The main theme of this year's festival is "Elgar and His World," 2007 being the 150th anniversary of the English composer's birth — and Victorious, performed by Doug Varone and Dancers, is set to an arrangement for cello and piano of Edward Elgar's Cello Concerto, widely considered one of the composer's greatest works. Zuill Bailey will be the cello soloist, with Robert Koenig at the piano.
Also on tap this evening are Varone's Castles, set to Prokofiev's Waltz Suite, and Lux, set to The Light by Philip Glass. The program will be repeated on July 6 and 7 at 8 p.m. and July 8 at 3 p.m.
Tomorrow evening brings another world premiere dance commissioned by SummerScape: Sawdust Palace by choreographer and MacArthur Foundation fellow Susan Marshall. The work — which will also be presented on July 7, 8, 12, 14 and 15 — has been created specifically for Bard's Spiegeltent, a covered outdoor venue that will host various dance, drama and new music events throughout the festival.
An eight-performance run of George Bernard Shaw's Saint Joan opens July 12, directed by Gregory Thompson, artistic director of the British theater company AandBC and of the Tron Theatre in Glasgow.
Beginning July 27, conductor Leon Botstein and the American Symphony Orchestra will perform, on a double-bill, the first staged U.S. productions of Zemlinsky's one-act operas A Florentine Tragedy and The Dwarf. Both operas (which are based on works by Oscar Wilde) will be directed by Olivier Tambosi.
The following Friday, August 3, is opening night for a new production of Gilbert and Sullivan's rarely-seen operetta The Sorcerer, directed by Erica Schmidt and conducted by James Bagwell.
The eleven programs comprising the 18th annual Bard Music Festival — titled "Elgar and His World" — include concerts, lectures and symposia held over SummerScape's final two weekends: August 10 _12 and 17 _19, with a third weekend slated for October 26 _27.
Programs are organized by topics such as "Elgar: From Autodidact to Master of the King's Musick," "Music in the Era of Queen Victoria" and "Das Land ohne Musik? — Views of British Music in the 19th Century."
The musical lineup includes, in addition to works by Elgar himself, repertoire by Wagner, Brahms, Faur_, and Strauss, as well as music by Elgar's English contemporaries such as William Sterndale Bennett, Charles Villiers Stanford, Hubert Parry, Arthur Sullivan, Percy Grainger, Ethel Smyth, William Walton, Ralph Vaughan Williams and Arthur Bliss. Botstein and the American Symphony Orchestra will be in residence, closing the festival with Elgar's oratorio The Dream of Gerontius.
Most SummerScape events will take place in the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts, designed by architect Frank Gehry and acoustician Yasuhisa Toyota, which opened in 2003. And the Spiegeltent will serve as a restaurant/cabaret before and after performances Thursday through Sunday.
Information on and tickets for Bard SummerScape are available at http://summerscape.bard.edu.