Recently hailed as a "major new Britten interpreter" by the The New York Times, tenor Nicholas Phan is joined by Palaver Strings and pianist Manuel Bagorro for our closing performance, which pairs DEBUSSY’s light-infused Suite bergamasque for solo piano with BRITTEN’s famous setting of Les Illuminations.
What connects these pieces is the story behind the two poets who inspired them. Suite bergamasque conjures mental images of Paul Verlaine’s Fêtes galantes collection; his poem Clair de lune, the inspiration for the third piece in the suite, speaks of "au calme clair de lune triste et beau" (the still moonlight sad and lovely), and describes masked party-goers who play the lute and dance in their fantastic costumes.
After reading poems submitted to him by a 17-year-old country boy prodigy, Verlaine invited the young Arthur Rimbaud to Paris, sparking a scandalous and tumultuous affair that took them all over Europe. Rimbaud wrote and published his revolutionary masterpiece, Les Illuminations a few years before Verlaine was imprisoned for shooting Rimbaud in the hand during a lover’s quarrel.
Closing a season filled with luminescence of many shades, Les Illuminations is directed by James Blaszko, one of a new generation of theater and opera directors who continues to evolve the craft alongside the ever-changing society it reflects.