Saturday, January 03, 2015

Saturday, January 03, 2015 11:00 am by M. in , , , , , ,    No comments
The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel is thrilled to see the local Florentine Opera Company recording Carlisle Floyd's Wuthering Heights:
The company is, however, making the first commercial recording of Carlisle Floyd's 1958 opera "Wuthering Heights."
Fortunately for local audiences, the project includes two concert performances of "Wuthering Heights" at the Wilson Center in Brookfield on Jan. 9 and 11. The 88-year-old American composer will be in town for the performances, speaking and entertaining questions from the audience at a Wisconsin Conservatory of Music appearance on Jan. 10.
Floyd spoke by phone last week from his home in Tallahassee, Fla., talking about how he came to write "Wuthering Heights" and why he's so thrilled to have it recorded.
"This opera had a rather curious and unique beginning," Floyd said in a voice liberally spiced with Southern charm and gentility. "Of course the story is such a classic — an evergreen, you might say."
"Wuthering Heights" is a tale of lives ruined by jealousy and vengeance, taking its name from the farmhouse in which the story takes place. At the center of the story are the characters Heathcliff and Catherine. (...)
"Phyllis Curtin, who later did Catherine in the original production and was in the 'Susannah' premiere as well, came to me and asked me to write an aria for her, a request I was happy to accept," Floyd said, explaining that this was in the mid-1950s and that she was working on a Town Hall recital program and wanted a new piece for that concert.
"Well, I began to rack my brain as to what I might write for her," he said. He said a friend of his had told him that quite a few women auditioning for theater roles in those days were using Catherine's monologue from "Wuthering Heights," in which she tries to convince Isabella not to marry Heathcliff.
An idea was born.
"I set about setting the monologue for her and she performed it at Town Hall," he said. "It was very successful."
It was so successful, he said, that the general directors of several opera companies came backstage after the performance and wanted to know about the rest of the opera. He had to tell them there was no "rest of the opera."
John Crosby, founding director of the Santa Fe Opera, asked Floyd if he would consider writing an opera based on "Wuthering Heights" if Crosby could come up with a commission.
"I said no," Floyd said. "I told him everybody knows the story — it's too big."
Floyd thought he had laid the matter to rest.
Crosby contacted him some time later and said he had a commission for Floyd to write an opera for Santa Fe's second season, which Floyd recalls as a huge career moment for a young composer who had written just one opera.
But there was a condition: The opera had to be "Wuthering Heights."
"Eventually, I succumbed," Floyd said, laughing. He added that he wrote his own libretto, saying, "I've always done my own librettos because I studied creative writing in college, so it never seemed that big a stretch for me."
"Wuthering Heights" premiered at Santa Fe on July 16, 1958, and was performed in 1959 at the New York City Opera.
Although the opera seemed to be off to a flying start, it got very few performances over the years. In fact, it didn't get a European premiere until 2012.
Describing the music as highly dramatic and quite melodic, Floyd said it's surprising to him that "Wuthering Heights" hasn't been produced more than a few times, although he knows that the lack of a commercial recording plays a part in the equation. (Elaine Schmidt
The Chicago Reader lists the most awaited books in 2015. Among them:
The Brontë Cabinet: Three Lives in Nine Objects by Deborah Lutz (May) Lutz tells the story of the Brontë sisters through their various possessions. However it turns out, it's definitely an interesting way to go about writing a biography. (Aimee Levitt)
The Guardian does a similar thing and announces an October release for the Charlotte Brontë biography written by Claire Harman:
Charlotte Brontë biography by Claire Harman (Viking). Includes discoveries of new Brontë material, in anticipation of the 200th anniversary of her birth in 2016.
The use of 'forego' is discussed in The Times:
The Pedant: Emily Brontë is right. We must forego this sticklerism. (...) The OED does not cite, but might have done, Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights: "I requested my young lady to forego her ramble, because I was certain of showers."  (Oliver Kamm)
Also in The Times Janice Turner talks about the treatment of the Ebola victims:
Indeed, the whole 19th-century liteary canon of Hardy, Austen, the Brontës (Jane Eyre asleep besides her dead consumptive friend Helen) and most especially Dickens, is rich with stories of orphans, wards, guardians: epidemic survivors.
Moviepilot talks about the Peter Jackson movies adapting The Hobbit and quotes a well-known anecdote of Graham McTavish (Dwalin in Middle Earth):
Actor Graham McTavish made the suggestion that each of Dwalin's axes be named after Emily Brontë's dogs, "Grasper" and "Keeper." Jackson liked the idea and the named were engraved with the names in Dwarvish runes. Dwalin's knuckledusters were named "Insult" and "Injury," pretty perfect really! (Allanah Faherty)
A couple of quizzes with Brontë-related question. First The Guardian's Weekend Quiz:
2 William Crimsworth in the title character of which Victorian novel? (Thomas Eaton)
and now the Times-Union Super Quiz:
8. "Jane Eyre": "To prolong doubt was to prolong _____."
The Rev. Bobbie Chapman gives a New Year's message in The Register Citizen:
Charlotte Brontë, the author of Jane Eyre observed that “I avoid looking forward or backward and try to keep looking upward.”
In the year 2015, might we stop looking for the old, pining for the new and look upward to see what The Lord would have us be about? Two thousand years ago, God became flesh and dealt amongst us full of grace and truth. (Jn. 1) Is it not about time that we consulted Him about where and how we are to go?
Quiet Profanity reviews Elizabeth Gaskell's The Life of Charlotte Brontë.


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