Tracy Dahl & Andriana Chuchman:
Duets and Arias
Duets and Arias
Sopranos Tracy Dahl and Andriana Chuchman have a special relationship with Winnipeg. They’re both high-flying, international opera singers with roots in Peg City. They have another unique connection — Andriana is Tracy’s former pupil.
Tracy is, of course, one of Canada’s premier coloratura sopranos; a singer who carries off the agile runs, trills, and leaps of the coloratura repertoire “with sunshine, rainbows and laser light” (Opera Canada ). There’s no need to impress the reader by reeling off all the illustrious stages on which she’s performed, but let’s mention a few anyway: Théâtre du Châtelet, the Metropolitan, La Scala, the Hamburg Opera.
Even if Dahl hadn’t been given a place on the Women’s Executive Network’s 2014 “Canada’s Most Powerful Women” list, her list of accomplished former students (at the University of Manitoba and elsewhere) would surely testify to her indelible impact on the Canadian singing community.
One of those former students is Andriana herself, who just ten years ago was a star voice student at the U of M. Today she stars alongside the likes of Placido Domingo on the world’s top opera stages. Praised by the New York Times and Chicago Tribune for her vocal brilliance, Chuchman cut her teeth learning Ukrainian folk songs with her sister in the Garden City home where they grew up.
It’s not often that a guest artist sells out their debut concert with the MCO, but that’s what Andriana did in December 2016. Seeing who she’s sharing the stage with at our March 2018 concert, which features classic duets and arias, we’d recommend getting your tickets to this one ASAP.
Like teacher, like pupil …
Sopranos Tracy Dahl and Andriana Chuchman have parallel experiences at The Metropolitan Opera in New York. Both replaced leading sopranos on short notice, Dahl as Adele in Die Fledermaus in 1991 and Chuchman as Adina in L’Elisir d’Amore just this past January. For both, it represented an impromptu Met debut. But their connection goes much further than that.
Dahl is Chuchman’s former teacher… “She’s part of our family, the boys treat her like a big sister,” [Dahl] said. In fact, when Dahl wished to continue her singing career when her children were very young, Chuchman travelled with them as a nanny”—CBC News, Manitoba.
The concert begins at 7:30 pm on March 21st in Westminster United Church, 745 Westminster at Maryland. Tickets, at $35 for adults, $33 for seniors and $15 for students and those under-30 (incl. GST), will be available 28 July 2017, at McNally Robinson, the West End Cultural Centre (586 Ellice at Sherbrook), Organic Planet (877 Westminster Ave) or MCO’s Ticketline (204-783-7377).
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Manitoba Chamber Orchestra
Anne Manson, Music Director
Karl Stobbe, Concertmaster
Westminster United Church
21 March 2018
Tracy Dahl & Andriana Chuchman, sopranos
Airs D’espagne for String Orchestra
Haydn or Mozart symphony (TBD)
Selected duets by Mozart, Vivaldi, Debussy & Saint-Saëns
Concert sponsors / Dr. Elizabeth Tippett-Pope & Bill Pope
Canada’s premiere coloratura soprano, Tracy Dahl, has appeared throughout her career with such opera houses as the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Canadian Opera Company, Teatro alla Scala (Milan) and the Théâtre du Châtelet (Paris). Her 2017/18 engagements will include Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana with the St. Louis Symphony and Vancouver Symphony, Leonard Bernstein’s Candide with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Mahler’s 4th Symphony with the Vancouver Symphony.
Her recent operatic engagements include concert performances of Candide with Bramwell Tovey and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra; Despina in Così fan Tutte with Canadian Opera Company; Gilda in Rigoletto with Edmonton Opera and Manitoba Opera; the title roles in Lucia di Lamermoor and Maria Stuarda with Pacific Opera Victoria; the world premieres of Unsuk Chin’s Alice in Wonderland and Peter Ash’s The Golden Ticket with Opera Theatre of St. Louis; Cunegonde in Candide and Mabel in The Pirates of Penzance with Calgary Opera; and Madame Mao in Nixon in China with Opera Colorado, Portland Opera, and Vancouver Opera. Among her many notable debuts are Adele in Die Fledermaus at the Metropolitan Opera, where she later returned as Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos; Florestine in the world premiere of The Ghosts of Versailles, and Valencienne in The Merry Widow; also as Olympia in the San Francisco Opera production of Les Contes d’Hoffmann opposite Plácido Domingo, where she returned as Oscar in Un Ballo in Maschera and the title role in Lucia di Lammermoor.
Her discography includes A Disney Spectacular with the Cincinnati Pops (Telarc), Glitter and Be Gay with the Calgary Philharmonic (CBC), A Gilbert and Sullivan Gala with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra (CBC), and Love Walked In, a Gershwin collection with the Bramwell Tovey Trio (Red Phone Box Company).
