Midsummer’s Music Festival musicians James Berkenstock (bassoon), Judy Lewis (oboe) and Walter Preucil (cello) performed as members of the Lyric Opera’s world premiere production of the opera Bel Canto, which was recorded in Chicago last January and will air nationally on Great Performances Friday, January 13. The Wisconsin Channel will air the opera at 8:00 pm.
Based on Ann Patchett's bestselling 2001 novel (which was inspired by the 1996-97 Peruvian hostage crisis), the new opera was composed by Jimmy López with a libretto by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Nilo Cruz. Legendary soprano Renée Fleming, Lyric's creative consultant, curated the project from its inception and hosts the broadcast.
Internationally acclaimed soprano Danielle de Niese stars as the American opera diva Roxane Coss, who is making a special appearance at a multinational diplomatic gathering in Lima when terrorists storm the mansion. The hostage situation becomes a siege as government forces surround the compound. During the months-long crisis, lines blur and unexpected alliances form between captors and captives, with Roxane’s singing becoming a powerful, humanizing force. Among the hostages are a Japanese industrialist, Katsumi Hosokawa (who is obsessed with the opera singer and who is the reason she was invited to perform), and his translator Gen Watanabe, portrayed by Jeongcheol Cha and Andrew Stenson respectively. J’nai Bridges sings the role of guerilla Carmen, with Rafael Davila as General Alfredo, William Burden as Rubén Iglesias, the vice president; Anthony Roth Costanzo as César, and Jacques Imbrailo as Joachim Messner, the Red Cross intermediary for the hostages, captors, and government officials.
Bel Canto is sung in Spanish, English, Japanese, Russian, German, French, Latin, and Quechua, with projected English translations. Sir Andrew Davis conducts the Lyric production directed by Kevin Newbury. The production is designed by David Korins (sets), Constance Hoffman (costumes), Duane Schuler (lighting), and Greg Emetaz (projections). Michael Black is chorus master and Nick Sandys is fight director.
Great Performances is produced by THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC for WNET, one of America’s most prolific and respected public media providers. Throughout its more than 40-year history on public television, Great Performances has provided viewers across the country with an unparalleled showcase of the best in all genres of the performing arts, serving as America’s most prestigious and enduring broadcaster of cultural programming.
Midsummer’s Music Festival was co-founded in 1990 by Jim and Jean Berkenstock, long-time Door County summer residents and principal orchestral players with the Lyric Opera of Chicago. The Festival has drawn on the extraordinary talent of professional musicians and artist/faculty of universities throughout the Midwest.
Offering chamber music for winds, strings, and piano performed in intimate and unique settings throughout Door County, venues include art galleries, churches, and private homes. From masters such as Mozart, Schubert, and Dvořák to some lesser-known but very accomplished composers, each concert is an unforgettable musical experience.