Kevin Newbury talks to Michael Miller about his production of Weber’s Euryanthe at Bard Summerscape
For its annual opera, Bard Summerscape has chosen Carl Maria von Weber’s seldom performed masterpiece, Euryanthe. Der Freischütz had been a great success at the Kärtnerthortheater in Vienna at its premiere in 1821, and the impresario Domenico Barbala lost no time in asking Weber for another opera of the sort. Weber, however, wanted to compose something different. He wanted to grow beyond the popular Singspiel alternation of spoke dialogue and sung numbers in favor of a freer flow of recitative, sung dialogue, and arias. Weber had considerable difficulty in deciding on a libretto, and he eventually persuaded Helmine von Chezy to take on the job—against her protests. She wrote the libretto for Schubert’s even more unsuccessful Rosamunde at the same time. Both premiered in 1823.) Euryanthe‘s failure in spite of Weber’s splendid music is generally blamed on the poor quality of Chezy’s verse and the involved, hard-to-follow plotline. Over the years, Euryanthe receives only occasional performances, but it has also aquired a passionate cult following, mainly on the basis of the excellent 1975 recording with the Dresdner Staatskapelle playing under Marek Janowski, and Jessye Norman and Nicolai Gedda, among the cast. Director Kevin Newbury and his team have worked hard to overcome Euryanthe‘s challenges, as Mr. Newbury likes to call them, and his discussion of them in this interview gives us every reason to be optimistic.
Kevin Newbury is a theatre, opera, and film director based in New York City. His outstanding work, notable for its wit, imagination, and powers of analysis, have earned him a high place in the operatic and theater community and made him very much in demand, as his tightly packed schedule shows.
Recent opera credits include the world premieres of The Gospel of Mary Magdalene (San Francisco Opera), Oscar (Santa Fe Opera), Doubt (Minnesota Opera), and Paul’s Case (Urban Arias and Prototype Festival). Other recent credits include Anna Bolena (Minnesota Opera), Maria Stuarda (Houston Grand Opera, Minnesota Opera), Die Liebe der Danae (Bard SummerScape), Roberto Devereux (L’Opera de Montreal, Minnesota Opera), Falstaff and the world premiere of Lewis Spratlan’s pulitzer prize-winning Life is a Dream after Calderón de la Barca (Santa Fe Opera), Galileo Galilei (Portland Opera), Werther (Minnesota Opera), Virginia (Wexford Opera Festival, winner of the Irish Times Award for best opera production), I Capuleti e i Montecchi (Lyric Opera of Kansas City, with Joyce Di Donato), La Bohème (Central City Opera), Eugene Onegin (Opera Theatre of St. Louis), El Niño (San Francisco Symphony, conducted by John Adams), Rappahannock County (world premiere; Virginia Arts Festival, National Tour), La Cenerentola (Glimmerglass Opera), Bernstein’s Mass (Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center; Grammy nomination), Oceanic Verses (world premiere, Kennedy Center, River to River Festival, NYC).
New York theater credits include Candy and Dorothy (GLAAD Winner: Best Play, Drama Desk Nominee), The Second Tosca, and Kiss and Cry (GLAAD Nominee). Upcoming projects include the world premieres of The Manchurian Candidate (Minnesota Opera) and Bel Canto (Lyric Opera of Chicago), and new productions of Don Bucefalo (Wexford Opera Festival), Norma (San Francisco Opera, Barcelona Liceu), Candide (Baltimore Symphony), Bernstein’s Mass (Phildelphia Orchestra), Oscar (Philadelphia Opera) and Anna Bolena (Lyric Opera of Chicago). His first film, Monsura is Waiting, is currently screening at film festivals around the country.