Want to read the Part One program? (pdf format)
Want to read the Part Two program? (pdf format)
Want to see a Part One cast photo?
Want to see a Part Two cast photo?
Only the first half of the opera was presented -- the author's website informs us the complete work is over four hours long, and only certain excerpts of it have ever been performed live.
evening began with a prologue entitled The Music of the Ainur, from the first
chapter of the Silmarillion, featuring narration and an interesting blend
of avant-garde piano, organ and the voices of the choir -- Melkor's strident
disruptions clearly portrayed. But the real surprise came when Klein began
his first solo as Beren wandering in the forest. With rich and ringing vocals,
he brought everyone to absolute attention. Other highlights were performances
by David Gagnon as Finrod and C. David Morrow as Sauron. Tami Swartz, Klein's
fiancée in real life, was a compelling Lúthien in her blue mantle, with long
brown hair, a clear voice and a pure gaze, while Klein, with even longer
hair, stalked the stage in a tunic and knee-high moccasins.
The small audience was enthusiastic, and the whole event had a cozy family feel to it. We found out Klein's parents had sold us our tickets, when he announced, "As soon as my parents are seated, we'll begin," and they took their places in the front row. But as informal as the occasion felt, the music was flawlessly performed -- the care and professionalism from everyone was evident.
I would like to see the second half someday, and there is a chance, as Klein called out, "Part 2 next year!" as the applause subsided.
World Premiere of the opera LEITHIAN, Part I,
to be given July 1, 2006 in New York
J. R. R. Tolkien Tale Is Set by American Composer
The world premiere of Part I of the opera LEITHIAN, by Adam Klein, will be presented July 1, 2006, 7 PM at Liederkranz Hall, 6 East 87th Street, New York City.
LEITHIAN, or Release from Bondage, takes place in the Elder Days, the First Age of Middle-Earth, when Sauron was but a captain of an even greater evil being, Morgoth the Black Enemy. (THE LORD OF THE RINGS occurs at the end of the Third Age.) It is the tale of Beren and Lúthien, ancestors of Aragorn, Arwen and Elrond, and tells how they achieved what the entire Elvish army could not: rescue one of the three Silmarils from Morgoth's Crown. It is also the story of the first union between Elf and Man (the last being Arwen and Aragorn).
It was one of the first tales of Middle-Earth that Tolkien wrote, begun in 1914, but was published after THE HOBBIT and THE LORD OF THE RINGS, posthumously, as part of THE SILMARILLION by his son Christopher. In one of the LETTERS OF J.R.R. TOLKIEN, published in 1981, Tolkien expressed a long-standing hope to inspire composers with his stories. Adam Klein heeded the call and began his opera LEITHIAN in 1982. It took ten years to complete. Unlike most theatrical adaptations, no major feature of the story was altered, and no characters were conflated or omitted. Mr. Klein wrote about half the libretto himself, the sources left by Tolkien being insufficient to draw from.
The work is long -- approximately four and one half hours of music before counting intermissions -- and so for this premiere it was decided to present Part One, which ends with Beren being rescued by Lúthien from the dungeons of Sauron. Also, since a piano cannot always replace a very contrapuntal and multitimbral expanded orchestra, several of the singers will double on instruments when they're not singing. Likewise, in places where the music supports mute stage action, the Narrator's part has been expanded for clarity.
This will be the first time complete scenes from this opera have been performed. Only thrice has any of it been heard in public: Two arias and a duet were excerpted as part of a concert of opera selections in Del Norte, Colorado in 2005; Beren's Aria from Scene 9 was performed at a concert in Memphis in 1998 with composer Michael Ching at the piano; and Mr. Klein used Beren's aria from Scene 2 as one of the pieces in his successful bid to win the Center for Contemporary Opera International Vocal Competition in 1990, repeating it in his Winner's Concert at Weill Recital Hall in 1991 (a program entitled Written in America, featuring arias and songs written in the United States with Howard Klein at the piano).
Mr. Klein studied composition with John Lessard and Donald Erb. He has also written GOLDIE LOCKS AND THE THREE BEARS, a children's opera about tolerance, and many songs and tunes in the traditional or acoustic vein. He is a member of ASCAP.
This concert performance will feature Tami Swartz, soprano; Adam Klein, tenor(Metropolitan Opera); C. David Morrow, baritone; David Gagnon, tenor; David Adam Moore, baritone (Seattle Opera); Keith Harris, baritone; Dianna Dollman, mezzo-soprano (New York Gilbert And Sullivan Players); Walter Du Melle, bass; George Kasarjian, countertenor; and Elizabeth Hastings, music director and pianist.