This season, soprano Andriana Chuchman returns to the Lyric Opera of Chicago in the title role of a new production of Orphée et Eurydice and to the Metropolitan Opera as Valencienne in The Merry Widow. She also makes her debuts at the Lincoln Center White Lights Festival in staged performances of the Pergolesi Stabat Mater and the Atlanta Opera as Marie in La fille du régiment. Her concert engagements include appearances with the Regina Symphony Orchestra.
A graduate of the Ryan Opera Center at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Ms Chuchman has also appeared at the Metropolitan Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Washington National Opera, San Diego Opera, Chicago Opera Theater, Spoleto Festival USA, the Glimmerglass Festival, and the Bard Music Festival. In concert she has appeared with the Detroit, Toronto and Winnipeg symphony orchestras, and at the Ravinia Festival.
In her native Canada, Ms Chuchman recently made her debut at the Canadian Opera Company as Olympia in Les Contes d’Hoffmann. She has also appeared at the Edmonton Opera as Yum-Yum in The Mikado and Marie in La fille du régiment, and at the Manitoba Opera as Pamina in Die Zauberflöte. Concert performances have included engagements with the Toronto, Edmonton, Prince George and Winnipeg symphony orchestras.
Born in Winnipeg, Ms Chuchman received her Bachelor’s Degree in Voice Performance from the School of Music at the University of Manitoba. She is the recipient of the Opera Theater of St. Louis’ 2017 Mabel Dorn Reeder Award, and was also a prizewinner at the Finals of the 2009 Neue Stimmen Competition in Germany and received a Sullivan Foundation Encouragement Award in 2007.
José Evangelista, born in Valencia (Spain) in 1943, began his musical studies with Vicente Asencio while simultaneously studying physics. Later work in computers led him to Canada. Settling in Montréal in 1970, he studied composition with André Prévost and Bruce Mather. Between 1979 and 2009, he was a professor at the University of Montréal. Additionally he was a founding member of several music companies. He has won several prizes and garnered numerous commissions, including Itinéraire (Paris), Kronos Quartet, Groupe vocal de France, the Société de musique contemporaine du Québec, Radio-Canada and Chants Libres. His music, which has been performed in Canada, the United States, Europe, and Asia, draws on his Spanish origins and on the traditions of Indonesian gamelan, the Western avant-garde, and modal music.
Airs d’Espagne (Spanish Melodies)
The composer has provided the following note:
Airs d’Espagne consists of 15 folk melodies from Spain. They include work songs, lullabies, entertainment songs and religious songs. They come from a variety of regions and most of them are probably fairly old. The melodies are presented as such, or at most repeated, without formal development or modulations. My purpose was to emphasize the melodic character of this material. This piece was commissioned by the CBC (Winnipeg).
‘Domine Deus,’ from Mass in C Minor, K. 427
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Mozart composed 16 complete settings of the Mass, nearly all of which date from his years as a young man in service to the Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg. This much later and more elaborate setting is another matter altogether. Probably inspired by significant events in his personal life—and unlike most of his works, not created in response to the dictates of a salaried position or commission—it is as expansive and deeply felt as the majority of his previous Masses were brief and dutiful. For unknown reasons, he left it incomplete. This excerpt is a heartfelt prayer to God and to Jesus Christ.
‘Laudamus te,’ from Gloria in D Major, RV 589
Vivaldi’s duties as music director of the Ospedale della Pietà, a school for foundling girls in Venice, did not originally include composing sacred choral music, but it was added to his responsibilities in 1713. He created two settings of the Gloria text during his earliest days of writing sacred choral works. This one is the more extroverted and brilliant of the two. The text originated with hymns used in the earliest days of the Christian church, comprising the songs of the angels on the night of the Nativity, the praise of God by His titles, and the invoking of Christ. It is divided into twelve brief sections, and Vivaldi matched their varied moods with equally varied and consistently inspired music. The third section, Laudamus te (We praise thee, Lord), is music of vigorous energy and simple, unaffected piety.
Symphony No. 17 in G Major, K. 129
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
‘Sinfonia / del Sgr Cavaliere Amadeo Wolfgango / Mozart nel mese di Maggio 1772 / Salisburgo.’ The most common theory regarding this inscription on this piece’s autograph manuscript is that Mozart had begun it earlier, put it aside, and completed it ‘in the month of May, 1772.’ It was the second of three symphonies that he finished that month.
The first movement is notable for its effortless elegance and its playful use of crescendo, the gradual rise in volume that Gioachino Rossini (1792-1868) would use to such charming effect in his operas. The second movement is a serene outpouring of sweet emotions. Neal Zaslaw comments that here “Mozart spins a magical web of common-coin melodic fragments.” The finale is a rapid, jig-like romp. Mozart wrote of a similar passage in his comic opera The Abduction from the Seraglio that it “must go very fast—and the ending must make a truly great racket. The more noise the better—so that the audience doesn’t grow cold before the time comes to applaud.”
