Sopranos Tracy Dahl and Andriana Chuchman: international stars, Canadian treasures (concert viewable through July 22nd)
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, another coloratura soprano who started in Tracy’s studio at the University of Manitoba in the fall of 1999, and quickly became a star voice student. Today she stars alongside some of the world’s most famous singers on top opera stages. Praised by the New York Times, the Washington Post, 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.
We weren’t surprised when Andriana and Tracy sold out the last time they performed with us in 2018. See them perform together, again, at this online concert, featuring classic duets and arias. Alexander Weimann conducts.
This is the seventh concert in our 2021 Spring and Summer Festival, and it’s been a joy to reconnect with you. We hope to connect with you at this eclectic concert as well.
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The concert begins at 7.30pm CDT on MCO's YouTube channel on July 8th. Household tickets for casual buyers are $20; all MCO subscribers are automatically given access to this concert. Click here to add a ticket to your cart (only one ticket required per household!) or call the MCO Ticketline 204-783-7377. The MCO will then send you a private link for accessing the concert a few days before the event. Please don't hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions.
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Manitoba Chamber Orchestra
Anne Manson, Music Director
Karl Stobbe, Concertmaster
8 July 2021 through 22 July 2021
Alexander Weimann, conductor
Tracy Dahl & Andriana Chuchman, sopranos
George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)
Overture to ‘Semele’ (HWV 58)
Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643)
‘Pur ti miro’ (I adore you), from ‘L’incoronazione di Poppea’ (The Coronation of Poppea)
Tracy Dahl & Andriana Chuchman
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Harpsichord Concerto No. 3 in D Major (BWV 1054)
- Adagio e piano sempre
Henry Purcell (1659-1695)
‘Sound the Trumpet,’ from ‘Come, ye sons of art’ (Z 323)
Tracy Dahl & Andriana Chuchman
Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767)
Concerto polonois, in B-Flat Major (TWV 43:B3)
George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)
‘Tornami a vagheggiar’ (Return to me to languish), from ‘Alcina’ (HWV 34)
George Frideric Handel
‘Piangero la sorte mia’ (I shall lament my fate), from ‘Giulio Cesare in Egitto’ (Julius Caesar in Egypt, HWV 17)
Claude Debussy (1862-1918)
Chanson espagnole (Spanish Song) — arr. Vivian Fung
Tracy Dahl and Andriana Chuchman
MCO season sponsor / CN
Concert sponsors / Bill Pope & Elizabeth Tippett-Pope and The Gail Asper Family Foundation
Guest artist sponsor / The Asper Foundation
Season media sponsors / Classic 107 & Golden West Broadcasting
Volunteer Sponsor / MB Liquor Mart
MCO at Home sponsor / Christianson Wealth Advisors, National Bank Financial
Alexander Weimann is one of the most sought-after ensemble directors, soloists, and chamber music partners of his generation. After traveling the world with ensembles like Tragicomedia, the Freiburger Barockorchester, and Tafelmusik, he now serves as Artistic Director of the Pacific Baroque Orchestra, and music director of Les Voix Baroques, Le Nouvel Opéra and Montreal-based Tempo Rubato.
He has often conducted the Victoria Symphony and Symphony Nova Scotia, and recently conducted Ensemble Arion, Les Violons du Roy, and the Portland Baroque Orchestra. He has regularly appeared as featured soloist with the Orchestre Symphonique de Québec and the Montreal Symphony Orchestra.
Alexander Weimann can be heard on some 100 CDs. He made his North American recording debut with Tragicomedia on Capritio (Harmonia Mundi USA), and won worldwide critical and public acclaim for his 2001 release of Handel’s Gloria (ATMA Classique). Volume 1 of his recordings of the complete keyboard works by Alessandro Scarlatti appeared in 2005. Critics around the world unanimously praised it, and in 2006 it was nominated for an Opus Prize as best Canadian early music recording. He released an Opus Award-winning CD of Handel oratorio arias with superstar soprano Karina Gauvin and Tempo Rubato, a recording of Bach’s St. John’s Passion, and various albums with Les Voix Baroques of Buxtehude, Carissimi and Purcell, all with rave reviews. His latest album with Karina Gauvin and Arion Baroque Orchestra (Prima Donna) won a Juno Award in 2013, and a complete recording of Handel’s Orlando was also released that year.
Alexander Weimann was born in Munich, where he studied the organ, church music, musicology, theatre, medieval Latin, and jazz piano. He recently moved to the Vancouver area with his wife, three children and pets, and tries to spend as much time as possible in his garden and kitchen.
