Ethel Smyth’s “The Wreckers”: Love, Lies, and Religion

7:30 pm • Friday, July 24th 2015
2:00 pm • Sunday, July 26th 2015
2:00 pm • Wednesday, July 29th 2015
7:30 pm • Friday, July 31st 2015
2:00 pm • Sunday, Aug 2nd 2015
The Fisher Center at Bard College • Annandale-on-Hudson, NY

Fantastic story, romantic interest, rousing choruses, sex, lies, betrayal, murder, and religion

In its SummerScape 2015 programming, Bard presents The Wreckers by Dame Ethel Smyth. Considered to be this English composer’s masterpiece, it is a compelling piece of theatre with all the makings of exciting and grand opera at its best.

The Wreckers is based in historical fact: in small, desperately poor villages on Britain’s Cornish coast, bands of villagers formed secret cadres that at critical moments would extinguish the beacons established on the coast to guide ships, thus forcing them onto the rocks and then plundering the cargo and murdering the crews.

The story Ethel Smyth chose to set presents a tale that is actually quite relevant as we witness various events and history unfold throughout the world and here at home. It concerns an isolated community in Cornwall that possesses a religiously based, fanatical self-regard that leads it to justify theft and murder as God-given rights and virtues. Led by the community’s own pastor who invokes Christianity, violence becomes the instrument of realizing God’s will.

The opera depicts the consequences of mass hysteria and populist justice, framed by a powerful display of orchestral writing, memorable motivic recurrence, and a brilliant use of chorus. Bard’s production—the first in the United States—is directed by Thaddeus Strassberger and will be sung in English with surtitles. Performed with the American Symphony Orchestra conducted by music director Leon Botstein, the cast includes:

      • Pascoe — Louis Otey
      • Thirza — Katharine Goeldner
      • Mark — Neal Cooper
      • Avis — Sky Ingram
      • Tallan — Dennis Petersen
      • Lawrence — Michael Mayes
      • Jack — Kendra Broom
      • Harvey — Peter Van Derick

Take note. there is an Opera Talk on Sunday, July 26th at noon before the afternoon performance. If you can’t make it Sunday, take in the two videos from the folks at The Fisher Center (click here for Leon Botstein’s program notes). They are quite interesting. And here’s hoping you get to go and enjoy in person!

Upcoming Events

  • Glimmerglass Festival: “The Magic Flute”
  • Alice Busch Opera Theater, Springfield Center, NY
    Tuesday, July 28th 2015 at 1:30 pm

  • Bang on a Can: David Lang’s “darker” with Suzanne Bocanegra’s Projections
  • MASS MoCA, North Adams, MA
    Tuesday, July 28th 2015 at 4:30 pm

  • Bard SummerScape: Ethel Smyth’s “The Wreckers”
  • Fisher Center, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY 12504
    Wednesday, July 29th 2015 at 2:00 pm

  • Bang on a Can Plays Jim Shaw: Toy Piano Extravaganza
  • MASS MoCA, North Adams, MA
    Wednesday, July 29th 2015 at 4:30 pm

  • Seagle Music Colony: “Into the Woods”
  • Oscar Seagle Memorial Theatre, Schroon Lake, NY
    Wednesday, July 29th 2015 at 8:00 pm

  • Bang on a Can Plays Clifford Ross (2): Intimate Works of Alvin Lucier
  • MASS MoCA, North Adams, MA
    Thursday, July 30th 2015 at 4:30 pm

  • Cooperstown Summer Music Festival: Bradley Brookshire, harpsichord | The Goldberg Variations
  • Hyde Hall, Cooperstown, NY
    Thursday, July 30th 2015 at 7:30 pm

  • Glimmerglass Festival: “Candide”
  • Alice Busch Opera Theater, Springfield Center, NY
    Thursday, July 30th 2015 at 7:30 pm

  • Bang on a Can Plays Sol LeWitt and Sayler/Morris: Alivn Lucier | “I am Sitting in a room”
  • MASS MoCA, North Adams, MA
    Thursday, July 30th 2015 at 8:00 pm

  • Seagle Music Colony: “Into the Woods”
  • Oscar Seagle Memorial Theatre, Schroon Lake, NY
    Thursday, July 30th 2015 at 8:00 pm

  • WMHT “No Ticket Required”: Windham Festival Chamber Orchestra performs Bartók
  • WMHT-FM (Radio Broadcasts), Troy (NY)
    Friday, July 31st 2015 at 1:00 pm

  • Seagle Music Colony: “Into the Woods”
  • Oscar Seagle Memorial Theatre, Schroon Lake, NY
    Friday, July 31st 2015 at 2:00 pm

  • Bang on a Can Plays Clifford Ross (3): Cellist Ashley Bathgate | Kate Moore’s “Stories for Ocean Shells”
  • MASS MoCA, North Adams, MA
    Friday, July 31st 2015 at 4:30 pm

  • Bard SummerScape: Ethel Smyth’s “The Wreckers”
  • Fisher Center, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY 12504
    Friday, July 31st 2015 at 7:30 pm

  • Glimmerglass Festival: “Macbeth”
  • Alice Busch Opera Theater, Springfield Center, NY
    Friday, July 31st 2015 at 7:30 pm