Saturday, March 29, 2014

Opera Workshop's Musical Discoveries

 Audiences for this spring’s HSU Opera Workshop concerts on March 28 and 29 will be among the first to experience recently rediscovered music from Portugal, including excerpts from a satirical opera never before heard on the West Coast. 

“Every second spring the Opera Workshop explores a special topic within the genre of dramatic vocal music,” explained director and HSU Music professor Elisabeth Harrington. This year’s concert results from the work of music scholar Dr. Ricardo Bernardes, who has “unearthed and edited selections of Portuguese vocal music and agreed to make them available for our performance.” 

Among his discoveries is an 18th century operatic farce that he found in a Washington archive. He provided his edited excerpts to the Opera Workshop for this work's West Coast premiere. 

Entitled "A Saloia Namorada," it’s about “a country girl in love,” Harrington said. “Themes include patriotism and the perennial ‘neutral ground’ for all operas: love triangles!” 

 This opera by Antonio Leal Moreira (music) and Domingos Caldas Barbosa (libretto) is historically significant as “the only known Portuguese opera from the 18th century that included composed recitative, rather than spoken dialogue. Several of our students have been working on short sections of the recitatives to include between their arias and duets.” 
Chris Parreira and Sean Laughlin review diction
with soprano and native of Portugal Ana Cruz 

Aiding the authenticity is soprano Ana Cruz, who is completing her HSU degree in Vocal Performance. “A native of Portugal, Ana has been the diction coach for the opera class this semester,” Harrington said. 

The concert features music from medieval to modern, including a liturgical piece in Latin ("Dixit Dominus") and an Italian aria ("Aria Alcione"), both also edited by Ricardo Bernardes. “They reflect the deep influence of European style on Portuguese music.” 

 Harrington will be among the 13 singers in the concert. John Chernoff accompanies on harpsichord, with Kinu Manabe on bass. 

 Humboldt County brass player Gregg Moore, who taught music in Portugal for ten years, performs with Ana Cruz on two pieces in the genre called Fado. With origins in the 19th century or earlier, Fado (“fate” or “destiny”) is a popular Portuguese song style, recently added to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list. 

HSU Opera Workshop performs on Friday and Saturday, March 28 and 29 at 8 p.m. in Gist Hall Theatre on the HSU campus. Tickets are $10, $5 seniors and children, and $3 HSU students, from the HSU Ticket Office (926-3928) or at the door. Produced by the HSU Music Department.

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