Sasha Cooke as Queen Guinevere; Norman Garrett as King Arthur; Matthew White as Lancelot (photos: Maria Baranova)
“Chausson’s opera, first performed in 1903, richly deserves to be rescued from obscurity.”– Wall Street Journal
ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, NY — One of the crowning glories of the 2021 Bard SummerScape season, the festival’s lauded production of Ernest Chausson’s only opera, King Arthur (“Le roi Arthus”), will be available for on-demand viewing from October 25 to November 1 on the Fisher Center’s streaming service, UPSTREAMING. Coinciding with World Opera Day (Oct 25), this release will be accompanied by a recorded talk with conductor and Bard SummerScape founder and co-artistic director Leon Botstein; an interview with celebrated mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, who sang Guinevere; and other bonus material. Viewers can pay what they wish, but registration is required. Led by Botstein, this summer’s production – the first fully staged American treatment of the opera – featured Cooke, charismatic baritone Norman Garrett, tenor Matthew White and the American Symphony Orchestra in an original staging by Princess Grace Award-winner Louisa Proske. As well as viewing King Arthur, UPSTREAMING audiences will be able to access all Bard’s archived opera productions free of charge and on demand here.
Bard SummerScape’s signature dedication to resurrecting operatic rarities and giving them their rightful due has earned the festival and its founder singular praise; in its review of King ArthurOperaWire noted: “Leon Botstein is what a lot of artists should aspire to. A man with a vision who stays true to it.” (A video of Botstein and mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe discussing their love of rarely performed operas can be found here.) King Arthur continued Bard’s long history of successful opera presentations, garnering glowing praise: “This show came across as high theater and absolute music,” declared the Boston Musical Intelligencer, while the New York Times proclaimed, “Superb singers and a clear production make a strong case for Ernest Chausson’s seldom heard Le roi Arthus.” Indeed, as Parterre concluded: “Bard’s latest rediscovery was an essential, exhilarating experience.” Running from October 25 to November 1, the encore streaming event will allow the work to reach a richly-deserved wider audience.
While SummerScape and the Bard Music Festival are among the most visible events produced by the Fisher Center on Bard’s bucolic campus, the center also produces and presents a wide variety of other concerts and events year-round. Upcoming live-streamed events available at UPSTREAMING include Mahler’s magisterial Symphony No. 2, “Resurrection” (Oct 23 & 24), performed by the Bard Conservatory Orchestra with members of The Orchestra Now (TŌN), soloists from Bard’s Graduate Vocal Arts Program, the Bard College Chamber Singers and the Bard Festival Chorale, with choral director James Bagwell. On November 23 and 24, TŌN and Leon Botstein will be joined by violinist Gil Shaham and mezzo-soprano Briana Hunter for a program featuring a world premiere by Scott WheelerJulia Perry’s Stabat Mater and George Frederick Bristow’s rarely performed Symphony No. 4, “Arcadian.” On December 11 and 12, TŌN will be joined by soloists from Bard’s Graduate Vocal Arts Program, the Bard Festival Chorale and the Bard College Chamber Singers for performances of Handel’s Messiah. On November 6, versatile, internationally heralded mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe will join members of Bard’s Vocal Arts Program for “Songs from the Real World: The French Cabaret,” a program exploring the beginnings of the French cabaret scene, in a benefit for the Bard Conservatory Graduate Vocal Arts Scholarship Fund. More information about the Fisher Center’s fall season can be found here.
Launched in 2020, the Fisher Center’s streaming service UPSTREAMING offers new content, including digital commissions, and beloved performances from the Fisher Center archives. Featured works highlight different aspects of the breadth of programming the Fisher Center offers, including performances from the Bard SummerScape opera and Bard Music Festival archives, lectures, and artists in conversation, all streamed on the Fisher Center’s website and social channels. UPSTREAMING broadens the Fisher Center’s commitment to reaching audiences far beyond its physical walls, and offers new ways of engaging with artists.
The 2021 SummerScape season was made possible in part through 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, as well as grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature.