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Dec

08

2022

From The Blog

Opera 101 Returns to the Sandcastle!

Opera is returning to The Sandcastle January 2023! Opera 101 welcomes both the uninitiated and experienced lovers of classical western opera from its inception in Italy over 400 years ago to the present. Opera 101 will be opened to all residents of Kiawah. There will be a synopsis for each opera so the participants can concentrate more on the dramatic action and feelings derived from the music and acting.

Learn more about the 2023 showings!

01/10/’23…..“Norma” (Vincenzo Bellini)-Bel Canto (I)

Gaul, 50 B.C.E. In a forest at night, Oroveso, King of the Sicambi, leads the druids and warriors in a prayer for revenge against the conquering Romans. After they have left, the Roman proconsul Pollione admits to his friend Flavio that he no longer loves the high priestess Norma, Oroveso’s daughter, with whom he has two children. He has fallen in love with a young novice priestess, Adalgisa, who returns his love…

01/17/’23…..“Faust” (Chales Gounod)-Romantic (F)

Faust has spent a lifetime in the study of science. Disillusioned with life, he resolves to poison himself. He curses God and calls on the Devil. Méphistophélès obligingly appears and offers Faust riches, power, or glory. Faust, however, only wants to recapture the innocence of youth. Méphistophélès agrees to Faust’s request, but there are conditions: on earth Faust will be master, but in the world below their roles will be reversed…

01/24/’23…..“Les Pecheurs des Perles” (Georges Bizet)-Romantic (F)

A pearl-diving village in the Far East. As the villagers prepare for their dive, they sing of their fear of the sea. Zurga tells them they must choose a leader, and they unanimously swear loyalty to him. Nadir returns to the village after spending a year away. He and Zurga recall that their friendship was almost destroyed when they both fell in love with a Hindu priestess. Nadir swears he has kept the vow they both made to protect their friendship by staying away from her. Nourabad, the High Priest, brings a priestess to the village. She is to sing and pray all night to calm the demons of the deep and to ward off the spirits of the storm. Although she is veiled, Nadir immediately realizes she is Leïla, the priestess he still loves. Zurga, who does not recognize her, imposes an oath of obedience upon her on pain of death. Leïla is to remain veiled and pure. Her reward for keeping the divers safe from harm will be their finest pearl…

01/31/’23…..Manon Lescaut (Giacomo Puccini)- Romantic (I)

France, the 1940s. A square in Amiens. Edmondo, a songwriter, and his student companions flirt with some factory girls. His friend, des Grieux, also a student, stays apart from them. A coach arrives, bringing Geronte, a tax collector, and Lescaut, a soldier, who is accompanying his younger sister, Manon. Des Grieux falls in love with her at first sight, finds out that her father is sending her to a convent, and makes plans to prevent this from happening. But Geronte, with Lescaut’s connivance, intends to abduct Manon. Edmondo overhears his plans and warns des Grieux, who escapes with Manon to Paris. Lescaut consoles Geronte by telling him that Manon will not stay long with a student and that he will bring her back to him….

02/07/’23……“Samson et Dalila” (Camille Saint-Saens)-Grand/Romantic (F)

Gaza, 1150 B.C. In a square in Gaza, a group of Hebrews beg Jehovah for relief from their bondage to the Philistines; Samson, their leader, rebukes them for their lack of faith. When the Philistine commander, Abimélech, denounces the Hebrews and their God, Samson kills him and leads the Hebrews away. The High Priest of Dagon comes from the Philistine temple and curses Samson’s prodigious strength, leaving with the slain man’s bier. An Old Hebrew praises the returning Samson. The outer walls of the temple disappear to reveal Samson’s former lover, the Philistine woman Dalila, who invites him to come that night to her nearby dwelling. She and her maidens dance seductively for Samson, who becomes deaf to the Old Hebrew’s dour prophecies…

02/14/’23……“Carmen” (Georges Bizet)-Romantic (F)

Spain. In Seville by a cigarette factory, soldiers comment on the townspeople. Among them is Micaëla, a peasant girl, who asks for a corporal named Don José. Moralès, another corporal, tells her he will return with the changing of the guard. The relief guard, headed by Lieutenant Zuniga, soon arrives, and José learns from Moralès that Micaëla has been looking for him. When the factory bell rings, the men of Seville gather to watch the female workers—especially their favorite, the gypsy Carmen. She tells her admirers that love is free and obeys no rules. Only one man pays no attention to her: Don José…

02/21/’23……“Madame Butterfly” (Giacomo Puccini)- Romantic (I)

