Bel Canto at Caramoor presents Petite messe solennelle by Rossini
Bel Canto Young Artists, Rachelle Jonck
Sun, July 23, 2017, 4:00pm
The final concert celebrating Bel Canto at Caramoor features a choral gem from one of opera’s greatest composers. Rossini surprised the musical world by retiring from the theater when he was only 32 years of age; he surprised it again by emerging at more than twice that age to compose “the last mortal Sin of my Old Age,” his Petite messe solennelle (1864). Alternately jubilant and haunted, antique and modern, the mass contains some of the composer’s most beautiful and expressive music. Caramoor presents the piece in its original chamber instrumentation for two pianos and harmonium.
“Dear God, here it is finished, this poor little Mass. Little skill, but a bit of heart – there you have it. Be blessed, then, and grant me Heaven!” — Gioachino Rossini, from title page of the manuscript
Bel Canto Young Artists
Rachelle Jonck, music director and conductor
Derrick Goff, piano
Timothy Cheung, piano
Lucy Tucker-Yates, organ
Getting to Caramoor
Catch the Caramoor Coach to and from Midtown Manhattan (single-ride and round-trip available), take the train (Metro-North Katonah Station, Harlem Line), or take a scenic drive and enjoy free parking – it’s easy to get here.
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2:00pm Church and Stage
Though only Rossini’s and Verdi’s have become “standard repertory,” all Italian opera composers wrote beautiful music for the church as well. This program offers short gems by Cimarosa, Cherubini, Donizetti, Bellini, and Verdi, as a prelude to Rossini’s final masterpiece.
3:00pm Neither “Petite” nor “Solemn”
Will Crutchfield introduces Rossini’s Petite messe solennelle
Bel Canto Young Artists
About a dozen young singers participate each year in six-to-eight weeks of intensive training in vocal technique and specialized study of the ornamentation that characterizes bel canto singing. Selected by Opera Director Will Crutchfield to participate in the mentoring program, the singers study the repertoire and participate in full scale rehearsals of the summer operas presented at Caramoor, act as understudies to the principal roles, are cast in some of the supporting opera roles, and perform in afternoon recitals that precede the opera performances.
Many graduates of our Bel Canto mentoring program have gone from the Caramoor stage to the world stage. We rely on the incredible support of opera enthusiasts to help these emerging opera stars receive priceless career encouragement.
Joseph Beutel, bass-baritone
“An imposing bass-baritone,” as reviewed by Opera News, Joseph Beutel, has performed all over the United States and internationally. He portrayed the roles of the Duke and Judge in Powder Her Face by Thomas Adès at Skylight Music Theatre in Milwaukee, where he “burned up the stage… singing with gorgeous tone in a huge vocal range and with an actor’s command of language.” Other opera companies include Santa Fe, Minnesota, Loft, Gotham Chamber, and many more. He has sung with symphony orchestras including the New York Philharmonic, American Symphony Orchestra, American Classical Orchestra, Omaha, Charlotte, Santa Fe, and many others. He originated the role of the British Major in the Pulitzer Prize winning opera Silent Night by Kevin Puts premiered at Minnesota Opera. Beutel was the second place winner of the Lyndon Woodside Oratorio Society Solo Competition this year. He recently made his Carnegie Hall debut singing Peter in Elgar’s The Apostles.
Teresa Castillo, soprano
Hailed by the San Francisco Gate for her vocal “power and florid elegance,” soprano Teresa Castillo was a recent participant at San Francisco Opera’s prestigious Merola Opera Program and sang the role of #1 in Conrad Susa’s Transformations. She recently won First Place in the Anita Cerquetti International Opera Competition, is a winner of the Elaine Malbin Competition, and is a grant recipient from Career Bridges New York. This summer Ms. Castillo returns to Bel Canto at Caramoor as a Young Artist and will sing on the Opening Night Gala Concert with acclaimed soprano, Angela Meade, covers the role of Adele in Il pirata and sings the soprano solo in Rossini’s Petite messe solennelle. In winter 2018 she will make her debut with the Virginia Opera, covering the roles of Lucia in Lucia di Lammermoor and Tytania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Sean Christensen, tenor
Sean Christensen has been recognized as a tenor with a full, warm, and lyrical timbre, steadily establishing himself professionally in New York City. He has recently appeared as Le Chevalier de la Force in Sarasota Opera’s production of Dialogues des Carmélites, Des Grieux in Dell’Arte Opera Ensemble’s production of Manon, Fernando in Bare Opera’s production of Granados’ Goyescas, Don Ottavio in Opera in Williamsburg’s production of Don Giovanni, Azaël in Bare Opera’s production of Ravel’s L’enfant prodigue, Normanno in Lucia di Lammermoor with Opera in Williamsburg, as well as Tamino in The Magic Flute with the Metropolitan Guild. He was a young artist with Bel Canto at Caramoor in 2016 where he performed as Oraspe in Aureliano in Palmira, and was an apprentice artist at Sarasota Opera in 2016 where he was awarded the Leo M. Rodgers Award for Outstanding Apprentice Artist. He was also a studio artist at Chautauqua Opera in 2015, and an Opera North Young Artist in 2014. He currently studies with Michael Chioldi.
