One of the highlights of the annual New Year’s Eve concert hosted by the Dayton Performing Arts Alliance is the sneak peek at its upcoming season.
The announcement is made from the Schuster Center’s Mead Theatre stage by DPAA President and CEO Paul Helfrich, along with Dayton Opera artistic director Thomas Bankston, Dayton Philharmonic artistic director and conductor Neal Gittleman and Dayton Ballet artistic director Karen Russo Burke.
The just-announced theme for next season is “Titans.” A titan, according to Merriam-Webster, is “one that stands out for greatness of achievement.”
“It’s an appellation that’s been routinely bestowed on the great Ludwig van Beethoven, a composer who changed music forever,” explains Helfrich. “It’s therefore fitting, as we begin a two-year celebration of Beethoven’s music on the occasion of his 250th birthday, that we recognize a few other titans of the performing arts as well. There’s something for everyone — from Neil Diamond to Harry Potter.”
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Gittleman says it may have been German composer Johannes Brahms who first referred to Ludwig van Beethoven as a “titan” at a time when Brahams was trying to come to grips with Ludwig van Beethoven’s amazing legacy.
“The music of Beethoven’s time was behind art and literature in developing a romantic language and he was the one who helped music catch up,” explains Gittleman. “He wrote music that pushed the envelope: louder, softer, longer, more dramatic, more emotional. That makes him a larger-than-life figure in music history.”
Beethoven wasn’t literally a titan, adds Gittleman. “The titans of mythology revolted against the gods and lost. Beethoven may have revolted against the old-fashioned musical traditions of his era. But he won!”
The last time Gittleman chose to do a Beethoven symphony cycle was in his first three years at the DPO; he’s now celebrating his 25th anniversary with the orchestra. “In addition to playing all nine symphonies in the next two seasons, we’ll play wonderful pieces that connect to Beethoven’s symphonies and also great works by Romantic Era composers who were deeply influenced by Beethoven,” he says.
What’s in store for opera buffs?
“Dayton Opera’s 2019-2020 Season of ‘Titans’ is anchored by two of the titanic composers of opera — Giacomo Puccini and Gioachino Rossini,” says Bankston, adding that “La Boheme” and “Cinderella” are two of the beloved staples of the repertory that he always looks forward to revisiting. “Our Opera Star Recital featuring soprano Angel Blue is one of the most anticipated events of the season. This emerging star of the Metropolitan Opera and London’s Covent Garden is a protégé of Placido Domingo and is hailed as the ‘next Leontyne Price.’ “
“Going for Baroque,” the final opera production, is the first venture into Baroque opera for Dayton Opera. It will feature opera soloists, dancers of the Dayton Ballet, the Dayton Opera Chorus and a chamber ensemble from the Dayton Philharmonic.
Dayton Ballet will feature new choreographers
In addition to the beloved classic “The Nutcracker,” Dayton Ballet’s offerings will include: “Phantom Dances, a repertory of ballets; ” “Love Vignettes: Carmen and Butterfly Suite” and a varied program called “Innovations,” which will include a vignette of ” A Street Car Named Desire.”
“Next season is very exciting for the ballet because we will add two more cutting-edge choreographers to our repertory list — Ma Cong and Penny Saunders,” says Burke. “The fall and spring rep will highlight their ballets. And Septime Webre’s “Carmen” is an amazing one-act ballet that’s challenging for the dancers as well as exciting for the audience.”
SuperPops, Rockin’Orchestra, Special Events
Gittleman says in addition to all the Beethoven, there are two additional programs he’s especially looking forward to. One is Olivier Messiaen’s ‘Turangalîla Symphony,’ which he labels one of the most beautiful, most exciting works of the 20th century. “It’s a kaleidoscopic piece, an 80-minute, 10-movement hymn to love in all its forms for large orchestra with solo piano and ondes martenot, an early electronic instrument that makes some of the most amazingly beautiful sounds you’ll ever hear. “
He’s also excited about an additional concert of symphonies. “It features two ‘symphonies’ that really push the envelope of what a symphony is: Stravinsky’s masterpiece ‘Symphony of Psalms’ for chorus and orchestra and Richard Strauss’ ‘An Alpine Symphony’ which is one of the grandest romantic tone poems of all time — a vivid depiction of 24 hours in the mountains. Absolutely glorious music!”
The SuperPops and Rockin’ Orchestra offering for next season will include the traditional pops sound of Rodgers and Hammerstein, music of Nat King Cole and Natalie Cole, the Rat Pack era, and more. On the rock side, there are tributes to the music of Aretha Franklin, Chicago, the Rolling Stones, Neil Diamond and ELO.
“I’m really excited about our first-ever symphonic hip-hop show with the amazing Wyclef Jean,” concludes Gittleman. “For years people have asked my opinion on rap and hip-hop music. I’ve always fielded those questions gingerly, never wanting to be quoted as a ‘classical music authority’ dissing new music that I simply didn’t understand. Hip-hop has certainly proven that it’s an important and compelling strain of contemporary popular music, and hip-hop artists have pushed the envelope of their musical style….just like that Beethoven guy!”
Signature events, which incorporate all three art forms, will include “Haydn’s Creation” and the annual New Year’s Eve concert. The DPO’s Family Season will feature the annual PhilharMonster Halloween concert and “The Musical World of Harry Potter,” performed with the Dayton Philharmonic Youth Orchestra.
For the remaining three special events, the Philharmonic will feature three blockbuster films with the musical soundtrack provided entirely by the DPO. They include “Apollo 13 ” ” Star Wars: Episode IV, A New Hope” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” Fun!