About Laura Stanfield Prichard

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So far Laura Stanfield Prichard has created 8 blog entries.

A Deep Dive into Poul Ruders’ THE HANDMAID’S TALE: Part II

By |2019-03-30T11:39:12-03:30March 30th, 2019|

THE COMPOSER p12-15_Poul RudersDanish composer Poul Ruders was mainly known as a concerto specialist before he convinced Margaret Atwood to allow The Handmaid’s Tale to be adapted into an operatic libretto in the mid-1990s. In the 1980s, Oliver Knussen brought Ruders’ name to prominence by conducting and recording his works with the London Sinfonietta and for the BBC. Ruders’ interest in and frequent visits to the U.S. have inspired some of his most successful concert music: Manhattan Abstraction (1982) depicts the New York skyline as seen from Liberty Island in icy January; he set the entire text of Edgar Allen Poe’s The Bells for American soprano Lucy Shelton in 1993; and his Serenade on the Shores of the Cosmic Ocean (2004) was inspired by the writings of Carl Sagan. As he read Atwood’s novel, Ruders heard “long, sustained towering chords, slowly becoming louder and louder,” and the more he read, the more convinced he became that it should be an opera. He contacted a skeptical Atwood: “To me it’s so well suited, because of the inherent drama. It’s packed with human emotions....

A Deep Dive into Poul Ruders’ THE HANDMAID’S TALE: Part I

By |2019-03-29T15:59:54-03:30March 29th, 2019|

Musicologist and writer Laura Stanfield Prichard takes a deep dive into The Handmaid's Tale by Poul Ruders in this two-part series! BLO’s Spring Season pairs two modern English-language operas shaped by women’s voices. The first, Benjamin Britten’s chamber opera The Rape of Lucretia (1946), deals with the corruption of innocence and the outsider in society, themes that also dominated Britten’s 1945 triumph, Peter Grimes. BLO’s second offering is Poul Ruders’ The Handmaid’s Tale (2000), based on the iconic dystopian novel by Margaret Atwood. p12-15_Margaret_Atwood_2015Groundbreaking Canadian author Margaret Atwood was born in Ottawa in 1939, just 18 months before Britten began working on Grimes. She writes, “Having come to consciousness during World War II, I knew that established orders could vanish overnight. It can’t happen here could not be depended on: anything could happen anywhere, given the circumstances.” Her controversial, speculative novel The Handmaid’s Tale was begun in 1984, while she was living in wall-encircled West Berlin. She heard daily sonic booms from the East German air force, sensed “the feeling of being spied on,” and was haunted by the many repurposed buildings (“This used to belong to... but then they disappeared.”).

Benjamin Britten in Rome: The Rape of Lucretia

By |2019-03-10T14:27:50-03:30March 10th, 2019|

The virtuous victim. The doomed hero. The social outcast. These tragic figures preoccupied composer Benjamin Britten (1913–1976), inspiring him to become the first modern British composer to achieve international success in opera, chief creator of the Aldeburgh Festival (1948), and founder of the English Opera Group. The Rape of Lucretia, begun during the last years of World War II, marks a decisive break with the grand opera tradition. An amalgam of frenzied emotional power and expressive richness, it is the most transparent and tension-filled of Britten’s mid-century works, combining his beautiful melodic writing with dramatic pungency and colorful tone painting. Lucretia’s unstable mix of pagan brutality, sexual politics, and passionate Christian moralizing, shows Britten struggling to find meaning in the post-war world.

Vocal Acrobatics & Musical Wit: A History of The Barber of Seville

By |2018-10-09T19:23:46-03:30October 5th, 2018|

Lighter and more quirky than Mozart’s masterpiece, The Barber of Seville—Rossini’s classic opera buffa—revolves around stock characters taken from commedia dell’arte, which developed from comic entertainments by medieval musicians (minstrels, troubadours, trouvères, and minnesingers). In 16th-century Italy, these groups evolved into more elaborate traveling companies, presenting commedia dell’arte plays with distinctive masks or hats and stock characters such as wily servants (Arlecchino/Harlequin), old men (Il Dottore and Pantalone), and young lovers (Lindoro and Rosina).

Finding Meaning in Melodrama: TOSCA

By |2017-10-05T13:24:49-03:30October 5th, 2017|

Composer Giacomo Puccini based his Tosca on the 1889 play La Tosca by Victorien Sardou. He had seen a performance of it while working on Manon Lescaut (even Verdi was interested in it!), and was taken with the thriller. He began work in earnest in 1896, after asking his publisher Giulio Ricordi to wrangle the rights for Sardou’s play from Alberto Franchetti, another composer who worked with librettist Luigi Illica...

Greek Tidbits and Inside Info

By |2016-11-20T12:47:23-03:30November 19th, 2016|

After Mark-Anthony Turnage studied at Tanglewood Music Center with Hans Werner Henze in 1983, Henze arranged a commission from him for the Munich Biennale, and thus Greek premiered in 1988. The “then unknown, twenty-five-year-old English composer” had “never written a piece longer than fifteen minutes,” but...