Shirin Eskandani, mezzo-soprano
Hailed by Opera Today for her “pleasing and pliant voice,” Iranian Canadian mezzo-soprano, Shirin Eskandani, recently made her Metropolitan Opera stage debut as Mercédès in Carmen. She is the recipient of several prestigious awards including first place at the Gerda Lissner Foundation Vocal Competition and fourth place at the Licia Albanese-Puccini Competition. Recent career highlights include company debuts with the Metropolitan Opera, the Rossini Opera Festival, Sarasota Opera, and Opera Southwest. Her recent roles include Dorabella in Così fan tutte, Angelina in La Cenerentola, Zaida in Il turco in Italia, the Mother in Hansel and Gretel, and Ragonde in Le comte Ory. A Midwest district finalist at the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, Ms. Eskandani has worked as a young artist with Merola Opera, Palm Beach Opera, Opera Theatre St Louis, Syracuse Opera, the Ash Lawn Opera Festival, and Banff Opera.
Robyn Marie Lamp, soprano
Soprano Robyn Marie Lamp’s luscious, fullbodied voice and commanding stage presence are earning recognition and roles from rare bel canto gems to world premieres. She will be singing the title role of Ariadne auf Naxos in a reduced version of Strauss’s opera with Florida’s Opera Fusion in 2017. Ms. Lamp made her Caramoor debut in 2014, covering the title role in Lucrezia Borgia. The 2017 season has also found Ms. Lamp winning an Encouragement Award in the 2017 Gerda Lissner Competition and appearing as the soprano soloist in Brahms’ Ein deutsches Requiem with the First Presbyterian Church of Delray Beach, FL. In 2016, Ms. Lamp created the role of Romaine Patterson in Opera Fusion’s world premiere production of Michael Ross’ politically charged opera, Not in My Town. She also took First Place in the prestigious Lois Alba Aria Competition and was a finalist in the Southeast Region of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.
Kyle Oliver, baritone
Kyle Oliver is a baritone hailing from Plano, TX. As an alumnus of the Pittsburgh Opera Resident Artist Training program, he appeared with the Pittsburgh Opera in numerous productions including singing Zurga in The Pearl Fishers, Count Robinson in Il matrimonio segreto and Dandini in La cenerentola. He recently made his return to the Pittsburgh Opera to create the role of Dave Hoskins in the world premiere of The Summer King. Mr. Oliver’s other roles include Prince Yamadori in Madama Butterfly and the Father in Hänsel und Gretel. Oliver has been featured as a soloist with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Erie Philharmonic Orchestra and many other symphony orchestras across the nation. His awards include Grand Prize at the Bel Canto Foundation Competition, the Jeanette Rohatyn “Great Promise” award with the Metropolitan Opera National Council, as well as a career grant from the Sullivan Foundation. Oliver is the recipient of a bachelor’s degree in Music Performance from Northwestern University and a Master’s degree from The Juilliard School.
JoAna Rusche, soprano
JoAna Rusche, soprano, is a resident artist at the Academy of Vocal Arts. Her recent roles at AVA include Giorgetta in Puccini’s Il tabarro, Tamara in Rubinstein’s The Demon, Fiora in Montemenzzi’s L’amore dei tre re, Second Lady in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, and Donna Elvira in Mozart’s Don Giovanni. Previous roles as a mezzo-soprano include the title role in Rossini’s La Cenerentola with Opera North, Rosina in the family performance of Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia with Palm Beach Opera, and Soeur Mathilde in Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites with the Caramoor Music Festival. Ms. Rusche is a 2016 and 2015 District Winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and has received second place in the 2014 Birmingham Opera Competition and the 2012 Heafner Williams Vocal Competition, and first place in the 2012 Long Leaf Opera National Vocal Competition and the 2011 Charlotte Opera Guild Auditions.
