Billy Budd, Pat Pierce, Susan Witkin discussed on Lutheran Hour
Susan Witkin summer is coming and that means what of my favorite places to go and be entertained is about to open for the season. At least I know they're getting ready. I'm talking about the central city opera. The opera house in central city was constructed and opened in eighteen seventy eight it is a true gem in the rocky mountains, the artistic director for the opera is Pat Pierce. Pat is my guest today on front range, focus, welcome to the show. Thanks, pat. I always look forward to the announcement of what the two main operas will be this year in central city. Tell our audience what they are opening the season the summer with Puccini's Madame butterfly, which is a very standard favorite piece. And we're doing the Colorado premiere of a piece by Benjamin Britten called Billy Budd. This is the eighty seventh year for central city opera, the fifth oldest professional opera company of the country. I want to know more about Billy Budd and Madama butterfly. And how you intend to stage them, but first let's talk about the pairing of these two operas what drew you to put these two operas together. Butterfly, the things that are standard rep. And those sorts of things we tend to them every seven eight nine ten years, we'll cycle them back through because that's about the time that people want to see them again as far as goes are been trying to get Billy Budd on this stage actually since two thousand and three. So it's. What sixteen years to actually get it done? But it's been in my bag of tricks now for sixteen years sixteen years to bring an opera to central city. There are two things. Huge. It's a really big show. And it's all men, which complicates it. Even further. Secondly, when it was written was written for the the pit and garden and in in London and. It had to wind players for us to get into our pit. So I had to request to the Briton piers estate and boozing. To allow for the first time ever a reduction of the score to be done. So that we could actually fit it into our pit. And they did it. They allowed it to be done. It was completed. And now we were able to do it we'll audiences notice the difference. Before. No. Five hundred fifty they won't notice it all these two operas together. Is there some paddock? Oh here going on. Not really it was just a matter of of how things played out been. And been. The other couple of things that we're doing in the season. I did though have to think about the fact that all of the men would be onstage and working on Billy Budd all the time. And so I had to have something for the women to do. So the two of the other pieces are female only. So yes, once you start putting the pieces together you have to make decisions based on anything that these two opera productions share. Bill both move you greatly. For different reasons. Butterfly. She is she's wrong. And she comes out as as a as a very strong person in the end, but she's wrong very badly by this guy and in Billy Budd. You have a very good, simple, honest, man. Who by twist of fate is put in a very bad situation, and is is killed for it. It's it's their lessons out of both of these. But you know, all of that we do and and most people do has to do with telling stories about other people and situations that happen and in both of these situations. The the theater itself is heightened greatly by the music that's been written for it. So they're both impactful pieces. This is for a range, focus. I'm Susan Witkin. My guest today is Pat Pierce director for the central city opera, which calls the five hundred fifty seat jewel box opera house home, and it is truly a wonderful place to produce opera. Pat. Tell us a little bit more about the story of Billy Budd, and why you were drawn to it. Story of it's basically set during the Napoleonic wars on a boat. There was a practice called press pressing like I was pressed into service where that came from was gangs groups of men that went off of these ships onto shore, and basically stole able bodied men off off the shore and put them on ships because they need more people on the ships unfortunate, but Billy Budd with somebody. An able bodied seaman who was pressed and. A really good good human being. He's been compared to a Christ figure in many ways and the most evil person on the ship decides he wants to destroy this person and Billy gets put into a situation where he he strikes this person and with one blow he kills them. And the the the crux of the story is about whether the captain follows what he knows is the moral right and good way to look at the situation or what the law says that he must do. In fact, they still use this predicament to teach law today is the predicament in in this in this story, whether you follow morals and goodness or whether you follow the rule of law, and the captain in this case chose the rule of law, and he had to live with for the rest of his life with a very very impactful, very moving story. Beautiful and at the end. It's it's yeah. I have this clip of jock. Imb Raila performing and farewell to the old, right? Oh man from the twenty ten festival production of Billy. But in England. This is Billy's final aria listless. Listen for a minute. This is so devastating. It's really beautiful moment has been in prison. And that's where he sings basically from and seeing.