Sunday, October 14, 2012

Oh, Happy We

We are gearing up to bring you Leonard Bernstein’s operetta Candide, at the Tennessee Theatre this coming Thursday and Friday at 7:30. If you missed Jeff Austin as Sweeney Todd or Boris Van Druff as Pirelli in Sweeney Todd, now you will have a chance to hear a couple of great dramatic voices from that production. You will also be treated to alto Karen Nickell, sister of KSO cellist Stacy Miller, and wife of baritone Andrew Wentzel (whom you may have heard singing the National Anthem at UT football games).

I’m looking through a book called 100 Great Operas and their Stories, but I’m not finding Bernstein’s Candide. Hmmm, Ambroise Thomas’ Mignon (whose overture we performed in May) is in here, as is Flotow’s Martha and Montemezzi’s Love for Three Kings. When is the last time you heard anything more than just an excerpt from these gems? You mean to tell me that Candide is not one of the 100 greatest operas??? Then I looked at the publication date on the book, 1957. It turns out that Candide was premiered in 1956, who knew? Time for a new opera stories book, I guess.

My first exposure to Bernstein’s Candide was short and bittersweet. The Oak Ridge Symphony orchestra, then under the direction of Robert Lyall, programmed Make Our Garden Grow, the touching final chorus from Candide, on a concert in 1989 in memory of long-time KSO cellist and physicist Jim Marable, who tragically passed away in November of 1988. My stand partner in the big orchestra when I first moved here, Jim was the KSO’s first Assistant Conductor, appointed in 1973 by Arpad Joó. Jim also was the first conductor of the Knoxville Symphony Youth Orchestra, which he and his wife Barbara helped establish in 1973 with generous financial and physical assistance. Jim’s memorial service, at Central Baptist Church of Bearden, was attended by many Manhattan Project scientists, including quite a few founding members of the Oak Ridge Symphony. The Knoxville Symphony’s dedicatory performance under Kirk Trevor of Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5 in January of 1989 was this orchestra’s response to Jim’s passing, but every time I hear Make Our Garden Grow, I can’t help but think of Jim.

1 comment:

cmmoxley said...

That is very sweet, Blogger Andy. I am looking forward to hearing Candide, but I know I will now think of you and your friend. Thanks for sharing.