Joshua Sanders, tenor
Tenor Joshua Sanders is the 2017 winner of the Opera Foundation’s Amber Capital scholarship, and will be engaged as a Resident Artist at the Teatro Regio di Torino for the 2017-18 season. Mr. Sanders recently returned to Wolf Trap Opera for the premiere of a new children’s opera, after having spent two seasons there as a Studio Artist; in 2015 he made his principal debut with Madison Opera as Tobias Ragg in Sweeney Todd. As a concert artist, he made his debut with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra in 2016 as the Imaginary Voice in Berlioz’s Lélio. He has also been seen as a featured performer in Ming Wei’s Sonic Blossom exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and as the tenor soloist in Bach’s Magnificat with the Westchester Oratorio Society. Mr. Sanders is a recent graduate of the Manhattan School of Music where he studied with Ruth Golden.
Derrek Stark, tenor
Derrek Stark, tenor, is a native of Bath, NY. He holds a B.M. from Mansfield University, PA, and a M.M. from the Jacobs School of Music, Indiana University, where he studied with Carol Vaness. Derrek joins the roster of the Caramoor Young Artists singing tenor solos in Rossini’s Petite messe solennelle and covering Gualtiero in Bellini’s Il pirata. A former member of the Lyric Opera of Kansas City’s Young Artist Program, Stark sang the Huntsman (Rusalka) and Remendado (Carmen). As a young artist for Santa Fe, Stark covered Flamand (Capriccio) and sang Harry (Fanciulla del West). As a Benenson Artist at Palm Beach Opera, he covered Pinkerton (Madama Butterfly), and Duke (Rigoletto). He will return this fall to cover Candide and sing The Governor (Candide). Other roles include: Rodolfo (La bohème); Rinuccio (Gianni Schicchi); Peter Quint (The Turn of the Screw); Tamino (Die Zauberflöte); Alfredo (La traviata) and Fenton (Falstaff).
Vanessa Cariddi, mezzo-soprano
Since her professional debut at The Metropolitan Opera, mezzo-soprano Vanessa Cariddi has appeared as Carmen, Waltraute, Siegrune, Suzuki, Maddalena, Dorabella, Rosina, and Nicklausse, among others, at opera houses including The Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, Seattle Opera, Sarasota Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, and on stages in Europe, Asia, and South America. Her concert work includes the Berlioz Nuits d’été, the Verdi Requiem, Délage Four Hindu Poems, and recital repertoire spanning from the Baroque to living composers.
In previous seasons at Caramoor, Vanessa has sung Gondì in Maria di Rohan, Hedwige in Guillaume Tell, and Little Buttercup in HMS Pinafore, as well as wide-ranging song concerts. She was twice a vocal fellow at the Tanglewood Music Festival, has been a young artist at Opera Theatre of St. Louis. She is a graduate of Manhattan School of Music, and lives in New York City.
Jeffrey Beruan, bass
American Bass Jeffrey Beruan is an important young artist who possesses a rich, sonorous, and striking voice that moves with elegance and agility. His singing has been described as “intensely dramatic,” “melodious,” and “powerful.” An excellent actor, the young bass has received acclaim for bringing dramatic life to the smallest roles: “Jeffrey Beruan proved that there are no small parts by giving us a splendid Angelotti impressive in stature, good looks and a rich baritone…” (Chautauqua Daily News). The New York Times said of his performance at Caramoor: “Jeffrey Beruan sang with a mellifluous bass and chilling conviction as Sparafucile, the assassin.”
Beruan debuted with Washington Concert Opera under the baton of the distinguished Antony Walker in a reprise of Capellio, with Florida Grand Opera in a reprise of Bonze, with the Florentine Opera Company in a role debut of Reverend Baines, with Opera Southwest in a debut of Spettro in Franco Faccio’s Amleto, a return to Portland Opera in a reprise of Zuniga, the bass solo in the Messiah for Seattle Orchestra, and the bass solo in the Beethoven’s 9th Symphony for Caramoor.
Rachelle Jonck, director and conductor
Rachelle Jonck (Assistant Conductor, Head Coach and Chorus Master of Bel Canto at Caramoor) has been with Caramoor since 1998. A native of South Africa, she was the Chorus Master and Assistant Conductor at the State Theater in Pretoria before her move to New York City.
Rachelle was awarded a FNB/Vita award for her contribution to opera in South Africa and in 1998 received the Nederburg Opera Prize – South Africa’s premier opera award. In New York City and Princeton (where she teaches at Westminster Choir College) she balances her love for opera and song literature. While her range of repertoire is wide, she has made a name for herself as a specialist Italian style coach — Handel, Mozart and the bel canto masters, including Verdi. She enjoys recital collaborations with her professional singers and younger students whenever her schedule permits.
