Bard SummerScape 2022: Eight Weeks of Music, Opera, Dance & Theater in New York’s Hudson Valley, June 23–August 14
32nd Bard Music Festival: “Rachmaninoff and His World”New production of Strauss’s The Silent Woman by Christian RäthWorld premiere commission from Pam Tanowitz & David LangNew adaptation of Molière’s Dom Juan by Ashley TataReturn of Spiegeltent, featuring Michael Mwenso & Jono Gasparro’s Black Roots Summer; sneak peek at new musical from Suzan-Lori Parks, Lileana Blain-Cruz & Courtney Bryan; & more
The Richard B. Fisher Center at Bard College (photo: Noah Sheldon)
ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, NY— Bard SummerScape returns this summer with eight weeks of live music, opera, dance and theater in New York’s Hudson Valley (June 23–August 14, 2022). Through twelve themed concerts and panel discussions, the 32nd Bard Music Festival, “Rachmaninoff and His World,” offers an intensive reexamination of the contradictory life and times of Sergei Rachmaninoff, complemented by The Silent Woman (“Die schweigsame Frau”), the only true comic opera by the composer’s close contemporary Richard Strauss, in a rare new production from German director Christian Räth. SummerScape 2022 also presents the world premieres of new commissions in both dance and theater. Fisher Center Choreographer-in-Residence Pam Tanowitz premieres a major dance setting of the biblical Song of Songs with new music from Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang, and, to mark Molière’s 400th anniversary, director Ashley Tata puts a feminist spin on the French playwright’s tragicomedy Dom Juan in a new translation by Sylvaine Guyot and Gideon Lester. To complete the lineup, Bard’s beloved Spiegeltent returns after a two-year absence for live music, dancing and more, featuring the return of Michael Mwenso and Jono Gasparro’s “Black Roots Summer”; a sneak peek at a new musical from Suzan-Lori ParksLileana Blain-Cruz and Courtney Bryan; and more. Held in the Frank Gehry-designed Fisher Center and other venues on the idyllic Bard College campus, SummerScape 2022 once again represents “weeks of cultural delight” (International Herald Tribune).
It is no coincidence that SummerScape offers “one of the best lineups of the summer for fans of any arts discipline” (New York Sun). Through residencies and repeat engagements, the festival and its Fisher Center home demonstrate their deep commitment to sustaining long-term relationships with both creators and performers. As a result, artists have the opportunity to incubate important new work across the Fisher Center and Spiegeltent stages, and audiences to develop meaningful relationships with these artists. Furthermore, through judicious commissioning projects and the Bard Music Festival’s signature thematic programming, SummerScape consistently brings some of today’s most compelling creative artists into dialogue with great classics of the past. All told, the festival is increasingly renowned as “a hotbed of intellectual and aesthetic adventure” (New York Times).
Bard SummerScape 2022 – highlights by genre
Music: 32nd Bard Music Festival, “Rachmaninoff and His World”
Founded by co-artistic director Leon Botstein, the Bard Music Festival is widely recognized as “the summer’s most stimulating music festival” (Los Angeles Times). This year’s subject is Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873–1943), perhaps the last great exponent of Russian Romanticism, who nevertheless embodied many contradictions. Born into Imperial Russia, he spent more than half his life in Western exile; best remembered as a composer, he made his living primarily as a pianist and conductor; and all too often dismissed by critics as a middle-brow reactionary, he remains adored by audiences for his soaring “big tunes.” Through the prism of his life and career, “Rachmaninoff and His World” presents an illuminating series of concerts, pre-concert talks and panel discussions over the final two weekends of SummerScape. On August 5–7, Weekend One traces the complex course the composer navigated between Russia and Modernity, and on August 12–14Weekend Two investigates his relationship with the New Worlds he went on to conquer. Twelve concert programs spaced over the two weekends explore such themes as composition during the Cold War, virtuoso pianists and their public, and America’s ongoing love affair with Rachmaninoff’s music.
The festival will present a broad sampling of Rachmaninoff’s own oeuvre, from his early songs to his choral masterpieces Vespers and The Bells, and from his beloved Second Piano Concerto to his seldom-programmed Fourth. These will be heard alongside music by his teachers Sergei TaneyevAnton Arensky and Alexander Siloti; those who influenced his style, from Pyotr Tchaikovsky to George Gershwin and Duke Ellington; his Russian friends and colleagues, including Aleksander ScriabinNikolai Medtner and Igor Stravinsky; his fellow pianist-composers, including Anton RubinsteinFerruccio BusoniIgnacy Jan Paderewski and Leopold Godowsky; his Soviet contemporaries, including Sergei Prokofiev and Dmitri Shostakovich; his European ones, including Ottorino Respighi and Witold Lutosławski; and some of those whose music he transcribed and recorded, including Baroque masters J. S. Bach and George Frideric Handel. Finally, two thought-provoking panel discussions and a series of informative pre-concert talks will illuminate each concert’s themes. As the New Yorker writes, the Bard Music Festival “always assembles an edifying mix of academic and aesthetic delights.”
Opera: Richard Strauss’s The Silent Woman (“Die Schweigsame Frau”; new production)
SummerScape opera has been called “an indispensable part of the summer operatic landscape” (Musical America). This year’s offering is the only true comic opera by Rachmaninoff’s close contemporary Richard Strauss (1864–1949). Set to a sparkling libretto by Stefan Zweig, after the piece by Renaissance playwright Ben Jonson, The Silent Woman (“Die schweigsame Frau,” 1935) is the story of a retired British admiral who craves the quiet life, and of his nephew, his nephew’s wife, and the barber who intervenes between them. Revived only rarely, especially in America, the opera is nonetheless “remarkable for its joie de vivre and, more important, its moments of profound old-world warmth, affection and rapture,” not to mention its “intricate, radiant score” (Los Angeles Times).
