A SPECIAL CONCERT: THE COMPOSER AT 70

For our 2021 production, EChO presented a special concert of new works by our resident composer Francis Lynch, in celebration of his 70th birthday this past March. The concert  took place at 7:30 pm on Friday, September 24, at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in front of a masked and socially distanced audience and was livestreamed as well.

 

THE PROGRAM

Along with a number of shorter art songs and instrumental works, the keystone of the 80-minute program was a 20-minute opera duologue for soprano and mezzo-soprano entitled Voices at Domrémy which Lynch completed in June 2020. The complete program with full details can be found here.

THE EVENT

An in-person audience of more than 80 patrons turned out for the concert, and an additional 40 households bought livestream tickets to the event. Eleven dynamic singers and seven accomplished instrumentalists presented the music, under the baton of EChO’s artistic director James Janssen. Each of the ten numbers was met with enthusiastic applause from an audience that clearly had been starved for live performance and was now feasting on this buffet of musical delights. One livestream viewer wrote: “From the opening strains of the beautiful Purcell Variations we were mesmerized…”

In case you missed the livestream or just want to hear the concert over again, we have posted the video from the livestream, combined with the professionally recorded audio track, at this link:

 

 

 

Evanston Chamber Opera (EChO) presents its 2020 benefit event via Zoom at 4 PM Central Time on Sunday, November 15, 2020. Eleven of our beloved singers from past productions perform their vocal favorites from opera and musical theater! The program also includes Q&A time with our artists and company leadership. While registration/admission is free, this is our one fundraising event for 2020, so please consider making a donation as generous as you are able. Register in advance for this concert by clicking below:
https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZcvdeytqjIiH9N5lLS61LseBWXIb2iAaR8pthe Zoom We hope to see you there!


Sopranos: Bethany Brautigam, Hillary Esqueda, Rachael Long, Alannah Spencer

 Mezzos: Julia Rahm, Angela Torres-Kutkuhn

 Tenors: Jake Hemminger, Karlos Piñero-Mercado

 Baritones/Basses: Zachary Angus, Ian McGuffin, Jeremiah Strickler

ALL PROCEEDS GO TO SUPPORT EChO’S FUTURE PRODUCTIONS

 

Video of our March 14 performance now available!

Learn More…

We are relieved that we were able to get our performances in just before the shelter in place orders from local authorities took effect. Audiences were light compared to previous years, of course, but that meant we were nowhere near the stated attendance limits in effect at the time. Unfortunately, it means that many of you did not have a chance to enjoy the marvelous talents on display from these accomplished young performers. But now is your chance to enjoy them in fine digital video recordings! Just click the “Learn More” link above, or navigate to our Productions page and click on “More About the Most Recent Production” to find links to a video of each opera. Enjoy!

Rehearsals have begun for our next production!


Following our successful November benefit performances of La Bohème, we now turn our attention to our next production of two comic one-acts, Comedy Again?!? 

The first rehearsal for d’Albert’s The Departure took place last night, and Luise (soprano Alannah Spencer) and Gilfen (baritone Jeremiah Strickler) worked through some gorgeous duet music by this unjustly neglected Romantic composer, once an international piano virtuoso sensation and pupil of the great Franz Liszt. Mark your calendars for the weekend of March 13th — you won’t want to miss hearing these magnificent voices singing this lovely music!

Music Director James Janssen makes a point in rehearsal.

 


Friday, November 15, and
Saturday, November 16,
at 7:30 pm

Hillary Esqueda

(Mimì)

Karlos Piñero-Mercado

(Rodolfo)

James Janssen

(music director/pianist)

Bethany Brautigam

(Musetta)

Jeremiah Strickler

(Marcello)

Enjoy Puccini’s tragic masterpiece in an abridged concert version for 4 singers!

ALL PROCEEDS GO TO SUPPORT EChO’S 2020 PRODUCTION

St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church
2120 Lincoln Street
Evanston, IL 60202

CLICK HERE TO BUY TICKETS NOW!

A Brief Retrospective of our 2019 Production


COMEDY TONIGHT: A COMIC OPERA DOUBLE BILL

Our 2019 production of a double bill featuring Bizet’s Doctor Miracle and Wolf-Ferrari’s Susanna’s Secret was a hit with our audiences and a joy for our cast and instrumentalists to perform. See our Productions page for more information, including cast information, a photo gallery, and links to videos of the Saturday performance.

