Saturday, December 27, 2014

Bo Skovhus to perform double-bill of operatic rarities

Bo Skovhus in Reimann's Lear
One of our most popular posts with readers was entitled "Lauri Vasar Strips Down for Il Prigioniero," which prompted us to put up a follow up post with additional photos of the barihunk in his scivvies. So imagine our excitement when we found out that über-barihunk Bo Skovhus would be performing the piece with Oper Köln in March and April 2015.

Dallapiccola's Il Prigioniero is a 7-part, 50-minute opera which was first broadcast by the Italian radio station RAI on December 1, 1949. The work is based on the short story La torture par l'espérance ("Torture by Hope") from the collection Nouveaux contes cruels by the French writer Auguste Villiers de l'Isle-Adam and from La Légende d'Ulenspiegel et de Lamme Goedzak by Charles de Coster. Some of the musical material is based on Dallapiccola's 1938 choral work Canti di prigionia.

Despite the taxing nature of the role, Skovhus will return after intermission to sing an equally demanding role, that of the bass solo in Bernd Alois Zimmerman's Ekklesiastische Aktion: Ich wandte mich und sah an alles Unrecht das geschah unter der Sonne ("I turned and saw all the injustice there was under the sun")

Bo Skovhus and Silvana Dussmann in The Merry Widow: 

The 35-minute piece is scored for two speakers, bass soloist, and large orchestra, with text based on the words of the Preacher in the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes. The work also requires enormous physical stamina, as it includes the stamping of feet, gesturing, jumping and performing in various yoga-like poses.

The piece was commissioned by the city of Kiel for the Munich Olympic Games in 1972. Ekklesiastische Aktion was Zimmermann's final composition before he killed himself and the music quotes Bach's, "Es ist genug" (It is enough). That section is played fortissimo by trumpets and trombones in a jolting expression of mortality.

Bo Skovhus is currently singing the role of Graf Danilo in Franz Lehár's Die lustige Witwe (The Merry Widow) at Oper Köln. Tickets and additional cast information for both shows are available online.

David Adam Moore & Xavier Rivera
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