Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A Moment in Time: I Want Magic...

On this day in 1998 André Previn's opera A Streetcar Named Desire had it's debut performance at San Francisco Opera.

The cast was headlined by Renée Fleming (Blanche DuBois) and included some "promising young opera stars" - such as Rod Gilfry (Stanley Kowalski), Elizabeth Futral (Stella Kowalski) and, Anthony Dean Griffey (Harold "Mitch" Mitchell). Also included was operatic veteran Judith Forst (Eunice Hubbel).

In a review of A Streetcar Named Desire, Bernard Holland of the New York Times wrote in part:
A Streetcar Named Desire is so operatic as a play that one wonders why more than 50 years have passed since its Broadway opening with no opera of note being made of it. ….The new setting of Tennessee Williams's play, with music by André Previn and a libretto by Philip Littell, answered a few questions and asked others. …..First of all, it sings very well. Mr. Previn has a fine ear for voices. He knows how to flatter and coax it and send it gracefully from one musical episode to the next…..one had the impression that Mr. Previn had been writing for the musical theater all his life.
Early next year, 15 years after she debuted the role, Fleming reprises DuBois at Lyric Opera of Chicago - where she also serves as Creative Consultant. From the Lyric's website:
“Who wants real? I know I don’t want it. I want magic!”

Blanche DuBois—the fading southern belle who retreats into fantasy to escape from the brutal reality in which she’s forced to live. She’s a wounded, haughty, vulnerable, delusional misfit—a woman who won’t face the sensual side of herself and yet always succumbs to it. And when she moves in with her sister Stella and her sexually ruthless husband Stanley—worlds explode.

Blanche is one of the great parts for any actress, immortalized in the famous Tennessee Williams play, later on film, and now in opera. Experience the magnificent Renée Fleming in the role that was composed especially for her by André Previn, one of America’s iconic musicians.
Here is a little "magic" from the San Francisco Opera telecast of André Previn's opera A Streetcar Named Desire:

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