To Be Sung

To Be Sung by Pascal Dusapin

Irondale Center, Brooklyn
May 17, 19 8pmTo Be Sung is an opera in one act. The libretto was adapted by the composer from a short story by Gertrude Stein; “A Lyrical Opera Made By Two (To Be Sung). As M. Dusapin states, this is my tribute to American literature”. He continues, “To Be Sung is an ambitious piece. “I wanted to write something amniotic, extremely sensitive, that situates listening within an almost metaphysical feeling of understanding through light, that demands to be heard through the mystery of the eye.”

Pascal Dusapin, Composer

Pascal Dusapin, born in 1955 in Nancy, was introduced to music at an early age. After hearing a jazz trio while on vacation with his family, he returned home with a longing to learn the clarinet. His father, however, insisted on piano lessons. When he was ten, Dusapin discovered the organ, an overwhelming passion that would carry him through his chaotic and unconventional adolescence. Growing up part time in a small village in the Lorraine and part time in a Parisian suburb, he embraced all genres with equal fervour, as enthusiastic about Bach as about the Doors, loving free jazz as much as Beethoven. But when he first heard Arcana by Edgar Varese at the University of Vincennes when he was 18, his life was transformed. From that moment, he knew that he would devote all of his time and energy to composition. From 1974 to 1978, he studied devotedly with Iannis Xenakis, whom he considered to be the modern descendant of Varese. Xenakis became his master in thinking differently, broadening his horizons to include architecture and mathematics. This was really his only formal education, probably because Xenakis asked for nothing and gave him everything.

In 1977 he won the Fondation de la Vocation prize and in 1988 he received an award from the Villa Médicis where he was resident for two years while he wrote Tre Scalini, Fist, and his first Quatuor, Niobé. He returned from Rome more determined than ever to live while composing and to compose while living. In the summer of 1986, he wrote Assaï for Dominique Bagouet’s ballet company. Their collaboration was rich, both personally and artistically, and the tour of Assaï led him to travel the world for several years.

In 1986, with the encouragement of Rolf Lieberman, he launched himself into the composition of his first opera, written in close collaboration with the author, Olivier Cadiot. Roméo & Juliette diverges from conventional intrigue and genre. It is a musical-literary revolution where each word is chosen for its sound and its rhythm and is then tightly intertwined with the completely unfettered music. The work premiered simultaneously in July of 1989 at the Montpellier Opera and at the Avignon Festival, before going on international tour. Henceforth, Pascal Dusapin would tie in his love of literature to his operatic works. Medeamaterial, based on the work by Heiner Müller opened at the Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels in 1991. This was followed by To Be Sung, based on Gertrude Stein’s work, and was created in tandem with the great mixed media artist and light designer, James Turell, at the Théâtre des Amandiers in Nanterre. In 2003, Perelà, Uomo di fumo, based on the work by Aldo Palazzeschi, opened at the Opéra Bastille in Paris. Dusapin went on to write the librettos for his two latest operas: Faustus, The Last Night which opened at the Staatsoper in Berlin in 2006 and Passion which premiered at the Aix en Provence Festival in 2008.

Throughout the writing of his operas, various other works were born, including seven string quartets (the sixth with orchestra), and various vocal works such as La Melancholia, Granum Sinapis, Dona Eis. He also wrote Sept études pour piano, A Quia concerto for piano, and seven solos for orchestra: Go, Extenso, Apex, Clam, Exeo, Reverso (premiered by the Berliner Philharmoniker and Simon Rattle) and Uncut. This cycle of seven orchestral forms, composed between 1991 and 2009, is a long symphonic tale of life and of human emotions and artistry. A new cycle for orchestra is in development and is inspired by nature. Morning in Long Island will be the first part, suggested by the shapes of the wind.

Pascal Dusapin has been the recipient of numerous prizes and awards, including the Cino del Duca prize in 2005, and the Dan David Price in 2007. Also in 2007 he was granted the title of Academician at the Bayerische Académie in Munich and became Artistic Chairman at the Collège de France, only the second composer after Pierre Boulez to hold the position. He has published a book based on his experiences and his conferences entitled “Une musique en train de se faire” (Music in the making, published by Seuil). In 2010 and 2011 he was Guest Professor at Musikhochschule in Munich.

Dusapin’s interests and passions are many, from morphogenesis to philosophy (with a particular interest in Deleuze), from photography, to architecture, to the theatre of Samuel Beckett, to Flaubert’s work, among others. All of these contribute to his freedom of invention, and allow multiple layers of meaning, understanding and emotion in his works. He has collaborated with many different artists, combining his multidisciplinary talents with theirs: Sasha Waltz, James Turell, Peter Mussbach, Laurence Equilbey, The Accroche Note Ensemble, the Berlin Philharmonic, Simon Rattle, and the Arditti Quartet. New projects have also brought him into the realm of electronics on a grand scale in such exceptional venues as the Grand Palais for the Monumenta by Richard Serra or the beach at Deauville for the 150th anniversary of the city.