She is a regular artist in residence at the Palm Beach Opera.
Derrick Goff, piano
Derrick Goff is a coach and conductor based in New York. Recent productions include Idomeneo and Don Pasquale with the Princeton Opera Alliance and Don Giovanni with Lawrence Opera Theatre in Kansas. During the 2016 Summer Music Season, Mr. Goff returned for a fifth summer to Bel Canto at Caramoor as pianist, coach, and chorusmaster for Aureliano in Palmira, and he lead a recital “The Intimate Rossini: Ensembles and Choruses,” featuring the Bel Canto Young Artists and Apprentices.
In addition to his work in opera, he is the Organist and Choirmaster at St. Thomas’ Church, Whitemarsh in Philadelphia. Mr. Goff studied organ and church music at Westminster Choir College, where he also completed a M.M. in Voice Performance and Pedagogy.
Timothy Cheung, piano
Pianist Timothy Cheung currently serves as the Head Coach of the Palm Beach Opera Young Artist Program. A graduate of the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble, he regularly returns to the company to work as music staff and play with the COC orchestra. He has been previously engaged at the Houston Grand Opera. Mr. Cheung trained as a vocal coach and répétiteur at the University of Western Ontario, the Merola Opera Program, Music Academy of the West, the Canadian Operatic Arts Academy, and the Halifax Summer Opera Workshop. This is his fourth season at the Caramoor Summer Music Season.
Lucy Tucker-Yates, organ
Lucy Tucker-Yates made her Italian debut as Violetta in La traviata in a new production directed by Franco Zeffirelli and conducted by Plácido Domingo. Gian Carlo Menotti immediately chose to direct her as Monica in The Medium in Spoleto, Italy.
Artists from Sir Christopher Hogwood to Carly Simon have sought out her “grace and sensitivity” at the harpsichord and piano. Opera companies now seek her linguistic expertise for coaching, translation, and supertitles. In 2014 she assistant-conducted Mo. Crutchfield’s Aureliano in Palmira at the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro. She is a master teacher for Dell’Arte Opera Ensemble, diction coach for the New York City Opera, and a regular panelist on the Metropolitan Opera Radio Quiz.
She has taught Italian at Caramoor since 2004.
Petite messe solennelle
At a Glance
The final concert celebrating Bel Canto at Caramoor features a choral gem from one of opera’s greatest composers. Rossini surprised the musical world by retiring from the theater when he was only 32; years of age; he surprised it again by emerging at more than twice that age to compose “the last mortal Sin of my Old Age,” his Petite messe solennelle (1864). Alternately jubilant and haunted, antique and modern, the mass contains some of the composer’s most beautiful and expressive music. Caramoor presents the piece in its original chamber instrumentation for two pianos and harmonium.
About the Composer
The long silence of Gioachino Rossini is one of music’s great mysteries. Born in 1792, famous by his early 20s, and Europe’s most celebrated composer by the time he wrote Guillaume Tell in 1829, Rossini suddenly and irrevocably abandoned opera in that year, for reasons he never explained. By the time he died almost four decades later, Verdi had composed Don Carlos and Wagner Tristan; Rossini lived to see his own operas become revered classics of the distant past.
History records no other artistic withdrawal quite so startling. (Jean Sibelius and Charles Ives both stopped producing new work around 1920 and lived on into the 1950s—but Ives was practically unknown to the musical world, and even Sibelius was far from the central status of Rossini.) Countless possible explanations have been advanced. Health and marital problems are documented, and may have played a role; surely there was an extended period of what we would today call depression. But in any case Rossini’s story has a wonderfully happy ending.
Settling in Paris in 1855—financially comfortable thanks to good management of his operatic earnings and a substantial pension from the French government, and domestically content with his devoted second wife, Rossini rediscovered his muse, and found that it pointed him in new directions. Delicious songs, piano pieces and ensemble works fell from his pen by the dozens, nearly two hundred in all, most of them for performance at the elegant soirees he hosted or attended. Their style is unique: Rossini neither stuck to his old operatic language nor entered completely into the modernisms around him, but instead invented a completely personal vocabulary of harmonic novelty and textural refinement. If all his works from 1855 to his death had come down to us under a pseudonym, we might never guess that they were really by Rossini – but we would consider their author a very important composer in his own right.
About the Work
Missing from these late works, though, was any large-scale composition for public performance. A fairly short Stabat Mater, composed with great difficulty during his years in the wilderness, already lay more than 20 years in the past when the musical world received the astonishing news that the old lion had completed a full-length Mass for soloists and chorus. This was in 1863, and the work was given its first performance the following year, for an invitation-only audience in the sumptuous new town-house of Rossini’s friend and banker, the Count Alexis Pillet-Will, to whose wife Louise the score was dedicated.
