Arguably the mid-Hudson’s premier summer performing arts showcase, Bard SummerScape brings topnotch performers in the fields of music – including classical, opera and cabaret – as well as theatre, dance and cinema to the Bard College campus for seven busy weeks each summer. The cultural stew starts bubbling away this weekend, with three don’t-miss performances that will help cap off the career of one of the contemporary dance world’s brightest stars.
The extravaganza is organized around the Bard Music Festival, which each year examines the life, work and cultural milieu of a single composer through concerts of both orchestral and chamber music, pre-concert talks and panel discussions. This year’s focus will be on Franz Schubert (1797–1828), celebrating both the Festival’s 25th anniversary and the bicentennial of Schubert’s musical setting of Goethe’s Gretchen am Spinnrade, considered by many the birth of the German lied or “art song.”
SummerScape typically kicks off with performances by a world-class dance company, and this year’s will be truly special: This Friday, June 27 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, June 28 at 2 and 7:30 p.m., the Sosnoff Theater at the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts will be a stop on the farewell tour of the first female choreographer ever to win a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant.” Postmodern dance powerhouse Trisha Brown is retiring, and at SummerScape her Dance Company will perform Proscenium Works: 1979-2011, consisting of I’m going to toss my arms – if you catch them they’re yours (2011), the final work of her career, along with collaborations with Laurie Anderson and Robert Rauschenberg: Set and Reset (1983) and If you couldn’t see me (1994).
According to John Rockwell in The New York Times, “Her current company is wonderful: handsome dancers confident in their execution of Ms. Brown’s choreography. They’re a pleasure to watch, all by themselves. But they’re not by themselves; Ms. Brown’s ideas and sensibility are ever-present.” The Friday evening performance will be followed by a discussion with the artists, and the Saturday matinée introduced with a pre-performance conversation at 1 p.m. Ticket prices range from $25 to $60.
With ten performances scheduled between July 10 and 20, SummerScape 2014’s theatrical production will be the world premiere of Love in the Wars. It’s an original version of Heinrich von Kleist’s Penthesilea, dramatizing the romance between Achilles and the queen of the Amazons, as adapted by the Man Booker Prize-winning Irish novelist John Banville. Two-time Obie Award-winner Ken Rus Schmoll directs. Tickets will go for $25 to $35 for previews on July 10 and 11 and $25 to $50 for regular performances on July 12 and 13 and July 16 through 20, all staged in Theater Two.
This year’s full-scale opera production at SummerScape will be the first American revival in 100 years of Carl Maria von Weber’s Euryanthe (1823). Starring Ellie Dehn, with William Burden, Wendy Bryn Harmer, Ryan Kuster and Peter Volpe, it will be directed by Kevin Newbury and accompanied by the American Symphony Orchestra conducted by Leon Botstein. Ticket prices range from $25 to $95 for evening performances in the Sosnoff Theater on July 25 and August 1 and matinées on July 27, 30 and August 3. SummerScape 2014 will also include semi-staged productions of Schubert’s Fierrabras on August 17 and Die Verschworenen August 10, along with Von Suppé’s operetta Franz Schubert on August 10, with ticket prices starting at $25.
The 2014 Bard SummerScape Film Festival, “Schubert and the Long 19th Century,” will run Thursdays and Sundays from July 3 to August 3 at 7 p.m. in the Ottaway Film Center on the Bard campus. The series focusses on the many ways in which Schubert’s music and early Romanticism have influenced international cinema. Among the films to be screened are Renoir’s Grand Illusion, Murnau’s Nosferatu, Hitchcock’s Lifeboat, Polanski’s Death and the Maiden, Kubrick’s Paths of Glory and Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo. Tickets cost $10.
Hipsters at SummerScape flock to the intimate, mirror-spangled confines of the Spiegeltent for cabaret performances, food, drink and dancing throughout the festival, hosted by Tony nominee Justin Vivian Bond. The authentic Belgian Spiegeltent has been popular since its introduction at Bard in 2006, the first time one of these structures appeared in America. This year’s acts at the Spiegeltent will include Molly Ringwald on July 5, Martha Wainwright on July 11 and Amanda Palmer on August 15.
Schubert’s greatest fame rests on music discovered decades after his death. Although the Viennese composer won recognition in his lifetime as the “Prince of Song” and as a composer of two- and four-hand keyboard music, it was only subsequently that the majority of his large-scale chamber, orchestral and dramatic works came to light. Weekend One of this year’s Bard Music Festival, August 8 to 10, will center on “The Making of a Romantic Legend” and contextualize Schubert’s early life and career alongside the music of his contemporaries, including his teacher, Antonio Salieri, and such Viennese trends as the development of the art song, the Beethoven legacy, the post-1815 obsession with Italian opera and the virtuoso cult. Weekend Two, August 15 to 17, will spotlight “A New Aesthetics of Music” and focus on the last years of Schubert’s life, the one public concert that he devoted entirely to his own music, and his influence on 19th- and 20th-century composers. Ticket prices for Bard Music Festival events, many of which star Bard’s resident ensemble the American Symphony Orchestra, range from $25 to $75.
For much more detail on performers, programs, dates, times and prices for all Bard SummerScape events, visit https://fishercenter.bard.edu/summerscape.
Bard SummerScape/Bard Music Festival, June 27-August 17, Bard College, 60 Manor Avenue, Annandale-on-Hudson; (845) 758-7900, https://fishercenter.bard.edu/summerscape.