Monday, July 31, 2017

GRAND OPERA DIMITRIJ at Bard Summerscape: Review by Polly Guerin

Antonin Dvorak's DIMITRIJ, Grand Opera on an epic scale of monumentality, has arrived at Bard, Annandale-on-the-Hudson's spectacular Fisher Center. designed by Frank Gehry.  It is this year's SUMMERSCAPE festival's long overdue American premiere performance of Antonin Dvorak's opera in an original new staging by award-winning director Anne Bogart.  For opera aficionados this is a rare opportunity to see the remaining performances,  Wednesday, August 2 at 2 pm,  Friday, August 4 at 7:30 pm and Sunday August 6 at 2 pm.  Summerstage coach from New York City August 6. Reservation required: 845.758.7900. 
Quite frankly, the opera, if only it was possible, deserves an extended run. 
 INNOVATIVE PROGRAMMING: Since the opening of the Fisher Center at Bard, Leon Botstein, principal conductor of the American Symphony Orchestra has been responsible for championing and restoring to the stage a growing number of important, but long-neglected operas. He combines his conducting career with his work at Bard College, where he has served as president since 1975. Botstein's unique approach to programming gives audiences opportunities to encounter neglected, but brilliant works which he performs alongside standard repertoire masterpieces, often enhancing the experience, as he did at the July 30 performance, with a preconcert talk that augmented the opera experience. 
     Dimitrij introduction at Bard stands as a testament to recognizing Dvorak's genius; the recognition of his lyricism and masterfully stirring chorus and brilliant soloists singing with such synergistic resonance that brought the July 30th audience to a standing ovation. With rising young tenor Clay Hilley's heroic performance in the title role and the captivating soprano Melissa Citro as Marina, Dimitrij's Polish wife, and the resonant, bright voiced Russian soprano, Olga Tolknit as Xenia completed their fatal love triangle. it was a breathtaking grand opera performance with others as talented too numerous to mention here.  Set design by David Zinn and costumes by Constance Hoffman make this thrilling new production a "must see" on your list of cultural interests.
THE STORY: Based on events of 17th century Russia, Dimitrij seemingly resumes where Mussorgsky's Boris Gudunov leaves off.  It vividly depicts the struggle for power during the "Time of Troubles" that ensued in the wake of the Tzar's death. Mistakenly supposing himself to be Dimitrij, the murdered son of Ivan the Terrible, Dvorak's protagonist believes he has a legitimate claim to the Russian Throne.  When he falls in love with Godunov's daughter, however, he decides to divorce his own Polish wife, he unwittingly triggers the chain of events that will result in his demise. Ultimately tragic, the story of the false Dimitrij pits Orthodox Russia against Catholic Poland. Bard's historic presentation also features Dimitrij's rarely heard, full-length overture and original brutal conclusion. The final scene's frozen-in-time tableau of the entire cast and chorus filling the stage with their omnipotent presence resembled an unforgettable work of masterful artistry.   
Melissa Citro as Marina, Dimitrij's Polish Wife
Dvorak's Dimitrij (1882) is rarely staged outside of he Czech Republic, and was acclaimed for its strong dramatic moments, original melodies and masterful choral work and was widely regarded as one of the most significant works created for the Czech operatic stage. It only received its United States concert premiere in 1984, more than a century after its composition. Bogart said,                  "The more I look at the opera-the architecture of the piece and the absolutely gorgeous music-the more I am completely bewildered why it's not done all the time, why it's not a stable part of the repertoire in the opera world."

     Ta Ta Darlings!!!   I was overwhelmed by this powerful performance and the captivating orchestration of Dimitrij. The stellar performance still resonates with me. Fan mail welcome at  Visit Polly's Blogs at

No comments:

Post a Comment