Chicago Fringe Opera presents a one-night only recital featuring song cycles of Gwyneth Walker, Libby Larsen, and Dominick Argento.
This unique collaboration features singers Jenny Schuler, Bridget Skaggs, Luther Lewis, and David Govertsen, with pianist Mark Bilyeu. Stage direction by CFO Artistic Director George Cederquist elevates the drama to create an immersive concert experience.
The program is inspired by the letter scene in opera, a dramatic device typically employed to express heightened inner emotion or key plot twists. In art song, this device is transformed through settings of historical letters that convey the beauty of real-life language and drama.
The program opens with letters of naturalist John Miur, bringing to life the glittering sounds and sights of the uncharted Yosemite Valley of the 1870s (Songs from the High Sierra, Gwyneth Walker). Calamity Jane’s letters to her daughter, Janey, reveal the rough and tumble life of an American frontierswoman in the 19th century (Songs from Letters, Libby Larsen). Poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s love letter about her husband, Robert, attains operatic heights (Casa Guidi, Dominick Argento). The program concludes with the correspondence between actress Olga Knipper and playwright Anton Chekhov during their four-year marriage until his death in 1904 (A Few Words about Chekhov, Dominick Argento).