PRESS RELEASE AND CALENDAR LISTING

Island City Opera Performs

Mozart & Salieri and Kashchey the Immortal

Two One-Act Operas by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov

Calendar

Preview:  Wednesday, Jan 17 at 7:30

Opening Night:  Friday, Jan 19 at 7:30

Matinee:  Sunday, Jan 21 at 2:00

Evening: Friday, Jan 26 at 7:30

Matinee: Sunday, Jan 28 at 2:00

Island City Opera will present five performances of a pair of one-act operas by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, January 17-28, at the Alameda Elk’s Lodge Ballroom, 2255 Santa Clara Avenue, Alameda, CA.  The operas are “Mozart and Salieri” and, in its American premiere, “Kashchey the Immortal”. Island City Opera’s singers, chorus, and dancers will be supported by a 22-piece orchestra under the direction of guest conductor Lidiya Yankovskaya. The operas are staged, costumed and English titled.

BACKGROUND:  These two operas, rarely heard outside Rimsky-Korsakov’s native Russia, display vividly contrasting aspects of the genius of this great composer who, in 15 operas written in the late 19th and early 20th century, almost single-handedly created the distinctive genre of Russian opera.

“MOZART AND SALIERI”, composed in 1898, was set verbatim to a poetic drama written in 1830 by Alexander Pushkin, whose works provided the basis for so many of the most familiar Russian operas. Taking as fact a recent rumor (made now famous by the play and film “Amadeus”) that Salieri poisoned Mozart, it is a psychological study of the relationship of the two characters and an exploration of the roles of inspiration and craft in the creation of art. The opera is particularly fascinating because while Pushkin clearly identified with the native and spontaneous genius of Mozart, Rimsky-Korsakov, ever studious, self-conscious, and ruthlessly critical of himself and others, must surely have felt some kinship with Salieri as well. Indeed, while the music Rimsky-Korsakov supplied for Mozart to sing seems to roll easily and naturally off the singer’s tongue, that of Salieri is more challenging, harmonically correct, yet appearing somehow labored. Eschewing the brilliantly coloristic style with which he is usually identified in favor of a restrained support of the great Pushkin’s text, and without resorting to the obvious temptations of pastiche, Rimsky-Korsakov manages to evoke a sense of classicism so appropriate to his subject. Being essentially a conversation piece built around a text that must be readily understood, “Mozart and Salieri” will be performed in an original English translation by Ms. Yankovskaya and the director, Richard Bogart, with English surtitles.

Although written only four years later, “KASHCHEY, THE IMMORTAL” (or “the Deathless”), is of a decidedly different century from “Mozart and Salieri”. Dramatically, it would seem to belong to that genre of Russian folk and fairy-tale operas with which Rimsky-Korsakov is most frequently associated. Yet in treating of folk characters in the libretto which he fashioned together with his daughter, Rimsky-Korsakov created a drama of a Wagnerian cast, with clear echoes of Tristan and above all Parsifal. And while “Mozart and Salieri” looks back musically to the eighteenth century, “Kashchey” is Rimsky-Korsakov’s most daring invention, combining a leitmotivic structure with a harmonic language characteristic of his student Stravinsky and his admirer Debussy.

Labeled an autumnal fable, perhaps reflecting on his earlier opera “Snegurochka” (The Snow Maiden), subtitled a vernal fable, “KASHCHEY, THE IMMORTAL” tells of an evil sorcerer who has discovered the secret of immortality: he can live as long as his daughter, Kashcheyevna, feels no love and sheds no tears. Kashcheyevna is compelled to seduce and then behead any knightly heroes who would put an end to Kashchey. A prince, Ivan Korolevich, comes to seek Kashchey’s death and free his fiancé, a princess held captive by Kashchey. Kashchey sends the Storm Warrior to his daughter to insure that she carries out her charge, but the rebellious messenger upsets the scheme and brings the Prince directly to Kashchey’s castle. Kashcheyevna pursues them and offers to free the Princess if the Prince will love her instead. When the Princess says she would rather die than be separated from her beloved, Kashcheyevna is moved by compassion and weeps. She is turned into a weeping willow tree, Kashchey dies cursing, and his blighted domain is transformed amidst a paean to sunshine, freedom, spring, and love.

CAST 

Mozart & Salieri: Darron Flagg is Mozart.  Anders Froehlich sings the role of Salieri.   

Kashchey the Immortal: Alex Boyer is Kashchey the Immortal.  Renowned sopranos Rebecca Nathanson and Maria Briggs make their company debuts in the role of Tsarevna.  Maria Briggs will sing Tsarevna on January 21st at 2pm.  Mezzos Silvie Jensen and Katja Heuzeroth share the role of Kashchey’s daughter, the scheming Kashcheyvna.   Katja Heuzeroth will perform Kashcheyvna on January 21st.  Igor Vieira sings the role Prince Ivan Korolevich, with bass Bojan Knezevic as the Storm Knight.

PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE

Wednesday Preview, January 17 at 7:30PM

Friday Opening Night, January 19 at 7:30PM

Sunday Matinee, January 21 at 2:00PM

Friday Night, Friday, January 26 at 7:30PM

Sunday Matinee, January 28 at 2:00PM

PRE-OPERA LECTURES

You are invited to join our lecturer, music critic Jeff Dunn, for a free pre-opera lecture held one hour prior to curtain before each performance.

VENUE

All performances are held at the Alameda Elks Lodge Ballroom, 2255 Santa Clara Avenue, Alameda CA.  This intimate setting seats up to 200 and offers warm acoustics and clear sight lines.

FOR CALENDAR LISTING

Who: Island City Opera

What: Rimsky-Korsakov’s operas, “Mozart and Salieri”, and “Kashchey the Immortal”

Where: Alameda Elks Lodge Ballroom, 2255 Santa Clara Avenue, Alameda, CA

Why: Top quality performance at an affordable price

Ticket Prices: Preview Night:  General Admission, $40 adult, $36 senior, $10 student, free for children 12 and under  

Ticket Purchase: online at www.islandcityopera.org or box office at (510) 263-8060. For special needs contact boxoffice@islandcityopera.org.

Special Seating:  Promotore Table Seating and Café Seating are available at $60 for all ages, with wine and appetizers included.  Please contact the box office for special arrangements.

Press Contact:  Susan Dunn, sdunn@islandcityopera.org,  (510) 759-9771, Island City Opera, PO Box 1144, Alameda CA 94501