A Farewell to Our First Opera


We are profoundly grateful to all of our cast, players, production team, patrons, and donors who made our first production a great success. Now we move on to planning for our 2019 production as our selection committee ponders what is next for EChO. Sign up for our email newsletter and be one of the first to learn about it!  (Right: the Smalls Lighthouse as it appears today from a few miles away; photo by Catherine Davis, from Wikimedia Commons).

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Meet The POETS

Robert Louis Stevenson (Scottish, 1850-1894)
Rosamund Marriott Watson (English, 1860-1911)
Henry Kendall (Australian, 1839-1882)
Richard Garnett (English, 1835-1906)

Depicted above are the four poets whose work has been incorporated into For Those in Peril. The poems and brief excerpts are listed below. (Click on the name above to go to the WikiPedia article for that poet.)

Scene 3 (Narrator) from Stevenson’s The Light-Keeper 
This is his country’s guardian,
The outmost sentry of peace,
This is the man
Who gives up what is lovely in living
For the means to live.

Scene 8 (Narrator) from Watson’s A Midnight Harvest
What are the white gulls crying
Above the ripened corn?
“O, harvest will be over
Before the morrow’s morn…”

Scene 12 (Whiteside and Williams) from Kendall’s God Help Our Men At Sea
The wild night comes like an owl to its lair,
The black clouds follow fast,
And the sun-gleams die, and the lightnings glare,
And the ships go heaving past, past, past—
The ships go heaving past!

Prologue (Narrator) from Garnett’s The Even-star
First-born and final relic of the night,
I dwell aloof in dim immensity;
The grey sky sparkles with my fairy light;
I mix among the dancers of the sea;
Yet stoop not from the throne I must retain
High o’er the silver sources of the rain.

 

Special Prayers

The Book of Common Prayer contains the order of worship for churches that are part of the Anglican Communion, offshoots of the Church of England. It also contains a number of prayers designed for inclusion in a service or for private use, two of which are set to music in For Those in Peril. “Keep watch” is traditionally used in the evening service known as compline; in the opera it is sung by Madeleine Griffith before she goes to bed. The other prayer is dedicated to loved ones, who for whatever reason, are far away. It is sung as a duet by Gwendolyn Howell and Madeleine Griffith as they await news of their husbands.

In the Evening

Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give thine angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for thy love’s sake. Amen.

For the Absent

O God, whose fatherly care reaches to the uttermost parts of the earth: We humbly beseech Thee graciously to behold and bless those whom we love, now absent from us. Defend them from all dangers of soul and body; and grant that both they and we, drawing nearer to Thee, may be bound together by Thy love in the communion of the Holy Spirit, and in the fellowship of Thy saints; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

(Left: title page from a 1760 printing of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer)

Borrowed Music

All of the music in the opera was written by composer Francis Lynch, with two exceptions. Both pieces appear just before the end of the opera and share a common theme: homecoming.

A capstan chanty was sung by sailors as they toiled to wind the capstan, a large winch used to bring up the anchor. In the early 20th century, a number of British composers went into rural Britain to collect folk tunes. This one, titled “Homeward Bound”, was collected by Cecil Sharpe in 1914 from a 76-year-old resident of Crowcombe. Lynch arranged the music as a trio for tenor, baritone, and bass.

Charles Willeby (1865-1955) was a composer of art songs, poetic texts set to music for voice and piano. There is relatively little known about him and even less about the author of the text of “Coming Home,” D. Eardley-Wilmot. But the text is poignant and seemed perfectly suited to the hopes of the keepers’ wives when they learn of the likely return of their husbands. Lynch arranged the music as a duet for them, the last music they sing in the opera.

Homeward Bound: A Capstan Chanty collected in 1914

Coming Home: An Art Song published in 1914

There is many a step goes lighter, coming home;
There is many an eye grows brighter, coming home.
All the way seems to remind you
Of sweet memories that bind you
To dear distant days behind you, coming home!

You forget your load of sorrow, coming home;
It will wait until the morrow, coming home. 
You can see the kind smiles beaming
And the tender eyes a-gleaming:
Oh! the longing and the dreaming, coming home.