CHICAGO – Chicago Opera Theater (COT) presents the Chicago premiere of Ernest Bloch’s provocative and rarely-performed “Macbeth” at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance (205 E. Randolph Drive) September 13-21, 2014. Conducted by Francesco Milioto and directed and designed by COT General Director Andreas Mitisek, “Macbeth” features the collective talents of COT, the Chicago Sinfonietta and the Apollo Chorus under the direction of Stephen Alltop. Together they provide an expressive soundscape for this bone-chilling thriller based on themes of ambition, treachery and deception. The opera will be performed in English, maintaining much of Shakespeare’s original text. For tickets and more information please visit: chicagooperatheater.org.
“The ‘other’ ‘Macbeth’ is our 61st Chicago Premiere. The brilliant 26-year-old Bloch wrote this work in 1906 amidst the rich whirl of music at the turn of century from such contemporaries as Wagner, Richard Strauss, and Debussy,” said Mitisek. “It’s Bloch’s unique compositional voice which makes his Macbeth an amazing rediscovery of tremendous passion, full of beautiful, soaring music,” said Mitisek. “We are fortunate to partner with Chicago Sinfonietta and the Apollo Chorus for this new telling of a familiar story.”
Tickets are available at chicagooperatheater.org for $35- $125.
Saturday, September 13, 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, September 17, 7:30 p.m.
Friday, September 19, 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, September 21, 3 p.m.
About Ernest Bloch’s “Macbeth”
Composed between 1904 and 1906, Bloch’s “Macbeth” primarily features original text from William Shakespeare’s 17th century masterpiece and compresses the standard five acts into three. It received its first performance on November 30, 1910 by the Opéra-Comique in Paris. After the premiere production, the opera was staged in Naples in 1938. It was later banned before a revival in Rome and Trieste in 1953. The opera has been staged twice in the United States, in English, at New York’s Juilliard School of Music in 1973 and at Long Beach Opera as part of its 2013 Season.
Ernest Bloch’s “Macbeth” maintains the majority of Shakespeare’s original play. The opera contains seven tableaux, with the prelude comprising the first tableau, and each of the three acts containing two tableaux.
Upon Macbeth’s victorious return from a war between Scotland and Norway, three witches confront the great general about the Scottish king’s decision to label him a traitor. The witches predict that Macbeth will one day become king, inspiring him to kill Scotland’s monarch with the help of his wife. Macbeth assumes the throne, but learns that betrayal comes with a price.
Stage Director and Production Design: Andreas Mitisek
Conductor: Francesco Milioto
Orchestra: Chicago Sinfonietta
Chorus Master: Stephen Alltop
Chorus: Apollo Chorus
Nmon Ford – Macbeth
Suzan Hanson – Lady Macbeth
About Ernest Bloch
Ernest Bloch was born on July 24, 1880 in Geneva, Switzerland. In his native city, he studied violin with Louis Rey and composition with Emile Jaques-Dalcroze. He later studied under Eugene Ysaye and Francois Rasse in Brussels. Bloch’s principal training, however, was in Frankfurt with Iwan Knorr, who most influenced the composer’s distinct musical personality. Bloch appropriated established and novel musical elements into highly dramatic scores, often influenced by philosophical, poetic, or religious themes.
A masterly composer of music for strings, Bloch wrote four string quartets, “Schelomo–A Hebrew Rhapsody” (for cello and orchestra), and “A Voice in the Wilderness” (for orchestra and cello obbligato), which are deeply emotional works and rank among the most distinguished achievements in the neo-classic and neo-romantic idiom of early 20th-Century music. Bloch’s pupil Roger Sessions praised him for his special ability to express “the grandeur of human suffering.” The successful premiere by the Boston Symphony of Bloch’s “Trois Poèmes Juifs” in 1917 encouraged the composer to settle in the United States. He soon assumed the directorship of the Cleveland Institute of Music and later the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. He also taught at the University of California at Berkeley.
Before his death in 1959, Bloch was distinguished in his lifetime by a long list of honors including honorary membership in the Academia Santa Cecilia in Rome, the first Gold Medal in Music of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the New York Music Critics’ Circle Award for his String Quartet No. 2, and the same award later for his Concerto Grosso No. 2 and String Quartet No. 3. He was also the recipient of numerous honorary degrees.
Subscriptions to Chicago Opera Theatre’s 2015 Season are on sale now. Subscriptions are priced from $96 to $357 and can be purchased by calling 312.704.8414 or via chicagooperatheater.org. First-time subscribers save 50%. Individual tickets will go on sale in January, 2015.
Kicking off the 2015 season will be Tobias Picker’s “Thérèse Raquin,” a gripping and suspenseful tale of passionate love affairs, murderous ends and supernatural vengeance, running February 20, 22, 25 and 28, 2015. The company’s spring production of Ricky Ian Gordon’s “A Coffin in Egypt” tells the haunting tale of memory and murder, racism and recrimination, based on a play by Horton Foote. This work, written for and starring legendary mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade in the tour-de-force role of Myrtle Bledsoe, runs April 25 and 29 and May 1 and 3, 2015. The 2015 Season will close with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “Lucio Silla,” a story of the tyrannical dictator whose lust fuels his penchant for manipulation in a city which is already brimming with plots and machinations. With a scintillating score and featuring awe-inspiring arias and ravishing melodies, “Lucio Silla” runs September 26 and 30 and October 2 and 4, 2015.
Harris Theater for Music and Dance
205 E. Randolph Street
About Chicago Opera Theater
Chicago Opera Theater is an innovative, nationally recognized opera company that inspires a diverse community through immersive and thought-provoking opera experiences. COT, established in 1974 by Alan Stone, is a founding resident company of the Harris Theater for Music and Dance in Millennium Park. New General Director Andreas Mitisek is known for his adventurous repertory, visionary leadership, fundraising skills, and innovative audience-building initiatives.
Chicago Opera Theater has carved a significant place for itself in the operatic life of Chicago and has reached an audience of hundreds of thousands through its main stage performances, community engagement, education programs in Chicago Public Schools, as well as its renowned Young Artist Program.
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For more information on the Chicago Opera Theater and its programs please visit www.chicagooperatheater.org.