To what extent do operas express the political and cultural ideas of their age? How do story lines, harmonies and musical motifs reflect the composer’s view of the changing relations among art, politics, and society? Mitchell Cohen, who combines his academic expertise in political science and lifelong interest in the spectacle of opera in his new book (The Politics of Opera—A History from Monteverdi to Mozart, Princeton Press), will underscore the political dimensions of libretti and ideological elements of opera, which absorbs and mirrors currents of the day in dramatic dress-up. Professor of political science at Baruch College and the Graduate School of CUNY, he has written for The New York Times Book Review, The Los Angeles Times Book Review, The Times Literary Supplement (London), Les Temps Modernes (Paris), and edited Princeton Readings in Political Thought (1995) and Rebels and Reactionaries: An Anthology of Great Political Stories (1992). Your next night at the opera won’t be the same!
“The Politics of Opera” is part of a series of intimate and stimulating conversations about music and ideas, an intrinsic part of the Close Encounters With Music season. “Conversations With…” has presented such notable cultural personages as writer, editor and Bob Dylan biographer Seth Rogovoy; composer, National Endowment grantee and Guggenheim Fellow composer Judith Zaimont; baritone and actor Benjamin Luxon; Emmy Award-winning animator, illustrator, cartoonist and children’s book author R.O. Blechman; art restorer David Bull; Academy Award nominee Daniel Anker and Directors Guild of America Award winner Peter Rosen; scholar, performer and multimedia artist Robert Winter; former Yankee, author and sportscaster Jim Bouton; Metropolitan Opera costume designer Charles Caine, and award-winning poet Charles Coe.
Tickets for this event are $20 and are available on the Close Encounters website – www.cewm.org, at 800-843-0778, or at the door. Light refreshments, following the presentation, are included.
ABOUT CLOSE ENCOUNTERS WITH MUSIC
Close Encounters With Music stands at the intersection of music, art and the vast richness of Western culture. Entertaining, erudite and lively commentary from founder and Artistic director Yehuda Hanani puts composers and their times in perspective to enrich the concert experience. Since the inception of its Commissioning Project in 2001, CEWM has worked with the most distinguished composers of our time: Paul Schoenfield, Robert Beaser, Osvaldo Golijov, Lera Auerbach, Jorge Martin, John Musto, among others to create important new works that have already taken their place in the chamber music canon and on CD. A core of brilliant performers includes pianists Adam Neiman, Roman Rabinovich, Walter Ponce and Jeffrey Swann; violinists Yehonatan Berick, Vadim Gluzman, Itamar Zorman and Erin Keefe; clarinetists Alexander Fiterstein and Charles Neidich; vocalists Dawn Upshaw, Jennifer Rivera, Kelley O’Connor, and Lucille Beer; the Amernet, Muir, Manhattan, Avalon, and Dover quartets, and Cuarteto Latinamericano; and guitarist Eliot Fisk. Choreographer David Parsons and actors Richard Chamberlain, Jane Alexander and Sigourney Weaver have also appeared as guests, weaving narration and dance into the fabric of the programs.
ABOUT SAINT JAMES PLACE
CEWM is delighted to return to the legendary acoustics of the newly “converted” Saint James Place, its earliest home. Saint James Place is a state-of the-art cultural center, where residents can enjoy music, theater, dance and other performances along with lectures, classes and meetings year-round in the heart of downtown Great Barrington. “The acoustics are old world, ideal for Baroque music. It’s a rich, intimate and warm sound with a radiance, a halo. The surroundings become an extension of the instruments being played and respond to their vibrations. Saint James Place is located at 352 Main Street in Great Barrington.