About this project
Merlin - a fantastical opera.
World premiere on Sunday, June 9th, 5pm, at Trinity Lutheran Church, 292 Orange Street, New Haven, CT.
The Hugo Kauder Society’s Production of Merlin
The Hugo Kauder Society will mark the 125th anniversary of Kauder’s birth by presenting the world premiere of Merlin, one of Kauder’s final works and his only opera, in a staged concert in New Haven on June 9, 2013. Merlin is the story of a young man's search for truth and wisdom as he journeys through the fantastical realm of King Arthur. Recalling the mythology that inspired Richard Wagner and the magical world of Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Merlin is an innovative mix of musical styles and theatrical genres.
It is our pleasure to present the world premiere of this recently unearthed and restored opera at Trinity Lutheran Church, one of New Haven's finest examples of High Victorian Gothic architecture. Veteran New York City Opera Stage Director, Beth Greenberg, and Associate Conductor of the Boston Youth Symphony, Adrian Slywotzky, will direct this semi-staged concert production featuring six promising young singers supported by a 13-member orchestra and two choruses. Large-scale projections designed by artist Jamie Burnett, one of our area's most original lighting designers, will contribute to the ethereal atmosphere of the story.
As you can hear our wonderful singers say in the video, this project is exciting for a number of reasons. This opera has never been performed before, and we are really only getting our hands on the manuscript for the first time.
The singers, musicians and chorus members will get together with the artistic team one week prior to the performance for an intense week of rehearsing.
Meet the Merlin Team
Stage Director – Beth Greenberg
Music Director – Adrian Slywotzky
Lighting and Projection Designer – Jamie Burnett
Stage Management - Jim Clark
Costumes/Props - Soule Golden
Merlin – Samuel Levine
Viviane/Mutter – Emily Marvosh
Young Merlin – Toby Newman
Kings Pendragon/Uterpendragon – Christopher Herbert
Blasius/Gavan – Anthony Webb
King Vortigern – Isaac Grier
Musicians: Naomi Senzer, flute, Andrew Parker, oboe, Julie Asuma Levene, clarinet, Craig Hubbard, horn, Will Eisenberg, horn, John Ehrenburg, trumpet, Maura Valenti, harp, Edson Scheid, violin, Stephanie Hug, violin, Ellen Higham, viola, Jill Levine, viola, Becky Patterson, cello, Zack Nestel-Patt, bass.
Chorus: Mary Lee Duff, Polina Mann, Joan Duffy, Barbara Fabiani, Carol Holloman, Terri Bennett, Catherine Miller, Angel Herrera, Steve Evans, Bob Santy, Mark Hanke, Attila Elteto, Bruce Larkin, Rachel Pelchat, Benedetta Cordaro, Louise Carrozza, Stephen Wynn.
We know that this newly-discovered gem is an essential addition to the opera canon, and we need YOUR help to give Merlin the world premiere it deserves.
We have already raised a portion of the funds for this production thanks to early backing of the Connecticut Office of the Arts, the Victor Herbert Foundation, the Austrian Cultural Forum, H. Pearce Real Estate, and longtime Friends of the Hugo Kauder Society.
However, we still have following outstanding expenses to cover:
Venue for rehearsal and performance ($1,300)
Costumes and props ($500)
Housing for the cast ($700)
Meals and travel for the cast ($1250)
Professional audio and video recording of the live performance, editing the sound and footage of the recording ($1,500)
Engineering and pressing of the CDs, cover design, and their distribution to radio stations ($800)
Hugo Kauder (1888-1972)
Born in 1888, Hugo Kauder was a prolific chamber music composer who began his career in Vienna and fled to New York when the Nazis rose to power. While working in the United States, he developed a distinctive contrapuntal sound based on a "double scale" which is an inverted major scale for descending steps and normal scale for ascending steps. It creates a richness of color and tonal movement as intricate as the most chromatic of the 19th/20th Century composers and employs every step of the octave. At a time when many believed that Western tonality had run its course, Kauder’s more than 200 instrumental and 100 vocal works helped to expand upon traditional tonality rather than deny its relevance.The Hugo Kauder Society hopes to share Kauder's music with the next generation of musicians and listeners through innovative productions and competitions.
Merlin is the result of a collaboration in the 1960's between Kauder and German poet, philosopher, and writer Rudolf Pannwitz (1881-1969). Its fantastical themes are reminiscent of the mythology that inspired the music dramas of Richard Wagner. In the story, Merlin comes from the Orient to the Western world in order to fight the lust for power and violence. Over the course of the drama, far-eastern wisdom is combined with the western cultural tradition, the mythical past merges with the future, and earthly hedonism unites with the will to the sublime. Merlin comes to realize that it is only in the perpetuity of love and death that his work can find a higher purpose. The opera's harmonic language, like its story, certainly owes much to the romanticism of Wagner. Its unique, enhanced tonality, however, incorporates the modernism of the 20th century while simultaneously evoking the music of Renaissance composers such as Ockeghem, Obrecht, and Josquin de Prez.
More information and tickets to the performance:
THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!
Opera Bundles for support of $500-$999 (first come/first serve):
SAM LEVINE FANS: Free passes for two to the final dress rehearsal of Gotham Chamber Opera's production at the Met Museum in February 2014, a double bill of Monteverdi's Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda and Lembit Beecher's I have no stories to tell you– Levine will be singing a role in each of those operas, and will meet briefly with you after the performance, and/or in the days prior, to offer special insights into the show.
CHRIS HERBERT FANS: Chris will offer a workshop to your group on the business of the performing arts. As the business manager of the successful New York Polyphony he will share insights on how to grow and sustain classical and new music endeavors.
TOBY NEWMAN FANS: Mezzo Toby will serenade you or your date for that special birthday/valentine/celebration that will linger a long time after her final note is sung. To be scheduled in the NY area.
BETH GREENBERG FANS: Beth will join you for a Kauder-inspired lunch (Kauder’s Viennese recipes inspired the book “How to Eat Well and Play the Fiddle”) and regale you with tales of her opera productions past and in the works. Copy of the cookbook updated and re-designed by Rachel Kauder Nalebuff will be included.
ADRIAN SLYWOTZKY FANS: Adrian will accompany you to an opera or concert (tickets not included) and give you a full run-down before, during and after the show to give you an insiders experience.
HUGO KAUDER FANS: Invitation for you and five friends to take a private VIP tour of the Hugo Kauder Society archives at the New York Public Library, led by the Director of the Music Collection.
The Hugo Kauder Society is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Tax deductions for contributions are as follows:
$1-$49: full amount of contribution
$2,500 and up: $2,280
We will send each donor an official letter after the Kickstarter campaign has ended.
Risks and challenges
There are a lot of people involved in the production of Merlin. We have to make sure that everyone and everything is prepared and ready to hit the ground running when we start rehearsals in June.
Because this is a world premiere, we do not have any other productions of Merlin to look to for guidance. We needed to be ready to make decisions and changes to the opera when problems or obstacles arose. The manuscripts were found literally in a bottom drawer of the Kauder archives, and have since gone through an exciting process, and the libretto has been painstakingly translated, in order to find their way onto the stage.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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