By Dale Gedcke
In addition to Beethoven’s “Coriolan Overture” and Schumann’s “Spring Symphony,” the March 4 concert by the Oak Ridge Philharmonia will offer a special treat, with favorite opera selections from Mozart’s “Cosi Fan Tutte,” Verdi’s “Falstaff,” and Puccini’s “La Bohème,” sung by University of Tennessee students currently studying voice.
Lisa Griggs and Cheryl Scappaticci of Music Arts in Oak Ridge will be joining the UT singers for those opera excerpts, and will also perform the humorous “Cat Duet (Duetto buffo di due gatti),” written by Robert Lucas de Pearsall (1825) as a parody on Rossini’s “Otello” and “Katte-Cavatine” by Weyse.
This is an excellent opportunity to experience a live performance of the most enjoyable parts of these operas, without having to invest in each entire opera. The cast of UT singers comprises Darius Thomas, Alexandria Shiner, Jack Francis, Breyon Ewing, Paul Bryson, Tyler Padgett, Marya Barry, and Joshua Allen. In addition to singing two roles, Ryan Colbert organized and directed the singers for this performance.
The “Coriolan Overture” by Beethoven (1770-1827) recalls a special story. Coriolanus was a legendary Roman general, popularized by Shakespeare in a tragic play of the same name, written circa 1605-1608. By 1802, Heinrich von Collin had created his own version in a play entitled “Coriolan.” In 1807, Beethoven premiered his overture, “Coriolan,” in the palace of his patron, Prince Lobkowitz, along with a one-night reprise of the Collin play. The overture has flourished ever since, while the Collin play languished.
After a successful career as a general, Coriolanus attempted to leverage his victories into political power. However, the result was tumultuous conflict, because he lacked the necessary political finesse. The stormy opening theme of the “Coriolan Overture” reflects this conflict. Ostracized from Rome, Coriolanus sought revenge by offering to lead the Volscian enemies in an attack on Rome. The softer second theme depicts his mother, Volumnia, trying to convince him to forgo the attack. The stormy theme returns with less conviction, as he wrestles with the alternatives. Eventually, Coriolanus acquiesces, and is killed by the Volscians for reneging on the battle. The overture traces that outcome by gradually fading into oblivion.
Robert Schumann (1810-1856) began composing by the age of seven. Later, he abandoned studying law to focus on developing his skills as a pianist and composing for the piano. At the age of 30, having established a prolific career composing for voice and piano, he wrote his first symphony, the “Spring Symphony.” It premiered on March 31, 1841, in Leipzig under the baton of Felix Mendelssohn, with a warm reception. The opening fanfare from trumpets and French horns signals the awakening of spring, and the following 35 bars depict life re-emerging in nature. Then, the tempo turns to an allegro 2/4 that can best be described as a joyous dance. The slow and dreamy second movement paints the quietude of evening, and the fast pace of the third movement (Scherzo) conjures up Schumann’s imagination of “Merry Playmates.” The vigor in the fourth movement symbolizes “Spring in Full Bloom.” The imagery and orchestration in this composition are pretty impressive, considering this was Schumann’s first attempt at a symphony.
To enjoy these compositions, join the singers and orchestra on Saturday, March 4, at 2 p.m. in the Sanctuary of the First Baptist Church of Oak Ridge, which is at the corner of Oak Ridge Turnpike and Lafayette Drive. Admission is free, but modest donations at the door to support the orchestra’s routine operating expenses will be appreciated.
The Oak Ridge Philharmonia is a 501(c)3, nonprofit volunteer organization performing under the baton of Conductor and Music Director Marcelo Urias. Anyone wishing to regularly participate in the orchestra is encouraged to contact Personnel Manager Cyndi Jeffers at [email protected]. Usually, the orchestra can accommodate additional string players, and occasionally there are openings in the brass, woodwind, and percussion sections. The orchestra welcomes experienced musicians of all ages. The Oak Ridge Philharmonia is a rewarding venue for instrumentalists who enjoy playing for an appreciative audience, with music ranging from Baroque through Classical to Contemporary. For more information about the orchestra, visit www.OakRidgePhilharmonia.org.
Dale Gedcke is publicity manager for the Oak Ridge Philharmonia.
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