RECITAL : Mary Dunleavy at St. Patrick’s Cathedral
CELEBRATED Irish American soprano Mary Dunleavy (recently seen on the Metropolitan Stage as Violetta in La Traviata) will perform at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on March 17. She’ll sing “Ave Maria” and “Our Lady of Knock” at the annual morning Mass in the cathedral.
Asked by the Irish Voice for her thoughts concerning the invitation, Dunleavy enthused,
“Being asked to sing for St. Patrick’s Day Mass at the Cathedral is almost unbelievable. All four of my late grandparents were born in Ireland and came to this country with virtually nothing but hope and determination.
I can’t imagine what it would mean to them to see their granddaughter doing this. It’s an incredible honor for me, but an even bigger one for them.”
From Irish Voice
LA Times review of The Dwarf
Strong ‘Voices’ speaks to deeper meaning
By Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
February 19, 2008
“Recovered Voices,” Los Angeles Opera’s effort to restore to the repertory German opera suppressed by the Nazis, has a shaky premise but not shaky music. Sunday afternoon at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, the company presented works by Viktor Ullmann and Alexander Zemlinsky never before staged in America.
The Nazi attitude toward these composers was clear. They were Jewish. They were persecuted, their music forbidden. Ullmann perished in Auschwitz. Zemlinsky, a celebrated composer and conductor in the German-speaking world, emigrated from Vienna to New York in 1938 a broken man, his career pretty much destroyed.
But why it now takes a special effort to revive the works of Ullmann and Zemlinsky may have less to do with the Nazis than with issues of musical taste and originality.
Of the two one-act operas, “The Dwarf” is by far the most important. Premiered in Cologne in 1922, it is the sixth of the composer’s eight operas. (Conlon presented Zemlinsky’s earlier “A Florentine Tragedy” last season in a concert performance with the company.) The score, especially in the orchestral writing, is ravishing.
Based on Oscar Wilde’s story “The Birthday of the Infanta,” this is “Beauty and the Beast” without redemption. A princess in the Spanish Court of Philip II receives a dwarf as a present for her 18th birthday. She toys with him, and he falls in love with her. He has never seen himself in the mirror. When he does, he dies of grief.
Wilde’s story has a light touch, which makes it all the more devastating. Zemlinsky’s opera is heavier-handed melodrama. What saves it is Zemlinsky’s ability to handle complex emotion, his feel for mood and the dripping vibrancy of his orchestral palette.
Zemlinsky was at the center of things in early 20th century German and Austrian music. He was Schoenberg’s mentor and brother-in-law. He has been called the missing link between Mahler and Schoenberg. But stylistically he moved slowly when music progressed at a breakneck pace. He remained stuck at the junction between late Romanticism and early Modernism.
The same could be said for Richard Strauss, but Zemlinsky didn’t have Strauss’ originality. Still, with a renewed interest in Romanticism, Zemlinsky is now being welcomed back into the party as a very good composer of his day, if not one of the immortals.
There is much to catch the ear in “The Dwarf.” The score may not evolve with Mahlerian inventiveness, and
Zemlinsky, sadly known for his own ugliness, falls easily into pathos. But from the very opening, the orchestra presents a grand spectacle, and Conlon rendered it magnificently.
The singers ride the crests of the instruments. Mary Dunleavy was a luscious Infanta and Rodrick Dixon a touching, tortured Dwarf. Susan B. Anthony’s Ghita, the Infanta’s maid, was movingly empathetic.