Deems Taylor: Peter Ibbetson

Deems Taylor: Peter Ibbetson

5.0 1
by Gerard Schwarz
     
 

Deems Taylor, the renowned music critic for the New York Times, was the first composer approached by Giulio Gatti-Casazza (the manager of the Metropolitan Opera) in the late '20s, at the start of a veritable flurry of commissions of works by American composers that continued for about a decade, and also resulted in Met premieres by Howard Hanson and Louis Gruenberg.… See more details below

Overview

Deems Taylor, the renowned music critic for the New York Times, was the first composer approached by Giulio Gatti-Casazza (the manager of the Metropolitan Opera) in the late '20s, at the start of a veritable flurry of commissions of works by American composers that continued for about a decade, and also resulted in Met premieres by Howard Hanson and Louis Gruenberg. Taylor's first work, "The King's Henchman" (1927), was such a success that he was commissioned to write a second opera, for which he selected Peter Ibbetson, a novel by George Du Maurier, as his source. The opera, which featured Lawrence Tibbett, Lucrezia Bori, Edward Johnson, and Marion Telva at its 1931 premiere, was also well received, and for over half a century held the record of having more performances at the Met than any other American opera. Taylor, who served as his own librettist, created an opera that is deeply moving and has genuine dramatic power, with an ending that's achingly poignant. It's skillfully and ingeniously constructed, as well as being innovative in its extensive use of dream sequences, and in having the scenes set in Britain sing in English, and the scenes set in France sung in French. The music is thoroughly post-Romantic, with influences of Debussy, Massenet, and most prominently, Wagner, evident throughout. There is little in the opera that could mark it as an American work, except for its stylistic resemblance to American film scores of the era. It's intriguing, though, how many subsequent American operas in a conservative idiom, by composers such as Hoiby and Pasatieri, even though written generations later, inhabit virtually the same harmonic and idiomatic universe as Taylor's opera. Naxos is to be commended for making this historically significant work available to modern audiences. Based on a series of 1999 concert performances by the Seattle Symphony and Chorale, led by Gerard Schwarz, the recording features the superb Lauren Flanigan and Anthony Dean Griffey, both of whom have distinguished careers in new American operas. The entire large cast is excellent, and Richard Zeller and Lori Summers shine in the other two lead roles. The orchestra and chorale perform with commitment and polish. Naxos has already released a very fine recording of Hanson's "Merry Mount," with Schwarz, the Seattle Symphony and some of the same principals; one hopes that in the future they will tackle "The King's Henchman" and Gruenberg's "The Emperor Jones," works that should be of considerable interest, based on the tantalizing excerpts Lawrence Tibbett recorded for RCA after their premieres.

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Product Details

Release Date:
07/28/2009
Label:
Naxos American
UPC:
0730099901673
catalogNumber:
8669016-17
Rank:
217297

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Peter Ibbetson, opera, Op. 20  - Deems Taylor  - Deems Taylor  - Lauren Flanigan  - Anthony Dean Griffey  - Abraham Kaplan  - Odilon Redon  - Gerard Schwarz  - Paul Schwendener  -  Seattle Symphony Chorale  -  Seattle Symphony Orchestra  - Richard Zeller  - Charles Austin  - Eric Stark  - Gene Buchholz  - Paul Gudas  - Barry Johnson  - Thomas Philion  - Constance Collier  - Carolyn Gronlund  - Emily Lunde  - John Obourn  - Terri Richtor  - Lori Summers

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