Metropolitan Opera mezzo Denyce Graves, who moved a grieving country when she sang America the Beautiful at the national prayer service held after September 11, performs on the Great Artists Series at 8:00 p.m. Wednesday, March 20, in Foy Hall.
Carmen is Graves signature role, and she has sung it with opera companies from New York to San Francisco and beyond. She is also a great Dalila, singing the part of the biblical temptress opposite Plácido Domingo on opening nights of the Metropolitan Opera and Los Angeles Opera in the same season.
Those lucky enough to be in the audience on October 12, 1991, when Graves made her debut as Carmen with San Francisco Opera, remember a gallant as well as a gorgeous performance. The production already had lost two leading ladies: Marilyn Horne had bowed out in August for knee surgery; her successor caught the flu midway through rehearsals. Then Graves broke a bone in her foot at dress rehearsal and sang on opening night with her foot in a clunky cast.
Her program at Moravian includes Sir Edward Elgar’s “Sea Pictures,” songs by the African-American composer Harry Thacker Burleigh, Lieder by Brahms, canciones by Manuel de Falla, and arias from two Handel operas.
Tickets to Graves’ recital are $35-$45. For ticket availability: Ext. 1650.
She also will conduct a master class for Moravian music students at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, March 21, in Foy Hall.
This event is open to the public. Tickets are $10, from Ext. 1650.
. . . about Pennsylvanias Harry Thacker Burleigh
The grandson of former slaves, Burleigh (1866-1949)was a native of Erie. He studied at the National Conservatory of Music in New York under its first director, Antonín Dvorák. It was he who introduced the Bohemian composer to the plantation songs and spirituals he had learned from his grandfather. Melodic gestures and harmonies from these songs later found their way into the Symphony No. 9 (From the New World).
In an interview in 1893, Dvorák said: In the Negro melodies of America I discover all that is needed for a great and noble school of music . . . [These] are the folk songs of America, and your composers must turn to them . . . This must be the real foundation of any serious and original school of composition to be developed in the United States.