When Matt Haimovitz performs at the world premiere of Tapestry Opera’sJacqueline: a portrait of virtuosity, the audience can anticipate music that resonates with the poignant timbre of the famed cellist’s intimate association with Jacqueline du Pré as her young protégé.
Rising from a young prodigy herself, to peak fame as one of the world’s greatest virtuosi and ultimately succumbing to a tragic finale, English cellist du Pré was recognized in her prime as an exquisitely talented female soloist.
At the heart of du Pré’s life, strings a loving relationship with celebrated pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim that blossomed in Israel. The story goes that in 1967 – while the couple were performing concerts before, during and after the Six-Day War – du Pré felt such an overwhelming connection to Judaism as a musician that she converted to Judaism to marry Barenboim. Tragedy struck in 1971 when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She died at 42 in October 1987 and was buried in the Jewish cemetery in Golders Green in London.
The pieces dives into the real-life struggle between celebrity virtuosic cellist Jacqueline du Pré and the multiple sclerosis that ravaged her body, mind, and talent, robbing her of her identity, her musical gift, and her life.
This intimate piece for soprano and cello brings two contemporary virtuosi to the stage: celebrated American soprano Marnie Breckenridge as Jacqueline, and renowned cellist (and former du Pré protégé) Matt Haimovitz playing du Pré’s only constant companion, her cello.
Jacqueline is inspired by the structure and emotional landscape of Edward Elgar’s Cello Concerto. The form of the work echoes du Pré’s iconic interpretation of the Elgar, using the concerto’s four-movement structure to navigate an all too short life in music.
Cellist Matt Haimovitz and Luna Pearl Woolf who is responsible for this productions’ music joined Mark Wigmore on The Oasis.
“A wonderful cross-section of Woolf’s vocal writing that bodes well for the new opera.”
This month Tapestry presents the world premiere of American composer Luna Pearl Woolf’s latest opera, Jacqueline. Coinciding with this is the Pentatone release of Woolf’s Fire and Flood on the Oxingale label (PTC5186803 naxosdirect.com). This striking vocal disc features mostly recent works for a cappella choir (the Choir of Trinity Wall Street under the direction of Julian Wachner) with soloists in several instances and, in the most memorable selection, Après moi, le déluge, obbligato cello (Matt Haimovitz). After a virtuosic cello cadenza, this work develops into a bluesy and occasionally meditative telling of the story of Noah and the Flood which culminates in the gospel-tinged Lord, I’m goin’ down in Louisiana before gently subsiding. After a rousing arrangement of Leonard Cohen’s Everybody Knows for vocal trio and cello, comes a modern-sounding but fairly tonal Missa in Fines Orbis Terrae with the choir accompanied by Messiaen-like organ (Avi Stein). The vocal trio (sopranos Devon Guthrie and Nancy Anderson with mezzo Elise Quagliata) return for One to One to One, in this instance accompanied by the low strings (three cellos and three basses) of NOVUS NY. Having begun with the close harmonies, murmurs, shouts and extended vocal techniques of the a cappella To the Fire with full choir, the disc ends with the vocal trio once again joined by Haimovitz for a raucous setting of Cohen’s Who by Fire to close out an exceptional disc. A wonderful cross-section of Woolf’s vocal writing that bodes well for the new opera.
Tapestry Opera presents the world premiere of Jacqueline, a story of the battle between a world-famous virtuoso cellist and the Multiple Sclerosis (MS) that took her body and talent, robbing her of her breathtaking musical gift, her identity, and ultimately her life. Jacqueline runs at the Betty Oliphant Theatre from February 19 – 23, 2020.
Considered among the best musicians in the world for her passionate interpretations and flawless technique, du Pré was a trailblazer for female soloists and a rare prodigy. When she began experiencing numbness in her fingers at age 24, her doctor dismissed it as psychological fatigue until she was correctly diagnosed with MS nearly four years later. A harrowing, darkly humourous, and emotionally sensitive exploration of what it means to have a singular talent unravel, Jacqueline journeys through the life and trials of one of classical music’s greatest figures.
Haunting, gentle spirits from far-flung worlds meet in the pulsing sphere of dreams and lullabies that is Angel Heart, a music storybook. With an original tale by best-selling children’s fantasy writer Cornelia Funke, Angel Heart weaves an evocative original score by Luna Pearl Woolf with beloved songs by Irving Berlin, Lennon-McCartney, Jake Heggie, Engelbert Humperdinck, Gordon Getty, and others. An affecting narration by Academy Award-winning actor Jeremy Irons layers upon intoxicating performances by singers Frederica von Stade, Daniel Taylor, Lisa Delan, and Zheng Cao – all above a rich bed of cellos, Matt Haimovitz and his Grammy-nominated ensemble Uccello.
Exquisite images by the award-winning creative studio Mirada unfold the tale, and the deluxe boxed cd-and-story package includes a coloring poster, stickers and cards for sharing the magic. Originally released in 2013, and accompanied by premiere performances in Los Angeles and at Carnegie Hall in New York, this is the first international release of Angel Heart, from the PENTATONE Oxingale series, available for digital and CD release on December 7.
Chamber orchestras have long relied on transcriptions to shore up their limited repertory. Jean-Marie Zeitouni and I Musici de Montréal brought their season to a close on Thursday in Bourgie Hall with a program dominated by such works.
Including, it must be said, a real novelty: Schubert’s “Arpeggione” Sonata. Fans of chamber music will recognize this as the one and only composition of merit for the dodo-like instrument of the title, which became extinct not long after its invention in 1823.
Could the piece work as a concerto for cello and strings? It could and did in a version created by Luna Pearl Woolf for her husband Matt Haimovitz, who was the featured soloist of the evening. Through judicious use of mutes in the Adagio and pizzicato in the finale, Woolf fashioned a string accompaniment that was both faithful to the piano original and idiomatic on its own account.
Cellist Matt Haimovitz joins I Musici de Montréal and conductor Jean-Marie Zeitouni for works by Schubert and Ernst Bloch, on Thursday, May 24 at 8 pm at Salle Bourgie.
The Grammy-nominated cellist is acclaimed for his visionary approach, ground-breaking collaborations and innovative recording projects, which he combines with a tireless touring schedule, and with mentoring an award-winning studio at the Schulich School of Music of McGill University.
…The final work was indeed the highlight of the afternoon with a semi-world premiere of Ms. Woolf’s Opera, The Pillar with libretto by David Van Taylor … all we wanted was more than thirty something minutes!
On Sunday our dear friend, tenor Jonathan Blalock was in town as a soloist with the Washington Chorus at the National Presbyterian Church just up the street from our home, and we had to attend. The fact that the program was dedicated to new music and specifically the works of composer, Luna Pearl Woolf, who just had such a huge success with her world premiere of BETTER GODS at Wash Natl Opera made it even more of a treat.
Lisa Delan’s performance Wednesday evening at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music was billed as part of the Alumni Recital Series. But inside the SFCM’s comfy Sol Joseph Recital Hall, it felt more like a visit to the homes of the five composers — four of who were smilingly seated in the small audience — with soprano Delan serving as the friendly, fascinating, attractive and — did I forget ‘talented’? — hostess.
Luna Pearl Woolf, the first up of those composers, was flanked in the fourth row by the children she parents with cellist Matt Haimovitz, there on stage with pianist Christopher O’Riley to accompany the world premiere of his wife’s Rumi: Quatrains of Love, which opened a program that in several ways also served as an early run-up to Valentine’s Day. Delan, in fact, was dressed in a bright red ruffled dress, as she vocalized…