Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Barihunk duo in Sibelius' The Tempest

Philip Stoddard and Tobias Greenhalgh
Tobias Greenhalgh will sing Caliban and Philip Stoddard will take on Ferdinand in Sibelius' rarely performed The Tempest with the Oregon Symphony on November 23, 24 and 25. The piece is more often heard in suites that the composer extracted from the complete work.

Caliban is the son of a witch-hag who insists that Prospero stole the island from him, of which he is the only native resident in the play. Ferdinand is the son and heir of Alonso, who.  seems to be as pure and naïve as Miranda. He falls in love with her upon first sight and happily submits to servitude in order to win her father’s approval.



The idea for music for The Tempest was first suggested to Sibelius in 1901 by his friend Axel Carpelan. In 1925, his Danish publisher Wilhelm Hansen again raised the idea, as the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen was going to stage the work the following year. Sibelius composed it from late 1925 through early 1926.  The Tempest and Tapiola were to be his last great works, and he wrote little else for the remaining 32 years of his life, which came to be known as "The Silence of Järvenpää."



The Tempest  was first performed in Copenhagen on March 15, 1926. The first night attracted international attention but Sibelius was not present. Reviews noted that "Shakespeare and Sibelius, these two geniuses, have finally found one another", and praised in particular the part played by the music and stage sets. Only four days later Sibelius set off for an extended trip to work on new commissions in Rome. He did not hear the music for the first time until the autumn of 1927 when the Finnish National Theatre in Helsinki staged the work.



Shakespeare's story has inspired 50 operas including Thomas Adès' and Lee Hoiby's The Tempest, Fromental Halévy's La Tempesta, Zdeněk Fibich's Bouře, Frank Martin's Der Sturm and Michael Tippett's The Knot Garden. Incidental music based on The Tempest has been written by Arthur Sullivan, Ernest Chausson, Malcolm Arnold, Lennox Berkeley, Arthur Bliss, Engelbert Humperdinck, Hector Berlioz, Willem Pijper and Henry Purcell.

Tobias Greenhalgh can next be seen as Valentin in Gounod's Faust, Ottakar in Weber's Der Freischütz and Count Almaviva in Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro at the Aalto Theater in Essen, Germany. 

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