James Conlon Conducts Inaugural Concert
March 7 & 10, 2007

A new series of productions uncovering classical music
suppressed by the Holocaust

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LA Opera Music Director James Conlon conducts the inaugural concert of the newly initiated Recovered Voices series, which focuses on the works by composers affected by the Holocaust.

In an essay entitled "Recovering a Musical Heritage: The Music Suppressed by the Third Reich," Maestro Conlon eloquently explains his boundless zeal for this worthy project:

We must now mitigate a great injustice by working to revive the music of those whose only “fault” was that they were Jewish, or that they were opposed to or deemed offensive by an authoritarian regime.

But that is not the only reason to restore these works. I believe that the spirit of this 'lost generation' now needs to be heard. The creativity of the first half of the 20th century is far richer than we think. Alongside Stravinsky, Strauss and other major and more fortunate figures, the varied voices of composers from Berlin, Vienna, Prague and Budapest, whether Jewish, dissident or immigrant, reveal much about the musical ferment of their time. Their music, I believe, is accessible and relevant. Further, our own American heritage owes an enormous debt to those who emigrated to Hollywood and Broadway, bringing their distinctive personalities with them, and creating a style that has since become distinctly American.

The suppression of these composers and musicians caused the greatest single rupture in what had been a continuous seamless transmittal of German classical music...

There are three aspects to be taken into consideration: moral, historical and artistic. Undoing injustice, when one can, is a moral mandate for all citizens of a civilized world. We cannot restore to these composers their lost lives. We can, however, return the gift which would mean more to them than others: to play their music. Our perspectives on the history of 20th-century classical music are incomplete because an enormous quantity of works has remained unplayed, and the lives of its composers largely ignored.

Neither moral nor historical considerations would be reason enough for revival were it not for the artistic quality of what was lost. This cannot be judged by a single hearing of tokenistic or uncommitted performances. Judgments, if indeed they must be made, can only be made after those performing and listening over the course of years have given the spirit of that era sufficient time to be fully digested. I now perform this music regularly, in the hope that it will find its place in the standard repertoire. I devote myself to programming works by this group of composers wherever possible.

In a unique presentation, the Recovered Voices stage design will feature visual arts that were created during the same era as the music was composed. The repertory includes selections from Franz Schreker's Die Gezeichneten (The Stigmatized), Walter Braunfels' Die Vogel (The Birds), Ernst Krenek's Jonny spielt auf (Johnny Tunes Up), Viktor Ullmann's Der Kaiser von Atlantis (The Emperor of Atlantis), Erwin Schulhoff's Flammen (Flames) and Erich Korngold's Die tote Stadt (The Dead City).

The concerts will also feature a complete performance of Alexander Zemlinsky's Eine florentinische Tragödie (A Florentine Tragedy), a one-act opera based on Oscar Wilde's play of the same name.

Soloists are sopranos Tatiana Pavlovskaya and Stacey Tappan, tenors Anthony Dean Griffey and Rodrick Dixon, and baritones Donnie Ray Albert and Martin Gantner. James Conlon conducts the Los Angeles Opera Orchestra.

The concerts will be held at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on Wednesday, March 7 at 7:30pm and Saturday, March 10, at 7:30pm.

Tickets to Recovered Voices range from $15 to $125, and are on sale at the Los Angeles Opera Box Office, by phone at (213) 972-8001 or online at www.laopera.com.

Source: LA Opera

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