A unique artist, Pascal Dusapin continues his musical journey, formal and yet never dogmatic, offering his fiercely emotional music through a great range of diverse forms.

Courtesy of Universal Music

Neal Goren, Conductor

Neal Goren was the Founder and Artistic Director and Conductor of Gotham Chamber Opera in New York City. In addition, he is a frequent guest conductor active throughout North America and Europe. Notable appearances include Respighi’s La bella dormente nel bosco for the Lincoln Center Festival and Spoleto Festival USA, New York City Opera conducting their revival of The Magic Flute, and with Opera de Nantes and Angers, France for The Turn of the Screw . He also attracted critical and popular notice for his performances of Krasa’s Brundibar for the City University of New York. This summer, appeared with the San Francisco Opera conducting Conrad Susa’s Transformations for the Merola Opera Program. In October, he conducted Louis Andreissen’s Anais Nin and Odysseus’ Women for the Center for Contemporary Opera.

As Artistic Director of Gotham Chamber Opera, he conducted critically acclaimed productions of Haydn’s Il Mondo della Luna, Mozart’s Il sogno di Scipione, Milhaud’s Les Malheurs d’Orphée, Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas (with period instruments), Martinu’s Hlas lesa and Les Larmes du Couteau, Sutermeister’s Die schwarze Spinne, Handel’s Arianna in Creta, and Il Signor Bruschino for the company. He displayed his skill as an innovative programmer, leading productions of Astor Piazzola’s tango operetta Maria de Buenos Aires in coordination with the David Parsons Dance Company, Scenes from Gypsy Life featuring music by Janaćek and Dvorak, and Ariadne Unhinged featuring music by Monteverdi, Haydn, and Schoenberg. a highly successful production of Nico Muhly’s Dark Sisters, a joint venture with Music Theater Group which he also conducted at Opera Philadelphia plus productions of Il sogno di Scipione, Catan’s Rappacini’s Daughter, and Weill’s Mahagonny Songspiel, Hindemith’s Hin und zurück (There and Back), Milhaud’s L’enlèvement d’Europe (The Abduction of Europa), and Ernst Toch’s Die Prinzessin auf der Erbse.

Goren is a graduate of Reed College, where he earned his B.A. He continued his musical studies on a fellowship from the Watson Foundation, and studied for two years in London with Jacqueline du Pré and Geoffrey Parsons. He has studied conducting Marcia LaReau, piano with Irwin Freunlich and Joan Brown, and attended Interlochen Arts Academy and the North Carolina School of the Arts.

Jorinde Keesmaat, Stage Director

Jorinde Keesmaat is a freelance stage director of opera performances and staged classical concerts in the Netherlands and abroad and is appointed Guest Director-in-Residence at the Center for Contemporary Opera in New York.

Keesmaat creates multi-disciplinary performances that have a search for relationships between the individual spectator and the actors and musicians. Conventions as well as the established boundaries between classical concerts, opera and theatre performances have moved to the background. In addition to regular theatre and concert halls her performances regularly take place in unconventional venues..

Jorinde Keesmaat is the permanent director of the concert series TRACKS at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. She also directed a semi-staged version of Mozart’s operas Don Giovanni, Zauberflöte and Le Nozze di Figaro, commissioned by the Residentie Orkest. The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra asked Keesmaat to direct the opera Hans en Grietje. In 2015, Keesmaat directed the opera La Clemenza di Tito at Opera National de Montpellier.

Keesmaat also directed the first concert – with Geert Mak and Andreas Scholl – in a series of jubilee concerts in honor of the 125th anniversary of the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. For a jubilee concert of Theater Carré in Amsterdam, Keesmaat made the show ‘1000 stemmen in Carré’, a concert with a thousand singers composed by Merlijn Twaalfhoven. The Grachtenfestival 2015 commissioned Keesmaat to direct the Opening concert. Jorinde Keesmaat regularly directs projects for the Nederlands Philharmonisch Orkest, Jazz Orchestra of the Concertgebouw, Noord Nederlands Orkest, Gelders Orkest and the Residentie Orchestra.

Jorinde Keesmaat was appointed Guest Director-in-Residence for the period of 2016-2018 at the Center for Contemporary Opera in New York to direct a series of four productions over a three-year period. The residency began in October 2016 with a highly acclaimed production consisting of two works by Louis Andriessen: Anaïs Nin & Odysseus’ Women. This production also took place at the Muziekgebouw in Amsterdam on December 9th, 2016.