Cleveland Opera Theater's {NOW} Festival and the Rest of the Classical Music You Should Catch This Week

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click to enlarge Cleveland Opera Theater's {NOW} Festival and the Rest of the Classical Music You Should Catch This Week
Maltz Performing Arts Center, Courtesy Cleveland Opera Theater
Thanks to Cleveland Opera Theater’s {NOW} Festival, most of this week’s suggestions have to do with opera — not a dead art form, but one that still lives, breathes, and explores the dramatic and lyrical dimensions of our own lives and times. Cleveland Opera Theater offers both glimpses of works in progress and productions of fully completed shows.

Mozart and Rossini were able to dash off operas in record time, but these days, a new title can go through a long gestation period. Bernarda Alba, based on Garcia Lorca’s play of the same name, is such a piece-in-progress, with a score being composed by Griffin Candey to a libretto by Caridad Svich. Cleveland Opera Theater will present a reading of Svich’s libretto by a number of local opera singers at the Maltz Performing Arts Center at CWRU on Friday, January 26 at 7:30 pm, in collaboration with Baldwin Wallace University. It’s free.

2018 {NOW} Festival artists will participate in an interactive discussion about creating, developing, and producing new opera on Saturday, January 27 at 10:00 am at the Maltz. Those artists will include three composers — Margi Griebling-Haigh, Lorenzo Salvagni, and Ryan Charles Ramer — whose new opera scenes will be performed in free concerts by sopranos Rachel Copeland and Nan Golz, tenor Timothy Culver, and baritone Brian Johnson on Saturday, January 27 at 3:00 pm, and Sunday, January 28 at 7:30 pm at the Maltz.

Also participating in the Saturday morning session will be composer Dawn Sonntag, whose opera Verlorene Heimat (“Lost Homeland”) will be performed twice — on Saturday, January 27 at 7:30 pm, and Sunday, January 28 at 3:00 pm. The work is based on the true story of the East Prussian refugee family of Christa Neuber Kuske (1937 – 2012) and the Jewish-Ukrainian girl they sheltered from the Nazis. Conducted by Domenico Boyagian, the cast includes Rebecca Freshwater, Brian Johnson, Donna Warren, Timothy Culver, and Jason Budd. (Watch a short video of Sonntag describing the piece here.) Tickets are available online.

Speaking of that era, a Cleveland Institute of Music faculty and guest concert on Friday, January 26 at 8:00 pm in Mixon Hall will celebrate the 63rd anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp. Cellist Melissa Kraut will join clarinetist Rena Kraut and pianist Anita Pontremoli in “From the Shtetl to the Concert Stage: The Thread that Sustained Music through the Holocaust.” The performance, which presents the music and stories of a Polish family journey during World War II, is free but seating passes are required. Call 216.795.3211.

Tragedy visited the FIRST•music series at First Lutheran Church in Lorain in 2014 when its sanctuary and distinguished organ perished at the hand of an arsonist. A new church building is nearly complete, and violinist Andrew Sords and music director Brian Wentzel will celebrate with Beethoven’s “Kreutzer” Sonata and music by Brahms, Bach, and Messiaen on Sunday, January 28 at 3:00 pm. A freewill offering will be received.

Most of the Wednesday noon organ concerts at Trinity Lutheran Church in Ohio City are played (year round!) by the resident organists, but now and then Florence Mustric and Robert Myers invite young artists in for a guest gig. On January 31 at 12:15 pm, Abraham Ross will play a recital of early Romantic sonatas by Mendelssohn and August Gottfried Ritter on the distinguished von Beckerath organ. Lunches are welcome, as is a freewill offering.

Check out details of these and many other classical music events on our Concert Listings page.
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