Glimmerglass Festival

Glimmerglass Festival

Friday, Aug 13, 2021 at 11:00am


11.00 am MCD

The Passion of Mary Cardwell Dawson is a new play with music, by Sandra Seaton, celebrating the founder of the historic and groundbreaking National Negro Opera Company and starring acclaimed mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves in the title role. The work includes selections from the repertory of the National Negro Opera Company, as well as original music by Carlos Simon to a text by playwright Sandra Seaton.

“Madame Dawson was an arts pioneer, a woman of many firsts, whose remarkable story had been all but forgotten until recently,” Graves said. “Mary Cardwell Dawson broke through incredible barriers to give voice to singers of color, creating opportunities that eventually brought them to major American opera house stages for the first time. It is an honor to champion her story - and that of the National Negro Opera Company she founded in 1941.”

Graves will make her Festival debut in The Passion of Mary Cardwell Dawson. She is known internationally for her iconic portrayals of Carmen and Dalila, roles that have brought her accolades from around the world. In addition to singing classic repertoire at all the major opera houses, such as the Metropolitan Opera, La Scala, and the Royal Opera House (Covent Garden), she has also premiered important works, from Margaret Garner to Doubt, and was in rehearsal for Champion with Michigan Opera Theatre when the pandemic shut down live performances in the United States.

6.00 pm Song

The Glimmerglass Festival presents Songbird, a new adaptation of Offenbach’s La Périchole created by Eric Sean Fogel, James Lowe and Kelley Rourke, which moves the comedy’s action to New Orleans with new musical arrangement and orchestration by James Lowe in the style of 1920s jazz bands. The original libretto is by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy.

Isabel Leonard and William Burden star as a couple of hard-working musicians who have fallen on hard times. Conducted by James Lowe, co-directed by Francesca Zambello and Eric Sean Fogel, and with costume design by Christelle Matou, the 90-minute adaptation will be performed in English and French with translation by Kelley Rourke.

“If we’ve learned anything this year, it’s that artists - in the face of politics, prohibitions, even pandemics - will always find a way,” Fogel said. “In the story of Piquillo and Songbird, we see an overnight sensation that has been years in the making, which feels pretty realistic to me. It’s a good reminder that the best is yet to come.”

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