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Sub Pontio Pilato

Sub Pontio Pilato

[CD]

~ Erling Wold

(2PC)
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A striking score for winds, percussion and keyboards ... pointing a way into the genre's future. - Andante ...an extraordinary cast ...the veteran Seattle tenor Duykers with his flashing eyes is a massive presence here - artssf.com Synopsis: Sub Pontio Pilato is an historical fantasy that takes elements from the legend and history surrounding Pontius Pilate, a figure who rose from a minor position in the Roman bureaucracy to become a person of immense importance in Western thought. Even though there is only the smallest historical evidence of his existence, he has been the subject of thousands of writings from the middle ages, where nearly all Western art related to explication of Christian theology, through modern times, for example, Bulgakov's Master and Margarita and more recently, Anne Wroe's very complete biography of him as an 'invented man.' Some legends deal with his punishment. As the person who sentenced Christ to death, he sometimes dies sad, broken and exiled. However, most writers seem to be concerned with his redemption. A number of these legends relate his conversion and martyrdom. In the Ethiopian church this is taken to an extreme: he and his wife Procula are saints. This redemption springs from two places. The first is simple, if Pilate can be redeemed, anyone of us can. The second is more insidious: the Christian Church, originally intended for the Jews, was not accepted by them and eventually ended up ironically as the official religion of Rome. The Roman church was not interested in having Pilate, a son of Rome, responsible for the crucifixion. They officially shifted the blame to the Jews and emphasized Pilate's coercion, the washing of his hands, and used this to further what became an extreme anti-Jewish stance, the end result of which has become all-too-familiar in recent history. In the opera, all of these streams coexist. The piece starts at the end of his life as his young slave Ptolemaeus helps Pilate slit his wrists. The first half of the piece takes place in a dream-like space as he slowly dies. He is surrounded by a whirlwind of real events, children playing, reflections on his favorite philosophers, his own thoughts on life and an hallucinatory flashbacks of events that led to his downfall. A personification of history warns Pilate of his historical fate. He dies and is resurrected. Pilate and Procula are dressed as saints as the chorus sings the Credo and the Church silences the Jews. The piece ends on a quiet note: during the 1970s, an Ethiopian soldier and a Russian advisor discuss Pilate's place among the saints of the Abyssinian Orthodox Church. From artssf.com: Small is beautiful, more is less (Mies van der Rohe, more or less). And opera doesn't need to be grand to be inspiring, either. San Francisco's opera event of 2003 may well turn out to be a low-budget production of a world premiere in a small Mission-District theater with 60 or so souls in attendance every night. The immediacy of a tiny theater, combined with an extraordinary cast, made a riveting night out of 'Sub Pontio Pilato' (Under Pontius Pilate), which got it's world premiere April 10 at the ODC Theater. This is an internal drama, dominated by Pontius Pilate's own philosophical reflections on his duty and his fate after, in effect, turning Jesus Christ over to the executioners. His wavering sense of mission consumes him, and the turns of Roman politics lead him to a suicide to avoid a harsh torture-death. His scenes are surreal, with fragments of drama interpersed in the reflections and soliloquies pouring out of James Bisso's multilingual libretto. Though the action in this head-trip opera is almost nonexistent, this econo-production has such a telling effect that I was drawn back to catch it again another night. The orchestra is pushed behind a screen to the back, putting the singers up front, watching Jonathan Khuner's baton beat through a video setup. The immediacy of this seldom-used format is considerable, with tenor John Duykers in the title role a commanding, near-regal presence dictating awe and involvement despite the rambling, philosophical bent of Bisso's flashback- and fantasy-driven scenario. Composer of this opus is Erling Wold, who is a would-be new-millennium Monteverdi. The story line, supplementing the characters with allegorical figures like Historia, parallels some of 'Orfeo' or 'Poppea.' The vocal lines are in monody, with lengthy lyrical phrases that flow evenly over a consonant accompaniment, punctuated by some elegant ensembles with chorus. Wold sees himself under the star of the neoclassical Stravinsky here, but probably more the Stravinsky of 'Oedipus Rex' or the 'Symphony of the Psalms'---20th-century pieces rooted in pre-20th-century traditions---than anything else. The focal tenor part will also call to mind Britten's operas. Wold's orchestra is more varied than his vocal writing. The winds, percussion and keyboards are often restless and edgy, with flashes of Glassy minimalism thrown in. Without the strong casting featured here through April 19, the opera could well disintegrate and dissolve into a talky discourse on ancient philosophy. Wold and Bisso take the risk of overintellectualizing, drawing little