This will be the first fully-staged production in the U.S. of the two one-acts, both adapted from works by Oscar Wilde, on a single program.
Eine florentinische Trag‹die recounts the tale of a merchant who, on finding his wife in the arms of a prince, kills his rival — and shows us how the wife reacts.
Der Zwerg, based on the short story "The Birthday of the Infanta," tells of a Spanish princess and the dwarf presented to her as a gift: he has never seen his reflection and has no idea how he looks; the princess amuses herself with him, then rejects him when he naively offers his love to her. (Zemlinsky's choice of this material is thought to reflect the pain of his own rejection by the famous beauty Alma Schindler, who chose to marry composer Gustav Mahler.)
The SummerScape staging (of which we offer photos below) is by Olivier Tambosi, founder of Neue Oper Wien in the Austrian capital and one of the world's foremost opera directors. (New Yorkers have seen his work recently in the Metropolitan Opera production of Janšcek's Jenufa starring Karita Mattila.) Scenic and costume design is by the contemporary visual art team of McDermott &McGough.
On the podium with the American Symphony Orchestra will be Leon Botstein, the conductor, scholar, president of Bard College and co-artistic director of the Bard Music Festival, presented annually as part of SummerScape.
James Johnson takes the role of the murderous merchant Simone in A Florentine Tragedy, with Deanne Meek as his faithless wife Bianca and Bryan Hymel as her lover Guido. In Der Zwerg, Jeffrey Dowd plays the Dwarf, with Sarah Jane McMahon as the Princess, Donna Clara, Hannan Alattar as her attendant Ghita and Thomas Goertz as Don Estoban, the Chamberlain.
The Zemlinsky double bill opens this evening, with additional performances on July 29 and August 2, 4 and 5 at the Fisher Center at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York. (Botstein will give a free talk before the July 29 performance.) Information and tickets are available at www.fishercenter.bard.edu.
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All photos by Cory Weaver (unless otherwise noted).