Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Drop Your Jewel Cases, Classical WETA-FM Lite! Living American Classical Music Has You Surrounded Here In The Nation's Capital!

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Libretto and Music by Lowell Liebermann, based upon the novel by Oscar Wilde.

City Center Opera Theater, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States of America


June 6, 2007 at 8pm
June 9, 2007 at 8pm
June 10, 2007 at 2:30pm
June 12, 2007 at 8pm


Act I — Scene 1

In the studio of Basil Hallward, his old university friend Lord Henry Wotton, a worldly aristocrat and man about town, is chatting with Basil as the painter is putting the finishing touches on his portrait of Dorian Gray, a handsome young aristocrat who has become Basil’s muse. Lord Henry is eager to meet Dorian but Basil says he would be a bad influence on him. Nonetheless, after Dorian arrives to pose for Basil, the latter becomes so absorbed in his work that he does not notice or prevent Lord Henry from charming the young man with his witty conversation. On completing his work, Basil declares it to be his masterpiece and Dorian laments the fact that while he will grow old, the picture will remain young forever. “If it were only the other way . . . for that, I would give my soul.” Basil is struck by a change in his young friend and accuses Lord Henry of becoming a bad influence on him. Not wanting his painting to come between him and his two dearest friends, Basil attempts to destroy it but is prevented by Dorian, who says that would be murder. Lord Henry invites the two of them to the opera that evening. Basil declines and asks Dorian to say behind to dine with him, but Dorian chooses to accept Lord Henry’s invitation.

Act I — Scene 2

A month later, visiting Lord Henry’s house, Dorian tells him he has fallen in love with a beautiful young Shakespearian actress, Sibyl Vane. He presses Lord Henry to bring Basil with him to Sibyl’s performance as Juliet the next night, and Lord Henry accepts, musing after Dorian has left on his attraction to and influence over the young man.

Act I — Scene 3

The next night, as Sibyl is dressing for the performance, Dorian and she sing of their love, Dorian telling her “You are all the heroines in the world to me” and Sibyl replying “You are more than all the heroes in the world to me.” After Dorian leaves, Sibyl’s brother James, a sailor, enters to say goodbye on the eve of his departure for Australia. He has heard that a gentleman visits her backstage every night and demands his name. Romeo, Sibyl replies. James, still worried, tells her that if this man does her any wrong, he will “kill him like a dog.”

Act I — Scene 4

Following the performance, while the audience is booing and hissing, Dorian, Basil, and Lord Henry go backstage to see Sibyl, whose acting has been incomprehensibly awful. Embarrassed, Dorian sends his friends away before Sibyl enters the dressing room. When she does, she explains that she will never be able to act again because now that Dorian has shown her real love, she cannot “mimic passion” on the stage. Dorian responds that she has killed his love for her: “Without your art, you are nothing!” Sibyl begs him not to leave her, but as she lies sobbing at his feet, he stalks out. In the soliloquy that ends the scene, she longs for his return, recalling fragments of Romeo and Juliet, and staring at the prop poison bottle in her hands.
Synopsis (continued)

Act I — Scene 5

When Dorian returns home the next morning, he notices that his portrait has changed: there is a cruel expression around the mouth, and Dorian muses that the painting has become “the visible emblem of my conscience.” He vows to reform his life and make amends by marrying Sibyl. But Lord Henry enters to tell him that Sibyl Vane has committed suicide. He calms Dorian by assuring him that she was less real than the Shakespearian heroines she portrayed, and Dorian agrees to go to the opera with him that night, saying “No one understands me like you do.” Looking again at the portrait with its new touch of cruelty around the mouth, he resolves to let it continue to take the toll of the life he plans to lead, seeking “pleasures secret and subtle, wild joys and wilder sins.” Basil rushes in to console him for the loss of Sibyl and is dismayed to find Dorian calmly dressing for the opera. But however much he thinks Dorian has changed for the worse, Basil leaves, promising never to speak again about the matter. Before he leaves for the opera, Dorian tells his butler to hire two men to move the painting to the attic. As the curtain falls on Act I, Dorian is gazing with pleasure into a gilt hand mirror.

Act II — Scene 1

Eighteen years later, Dorian and Basil meet in Dorian’s home. Although Basil has aged considerably, Dorian looks exactly as he did in the first act. Before he leaves for Paris, Basil wants to speak to Dorian about the disturbing rumors circulating in society about his decadence. Dorian invites him to come to the attic, where he will show him his soul.