Canada’s premiere coloratura soprano, Tracy Dahl, has appeared throughout her career with such esteemed opera companies as the Metropolitan, San Francisco, Houston Grand, Santa Fe and Calgary operas; the Canadian Opera Company, Pacific Opera Victoria, Teatro alla Scala (Milan) and the Théâtre du Châtelet (Paris). The “incredible Canadian soprano,” known for her agility and vocal range, values education alongside her impressive performing career as a Professor of Voice at the University of Manitoba.
Tracy Dahl’s recent engagement highlights included appearances with Regina Symphony, Winnipeg Symphony, and the Canadian Opera Company in Così fan tutte. She has recently performed as soloist with the St. Louis Symphony in Carmina Burana and the Vancouver Symphony in Carmina Burana and Mahler’s Symphony No. 4. She also recently appeared with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in Bernstein’s Candide Suite, and sang in a dual program with Andriana Chuchman with the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra.
Her past opera successes include Despina in Così fan tutte with Canadian Opera Company; Gilda in Rigoletto with Edmonton Opera and Manitoba Opera; the title roles in Lucia di Lammermoor 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 Houston Grand Opera, 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; as well 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.
On concert stages, Tracy Dahl’s many appearances include an evening of Gershwin songs with the Philadelphia Orchestra; the Cleveland Orchestra at The Blossom Festival; the New York Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall; Vail Summer Music Festival; Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 with the Monterey Symphony; Britten’s Les Illuminations with the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra; a concert with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra; Handel’s Messiah with both San Francisco and St. Louis symphonies. 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).
Born in Winnipeg, Tracy Dahl commenced her vocal training at age 12, and had her heart set on a career in musical theatre. During her studies at the Banff Centre, she successfully debuted as Barbarina in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro with the Manitoba Opera. Under the guidance of Mary Morrison and Martin Isepp, Dahl developed her career in opera, ultimately performing with world renowned symphonies, orchestras, and opera companies. In July 2017, Tracy Dahl had the high honour of being appointed to the Order of Canada for her accomplishments as an opera singer and for her commitment to mentoring the next generation of Canadian singers.
Canadian soprano Andriana Chuchman has earned much acclaim for her performances in a wide range of repertoire including the heroines of Mozart and Handel, 20th Century masterpieces, and the premieres of new operas and orchestral works.
Ms Chuchman’s recent opera engagements have included Adina in L’Elisir d’Amore, Miranda in The Enchanted Island, Gretel in Hansel and Gretel, and Valencienne in The Merry Widow at the Metropolitan Opera; the title role in a new production of Orphée et Eurydice, Zerlina in Don Giovanni, Yum-Yum in The Mikado, and Valencienne (The Merry Widow) at the Lyric Opera of Chicago; Mary in Jake Heggie’s It’s a Wonderful Life at the San Francisco Opera; her house and role debut as Pat Nixon in Nixon in China at the Houston Grand Opera; Micaëla in La tragédie de Carmen at the San Diego Opera; Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi at the Los Angeles Opera, Boonyi/India in the critically acclaimed world premiere of Jack Perla’s Shalimar the Clown at the Opera Theater of St. Louis, Gretel on the Glyndebourne Festival Tour, Magnolia in Show Boat and Marie in La fille du regiment at the Washington National Opera, Magnolia (Show Boat) at the Dallas Opera, John Adams’ A Flowering Tree at the Opera Omaha, Guinevere in Camelot at the Glimmerglass Festival, Yum-Yum (The Mikado), Cleopatra in Guilio Cesare, Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro, and staged performances of Orff’s Carmina Burana at the Michigan Opera Theater; Minka in Le Roi le Malgra at the Bard Music Festival,the title role in Flora, an opera at the Spoleto Festival USA, and Alinda in Giasone, and Dorinda in Orlando at the Chicago Opera Theater.
In concert, Ms Chuchman has appeared in Lincoln Center’s White Lights Festival in staged performances of the Pergolesi Stabat Mater, and has also appeared at the Cincinnati May Festival in a performance of the Bach B minor Mass, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in performances of the Brahms Requiem, the Rhode Island Philharmonic in performances of Orff’s Carmina Burana, the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra in performances of Mahler’s Symphony No. 4, and the Ravinia Festival as a guest on the Prairie Home Companion radio show.
In Canada, Chuchman recently sang the premiere of Larysa Kuzmenko’s Golden Harvest with the Winnipeg Symphony. She made her debut at the Canadian Opera Company as Olympia in Les Contes d’Hoffmann and most recently returned as Musetta in La bohème. She has also appeared at the Edmonton Opera as Yum-Yum (The Mikado) and Marie in La Fille du Regiment; and at the Manitoba Opera as Susana in Le Nozze de Figaro and Pamina in Die Zauberflöte. Concert performances have included engagements with the Toronto Symphony, Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra. Prince George Symphony, and the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra.
