by tobias picker
Libretto by Gene Scheer, based on the novel by Émile Zola
Love surrenders to lust in this scandalous tale of primal appetites, embraced by a lavish, sensual score that mirrors the lovers’ turbulent affair. Thérése, bound by an unhappy marriage, falls deeply in love with an old friend, but romance turns to madness when they commit a crime that will haunt them forever. Join us for a deadly ménage a trois in what Opera Now calls “a meaningful opera infused with moments of searing reflection and luxurious sensuality."
ABOUT TOBIAS PICKER
Tobias Picker, described by BBC Music Magazine as "displaying a distinctively soulful style that is one of the glories of the current musical scene," has had works commissioned and performed by the New York Philharmonic, The Philadelphia Orchestra, the San Francisco Symphony, The Cleveland Orchestra, the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Munich Philharmonic and the Helsinki Philharmonic. His first opera, Emmeline, saw its premiere at the Santa Fe Opera in 1996, and his fourth opera, An American Tragedy, was commissioned by and premiered at the Metropolitan Opera in 2005. His adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr. Fox was commissioned and premiered by the Los Angeles Opera, and his Thérèse Raquin was commissioned by The Dallas Opera, San Diego Opera, and Opera de Montreal.
Mr. Picker has received numerous awards and prizes, including a Charles Ives Scholarship as well as a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, and was elected in 2012 to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He has served as composer-in-residence of the Houston Symphony, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival and the Pacific Music Festival. Picker’s symphonic music has been commissioned and performed by the world’s leading orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, The Philadelphia Orchestra, the San Francisco Symphony, The Cleveland Orchestra, and the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Picker’s first ballet, Awakenings, was toured across the UK at the hands of the Rambert Dance Company throughout the 2010/11 season. Dolores Claiborne, Picker's fifth opera, premiered at San Francisco Opera on September 15, 2013. Tobias Picker is currently the Artistic Director of The Opera San Antonio at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts. Tobias Picker’s music is published exclusively by Schott Music.
ABOUT GENE SCHEER
Mr. Scheer’s work is noted for its scope and versatility. With the composer Jake Heggie he has collaborated on a number of different projects, including the critically acclaimed 2010 Dallas Opera world premiere, Moby-Dick, starring Ben Heppner as Captain Ahab; Three Decembers (Houston Grand Opera), which starred Frederica von Stade; and the lyric drama To Hell and Back (Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra), which featured Patti LuPone. Other works by Scheer and Heggie include Camille Claudel: Into the fire, a song cycle premiered by Joyce di Donato and the Alexander String Quartet. Mr. Scheer worked as librettist with Tobias Picker on An American Tragedy, which premiered at the Metropolitan Opera in 2005. Their first opera, Thérèse Raquin, written for the Dallas Opera in 2001, was cited by Opera News as one of the ten best recordings of 2002. Other recent collaborations include the lyrics for Wynton Marsalis’s It Never Goes Away, featured in Mr. Marsalis’s work Congo Square. With the composer Steven Stucky, Mr. Scheer wrote the oratorio August 4, 1964. The work, recently nominated for a Grammy, was premiered by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra in 2008 and last season was performed by the orchestra, with Japp von Sweeden conducting, at Carnegie Hall. Also a composer in his own right, Mr. Scheer has written a number of songs for singers such as Renée Fleming, Sylvia McNair, Stephanie Blythe, Jennifer Larmore, Denyce Graves, and Nathan Gunn. The distinguished documentary filmmaker, Ken Burns, prominently featured Mr. Scheer’s song “American Anthem” (as sung by Norah Jones) in his Emmy Award-winning World War II documentary for PBS entitled The War.
About the Novel, Thérèse Raquin
Zola's Thérèse Raquin (1867) is a story of lust, madness and destruction set within the dingy backstreets of Paris. The eponymous protagonist – a repressed and silently resentful young woman – is married off according to her aunt's wishes to her sickly cousin Camille. When Thérèse meets Camille's robust and earthy friend Laurent, a turbulent passion is unleashed that drives them ultimately to violence and murder.
In his preface to the second edition, Zola outlined the tenets of his naturalist approach to writing and defended his work against contemporary accusations of "putrid" obscenity. The novel, he claimed, is a kind of scientific study, recording the actions of "human animals" whose behaviour is entirely determined by "temperament" – a doctrine derived from the medieval idea of the four "humours." Laurent's "sanguine" disposition is opposed to Thérèse's "nervous" temperament; both disintegrate into neurosis.
