Rehearsals are in full swing for Virginia Opera’s production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Carousel, with our leads exploring their characters’ emotional complexities and finding musical nuances, dancers continuing to polish the captivating “Prologue” and “Ballet”, choristers dotting every i and crossing every t in the rip-roaring number “June is bustin’ out all over!”, and rehearsals with our wonderful Virginia Symphony Orchestra beginning this week. You, the audience, are in for a spectacular treat next month!
Following the truly phenomenal success of their first collaboration, Oklahoma!, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein began the inevitable search for what to do next – what could possibly follow Oklahoma!? Film mogul Sam Goldwyn is even quoted as giving composer Richard Rodgers a bit of tongue-in-cheek advice: "This is such a wonderful show! You know what you should do next? Shoot yourself!" Fortunately for us, Broadway’s Golden Team didn’t give up, finding source material in Ferenc Molnár's play Liliom, a story rich with musical potential if not admittedly difficult for some theatergoers to take. Rodgers and Hammerstein effectively tackled the issues of domestic violence and fateful tragedy, crafting a score rich with emotional depth and breathtaking melodies. The legendary American composer Stephen Sondheim (who was also a protégé of Oscar Hammerstein’s) had this to say about the writing pair’s first two musicals: “Oklahoma! is about a picnic, Carousel is about life and death!”
The first song written for the show was Billy’s “Soliloquy”, an eight-minute tour de force of operatic magnitude, innovative and groundbreaking for its time. It requires a great singer and actor, someone capable of hitting each and every tricky note while conveying passion and motivation in an unparalleled eight-minute solo. Having had the pleasure of working with baritone Matthew Worth a number of times over the years, I can confidently say our audiences are in for a thrilling ride!
“Soliloquy” (Gordon MacRae from the 1956 film)
On a personal note, I recently discovered that my grandmother (who hails from a small coal-mining community in eastern Kentucky) spent the final few months of WWII in NYC, near Times Square working for the war effort. And she just so happened to see the original Broadway production of Carousel, her first Broadway experience! Now, nearly 70 years later, here we are…a musical that transcends generations, themes of love and loss and unfinished stories, the power of a timeless tale rich with humanity, all as relevant and poignant to our current times as in 1945. There’s something for everyone in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s iconic American musical Carousel, and I look forward to taking this journey with all of you. See you at the Opera!
The 2012-13 season marks Adam Turner’s second season as Resident Conductor and Chorus Master of Virginia Opera, with which he made his mainstage conducting debut in March 2012 leading performances of The Mikado. During the 2011-12 season, Mr. Turner appeared as Guest Chorus Master for Candide with Portland Opera. He has previously served as Assistant Conductor with Florida Grand Opera and Syracuse Opera, in addition to his work as conductor and coach with Stadttheater Pforzheim in Germany. Summer 2012 marked Mr. Turner’s second season as Associate Conductor with Central City Opera, where he led performances of La bohème and Oklahoma! In the summer of 2013, Mr. Turner will join Seattle Opera as Assistant Conductor and Vocal Coach on Wagner's Ring Cycle.