Opera Built On 'Hysteria'


Bso Announces Summer Lineup

April 23, 2009|By TIM SMITH | TIM SMITH,tim.smith@baltsun.com

Some wag once quipped that all theater is an insane asylum, but opera is the wing for the incurables, so it seems fitting that Peabody Chamber Opera will present a new production this weekend of a 2002 work based on Sigmund Freud's Fragment of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria.

Dora, with music by Melissa Shiflett and libretto by Nancy Fales Garrett, explores the case of an 18-year-old patient of Freud. Ida Bauer, given the pseudonym Dora by Freud, exhibited symptoms of what qualified as hysteria in 1900, especially loss of speech, and the storied analyst naturally traced them to repressed sexual impulses.

Freud seems to have missed, or downplayed, the possibility that the woman had been abused, and Dora famously terminated analysis after 11 weeks. More than enough drama in all of this for an operatic work.

Dora will be directed by Roger Brunyate and conducted by Karin Hendrickson. Two casts will alternate in the performances, which are scheduled at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday at the Theatre Project, 45 W. Preston St. Tickets are $10-$25. Call 410-752-8558 or go to theatreproject.org.

BSO summer season

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's summer schedule will retain the pop-culture flavor of recent seasons, with doses of movies, cartoons and rock music. Not very imaginative, but presumably good for box office.

The only serious classical piece is one that comes back year after year - Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. It will be conducted by Gunther Herbig on July 23 at the Music Center at Strathmore and July 24 at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall.

The lineup for those two venues begins with Constantine Kitsopoulos conducting the orchestra in a live soundtrack to the Hitchcock classic Psycho, which will give the strings a nice workout in the shower scene (July 9 at Strathmore, July 10 at Meyerhoff). And Steven Reineke will be on the podium for a program of music from Disney products, including The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast (July 16 at Strathmore, July 17 at Meyerhoff).

The BSO, conducted by Brent Havens, moves to the Pier Six Pavilion on July 18 to play arrangements of songs by famed rock group Pink Floyd. Vocalist Randy Jackson and a rock band will join the orchestra for this event. And the ensemble travels to Merriweather Post Pavilion on July 11 to play live soundtracks to Bugs Bunny cartoons.

The outdoor summer series at Oregon Ridge returns with the traditional "Star-Spangled Spectacular" July 3 and 4, conducted by Damon Gupton, and featuring the winner of the second annual "Oh, Say Can You Sing?" contest (auditions will be held June 15). Reineke will conduct the other Oregon Ridge program, this one devoted to film music of John Williams, on July 25.

One other summer event: a free performance at Meyerhoff as part of Artscape on July 18, conducted by BSO assistant principal violist Christian Colberg.

Call 410-783-8000 or go to bsomusic.org.

Review roundup

Two concerts last weekend gave me a nice Mendelssohn fix in honor of this year's bicentennial of his birth.

The composer's Octet, the product of astonishing precocity composed when he was all of 16 (most of us are lucky to master a driver's test at that age), was the big item on Pro Musica Rara's program Sunday afternoon at Towson University's Center for the Arts. The playing may not necessarily have offered the last word on poetic phrase-sculpting of consistently dead-on intonation, but the expressive thrust and rhythmic energy produced a winning result.

The imaginative program included a transcription for double string quartet of a Bach motet and a well-crafted adagio and fugue by Johann Albrechtsberger. The musicians divided the two movements of Haydn's last, unfinished quartet, then rejoined forces to play a transcription of his vocal piece, Der Greis - an endearing tribute on this 200th anniversary of Haydn's death.

Sunday night in the same theater, the Cylburn Trio - violinist Ken Goldstein, cellist Ilya Finkelshteyn, pianist Eva Mengelkoch - teamed with violist Noah Chaves for an impassioned account of Mendelssohn's bold Piano Quartet No. 2 (he wrote that work at 14).

Some of the playing here, and in Schumann's D minor Piano Trio, could have used greater nuance (and firmer upper-register intonation from the violinist), but the ensemble's expressive force proved effective.

Handel's Serse, which fuses romantic entanglements and melodic richness into something of a sitcom with occasionally serious overtones, has received an engaging production from Maryland Opera Studio. Briskly directed by Nick Olcott, the cast of colorfully costumed grad students produces a spirited ensemble effort. (For a full review, please go to my blog, baltimoresun.com/clefnotes.)

Remaining performances are Friday and Sunday at the Clarice Smith Center in College Park. Call 301-405-2787 or go to claricesmithcenter.umd.edu.

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