Yet the novel goes far beyond outmoded psychological concepts. For all Zola's claims of authorial objectivity, what makes the work so striking is the inclusion of the uncanny and symbolic. The enigmatic cat François is a constant observer of the action and his "diabolical" gaze scrutinises the lovers as they descend through lust to hysteria and despair. Zola also invests the Seine with a sinister significance that heightens the claustrophobic atmosphere. Running murkily through every setting, it becomes the scene of murder, engulfing Camille and spewing him out on to the morgue slab as a "heap of decayed flesh… spotted with repulsive blotches, the feet were falling off."
Robin Buss's translation preserves the unflinching precision of Zola's prose. By merging elements of the gothic and tragic with a study of petit-bourgeois banality, Zola created a work of enduring fascination.
Married Parisian couple Thérèse and Camille Raquin are reunited with an old friend, Laurent. It soon becomes clear that Thérèse and Laurent are more than old friends as heated confessions of undying love abound between the two. The two conspire to murder the sickly Camille and succeed in dumping him into the Seine to make possible the consecration of their love. The guilty couple soon become the object of torment by both their own guilty consciences and the ghost of Camille.
Mary Ann Stewart
Mary Ann Stewart has sung Macbeth with dell’Arte Opera Ensemble, along with Dialogues des Carmelites and Ariadne auf Naxos. Notable engagements include Romeo et Juliette and Norma with Bilbao Opera, Turn of the Screw at Festival de Opera de Tenerife, Tristan und Isolde with Virginia Opera, Le Comte Ory with Opéra Royal de Wallonie, Rienzi with Opera Orchestra of New York and Gift of Angels II – The Song of an Angel at Universal Studios Japan. Concert engagements include Messiah at both Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, Ravel’s Schéhérazade in Salerno, Italy, de Falla’s Siete Canciones with Morales Dance and a series of Verdi aria concerts with Lyric Opera of Virginia.
Described as “brilliant” by Opera News, tenor Matthew DiBattista has performed with such conductors as James Conlon, Seiji Ozawa, Sir Andrew Davis, and Charles Dutoit in the U.S., Italy, France, and Portugal and has been on the Metropolitan Opera’s roster. This season’s engagements include soloist in Britten’s War Requiem with conductor Keith Lockhart, Tobias Picker’s Thérèse Raquin at Chicago Opera Theater, Tulsa Opera in Of Mice and Men, and the Lyric Opera of Chicago for its production of Capriccio with Renee Fleming. 2016 will include Mr. DiBattista’s debut at Santa Fe Opera and his return to Lyric Opera of Chicago.
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Baritone Edward Parks recently debuted with Atlanta Opera as Valentin in Faust and Central City Opera as Count Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro, sang Marcello in La bohème at PORT Opera, Zurga in Les pêcheurs de perles with Michigan Opera Theater, and the Duruflé Requiem with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. 2014-2015 sees a recital with Susan Graham for the Marilyn Horne Foundation at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall and his return to the Metropolitan Opera for La bohème, Die Zauberflöte, and Don Carlo, where he has previously performed Fiorello in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Schaunard in La bohème, and Larkens in La fancuilla del West.
The American-Armenian Soprano has been described as “Sensational, radiant, elegant, commanding, brilliant, and strong."–The LA Times. She has performed over 35 roles with companies such as LBO, Seattle Opera, Atlanta Opera, Opera Santa Barbara, and Opera Theatre Ireland. Few roles include title roles in Les Mamelles de Tiresias and The Cunning Little Vixen, Madame Mao, Musetta, Leila, Cleopatra, Adele, and Despina. She is internationally known for her critically acclaimed portrayal of Anne Frank in the one-woman opera, The Diary of Anne Frank. She won 1st Place at the Western Region Metropolitan Opera Competition in 2005. www.animaldjian.com
Zeffin Quinn Hollis
Zeffin Quinn Hollis was “Maguire” in Picker’s Emmeline for the Armel Festival (broadcast to over forty countries by MEZZOTV). Career highlights are the Four Villains in Les Contes d’Hoffman conducted by Julius Rudel; Eddie Carbone (View from the Bridge); the title role in Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle; Scarpia (Tosca); Giorgio Germont (La Traviata); and Jack Rance (La Fanciulla del West). He has played New York City Opera, Dallas Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Palm Beach Opera, New Orleans Opera, Opera Delaware, Toledo Opera, the Pécs & Szeged National Theaters in Hungary, and Lviv National Theatre. Find more - zeffin.com!