Bard’s colorful, fast-paced new production and set design are both by Christian Räth, the German director whose treatment of SummerScape 2019’s Das Wunder der Heliane prompted Musical America to declare: “Opera productions don’t get much better than this.” Italian bass Andrea Silvestrelli, who has wowed audiences with his “powerful bass” (New York Times) at houses from Covent Garden to La Scala, sings the role of naval veteran Sir Morosus, with tenor David Portillo as his nephew, Henry; soprano Jana McIntyre as Henry’s wife, Aminta; and Glyndebourne Opera Cup-winning baritone Edward Nelson as the scheming Barber. Supported by the American Symphony Orchestra and Bard Festival Chorale under Leon Botstein’s leadership, The Silent Woman runs from July 22 through July 31.
Dance: world premiere of Song of Songs by Pam Tanowitz and David Lang
As the New York Times reports, dance at SummerScape “is building a track record of reliable transcendence.” This trend continues with the world premiere of Song of Songs, a collaborative new commission from Pam Tanowitz, the Fisher Center’s inaugural Choreographer-in-Residence, and Pulitzer and Grammy-winning composer David Lang. Spiritual and erotic, playful and mysterious, the biblical Song of Songs – also known as The Song of Solomon – is the inspiration for much of the world’s love poetry. Set to Lang’s original choral interpretation of the text, Tanowitz explores her Jewish identity with a major proscenium ensemble dance. A collage of sound, song and movement that reimagines ancient rituals of love and courtship, the work features production design by longtime Tanowitz collaborators Reid Bartelme, Harriet Jung and Clifton Taylor. Song of Songs will premiere to live musical accompaniment in three performances on July 1, 2 & 3.
This new collaboration follows the resounding success of Tanowitz’s two previous Fisher Center commissions. I was waiting for the echo of a better day was chosen as one of the New York Times’s “Best of 2021,” while Four Quartets, which recently played at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, was, after its Fisher Center premiere, named “Best Dance Production of 2018” by the New York Times, which pronounced it “the greatest creation of dance theater so far this century.”
Theater: world premiere of new adaptation & translation of Molière’s Dom Juan
To mark this year’s global celebrations of Molière’s 400th anniversary, SummerScape opens with the world premiere of a bold new take on the French playwright’s 1665 tragicomedy Dom Juan, directed by Ashley Tata (June 23–July 17). Using a new translation commissioned for the occasion from scholar Sylvaine Guyot and Fisher Center Artistic Director Gideon Lester, Tata becomes one of the first female directors ever to tackle the Molière classic. Setting his story in a fantasy world where 17th-century France meets late-1970s America, she raises pertinent questions about class, faith and gender. Moreover, by casting both the titular libertine and Sganarelle, Dom Juan’s assistant and sidekick, as women, she subverts the play’s traditional patriarchal power structure. Combining slapstick comedy with the taut psychology of a thriller, Tata’s production represents a Dom Juan for the 21st century.
Currently serving as Visiting Artist-in-Residence in Theater and Performance at Bard College, Tata directed Bard’s live online production of Caryl Churchill’s Mad Forest during the 2020 lockdown; hailed as “fervently inventive” (New York Times) and “a revelation” (New York Theater), the production subsequently transferred off-Broadway to Theatre for a New Audience. Bard’s other theatrical success stories include SummerScape 2015’s Oklahoma!, which went on to win a Tony Award on Broadway, is currently touring the U.S., and opens in London this May.
Spiegeltent: live music, dancing & dining in the tent of mirrors
A handmade pavilion of mirrors and stained glass, Bard’s authentic Belgian Spiegeltent has enchanted guests since its introduction to the festival in 2006. Now back after a two-year absence, the mirrored tent provides a sumptuous environment for cutting-edge live music and dancing on Fridays, Saturdays and some Sundays throughout the festival (June 24–August 13). Highlights include the return of “Black Roots Summer,” a celebration of Black roots music curated by Michael Mwenso and Jono Gasparro. Pulitzer-Prize winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks, OBIE Award-winning director Lileana Blain-Cruz and Rome Prize-winning composer Courtney Bryan will also present a first look at music from their Fisher Center-commissioned adaptation of Scott Joplin’s 1911 opera Treemonisha. The Spiegeltent extends the Fisher Center’s core developmental mission by providing long-term commissioning and residency support for superlative artists. Full programming and schedule will be announced in April.
Gala: “Summer Enchanted Evening”
On July 16, Bard’s Montgomery Place Campus plays host to “Summer Enchanted Evening,” a special gala celebration to benefit the Fisher Center and Bard Music Festival.
SummerScape tickets
Tickets for mainstage events go on sale on March 9, starting at $25, and Spiegeltent tickets go on sale in April. For complete information regarding tickets, series discounts and more, visit or call Bard’s box office at (845) 758-7900.
The 2022 SummerScape season is made possible in part by the generous support of Jeanne Donovan Fisher, the Martin and Toni Sosnoff Foundation, the Advisory Boards of the Fisher Center at Bard and Bard Music Festival, and Fisher Center and Bard Music Festival members. The 2022 Bard Music Festival has received funding from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature.
   Commissioning funds for 
Song of Songs are provided by Jay Franke and David Herro, with additional support received from the O’Donnell-Green Music and Dance Foundation. The Fisher Center on behalf of Pam Tanowitz Dance received a 2020 NDP Finalist Grant Award for Song of Songs, made possible by the New England Foundation for the Arts with funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, to address sustainability needs during COVID-19. 
   The commissioning and development of 
Dom Juan is made possible through the Fisher Center’s Artistic Innovation Fund, with lead support from Rebecca Gold and S. Asher Gelman ’06 through the March Forth Foundation.