Thursday, September 5, 2013

Morgan Smith's many upcoming debuts (mostly in Texas!)

Morgan Smith
Perhaps one of the most anticipated American premieres this year is that of exiled Polish-Jewish composer Mieczyslaw Weinberg’s Holocaust opera The Passenger. We covered the opera two years ago when it was at the English National Opera with barihunk Leigh Melrose as Tadeusz. A year earlier the piece was done in Bregenz with Artur Rucinski in the baritone role.

In January 2014, the opera is coming to the Houston Grand Opera with barihunk Morgan Smith as Tadeusz, in a cast that also includes rising tenor sensation Joseph Kaiser, two of our favorite sopranos Kelly Kaduce and Melody Moore, as well as mezzo-soprano Michelle Breedt. David Pountney’s production and Johan Engels’s two-level set, which received critical acclaim at ENO and in Bregenz, will be brought to Houston.

Leigh Melrose in The Passenger
The libretto is based on the eponymous novel by Auschwitz survivor Zofia Posmysz and is set in the late 1950s. It depicts a German couple, Liese and Walter, on board an ocean liner where former SS officer Liese thinks she recognizes an Auschwitz prisoner among their fellow passengers. Although Weinberg completed his score in 1968, the opera was not performed until 2006 and not fully staged until the 2010 Bregenz Festival.

The Houston Grand Opera will present a number of activities related to the opera. A series of three free concerts begins on November 10 with the world premiere of a new work by HGO Studio alumnus and composer David Hanlon, commemorating the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht and based on the story of his grandfather, one of the thousands of Jewish people arrested on that infamous night and sent to Dachau. On December 9, they will host a concert exploring the music, art, poetry, and philosophy that emerged from Terezín, a concentration camp located in the Czech Republic. The third and final performance on February 22 features music of memory and hope with world premieres of works by Lawrence Siegel and Paul English based on text and inspiration from Holocaust survivor Naomi Warren.
Morgan Smith
Morgan has a number of new roles besides Tadeusz that he is adding to his repertoire next season. In Novemeber 2013, he takes on Captain Brandt in Marvin David Levy's Mourning Becomes Electra at the Florida Grand Opera. In March 2014, he debuts the role of Fritz in Erich Korngold's Die Tode Stadt at the beautiful Winspear Opera House in Dallas. When he wraps up, he heads down Interstate 30 to the Fort Worth Opera where he performs Lt. Audebert in Kevin Puts' Silent Night in a cast full of his fellow barihunks.

If you've not had the chance to see Morgan Smith live, we highly recommend adding one of these performances to your opera travel calendar. He is one of the most compelling young artists to hit the scene in years.

1 comment:

  1. Having been so very lucky to be onstage with Morgan's portrayal of Starbuck in San Diego Opera's production of Moby Dick, I wholeheartedly 2nd the motion. Go see him. Drive, fly, whatever you need to do; you won't be sorry. Compelling, riveting, inspiring (all sorts of -ing words) and one of the kindest artists to tread the boards today!
    A. Ballard, Bass-Bariton, San Diego Opera