Anchorage Symphony Season Finale
Kelly Cae Hogan, soprano
Photo Courtesy of the Anchorage Symphony Orchestra
featuring Kelly Cae Hogan, soprano
and Ric Furman, tenor
Saturday, April 26, 2014 – 8pm
Anchorage, AK – April 8, 2014 – Richard Wagner is arguably the most controversial composer of the 19th century. What better way to end the Anchorage Symphony Orchestra season than with the music of this intense, passionate, captivating, genius. Standing at just 5 feet, 5 inches tall, Wagner’s ego and temper made him seem like a giant among men. In 1872 a Munich psychiatrist wrote that Wagner suffered from “chronic megalomania, paranoia…and moral derangement.” Reactions to this musical revolutionary are usually extreme, people tend to love him or hate him, but everyone acknowledges his musical genius. ASO Music Director, Randall Craig Fleischer writes, “Despite his character flaws, Wagner’s genius was supreme.”
Growing up in Dresden, Germany, Wagner was not known for being a great student, especially in his music classes. One music teacher wrote that young Wagner would “torture the piano in a most abominable fashion.” Having established a confidence unusual for one so young, this did not deter Wagner from his passion. By 11 he wrote his first drama and by 16 was composing music. While attending Leipzig University, Wagner found great inspiration in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 and by the age of twenty-two, he finished his first opera and began making notes for his autobiography. Convinced of his greatness, he continued composing and conducting, but was not the “toast of the town” that he thought he should be. Eventually he became involved with the Dresden revolutionary uprising of 1849, making him a wanted political criminal.
After fleeing to Switzerland, Wagner continued to compose, focusing on operas. His motto seemed to be “the bigger, the better”, producing the most grandiose productions that Western music has ever known. His monumental Ring cycle of four operas—Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung—remains the most ambitious and influential contribution by any composer to the opera literature. Tristan und Isolde is perhaps the most representative example of Wagner's musical style. Fleischer recalls, “I actually remember the first time I heard music from Tristan und Isolde. I was a student at Oberlin sitting in the listening library. My God - what music! So passionate, fiery and intense! I was utterly blown away. The story is a complex tale of lust, murder, loyalty and betrayal. You know, it’s an opera! The music is dark but intensely beautiful.”
In true Wagner style, Die Meistersinger is approximately 4 ½ hours long, one of the longest operas still commonly performed. The story of this lengthy opera revolves around Master Singers of the 19th century, making it the only Wagner opera that takes place in “the real world”, there is nothing mythical supernatural or magical. In contrast, his Flying Dutchman (performed in partnership between the ASO and Anchorage Opera in 2005), tells the story of a ghostly sea captain who is cursed to sail forever - only the love of a faithful woman can rescue him from this eternal fate. Wagner was inspired to write one of his most recognized operas after a particularly rough sail between Riga and London. He is quoted as saying, “The voyage through the Norwegian reefs made a wonderful impression on my imagination; the legend of the Flying Dutchman, which the sailors verified, took on a distinctive, strange colouring that only my sea adventures could have given it."
The complexity and intricacies of Wagner operas require specifically trained vocalists. Joining your ASO for this evening of Wagner are two of the nation’s top Wagnerian performers, Kelly Cae Hogan (soprano) and Ric Furman (tenor).
At the Metropolitan Opera Kelly Cae Hogan sang in the premiere of the Robert LePage production of Die Walküre conducted by James Levine, and returned in subsequent seasons for performances with Maestro Fabio Luisi. Other recent Met appearances include the acclaimed Patrice Chereau staging of Janáček’s From the House of the Dead conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen, as well as Gerhilde in the historic Otto Schenk Die Walküre conducted by James Levine, Lorin Maazel and Donald Runnicles. She looks forward to returning to the Met next fall for Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk by Shostakovich.
Having appeared regularly at the Metropolitan Opera as Gerhilde in Die Walküre, Ms. Hogan is now making her mark as Brünnhilde, singing her first with the Virginia Opera, and then having the opportunity to jump in, last-minute for Opera North in Leeds for the premiere performance and the LIVE BBC Radio broadcast.
A native of Iowa, Ms. Hogan was a winner of the American Opera Auditions and a New York winner of the MacAllister Awards. As a winner of the Liederkranz competition she sang a debut concert in Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center. She and her husband have homes in Lower Manhattan and South Carolina.
Tenor Ric Furman made his successful debut with Seattle Opera singing the role of Florestan in their Fall 2012 production of Fidelio, where he earned international acclaim “with a mellifluous tone ... he demonstrated a much more beguiling sense of dynamic shading, and he was thoroughly compelling in his evocation first of utter despair and eventually of exultant joy.” (Seen and Heard International). Mr. Furman was praised for his “big voice of beautiful timbre, he also had no difficulty with Florestan’s vocal part, and his acting was the more convincing” (The Sun Break). Subsequently he was asked back for Seattle's 2013 Ring Cycle where he sang the role of Froh and covered Siegmund, earning praise for his “sweet-toned” (Opera News) and “clarion-voiced Froh” (Pacific Aisle).
A proud alumnus of The University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and Western Illinois University Mr. Furman was honored by being accepted as a finalist for the International Wagner Competition to be held in Seattle on August 7th, 2014. Eight of the most promising and talented young Wagnerians from around the world will compete in concert under the baton of Maestro Sebastian Lang-Lessing.
Saturday, April 26, (8pm) in the Atwood Concert Hall, Alaska Center for the Performing Arts. Infrared headphones for the hearing impaired are available concert night from the House Manager on the Orchestra Level. Tickets (including all fees and surcharges): $25-$49/Adult; $11-$23/Youth; $22.75-$44/Senior. Military, student and group discounts available. To purchase tickets, visit the CenterTix Box Office at the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts or www.centertix.net or call 263-ARTS (2787), toll free at 1-877-ARTS- TIX.