11/1/2018 Oakmont Music Lovers

  • Submitted by Judy Walker


In late 1952 Samuel Barber began work on one of the great song cycles of the twentieth century — Hermit Songs — based on texts written by Irish monks on the margins of medieval manuscripts.  Barber chose the young soprano Leontyne Price as his vocalist.  With the composer at the piano they performed the cycle several times to great acclaim.

This collaboration kindled an enduring friendship, and inspired Barber to write some of his most beautiful music for Price — including the soprano solo in the cantata Prayers of Kierkegaard, the later song cycle Despite and Still, and the role of Cleopatra in his opera Antony and Cleopatra. Written for the opening of the new Metropolitan Opera House in 1966, the opera was regarded by many critics as an epic failure, and this harsh reception contributed to Barber’s struggles with depression and alcoholism in the remaining years of his life.   Meanwhile Leontyne Price’s career flourished.

In his presentation John Burchard will describe the complex genesis of the original Zeffirelli production of Antony and Cleopatra, and a later version revised by Gian Carlo Menotti.  Musical excerpts (all sung by Leontyne Price) will include “Crucifixion” and “The Monk and His Cat” from Hermit Songs, the soprano solo from Prayers of Kierkegaard, and the aria “Give me my robe” from Antony and Cleopatra, Also included will be an interview with Price from 2017 [when she turned 90] in conjunction with a documentary about the building of the new Metropolitan Opera House. 

WHEN:           Tuesday, November 6, at 10:30 a.m.
WHERE:         Berger Center, 6633 Oakmont Drive Oakmont
COST:             Free
PRESENTER: John Burchard


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