Born in Winnipeg, Andriana Chuchman received her Bachelor’s Degree in Voice Performance from the School of Music at the University of Manitoba. She is also an alumna of the Ryan Opera Center at the Lyric Opera of Chicago and the San Francisco Opera’s Merola Program. Ms Chuchman’s awards include the San Francisco Opera’s 2019 Emerging Star of the Year, Opera Theatre of St. Louis’ 2017 Mabel Dorn Reeder Award, and prizewinner at the Finals of the 2009 Neue Stimmen Competition in Germany.
Overture to Semele, HWV 58
George Frideric Handel
Semele failed badly at its première during the London Lenten season of 1744. Audiences were expecting a religious Biblical work, but instead Handel offered a sensuous Greek myth, treated musically as an opera but presented as an oratorio. The title character is the mortal lover of the god Jupiter. Handel introduced the score with an imposing overture, alternately solemn, vigorous. and graceful.
Pur ti miro (I adore you), from L’incoronazione di Poppea (The Coronation of Poppea)
In a brilliant career that straddled the Renaissance and Baroque eras, Monteverdi composed numerous works, mostly vocal. They proved vastly influential, and their abundant beauty and drama have made them remarkably durable. He was one of the first great figures in opera. Glorious works such as Orfeo (1607) and Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria (Ulysses Returns to His Homeland, 1639) still hold the boards four centuries after they appeared. Another popular opera, The Coronation of Poppea, premièred in Venice in 1643. The plot centres on Poppea, the mistress of the dissolute Roman emperor, Nero. In this duet, they rapturously pledge their love for each other.
Harpsichord Concerto No. 3 in D Major, BWV 1054
Johann Sebastian Bach
In 1729, Bach added to his numerous responsibilities at the St. Thomas School in Leipzig by launching what proved to be a decade-long term as the supervisor of the Collegium Musicum (Musical Fraternity). The ranks of this volunteer ensemble were made up of talented university students and amateur performers, augmented on occasion with professional musicians. His good and greatly esteemed friend, Georg Philipp Telemann, had founded it in 1702.
When Bach took it over, it was giving public, evening concerts during the winter months at a coffee house owned by Gottfried Zimmerman, and on summer afternoons in a garden. It blossomed under Bach’s expert direction, a development that gave him enormous satisfaction, during a period when his primary duties were causing him a great deal of grief.
The concerts presented highly diverse programs, from solo and chamber music to cantatas and other vocal works, orchestral pieces and concertos. Composers from all across Europe were represented, and when eminent musicians such as Johann Adolf Hasse, Franz Benda, Johann Gottlieb Graun and Jan Dismas Zelenka visited the city, they brought additional prestige to the concerts by performing their own music at them.
Bach created 13 concertos for one or more harpsichords, plus strings and continuo. They are among the earliest surviving pieces of their kind. It’s most likely that he created them to be performed at the Collegium Musicum concerts, and they were certainly performed at them. The soloists were often his talented sons, his finest pupils – and himself.
He appears to have conceived only one of them, the Concerto for Two Harpsichords, bwv 1061, specifically for that instrumental combination. It’s likely that he based all but one of the others on his own, previously existing concertos for a variety of instruments. The odd piece out in the latter group is the Concerto for Four Harpsichords, bwv 1065. He transcribed it, as a gesture of respect, from the Concerto for Four Violins, rv 580 by his contemporary, Antonio Vivaldi.
Harpsichord Concerto No. 3 in D Major is also widely known as the Violin Concerto in E Major, bwv 1052. It opens with a festive, almost march-like movement that bristles with playful energy. In the slow second movement, a pearl of sombre beauty, Bach gave the solo keyboard a deeply expressive lament to sing. The nimble finale sends the second movement’s mournfulness swiftly packing.
Sound the Trumpet, from Come, ye sons of art, Z. 323
Purcell is widely considered England’s greatest composer prior to Elgar. His compositions in many fields—especially church music, incidental scores for the theatre, and operas—gave the period of the English Restoration much of its finest musical art.
As a boy, he had been a member of the prestigious Chapel Royal Choir. After leaving the choir, he probably studied with a number of celebrated composers, including John Blow and Christopher Gibbons. His rise to the highest ranks of the profession proceeded swiftly. At 18, he was appointed composer for the violins at court; he became organist at Westminster Abbey in London two years later; and added the position of organist to the Chapel Royal three years after that. Between 1680 and the death of King Charles II in 1685, Purcell composed virtually nothing but music for the royal court, including more than 70 choral anthems. The king’s exile in 1688 greatly diminished Purcell’s contributions to that field. From 1690 onwards, he shifted his focus to the theatre. He composed numerous operas and semi-operas, plus music to accompany more than 40 plays.
