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Howard Hanson: Merry Mount
     

Howard Hanson: Merry Mount

by Gerard Schwarz
 
Howard Hanson composed only one opera, "Merry Mount," first heard in an out-of-town tryout in Ann Arbor in 1933 and produced at the Metropolitan Opera in New York on February 10, 1934. Critical and audience response to "Merry Mount," which included a sizeable radio broadcast audience that also tuned into the premiere, was

Overview

Howard Hanson composed only one opera, "Merry Mount," first heard in an out-of-town tryout in Ann Arbor in 1933 and produced at the Metropolitan Opera in New York on February 10, 1934. Critical and audience response to "Merry Mount," which included a sizeable radio broadcast audience that also tuned into the premiere, was overwhelmingly positive, but posterity has not been kind to this work. Hanson extracted a popular orchestral suite from "Merry Mount," and later in life presented a couple of cut-down concert performances of the opera. Here, conductor Gerard Schwarz, the Seattle Symphony, and an expert cast, including soprano Lauren Flanigan and baritone Richard Zeller, present the first complete modern recording of "Merry Mount" for Naxos, as recorded at a live concert performance held in Seattle in honor of Hanson's centenary in 1996. "Merry Mount" is an American opera that deserves hearing; the music is exceedingly well-crafted, serious, and the dramatic structure and story are involving. Schwarz, who has recorded the suite from "Merry Mount" as part of his Hanson edition for Delos, is deeply dedicated to this production, and the choral singing is outstanding, particularly that by the Northwest Boychoir. Stylistically Hanson's music is very direct and wedded to the ebb and flow of the tale told, which is anything but "merry," being a dark narrative of ascetic Puritans, lusty Cavaliers, hostile Indians, star-crossed love, and demonic possession taken from Twice Told Tales of Nathaniel Hawthorne. The plot summary included in the booklet is rather dense and reproduced in tiny print; however, the opera is in clearly understandable English, so English speakers might just want to toss the book aside and listen. The sound is better than adequate in reproducing the performance and making the singing clear, although one could wish for a little more response in the low end.

Editorial Reviews

Time Out New York
The music is thoroughly American. Hanson's famous Symphony No. 2, "Romantic," had received its premiere four years earlier, and its gently pulsing and turning strains regularly rise from the orchestra pit when the characters are at their most vulnerable.

Product Details

Release Date:
05/29/2007
Label:
Naxos American
UPC:
0730099691222
catalogNumber:
8669012
Rank:
163612

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Merry Mount, opera in 3 acts, Op. 31

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