20th Century Opera - Menotti & Barber
Welcome back! Today I'm going to write about two operas composed in 1959 and 1960 respectively. Hand of Bridge by Samuel Barber and Gian Carlo Menotti, and Introductions and Good-byes by Lukas Foss & Gian Carlo Menotti. I'm talking about these two operas together, because they both have librettos by Menotti, because they were composed a year a part from one another, and because I produced them for the same performance.
This production was actually in Marble City Opera's very first season under the title Ties that Bond. Ties that bond supported equality in marriage and we showed our support by wearing bow ties from the Tie the Knot foundation.
Hand of Bridge by Barber and Menotti is the much more well-known opera, and it is only 10 minutes in length. A 10 minute opera in ENGLISH? I think that sounds pretty good for a new opera goer. What a good way to test out an art form that you may be unsure of. It is often performed at univeristies or young artist programs because it has a soprano, mezzo, tenor, and baritone and each has their own aria.
Introductions and Good-byes by Lucas Foss and Menotti is also just 9 minutes in length. One of my favorite things about this opera is that the opening page lists "methods of performance," and gives you the director/producer some insights to their thoughts and different ways of performing the opera. Menotti in my opinion loved theater and creative ideas. This opera is for one baritone and chorus, (if you want.) It has an introduction section and a good-bye section.
The evening was also paired with an opera by Hugo Weisgall, Will you Marry Me, which I will be writing about in the next few weeks, but I decided that I would like to tie these operas together by beginning with the Introductions section and stopping at the fermata before the good-bye section. (A fermata is a pause of unspecified length on a note or rest.) Our pause was long enough for the guests at the party to become the Hand of Bridge characters playing a game, and our young lovers in Will you Marry Me to get engaged, while their parents played a card game inside. At the end of these two operas, the host of the party sang the Good-bye section of Introductions and Good-byes. I was fortunate enough to find a young talented directed who bought into my crazy concept and brought it to life with a wonderful cast of local singers.
I remember one of my current board members who was in attendance that night said, "that was a very interesting evening in theater." and thanked me for the production. I hope to continue to bring authentic and interesting theater to Knoxville! Hope you'll read next weeks blog!