Remember the Opera, Forget the King

by Gerald Carpenter

THE ACADEMY IS … : In addition to the regular
schedule of masterclasses, the Music Academy will offer up the
Academy Young Artists in a free Community Concert at 2 p.m. today,
Thursday, August 3, at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. As usual
for these affairs, the program is potluck. The Academy Young
Artists — a k a students — will also offer a Picnic Concert this
evening at 7:30 p.m. in Abravanel Hall.

The big ticket item this weekend is, of course, the opera Il
Viaggio a Reims (The Journey to Reims)
, with music by
Gioacchino Rossini and libretto by Luigi
Balocchi
. This opera, written for the coronation of
Charles X as King of France, was quite successful
but withdrawn by Rossini after three performances, mainly because
he wanted to use some of the best bits in other operas. It
disappeared for about 150 years and was only rediscovered in 1977,
re-premiered in 1984. At Marilyn Horne’s urging,
it was performed at the Music Academy in 1997, when it was
conducted by Randall Behr, who conducted every
Music Academy opera thereafter, through last year’s magical
Così fan tutte. This year, both performances of Il
Viaggio
are dedicated to the memory of Behr, who died in fall
2005 at age 53. This year’s production will star the best and the
brightest of the Academy young vocal artists, with the Festival
Orchestra conducted by Christopher Larkin and the
stage action directed by Casey Stangl. Sets are
designed by Allan Moyer, costumes by James
Scott
, and lighting by Nancy Shertler.
There will be two performances in the Lobero Theatre: one at 7:30
p.m., Friday, August 4, and the other at 2:30 p.m., Sunday, August
6. For tickets call the Music Academy box office (969-8787), or the
Lobero box office (963-0761).

At 8 p.m. Saturday, August 5, in Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church,
an all-new ensemble, the Academy Chamber Orchestra, will make its
debut with a dream of a concert, conducted by Julian
Wachner
, with Paul Merkelo on trumpet.
This is an idea whose time has definitely come. The program
consists of Antonio Vivaldi’s Concerto for
Strings in G Major, RV 151, “Alla Rustica”
; Igor
Stravinsky
’s gorgeous tribute to the baroque, and
especially to Bach, the Concerto in E-flat
Major, “Dumbarton Oaks”
; Vivaldi’s Concerto in C Major for
Two Trumpets
; and Piotr Tchaikovsky’s
Serenade for Strings in C Major, Opus 48. For tickets call
the Music Academy box office (969-8787).

The last Tuesdays at 8 faculty chamber concert (so soon?) will
take place in the Lobero, at 8 p.m., Tuesday, August 8.

The program includes Georges Bizet’s delightful
Jeux d’enfants (Children’s Games), performed by those
reliably sensational collaborators, Anne Epperson
and Warren Jones on piano, and Olivier
Messiaen
’s Thème et Variations for Violin and
Piano
, with Kathleen Winkler and Epperson.
Then we’ll hear a work you may not know, but will sweep you off
your feet: Camille Saint-Saëns’s Septet in
E-flat Major, Opus 65
, played by Paul
Merkelo
, trumpet; Peter Salaff and
Donald Weilerstein, violins; Donald
McInnes
, viola; David Geber, cello;
Nico Abondolo, double bass; and Jerome
Lowenthal
, piano. The evening and series will conclude
with Antonín Dvorˇák’s Piano Trio No. 2 in G
Minor, B. 56, Opus 26
, performed by The Weilerstein
Trio
. For tickets call the Music Academy box office
(969‑8787) or the Lobero box office (963-0761).

Finally, the Academy Young Artists will present another Picnic
Concert at 7:30 p.m. next Wednesday, in Abravanel Hall. For tickets
to and information about this and all Academy events, call the
Music Academy box office, at 969‑8787.

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