New York Opera Fest 2017: Victor Herbert’s ‘Natoma’ Re-Emerges From Obscurity

By David Salazar

Victor Herbert is best known for his operettas and his powerful impact on the musical theater scene.

But he also wrote an opera that unfortunately never managed to get its rightful place in the repertory. “Natoma” is largely forgotten due to major feuds between Oscar Hammerstein I and the Metropolitan Opera Company.

Now New York audiences will get a chance to learn more about the work on June 6, 2017, as the Victor Herbert Renaissance Project LIVE will showcase a lecture series regarding that dark episode in the composer’s life. The event, entitled “The Politics of American Grand Opera: Hammerstein I, the Met, Natoma, and Victor Herbert,” will take place at the National Opera Center’s Marc A. Scorca Hall at 330 7th Ave, New York, NY.

The presentation will also feature performances from the opera with soprano Sarah Caldwell Smith, soprano Vira Slywotzky, tenor Daniel Greenwood, pianist William Hicks, and artistic director Alyce Mott.

Mott, of course, has been a major champion of Herbert’s music and helped revive “Natoma” in 2014.

“We did it exactly the way he wrote it,” she stated in an interview with OperaWire. “We realized that we had just heard a miracle. I had people come up to me from Rodgers and Hammerstein and several other sources tell me that it was the most important moment of their musical lives.”

The Victor Herbert Renaissance Project LIVE is dedicated to putting on performances of the composer’s operettas. The company recently premiered its own orchestration for a production of “Eileen.”