He composed the ode Come, ye sons of art in 1694. The occasion was the birthday of Queen Mary II, an occasion which he had previously been called upon to celebrate five times. At this concert, you will hear the stirring and festive duet that is the third of the ode’s nine sections.
Concerto polonois (Polish Concerto) in B-flat Major, TWV 43:B3
Georg Philipp Telemann
Even in an era known for its composers’ productivity, Telemann was exceptional. A rough estimate of his output numbers several thousand pieces, including more than 1000 sacred cantatas and 40 settings of the Passion of Christ. During his lifetime, his music earned him the reputation as the finest German composer of the day, superior even to J.S. Bach, and his popularity rivaled that of Handel.
In 1705, the second musical appointment of his career—music director in the court of Count Erdmann von Promnitz—took him to Sorau (or Żary), near Poland. While there, he visited Poland several times. He became acquainted with its folk music, as he put it “in its authentic and barbaric beauty.” He composed several works that display its influence, including the concerto for strings that you will hear at this concert.
To quote French musicologist Gilles Cantagrel, “The idea that literally unheard-of music, stemming from the most authentic popular traditions and defying rules and usages could possibly possess a beauty worthy of attracting the attention of a composer of art music, employed at court, was something quite staggering in the early eighteenth century.”
Telemann asserted that “an attentive observer could gather from these musicians in eight days enough ideas to last a lifetime.” No one followed through on his trailblazing efforts in folk music synthesis until Joseph Haydn composed several pieces “in Hungarian style” (including the Piano Trio in G Major and the Keyboard Concerto in D Major), and Beethoven created the ‘Razumovsky’ string quartets, with their quotations from Russian folk songs, included at the request of the man who commissioned them, the Russian ambassador to Austria.
In an additional link with Poland, Telemann gave the title Polonoise to the first movement of the concerto on this program. The piece consists of four brief movements. The first is moderate in tempo and regal in bearing. Telemann followed it with an invigorating Allegro, a noble, expressive Largo, and a jovial concluding Allegro.
Tornami a vagheggiar (Return to me to languish), from Alcina, HWV 34
George Frideric Handel
Handel’s opera Alcina premièred in London in April 1735, during the inaugural season of the new opera house in Covent Garden. It enjoyed a successful run of 18 performances through 2 July, the close of the season. The first major revival took place in Leipzig, Germany in 1828. The lofty reputation it enjoys today flowed primarily from a 1957 production in London. It scored monumental success primarily through the performance of the celebrated soprano Joan Sutherland in the title role.
The anonymous libretto was drawn from Ludovico Ariosto’s epic, early sixteenth-century poem, Orlando Furioso (Mad Orlando). The setting is an island where live two sisters who are sorceresses, Alcina and Morgana. In Act One, Alcina tells Morgana that she plans to turn the handsome knight Ruggiero, whom they are holding captive, into an animal. Morgana begs him to escape the island and Alcina’s clutches, but he says he’d rather stay, as he loves another. Morgana believes that this other person is herself, and the act ends with this spirited and triumphant aria. When Handel revised the opera in 1736, he transferred this aria (which he borrowed from an early work of his, the cantata “O come chiare e belle”) to the role of Alcina.
Piangero la sorte mia (I shall lament by fate) from Giulio Cesare in Egitto (Julius Caesar in Egypt), HWV 17
George Frideric Handel
Handel’s opera Giulio Cesare in Egitto premièred in London in 1724. Based on the history of the first century B.C., it follows the mighty Roman warrior and statesman Julius Caesar as he journeys to Egypt in pursuit of his rival, Pompey, and to secure the country as a reliable food source for the Roman Empire. He has an affair with Cleopatra, who seeks to become the sole ruler of Egypt by disposing of her brother and co-ruler, Tolomeo. In Act Three, Cleopatra is put in chains after a quarrel with Tolomeo. She expresses her despair in the poignant aria “Piangero la sorte mia” (I shall lament by fate). Her mood shifts abruptly and briefly to fury when she considers how she will haunt her foes after she is dead.
Chanson espagnole (Spanish Song)
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 Debussy’s first serious (though one-sided) romantic infatuation, with Marie Vasnier, the wife of a much older Paris 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. The Chanson espagnole was premièred at a fancy party, by Mme. Vasnier and the composer, who doubled as singer and pianist. He dedicated the song to her. The text is by Louis Charles Alfred de Musset.
Maya de Forest