John Matthew Myers
John Matthew Myers has been praised for his smooth and rich tenor. Recent performances: Don Jose in Bizet’s Carmen (Music Academy of the West); Alfredo in Verdi’s La Travaiata (Astoria Music Festival); Soloist in Hagen’s Amass (Alice Tully Hall), Soloist in Britten’s War Requiem (Carnegie Hall); Emilio cover, Il Sogno di Scipione (Gotham Chamber Opera); Periodista in Ortiz’s Camelia la Tejana (LBO); Tenor/Alan/Policeman 1 in Gordon/Copeland’s Van Gogh/Tell Tale Heart (LBO); Valerio, Virginia (Wexford Festival); Lensky cover, Eugene Onegin (Opera Theatre of Saint Louis); Cassio, Otello (Portland Summerfest).
Since 2003, Mitisek has been LBO's Artistic & General Director. Recent LBO directing credits: The Difficulty of Crossing a Field, King Gesar, Macbeth, Tell-Tale Heart, Van Gogh, The Paper Nautilus, Ainadamar, and Maria de Buenos Aires. Recent LBO conducting credits: I was Looking at the Ceiling and then I Saw the Sky, The Death of Klinghoffer, Camelia la Tejana, The Fall of the House of Usher (co-production with COT), The Breasts of Tiresias, and Tears of a Knife. Other conducting credits: Joruri in Tokyo, Don Giovanni (Seattle Opera), Madama Butterfly (Orlando Opera), Jane Eyre (Opera Theatre of Saint Louis) and Eugene Onegin (Teatro Municipal in Santiago de Chile). Mitisek has also conducted the Austrian and Italian premieres of Nixon in China. In 2012, Andreas joined Chicago Opera Theater as General Director.
Ken Cazan has directed more than 160 productions of operas, musicals, and plays for over 50 opera and theater companies worldwide. He most recently directed the world premiere of Kaminsky's As One (BAM) and the west coast premiere of Henze's The English Cat for the USC Thornton School of Music where Mr. Cazan is full professor, Chair of the Vocal Arts and Opera programs, and Resident Stage Director. Other career highlights include the world premiere of Lieberman's Miss Lonelyhearts (Juilliard); the American premieres of Mozart's Mitridate re di Ponto (Opera Theatre of St. Louis), Handel's Agrippina (Ft. Worth Opera), and Britten's Gloriana (Central City Opera); and Britten's Prodigal Son in collaboration with James Conlon. Upcoming, Mr. Cazan has written the libretto for, and will direct a new opera, Frau Schindler in collaboration with composer, Thomas Morse (tba in a press announcement in spring of 2015).
Alan E. Muraoka
Alan E. Muraoka works in the entertainment industry as a production designer and art director for film and television, corporate communication as well as a theatrical scenic designer, having been honored with 2 Emmy nominations and 3 Art Directors’ Guild Award nominations. Film production design credits include Sex, Death and Bowling, Dirty Girl, BaadAsssss!, and Edmond. Art direction credits include Little Miss Sunshine, Ghost World, Washington Square, and Liberty Heights. Recent theatrical projects has included Our Town, and Dead Man Walking for Central City Opera. More information available at www.alanmuraoka.com
David Martin Jacques returns to LBO as Lighting Designer for Therese Raquin. David previously designed lighting for LBO’s The Fall of the House of Usher. Recent production designs include As One for the Brooklyn Academy of Music, The Sound of Music, The Marriage of Figaro, and Dead Man Walking for Central City Opera. The many companies that David has designed for include: Teatro alla Scala, The Royal Opera House, The English National Opera, Teatro la Fenice, The New Theatre of Tokyo, Hong Kong Opera, The Canadian Opera Company, Chicago Lyric Opera, and The Norwegian Opera Company. David teaches lighting and stage design at CSULB.
Jacqueline Saint Anne
Emmy Award winning Costume Designer, and former President of the Costume Designers Guild, Jacqueline Saint Anne returns to Long Beach Opera and Chicago Opera Theatre to design Therese Raquin. In 2013 Jacqueline delighted our audiences with her costumes for Fall of the House of Usher having debuted at LBO with The Cunning Little Vixen and at COT with Owen Wingrave. This season her designs will also be seen in The English Cat, Candide, La Curandera, Monkey See; Monkey Do, and Iphigenie en Tauride.