The UC Santa Barbara Department of Music presents Joel Feigin’s Twelfth Night, an opera based on Shakespeare’s beloved comedy, on Friday, January 30 at 7:30 pm, and Sunday, February 1 at 1 pm, in Lotte Lehmann Concert Hall. Produced by Benjamin Brecher, Director of the Opera Program at UCSB, and directed by David Grabarkewitz, this new production features an extraordinary group of singers and musicians performing under the direction of conductor Brent Wilson.
Feigin’s operatic interpretation of Twelfth Night balances soaring solos with plaintive folksongs, love duets with comic ensembles, all capturing the enchanted, lively spirit of Shakespeare’s comedy. Outfitted with sets and costumes designed specifically for this West Coast production, Twelfth Night promises to be a unique and transcendent theatrical experience.
“I’ve always loved Shakespeare’s play,” says composer Joel Feigin. “I have been enchanted by the heady perfume of Illyria where, as the wise fool sings, ‘journeys end in lovers meeting.’ Above all, I am fascinated by Shakespeare’s presentation of the extraordinary varieties of love, and the various ways in which we all yearn for our ‘true love’s coming, that can sing both high and low’.”
Twelfth Night opens with a primal scene: amidst a raging storm, the twins Viola and Sebastian are swept upon the shores of Illyria. Separated in the shipwreck, each believes that the other has drowned. Actually, Sebastian has been saved by the pirate Antonio, who becomes enamored with the young man, and Viola has been rescued by a captain who helps her disguise herself to enter the service of Duke Orsino as his pageboy Cesario. Thus Shakespeare sets the scene for an intimate, searching, and hilarious exploration of our manifold confusions about gender, sexuality, and identity. Viola falls in love with the Orsino, who unconsciously reciprocates her affection. He sends the “boy” to woo Olivia, the Countess whom the Duke thinks he loves and who promptly falls in love with Cesario/Viola, launching a magical flux of lyricism, poetry, and laughter.
In 2003, excerpts from the full orchestral version of Feigin’s opera presented at the New York City Opera VOX Workshop caught the ear of The New York Times critic Anthony Tommasini who remarked, “the work that struck me most on that first day was Joel Feigin’s Twelfth Night…. The music is unabashedly, impishly and cleverly Straussian.” In 2005, Long Leaf Opera of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, commissioned a chamber orchestra version of the opera that was praised by the Raleigh News and Observer for “many striking passages, hushed and shimmering for lovers and sparkling and cheeky for the comic figures.”
Joel Feigin is a composer whose works have been widely praised for “their very strong impact, as logical in musical design as they are charged with emotion and drama” (OPERA magazine). His first opera, Mysteries of Eleusis, was performed at the Moscow Conservatory and the Russian-American Operatic Festival. He received a Fromm Commission for Aviv: Concerto for Piano and Chamber Orchestra, as well as commissions for piano works for Margaret Mills and Leonard Stein, and orchestral works for the Santa Barbara Youth Symphony. A professor of composition at UC Santa Barbara, Dr. Feigin studied with Nadia Boulanger at Fontainebleau and with Roger Sessions at The Juilliard School. David Grabarkewitz is an Emmy-winning director who has worked extensively with New York City Opera. He is currently General Director of El Paso Opera. Brent Wilson, chorus master and conductor at Opera Santa Barbara, is much in demand for guest appearances throughout the US and Europe.
Two Performances! Friday, January 30 at 7:30 pm AND Sunday, February 1 at 1:00 pm
Tickets for Twelfth Night are $20 ($5 for UCSB students) and are available for purchase online at www.music.ucsb.edu and at the door one hour prior to curtain.