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Scott Wheeler : Naga. Roth Costanzo, Piques Eddy, Salsbery Fry, Tappan, Worth, Kuan.
Format : 2 CD

Label : New World
Catalog No. : NW80814
EAN : 0093228081425
Price Code : DM035A

Publishing Year : 2021
Release Date : 01/03/2021

Genre : Classical
Scott Wheeler (1952-)
Naga, opéra en 2 actes

Anthony Roth Costanzo
David Salsbery Fry
Stacey Tappan
Matthew Worth
Sandra Piques Eddy
Boston Children's chorus
Michelle Adams, direction
White Snake Projects Chorus
Lidiya Yankovskaya, direction
White Snake Projects Orchestra
Carolyn Kuan, direction

Fairy tale opera has been a challenging genre for composers, with even some of the musically most successful examples, like Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel of 1893, more often presented for children than for adults. Scott Wheeler’s (b. 1952) Naga, working from a text that lies between fairy tale and mythology, stands much closer to Mozart’s marvelous exemplar, The Magic Flute, in its musical account of a restless man setting out on a spiritual quest in a world polarized between good and evil forces that are not easily distinguishable one from another. Set to a libretto by Singapore-born writer and impresario Cerise Lim Jacobs, the opera follows a Buddhist monk as he leaves his wife and sets off in search of spiritual enlightenment, under the tutelage of a stern Buddhist master and the surveillance of two fiercely passionate snakes, the “naga” of the title, designating Hindu and Buddhist serpentine deities. Given the religious content and fairy tale legendry of the libretto, it is striking that Wheeler’s Naga is neither ritually minimalist in its musical composition, nor carefully neo-classical, but a work of full-blooded passion, longing, and jealousy, gorgeously composed in the spirit of late Romantic opera. Mozart is clearly an important model for the fairy tale composition, but Wheeler, who was a student of Virgil Thomson, reflects some of the musical values of mid-twentieth-century composers like Barber, Britten, and Bernstein. In Naga, with its beautiful, disturbing, passionate pair of snakes, playing morally ambivalent roles, vocalized with the otherworldly timbres of a high coloratura soprano and a plaintive countertenor, Wheeler stakes out new operatic terrain, while also returning to the domain of fairy tale and legendry in opera and the precedent of The Magic Flute. Naga richly suggests some of the ways in which contemporary opera might engage not just with the intensity of human emotions but also with the complex relation between human beings and the natural world.

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