benefit from haphazard insertion of English, Latin, (and apparently Hebrew and Greek too) into the already complex text. But what a lineup! The veteran Seattle tenor Duykers with his flashing eyes is a massive presence here, even stronger than in his impersonation of Mao Zedong in Adams' epic 'Nixon In China' opera (both stage and recording). He is abetted by two imposing sopranos: The dramatic Kerry Walsh, in multiple roles, and the spinto Laura Bohn as Historia. (Walsh, whose credits include the Santa Fe Opera, is remembered as a showstopper with her achingly alluring voice during her brief tenure with Opera San Jose in the mid-1990s.) The three, supplemented by a trio of male voices including the rousing countertenor Steve McKearney, carry the show, which curiously makes use of body mikes. The array of holy men, hedonists, spouses and messengers means multiple roles for most, adding further to the confusion in this Gordian knot of an opera. The evening is led ably by conductor Jonathan Khuner, who deserved a more competent orchestra. The stage direction was under Melissa Weaver, who put her singers through awkward crawls, reaches, gyrations and enigmatic pantomimes that no one would ever impose on the Three Tenors. The players come wrapped in a variety of cloths, shawls and sheets---just one of the countless economies in this modest production. From andante: At the beginning of Erling Wold's chamber opera Sub Pontio Pilato, the title character, played by the masterful tenor John Duykers, climbs into a bathtub and orders his servant to slash his wrists. As his life ebbs away over the next two hours, Pilate reminisces over how he, a minor Roman bureaucrat, thanks to an incident he barely recalls, is transformed into a crucial symbol of a world-dominating religion. About Erling Wold: Erling Wold is a composer, aesthete and a bon vivant. Last year saw the premiere of two large works, his Missa Beati Notkeri Balbuli Sancti Galli Monachi in St Gallen, Switzerland, and his solo opera Mordake for tenor John Duykers in the San Francisco International Arts Festival. He completed a noise-music collaboration this year with fognozzle for electronics and orchestra which premiered in San Francisco. He is cofounder and executive director of the San Francisco Composers Chamber Orchestra, which has just completed it's seventh season of new orchestral works. He is working on a personal autobiographical theater piece detailing his corruption and death with the help of James Bisso, as well as a series of pieces for the Denisova-Kornienko duo in Vienna. His dance opera Blinde Liebe, on a true crime story, was recently performed in Europe and the US with Palindrome Dance of Nürnberg Germany. His chamber works have been presented in Philadelphia by Relâche, in San Francisco and Santa Cruz by New Music Works, and by the San Francisco Conservatory New Music Ensemble. He completed a residency at ODC Theater with a presentation of his opera Sub Pontio Pilato, an historical fantasy on the death and remembrance of Pontius Pilate (also performed in Austria), a chamber opera based on William Burroughs' early autobiographical novel Queer, and his critically acclaimed work A Little Girl Dreams of Taking the Veil, based on the Max Ernst collage novel. The latter piece was given it's European premiere in a German version by the Klagenfurter Ensemble in 2001 and toured to Max Ernst's hometown of Brühl. He has written a number of solo piano works, including Albrechts Flügel, premiered by Finnish pianist Marja Mutru and more recently Veracity, which he premiered. He has worked extensively with dancers in the US and Europe. He has written a number of pieces for a dancer-controlled interactive video and music system for Palindrome dance. He has also worked with Nesting Dolls in Los Angeles and San Francisco on several theater and dance projects, including 13 Versions of Surrender and I brought my hips to the table. Most recently he has co-composed the scores for several Deborah Slater Dance Theater projects with fixed-media sound artist Thom Blum. He is an eclectic composer whose teachers include Gerard Grisey, Robert Gross, Andrew Imbrie and John Chowning, but who has also been called 'the Eric Satie of Berkeley surrealist/minimalist electro-artrock' by the Village Voice. He composed the soundtracks for four Jon Jost films. There are a number of CD and DVD releases of his music, and a DVD series is planned by MinMax over the next year. He was included in the first magazine/CD issue of the Leonardo Music Journal, and he has had a number of works published by Tellus and the Just Intonation Network. He has published technical and artistic articles in several publications, including IEEE MultiMedia, Proceedings of the International Computer Music Conference, SIGGRAPH, the Just Intonation Journal 1/1, IEEE Transactions on Computers and several books. He has six patents in musical signal processing. He holds a doctorate from the University of California at Berkeley and was a researcher in signal processing and music synthesis at Yamaha Music Technologies before cofounding Muscle Fish LLC, an audio and music software company.

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    Details

    Title: Sub Pontio Pilato
    Release Date: 2/28/2006
    Label: CD Baby
    Product Type: CD
    Catalog #: 5637291742
    UPC: 634479842764
    Item #: SRD984276