Reviving important but neglected operas is one of the ways the Bard SummerScape festival has established itself as “a hotbed of intellectual and aesthetic adventure” (New York Times), and this year’s immersion in “Schubert and His World”—culminating in the 25th-anniversary season of the Bard Music Festival—is no exception. To enrich its exploration of the roots of Austro-German Romanticism, Bard presents Euryanthe (1823) by Schubert’s contemporary Carl Maria von Weber, marking the opera’s first American revival in 100 years. Headlined by Ellie Dehn, “a charismatic soprano with great stage presence” (Wall Street Journal), Bard’s original staging is by Kevin Newbury, creator of SummerScape’s “gold standard production” (WQXR) of Richard Strauss’s Die Liebe der Danae. Euryanthe’s five performances (July 25, 27, and 30; August 1 and 3) feature the festival’s resident American Symphony Orchestra under the leadership of music director Leon Botstein.
Carl Maria von Weber won his greatest success with Der Freischütz, the opera with which he established Germany’s own homegrown Romantic opera tradition, free from French and Italian influence and distinguished by novel orchestrations and supernatural elements. His next major contribution to the genre, Euryanthe, has not achieved the same fame. Yet the opera—a story of chivalry, betrayal, innocence, and love, again imbued with the supernatural—was no less ambitious or innovative. Though hailed as “musically sublime” (The Guardian) and arguably “Weber’s greatest masterpiece” (NPR), Euryanthe remains largely neglected. Only its overture is performed with any regularity; revivals of the opera in its entirety are rare, not least in America, where it has not been seen since the Metropolitan Opera’s staging 100 years ago.
Bard’s upcoming production therefore marks a major historical milestone. In the title role is Ellie Dehn, whose “melting yet clear soprano” impressed the New York Times when she portrayed Catherine of Aragon with “eloquence and power” in SummerScape’s presentation of Saint-Saëns’s Henry VIII two years ago. Opposite her, as Euryanthe’s fiancé Adolar, is lyric tenor William Burden, who may be heard on the Metropolitan Opera’s 2013 Grammy Award–winning recording of The Tempest by Thomas Adès. Soprano Wendy Bryn Harmer, pronounced “spellbinding” in view of her “enormous range, fortitude, and bewitching command” (Opera News), sings Euryanthe’s ill-fated rival, Eglantine, with bass-baritone Ryan Kuster lending his “beautiful tone” (San Francisco Classical Voice) to the role of Lysiart. And playing King Ludwig is Peter Volpe, back at Bard after bringing his “robust voice and charismatic presence” (New York Times) to 2009’s staging of Meyerbeer’s Les Huguenots.
Tickets start at $25. For more information visit fishercenter.bard.edu or call 845-758-7900.