City Opera Hosts Antony and Cleopatra Symposium Jan. 10; Futral to Perform

Classic Arts Features   City Opera Hosts Antony and Cleopatra Symposium Jan. 10; Futral to Perform
In preparation for its upcoming concert performances of Antony and Cleopatra, New York City Opera will present a symposium Jan. 10 at the Miller Theatre. The 5-hour program will include lectures, discussions and a special concert by soprano Elizabeth Futral.

Antony and Cleopatra Symposium
"What Becomes a Legend Most?"
Saturday, January 10, 2009, 12:00 - 5:00 PM, Miller Theatre, 2960 Broadway at 116th Street
Experts in diverse disciplines will offer a wide-angle view of this American masterwork and its sources, and will explore the world's enduring fascination with its larger-than-life heroine.


12:00-1:00 PM
"Setting the Record Straight" - Barbara Heyman, author of Samuel Barber: The Composer and His Music, the definitive biography of the composer, will open the Symposium with a talk on the creation, performance history, and musical highlights of Barber's Antony and Cleopatra, offering special insight into the composer's view of its legendary heroine.

1:10-2:10 PM
"From Plutarch to Shakespeare to Liz Taylor: Images of Cleopatra on Canvas, Stage, and Screen" - A critical survey of Cleopatra iconography, illustrated by slides and film clips. Speaker: Prudence J. Jones, Assistant Professor of Classics and Humanities, Montclair State University, and author of the biography Cleopatra as well as Cleopatra: A Sourcebook.

2:40-3:50 PM
"Creating Cleopatra" - A panel discussion offering highly personal viewpoints on interpreting and representing the famed Queen of the Nile, her cultural significance today, and related racial and feminist issues. Panelists: three-time Tony Award-winning actress Zoe Caldwell; Francesca Royster, author of Becoming Cleopatra: The Shifting Image of an Icon, and Associate Professor of English, DePaul University; Ann Macy Roth, Associate Professor of Egyptology, New York University.
Moderator: Cori Ellison, City Opera Dramaturg

4:00-5:00 PM
"Cleopatra Sings" - Elizabeth Futral, soprano, and Susan Caldwell, pianist
City Opera's beloved star soprano offers an offbeat piano-vocal recital of musical depictions and evocations of Cleopatra. The selections, spanning three centuries, include music by Handel, Massenet, the Rolling Stones and Pam Tillis, and the world premiere of a specially-commissioned song by VOX composer Justine Chen. Elizabeth Futral has sung the title roles in Semele, Lakm_, The Ballad of Baby Doe, and Daphne, as well as Gilda in Rigoletto, Pamina in Die Zauberfl‹te, Alexandra in Regina and Bella in The Midsummer Marriage for New York City Opera.

"Cleopatra Sings" Program
Elizabeth Futral, soprano
Susan Caldwell, piano
George Frideric Handel, from Giulio Cesare, HWV 17 (1724)
-"Non disperar, chi sa? Ô_, Act 1. Scene 5
-"V'adoro pupille", Act 2. Scene 2
-"Pianger‹ la sorte mia", Act 3. Scene 3
-"Da tempeste il legno infranto", Act 3. Scene 7
Jules Massenet, from Cl_opê¢tre (1914)
-"J'ai vers_ le poison dans cette coupe d'or", Act III
-"Le triumvir est mort !", Act IV
Cleopatra Today
-"Cleopatra" (World Premiere, music by Justine Chen, poem by Anna Akhmatova [1940], English translation by Cori Ellison)
-"Blinded by Love" (words and music by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, from the Rolling Stones album Steel Wheels, 1989)
-"Cleopatra, Queen of Denial" (words and music by Pam Tillis, Bob DiPiero, and Jan Buckingham, from the album Homeward Looking Angel, 1992)


Antony and Cleopratra will be held at Carnegie Hall Stern Auditorium Jan. 15 and 16 at 8 PM. As previously announced, the central pair will be portrayed by soprano Lauren Flanigan and baritone Teddy Tahu Rhodes.

Flanigan - who made her City Opera debut as Musetta in the 1991 La bohme - has performed with such companies as La Scala, Teatro San Carlo, Metropolitan Opera, Glyndebourne, San Francisco Opera and Bayerische Staatsoper.

Rhodes, the "the strapping 6-foot-5 baritone from New Zealand" makes his company debut with this production. Career highlights include Ned Keene in the Met's Peter Grimes, Billy Budd in Santa Fe, and a much-talked-about 2007 turn as Stanley in a Vienna Streetcar Named Desire .

The cast also features rising tenor Simon O'Neill as Caesar and City Opera favorites David Pittsinger as Enobarbus, Sandra Piques Eddy as Charmian and Laura Vlasak Nolen as Iras. City Opera Music Director George Manahan will conduct.

Rounding out the company are Matthew Burns (Agrippa), Andrew Drost (Messenger), Alexander Tall (Dolabella), Scott Guinn (Thidias), Brian Kontes (Alexas), Kirk Eichelberger (Soothsayer), Theodore Chletsos (Soldier of Caesar), Eric Jordan (Rustic), Robert Mack (Guard 1), Ryan Kinsella (Guard 2), David Salsbery Fry (Guard 3) and Young-Bok Kim (Guard 4).


The opera, based on Shakespeare's historical romance of the same name, was first commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera in 1966 to serve as the opening production staged at its new (and current) Lincoln Center home. The libretto was originally compiled by director Franco Zeffirelli, solely making use of the Bard's source text. Following a bumpy premiere, Barber and his longtime companion Gian Carlo Menotti extensively revised the score and revamped the text. This more intimate, shorter version premiered at the Juilliard School in 1975, staged by Menotti.

"Though this new version of Antony and Cleopatra was more enthusiastically received, the opera continued to suffer neglect for its perceived conservatism during an era of musical radicalism," says City Opera dramaturg Cori Ellison. "With these performances, New York City Opera becomes only the third American opera company to present the work since its world premiere over four decades ago."

Music Director George Manahan has said, "By presenting this masterpiece, New York City Opera is continuing its tradition of championing important 20th-century American repertoire. We hope to spark new and lasting interest in Antony and Cleopatra, as we have done for other rarely performed American works including Barber's Pulitzer Prize-Winning opera Vanessa, which we presented last season."


In addition to the actual performance, City Opera will offer a Winter Gala, which precedes the Jan. 15 performance:

Winter Gala at Carnegie Hall
On Thursday, January 15, 2009, New York City Opera will present its Winter Gala accompanying a concert performance of Samuel Barber's Antony and Cleopatra. Gala guests will enjoy pre-performance cocktails and dinner, and return during intermission for champagne. Gala tickets begin at $1,000. VIP guests ($2,500+ tickets or $15,000+ tables) will be invited to the cast party following the performance. For more information or to purchase gala tickets, please call City Opera Special Events at 212-870-4291.

Ticket Information

CONCERT: Thursday, January 15 and Friday, January 16, 2009 at 8 PM
Carnegie Hall Stern Auditorium, 57th Street and Seventh Avenue
Tickets: $24 - $130; (212)247-7800 or

SYMPOSIUM: Saturday, January 10, 2009, 12:00-5:00 PM
Miller Theatre at Columbia University, 2960 Broadway at 116th Street
Tickets: $20 ($15 for Students/Seniors); (212)854-7799 or

WINTER GALA: Thursday, January 15, 2009 at 6:00 PM
Carnegie Hall, 57th Street and Seventh Avenue
Tickets: Begin at $1,000 (limited availability); (212)870-4291

For further information, visit

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