Act II — Scene 2

In the attic, Dorian pulls the cover off his portrait, and Basil is shocked at the bloody, distorted image he sees. Saying that Dorian must be far more evil than the rumors suggest, Basil begs him to pray for forgiveness. Dorian’s response is to seize a knife on the table near the portrait and stab Basil to death.

Act II — Scene 3

Later that night, Dorian enters a sleazy dockside tavern, frequented by whores and sailors. When a whore he apparently knows solicits him, he shuns her and she mocks him by singing. When he leaves in disgust, she calls out his nickname, Romeo. Hearing that, one of the sailors leaps up and follows Dorian out the door.

Act II — Scene 4

Outside the tavern, the sailor identifies himself as Sibyl Vane’s brother James and pulls out a gun, vowing to kill Dorian for causing her death. Dorian pretends he doesn’t know her and asks how long ago she died. When James answers 18 years, Dorian tells him to look at him under a street light, and when he does, James says he must be wrong, because such a young man could not possibly have known his sister 18 years ago. As Dorian leaves, the whore comes up and tells James that Dorian corrupted her 18 years ago. She, like many others, believes that Dorian sold his soul to the devil for a pretty face. She offers to tell him how to find Dorian, if he will give her money.

Act II — Scene 5

On a hunting party at Lord Geoffrey’s estate a few days later, Dorian tells Lord Henry of his fear of death. When Lord Geoffrey aims at a hare, Dorian tells him not to shoot such a beautiful creature, but his host fires anyway and a terrible, human scream is heard. Dorian is badly shaken and thinks it a bad omen, until the gamekeeper arrives and says the dead man is a stranger, apparently a sailor. Demanding to see the body, Dorian is relieved to discover that it is that of James Vane, although he says he has never seen the man before.

Act II — Scene 6

A few weeks later, in Dorian’s sitting room, Dorian tells Lord Henry — who looks old and tired, while Dorian, of course, looks fresh and youthful — that he has vowed to reform and offers as proof a story of his having spared a young country girl from sexual exploitation. Lord Henry scoffs, saying that all Dorian has done is to make himself feel good while possibly breaking the girl’s heart. Dorian replies that he never should have told Lord Henry about the girl, and the latter reminds him that Dorian will always tell him everything. Dorian asks what Lord Henry would say if he told him that he had murdered Basil Hallward. Lord Henry dismisses the idea and changes the topic to the mystery of Dorian’s lasting youthfulness, comparing the wonderful life Dorian has lived to his own lost youth. As he leaves, he asks Dorian to join him the next day to go riding. After Lord Henry’s departure, Dorian picks up a hand mirror, peers into it, then throws it down in disgust, crushing it under his feet.

Act II — Scene 7

Alone in the attic, Dorian contemplates the degradation of his life and the evil influence he has had on others. Thinking about the young girl he is still convinced he has spared from that evil, he removes the cover from his portrait, hoping to find some erasure of the signs of his evil it has inscribed over the years. To his dismay, he sees instead a new look of hypocrisy and corruption. So, hoping to destroy the one visual proof of his evil, he seizes the same knife he used to stab Basil and slashes at the portrait. A terrible scream is heard. The portrait has regained its fresh and youthful beauty, while on the floor, covered in blood, with a knife in its heart, is the horribly disfigured body of a wrinkled old man.

Synopsis (c) Lowell Liebermann and Central City Opera House.


June 7, 2007 (Thursday)
2 pm
"Classical Music: What Will the Future Bring?"
Lecture by Alex Ross, music critic of The New Yorker
National Orchestral Institute, University of Maryland School of Music
Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, College Park, Maryland

June 7, 2007 (Thursday)
7 pm
National Symphony Orchestra
Haydn Symphony #85; Mark Adamo, Four Angels (World Premiere); Mahler, Symphony #1
Kennedy Center Concert Hall, Washington, D.C.

June 7, 2007 (Thursday)
7:30 pm
Jessica Krash, composer/pianist, Fog and Ice (World Premiere)
Mansion at Strathmore, North Bethesda, Maryland

Unwanted By Sharon Rockefeller's new 56-65 Years of Age Listener Pandering Classical WETA-FM Lite, in the Nation's Capital: Living American Classical Music Composers and Critics.

Photo credit: (c) Various. All copyright controlled. With thanks.


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