The Petite messe solennelle was received rapturously by the lucky few who heard it; critics hailed a new masterpiece, and Rossini was immediately urged to orchestrate the work (which was scored for the accompaniment of two pianos and harmonium) for cathedral or concert performance. Another private performance, again at the Pillet-Will’s, was held in 1865. In both cases Rossini stayed home, but attended the dress rehearsals, with an even more exclusive audience of close friends and musicians. The next year we find him writing to an Italian friend to solicit a Papal dispensation for women to sing in a cathedral performance; nothing came of this, but Rossini did prepare an orchestral accompaniment. Both versions (or, as we shall see, all three versions) remained unpublished at the composer’s death in 1868, and he permitted no further performances in his lifetime.
After his death, Rossini’s widow released the Mass for publication, and it immediately appeared in multiple editions in every country where music was sold. The orchestral version was quickly produced with great festivity at the Theatre Italien in Paris and within a year had been heard throughout the world.
It has been admired ever since. However, if the Petite messe has not quite entered the short list of oratorio classics, its singular accompaniment is probably the reason. Many musicians have found the orchestral arrangement disappointing, and this is no surprise: it sounds like exactly what it is, an orchestration of keyboard music, not a score organically conceived for orchestra. (For much the same reason, Hugo Wolf’s many orchestrations of his Lieder have failed to gain a foothold in the repertory, while their original piano versions are performed constantly.) The work continues to make its best impression as a jewel of sacred chamber music—a connoisseur’s oratorio, perhaps, rather than one for massive choir festivals. The musical content, though, is anything but “petite.” It teems with energy, surprise and melodic inventiveness; haunting melancholy alternates with uninhibitedly joyous praise of God; and in particular the final “Agnus Dei”—practically Rossini’s last composition—reaches a towering level of inspiration.
As the above notes suggest, there is no “definitive” version of the Petite messe. Rossini left two autograph scores: one with the ensemble of keyboards, and one with orchestra. The former bears the date 1863, and it was long assumed to represent the original work presented at the Pillet-Will chapel in 1864 and 1865. However, recent scholarship has determined that Rossini revised the autograph of the keyboard version quite significantly at a later date— probably as a preparation for the full orchestral version, which he completed in 1867. In 1994, there came to light a copyist’s manuscript, still in the possession of the Pillet-Will family, that was obviously made from Rossini’s autograph before he re-worked it.
This first version, the only one performed in the composer’s lifetime, has not yet been published, though it has been performed at the Pesaro Festival and should appear in due course in the critical edition of Rossini’s works. The most significant differences from the familiar score are two: the instrumental linking passages between the movements are consistently shorter and simpler, and the “O Salutaris” movement for soprano solo is absent. (This text, an independent motet, not part of the Mass proper, was one of several traditionally interpolated into the masses of French composers after the Sanctus.)
Besides sorting out the different versions of the score, performers of the Petite messe have to make several other practical choices. Rossini specified in the score a total of twelve singers: four soloists, who join in to sing the choruses together with the other eight. This is not, however, the way the Mass was performed at the Pillet-Will chapel: four famous opera stars sang the solos, and fifteen conservatory students supplied the chorus. There is also uncertainty as to the nature of the third keyboard instrument. Rossini’s score refers to it as a “harmonium”; the instrument used at the first performance was called a “harmonicorde” in the printed program, an “organetto” in a letter by Rossini, and simply an “organ” in one of the reviews of the first performance. Various kinds of sustaining keyboard instruments for home use were built at the time, with or without pedal keyboards (Rossini’s score calls for none), and called by a variety of names. As a practical matter, the “harmoniums” in use today have insufficient volume to balance a performance on modern pianos, and a small chamber organ is the logical choice.
In other matters, our version at Caramoor ranges freely among the choices left by Rossini. In some numbers we use the approach indicated in the autograph, with solos taken by members of the ensemble, but for the arias and the Credo movement we follow the model of the original performances. We have retained the “O Salutaris” that Rossini added only later, but have omitted some of the added instrumental passages, and also observed some cuts made by early editors and performers of the Mass.
One detail might call for mention. The “Prelude Religieux” was apparently added by Rossini at the last moment: he inserted directly into the manuscript of the Mass, without even re-copying it, a solo piano piece that he had composed earlier. We have taken the liberty of arranging this beautiful fugue for the three keyboard instruments, borrowing some of the ideas Rossini used when he later orchestrated the piece.