mary Noble Ours

One of the reasons Mozart’s operas seem so profound to us is because they’re so true to life, and perhaps especially true to life’s complexities and contradictions. 


Sissiertta Jones
Napoleon Sarony/National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institite

In August of 2013, Walter Edgar's Journal featured a conversation with Maureen D. Lee, about her biography Sissieretta Jones, "The Greatest Singer of Her Race," 1868-1933 (USC Press, 2012), which told the forgotten story of the pioneering African American diva whose remarkable career paved the way for many who followed her.

Marisol Montalvo and Walter Dundervill in the US premiere of Tree of Codes, with music and libretto by Liza Lim.
William Struhs

John Kennedy talks with Jeanette Guinn about the Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra, and about the U.S. Pemiere of the opera, Tree of Codes.

Australian composer Liza Lim dissolves boundaries to create holes in the world—perforations in which audience members might encounter more than one existence. Two-headed birds and layers of light conjure a magical world under Director Ong Keng Sen (Facing Goya; 2014) in this dramatic work inspired by Jonathan Safran Foer’s art book by the same name. 

Amanda Woodbury and Valdis Jansons in the US premiere of Donizetti's Pia de' Tolomei.
William Struhs

Lidiya Yankovskaya is the music director of Chicago's Opera Lyric Theater. At Spoleto Festival USA she is  conducting the U.S. premiere and Spoleto production of Donizetti's Pia de Tolomei. She talks with Jeanette Guinn about the opera, its production, and about learning her craft, as well as the joy she finds in opera.

Festival Resident Conductor and Director of Orchestral Activities John Kennedy leads the Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra.
Julia Lynn, 2015

John Kennedy is a familiar face at Spoleto Festival USA. As Resident Conductor and Director of Orchestral Activities, John has a pivotal role some of the festival's biggest performances. He talks with Bradley Fuller about the opera Quartett, Mahler's 4th Symphony, his love of Charleston, and the atmosphere of Spoleto USA.

Porgy (Lester Lynch) and Bess (Alyson Cambridge).
Julia Lynn Photography

The iconic opera of the Jazz Age, Porgy and Bess, by George and Ira Gershwin with DuBose Heyward, returns to Charleston, its city of origin, in a Spoleto Festival USA production. David Herskovits, whose 1998 production of Mamba’s Daughters by DuBose and Dorothy Heyward won an OBIE award and sold out at Spoleto Festival USA in 1999, returns to direct. Celebrated Lowcountry artist Jonathan Green is Visual Designer, creating the fictional "Catfish Row," based on the actual "Cabbage Row."

Spoleto Festival USA General Director Nigel Redden.
Peter Frank Edwards

  A native of Charleston, Edmund Thornton Jenkins was the seventh son of Reverend Daniel Jenkins, who, born a slave, founded the Jenkins Orphanage on King Street; the Jenkins Orphanage Band accompanied every Broadway performance of Dorothy and DuBose Heyward’s Porgy, the play on which Porgy and Bess was based. Edmund was the Ross Scholar at London’s Royal Academy of Music, winning awards in performance and composition before his premature death in Paris at age 32.

Cast and chorus in Act II of Porgy and Bess. The scene features a wrought iron gate that is a tribute to renowned Charleston blacksmith, Philip Simmons.
Julia Lynn Photography

Cabbage Row, in the Charleston of the 1920s, was the inspiration for "Catfish Row" in DuBose Heyward’s novel, Porgy​, and is the setting for Porgy and Bess. The opera by George and Ira Gershwin with a libretto by Hayward, is brought to life on the new Martha and John M. Rivers Performance Hall stage, just blocks from the historical Cabbage Row.

Spoleto Festival USA's Resident Conductor & Director of Orchestral Activities, John Kennedy.
Julia Lynn Photography

Based on Hans Christian Andersen’s sobering tale, Helmut Lachenmann's opera, The Little Match Girl, explores the character's last moments as she gazes into the dreams and memories conjured by the flames of the matched she lights in a vain attempt to keep from freezing to death. Working in collaboration with visual artists, Blind Summit Theatre and Improbable theater company, 106 members of the Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra perform this astonishingly evocative score, full of clicks, crackles, knocks, and hisses, under the baton of John Kennedy.

Long-Time Spoleto Vocal Coach Relishes Her Work

Jun 1, 2016
Jake (Sidney Outlaw) and far right, Sportin' Life (Victor Ryan Robertson) and cast and chorus.
Julia Lynn Photography

    Dianne Richardson has been vocal coach for Spoleto performers since the beginning. She began her work, playing piano at rehearsals as well as coaching, at the invitation of festival founder Gian Carlo Menotti. In the early days, productions performed at Spoleto Festival USA would finish their run, then move to the Spoleto Festival in Italy.

Richardson says that, of all the wonderful productions on which she has worked at Spoleto, including Elektra, Salome and Die MeistersingerPorgy and Bess is her favorite.

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