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Songs of Past, Present & Future

  • Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium 307 Church Street Santa Cruz, CA, 95060 United States (map)

JANUARY 27/28, 2018

Richard Wagner’s celebratory and stirring Prelude to his comedic opera Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg begins our vocally themed program. The story revolves around the city's guild of Meistersinger (Master Singers), an association of amateur poets and musicians who were primarily master craftsmen of various trades. The master singers had developed a craftsmanlike approach to music-making, with an intricate system of rules for composing and performing songs. The work draws much of its atmosphere from its depiction of the Nuremberg of the era and the traditions of the master-singer guild. The Prelude is approximately 9 minutes long.

 Michelle Bradley, Soprano Photo by Dario Acosta

Michelle Bradley, Soprano
Photo by Dario Acosta

Next is Richard Strauss’ visionary and transcendent Four Last Songs with Metropolitan Opera star and frequent guest Michelle Bradley.

The first three songs - "Frühling" (Spring), "September", and "Beim Schlafengehen" (When Falling Asleep) - are based on poems by Hermann Hess. The fourth, "Im Abendrot" (At Sunset) is based on a poem by Joseph von Eichendorff, which Strauss felt had a special meaning for him. All of the songs but "Frühling" deal with death. 

Strauss wrote the songs for soprano and orchestra, and died shortly after completing them. They are suffused with a sense of calm, acceptance, and completeness. The four songs are approximately 25 minutes.

One Thousand and One Nights, also known as The Arabian Nights, is the inspiration for Rimsky-Korsakov’s sweepingly epic Scheherezade, once again featuring our concertmaster, Nigel Armstrong. Korsakov wrote a brief introduction for the premiere: 

The Sultan Schariar, convinced that all women are false and faithless, vowed to put to death each of his wives after the first nuptial night. But the Sultana Scheherazade saved her life by entertaining her lord with fascinating tales, told seriatim, for a thousand and one nights. The Sultan, consumed with curiosity, postponed from day to day the execution of his wife, and finally repudiated his bloody vow entirely.

This last piece lasts approximately 46 minutes.


Wagner - Overture to Die Meistersinger (Listen)

R. Strauss - Vier letzte Lieder (Four Last Songs) (Listen)
1. Frühling (Spring)
2. September
3. Beim Schlafengehen (When Falling Asleep)
4. Im Abendrot (At Sunset)

  Michelle Bradley, Soprano

--- Intermission ---

Rimsky-Korsakov - Scheherezade (Listen)
1. The Sea and Sinbad's Ship
2. The Kalandar Prince
3. The Young Prince and The Young Princess
4. Festival at Baghdad. The Sea. The Ship Breaks against a Cliff Surmounted by a Bronze Horseman.

Earlier Event: January 26
Free Open Rehearsal
Later Event: January 28
Songs of Past, Present & Future