Japan, at the turn of the 20th century. Lieutenant Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton of the U.S. Navy inspects a house overlooking Nagasaki harbor that he is leasing from Goro, a marriage broker. The house comes with three servants and a geisha wife named Cio-Cio-San, known as Madam Butterfly. The lease runs for 999 years, subject to monthly renewal. The American consul Sharpless arrives breathless from climbing the hill. Pinkerton describes his philosophy of the fearless Yankee roaming the world in search of experience and pleasure. He is not sure whether his feelings for the young girl are love or a whim, but he intends to go through with the marriage ceremony…

02/28/’23……“Aida” (Giuseppi Verdi)-Grand/Romantic (I)

Egypt, during the reign of the pharaohs. At the royal palace in Memphis, the high priest Ramfis tells the warrior Radamès that Ethiopia is preparing another attack against Egypt. Radamès hopes to command his army. He is in love with Aida, the Ethiopian slave of Princess Amneris, the king’s daughter, and he believes that victory in the war would enable him to free her and marry her. But Amneris loves Radamès, and when the three meet, she jealously senses his feelings for Aida. A messenger tells the King of Egypt and the assembled priests and soldiers that the Ethiopians are advancing. The king names Radamès to lead the army, and all join in a patriotic anthem. Left alone, Aida is torn between her love for Radamès and loyalty to her native country, where her father, Amonasro, is king. She prays to the gods for mercy…

03/07/’23……“Die Gotterdammerung” (Richard Wagner)-Epic/Romantic (G)

At night on the Valkyries’ rock, the three Norns, daughters of Erda, weave the rope of destiny. They tell how Wotan ordered the world ash tree, from which his spear was once cut, to be felled and its wood piled around Valhalla. The burning of the pyre will mark the end of the old order. Suddenly the rope breaks. Their wisdom ended, the Norns descend into the earth.

Dawn breaks and Siegfried and Brünnhilde emerge. Having cast protective spells on him, she sends him into the world to do heroic deeds. As a pledge of his love, Siegfried gives her the ring he took from the dragon Fafner, and she offers her horse, Grane, in return. Siegfried sets off on his travels…

03/14/’23…….“Der Rosenkavalier” (Richard Strauss)- Romantic/Modern (G)

Vienna, during the last years of the Habsburg Empire. The Marschallin, Princess von Werdenberg, has spent the night with her young lover, Octavian, Count Rofrano. He hides when a page brings breakfast, then again when loud voices are heard in the antechamber. The unexpected visitor is the Marschallin’s country cousin, Baron Ochs auf Lerchenau. Bursting into the room, he brags about his amorous conquests and his upcoming marriage to Sophie von Faninal, the young daughter of a wealthy bourgeois. When he asks the Marschallin for advice as to which cavalier could present Sophie with the traditional silver engagement rose, she suggests Octavian—who suddenly, to avoid discovery, emerges from his hiding place disguised as a chambermaid. The baron instantly starts to make advances towards “Mariandel,” who quickly makes her escape as the room fills with the daily crowd of petitioners and salespeople. Among them is a singer, whose aria is cut short by Ochs’s wrangling with a lawyer over Sophie’s dowry. The Baron hires a pair of Italian intriguers, Annina and Valzacchi, to locate the shy servant girl…

03/21/’23…….“Akhnaten” (Phillip Glass)-Contemporary (A)

The opera begins with the death of Amenhotep III. We see him first revealed both as a corpse and as a ghostly figure, reciting words taken from the Egyptian Book of the Dead. During the ceremony, we see a sacred ritual performed in which the body’s organs are carefully taken out and placed into canopic jars and the body is wrapped and embalmed. A ceremony takes place that represents a ritual occurring in the Book of the Dead, in which the pharaoh’s heart is weighed against a feather; if his heart is as light as this, it will ensure that Amenhotep will travel through into the afterlife…

03/28/’23…….“Fire Shut Up in my Bones” (Terence Blanchard)-Contemporary (A)

Charles Blow, age 20, drives down a Louisiana backroad with a gun in the passenger seat. Destiny sings to him, calling him back to his childhood home. He begins reliving memories from his childhood.

Charles’ seven-year-old self, Char’es-Baby, talks to his mother, Billie. He is desperate for affection, but Billie is too frazzled to give him the validation that he craves. They are dirt poor. Billie works in a chicken factory, but she dreams of Char’es-Baby getting a good education and escaping their town. Her husband, Spinner, is a womanizing spendthrift. When she hears that he’s flirting with other women, she confronts him at gunpoint. She doesn’t shoot, but Billie tosses Spinner out. Billie and her five sons move in with Uncle Paul. Char’es-Baby dreams of a different life, collecting “treasure” from the junkyard while Loneliness sings to him…

 

A, American; F, French; G, German; I, Italian

Excited to learn more? Read a brief history of Opera put together by Jose Rafols.