‘Se viver non degg’io,’ from ‘Mitridate, King of Pontus,’ K. 87
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
In December 1769, the thirteen-year-old Mozart and his father Leopold set out on their first tour of Italy. The teenage composer met with immense acclaim wherever they stopped. In Milan, he received a commission to compose the first opera of the following year’s Carnival season. He received the libretto of the commissioned, dramatic opera, Mitridate, King of Pontus, while staying in Bologna in October, and set to work at once. Despite the opera’s six-hour duration, the premiere in Milan on 26 December 1770 proved highly successful. An additional 20 performances followed in short order, but then it disappeared from the stage until it was revived in Salzburg in 1971.
The libretto was based on a play by the seventeenth-century French author, Jean Racine. From 124 to 88 B.C., Mithridates, an actual historical figure, served as king of Pontus, a region of what is now Turkey. The play and libretto deal in fictional terms with the turbulent, eventually tragic relations between him, his new young wife, and his two sons. This lyrical duet involves Queen Aspasia, the fiancée of Mithridates, and Sifare, his son (the latter a ‘trousers’ role, a male character sung by a woman).
‘Sull’aria,’ from ‘The Marriage of Figaro,’ K. 492
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
The Marriage of Figaro is a play by the Frenchman Pierre Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais, a sequel to The Barber of Seville. Various love affairs and romantic deceptions are resolved by the final curtain, but not before Count Almaviva’s servants, including Figaro the barber, have proven themselves as intelligent and sympathetic—if not more so—as he. (Quite a revolutionary concept for the late eighteenth century!) Mozart’s operatic version premiered with great success in Vienna in May, 1786 and has maintained its popularity ever since. The characters who perform this sweet-natured duet are Countess Almaviva and her maid, Susanna. The Countess dictates to Susanna an invitation to a tryst, addressed to the Countess’s husband, in a plot to expose his infidelity.
‘Ah! guarda sorella,’ from ‘Così fan tutte,’ K. 588
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
The plot of this 1789 comic opera was said to be based upon actual events that had occurred among the Viennese aristocracy a short time earlier. A cynical older man placed a bet with two young fellows: that their fiancées would prove unfaithful within 24 hours—and with each other’s mates! The wager went ahead, and the aging manipulator won. From this situation, Mozart and librettist Lorenzo da Ponte fashioned a masterful comedy (albeit one with serious undercurrents): Così fan tutte (All Women Are Like That). In this gentle duet from Act One, the sisters Dorabella and Fiordiligi praise their lovers.
Symphony No. 65, in A Major
Haydn composed this intriguing symphony during the period 1772 to 1774. It may have originated, in whole or in part, as incidental music for one of the plays that impresario Carl Wahr’s theatrical company performed at the request of Haydn’s royal employer, Prince Nicolaus Esterházy. The troupe was in residence on the Esterházy’s lavish country estates every summer from 1772 to 1777. Among the plays they staged were several by Shakespeare, including Hamlet. No record exists of Haydn composing an incidental score for that dark masterwork, but it’s fascinating to speculate how it might have sounded.
The opening movement of Symphony No. 65 is brisk and melodious. Some scholars hear in it echoes of the Eastern European folk music that fascinated Haydn throughout his career. The slow second movement is an appealingly eccentric creation, dotted with quasi-fanfare wind instrument figures and abrupt shifts in dynamics from very soft to very loud. Musing upon its possibly theatrical origins, the noted Classical-period scholar H.C. Robbins Landon has written that it has “the whiff of greasepaint about it.” Haydn constructed the outer panels of the compact third movement minuet on offbeat rhythms. The central trio, in which he peeled back the orchestra to strings alone, veers into quieter but darker waters. The finale is a rollicking hunting-style piece, one of several that Haydn composed over the years.
El desdichado (The Unhappy One)
—arr. Vivian Fung
Saint-Saëns was another Romantic French composer who succumbed to the allure of Spanish music. He composed this sultry duet in 1871, on a text by Jules Barbier and in the style of a slow-tempo dance, the bolero.
‘Chanson espagnole’ (Spanish Song)
—arr. Vivian Fung
In creative terms, Debussy, at 21, was still a late-Romantic French composer of the Massenet/Gounod school when he composed this charming and colourful duet in 1883. It’s an example of the powerful attraction that Spanish music held for numerous French composers of the period (Bizet, Massenet, Chabrier, Ravel, Lalo et al.). It was inspired by his first serious (though one-sided) romantic infatuation, with Marie Vasnier, the wife of a much older Parisian architect. The singing lessons he gave her, and her winsome personality, led to his loving her from afar. She regularly sang his early songs in private with the composer at the piano, and together they premiered the Chanson espagnole. He dedicated the song to her. The text is by Louis Charles Alfred de Musset.