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Bard Music Festival

Program Eleven • Vaughan Williams and Shakespeare: Sir John in Love

August 13, 2023

Add to Calendar2023-08-13 3:00 pm2023-08-13 3:00 pmEDTProgram Eleven • Vaughan Williams and Shakespeare: Sir John in LoveFisher Center, Sosnoff Theater,
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Program Eleven presents Vaughan Williams’ opera, Sir John in Love, in a semi-staged production by American director Alison Moritz, whose projects have been called “raw, funny, surreal, and disarmingly human” (Opera News). Anchored by the American Symphony Orchestra, it is with this rare American presentation of Vaughan Williams’s opera that the 2023 Bard Music Festival draws to a satisfying close.

Marking the 400th anniversary of the First Folio, the first published collection of Shakespeare’s plays. Vaughan Williams was a great lover of the poet’s work, and it was reportedly “entirely for his own enjoyment” that he based a comic opera on The Merry Wives of Windsor. Shakespeare’s comedy was also the inspiration for Verdi’s Falstaff, but unlike the Italian composer, Vaughan Williams had the advantage of writing in English, and his plot and libretto adhere closely to Shakespeare’s original. Despite this, the resulting opera has only rarely been staged, with no UK performances between 1958 and 2005, and no U.S. premiere until 2015. Such neglect reflects no artistic deficiencies, however. Boasting a score rich with folksongs and Elizabethan melodies, including “Lovely Joan” and “Greensleeves,” Sir John in Love features some of Vaughan Williams’s finest writing. As BBC Music observes:

“The score reveals the composer as a master of comic opera, deftly intercutting Shakespeare’s intricate word-play with the chromatically searching manner of works from the 1920s like the Pastoral Symphony or Flos Campi. Everything is drawn together in scintillating style, and the best moments … are from an exceptional vintage in Vaughan Williams’s creativity.”


2 pm preconcert talk: Tiffany Stern
3 pm performance

Bard Festival Chorale, James Bagwell, choral director
American Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Leon Botstein, music director
Alison Moritz, director
Lawrence E. Moten III, production designer
Abigail Hoke-Brady, lighting designer
Neil Fortin, costume designer

Sir John in Love (1928)
(based on Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor)

In order of vocal appearance
William Ferguson, tenor, as Robert Shallow
Theo Hoffman, baritone, as Sir Hugh Evans
Martin Luther Clark, tenor, as Master Slender
Maximillian Jansen VAP ’21, tenor, as Peter Simple
Troy Cook, baritone, as Page
Craig Colclough, bass-baritone, as Sir John Falstaff
Julius Ahn, tenor, as Bardolph
Tyler Duncan, baritone, as Corporal Nym
Kevin Thompson, bass, as Pistol
Brandie Sutton, soprano, as Anne Page
Ann Toomey, soprano, as Mrs. Page
Sarah Saturnino, mezzo-soprano, as Mrs. Ford
Joshua Blue, tenor, as Fenton
John Brancy, baritone, as Dr. Caius
Justin Hopkins, bass-baritone, as Rugby
Lucy Schaufer, mezzo-soprano, as Mrs. Quickly
Lucia Lucas, baritone, as Host of the Garter Inn
William Socolof, bass-baritone, as Ford


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