March 18, 20, and 22, 2015
at the Sheen Center Blackbox
Music by György Kurtág (b. 1926) and text by Franz Kafka (1883-1924)
Kurtág’s magnum opus Kafka-Fragments (1985-7) captures forty fleeting moments. Two travelers - Annie Rosen, mezzo soprano, and Jacob Ashworth, violin - are intertwined in a kaleidoscopic dream. In brief bursts of meaning, we witness a montage of human experience: memories, joys, woes, and exclamations illuminate the void and disappear like shooting stars. Kurtág chose these forty fragments largely from Kafka's letters to Milena Jesenska and from the so-called Blue Octavo Notebooks. They range from ironic observations to philosophical musings, to fantastical visions.
Ethan Heard (Direction), Reid Thompson (Set), Beth Goldenberg (Costumes), Oliver Wason (Lighting), Nicholas Hussong (Projections), Sonja Thorson (Stage Management)
Mezzo-soprano Annie Rosen's performances have been acclaimed as “fearless,” “intensely present,” and “soul-crushingly vulnerable.” In the 2018-19 season she sings her first Suzuki/Madama Butterfly with Central City Opera, debuts as Adalgisa/Norma at Utah Opera, and performs the lead role of Brother/The Scarlet Ibis with Chicago Opera Theater. She also collaborates with the Lyric Opera of Kansas City to stage Sarah Kirkland Snider's one-woman song cycle Penelope. Future seasons include debuts with the Metropolitan Opera, Calgary Opera, and a return to the Lyric Opera of Chicago, where she apprenticed for two seasons. A fierce advocate of new music, Rosen has co-created and premiered vocal-theatrical pieces with ONE Festival Omaha, Heartbeat Opera, and White Snake Projects, among others. Her recording of Susie in Bernstein's A Quiet Place is available on Decca. In her spare time, she records vocals for video game music.
Jacob Ashworth is the “impressive Artistic Director” (New York Times) of Heartbeat's sister company, the baroque and modern “crack ensemble” (New Yorker) Cantata Profana, which he founded in 2012 at the Yale School of Music. He has also been Co-Music Director of Heartbeat Opera since the beginning. As a violinist and conductor, Jacob has gained a reputation from early baroque to contemporary music as a consummate stylist and ingenious curator of music, receiving the CMA/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming in 2016 for his work with Cantata Profana. His performances have been called “exacting and sensitive” (Boston Globe), “richly detailed” (New York Times), and “a flat-out triumph” (Opera News). With Heartbeat, he has made a specialty of leading operas from the violin, "doing powerful work from the music stand" (Opernwelt). Jacob earned his doctorate from Yale under renowned violinist Ani Kavafian, and studied baroque violin with Robert Mealy as a member of the Yale Baroque Ensemble. Jacob has performed extensively on period instruments, including as concertmaster for Nicholas McGegan with Mark Morris Dance Group, and with Trinity Baroque Orchestra, Staunton Music Festival, Juilliard 415, Helicon Ensemble, and New York Baroque Incorporated. His album, “Hermestänze,” appears on MSR Records, and features cycles for solo violin by composer Susan Kander, played “expressively and knowingly throughout” (Gramophone).
Photos by Christopher Ash & Jill Steinberg