Odyssey Opera Caps Off ‘Wilde Opera Nights’ Honoring Famed Author

By Katharine Baran

The Odyssey Opera started its series of Oscar Wilde operas this past season in March, with Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s “The Importance of Being Earnest,” and with another performance, Zemlinsky’s “Der Zwerg” in April. The company is currently continuing its program with a final performance of Arthur Sullivan and W.S. Gilbert’s “Patience, Or Bunthorn’s Bride.”

Odyssey Opera’s Artistic Administrator Linda Osborn noted that the event came about from making an unexpected discovery.

“We discovered Mario Castelnuovo’s setting of ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ a couple of years ago and wanted to stage this delightful chamber opera in Boston.  But bringing this particular work to the stage proved challenging because while it had been performed twice many years ago, it was never been published,” Osborn told OperaWire.

And that, of course, brought about a series of other obstacles that the organizations had to overcome.

“So in the time it took to secure permission from his family to perform the opera and then get the manuscript from the Library of Congress and produce a workable score, we had time to think about the season in which it would be produced,” continued Osborn, “It seemed obvious to program a series of operas based on Oscar Wilde’s works, which range from horror to tragic to humorous – it was the perfect base for a season.  And we found there is no shortage of composers who have been inspired to set his stories to music.”

Being internationally known for his works, taking on Wilde’s ideas and works seemed to excite Osborn.

“Of course it is incredible to experience the range of compositional styles – from Lowell Liebermann’s ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ to Alexander Zemlinsky’s ‘Der Zwerg (The Dwarf).’   And also to host the wonderful artists who have brought to life the vivid characters from Wilde’s stories with great conviction.”

The final piece, which will be conducted by, Gil Rose, will take place in Boston University’s Theatre on June 2 and 3 at 7:30 p.m.

“We close our season with Gilbert and Sullivan’s ‘Patience,’ an opera which celebrates the world of the Aesthetes made famous by Oscar Wilde.  In fact, it was Oscar Wilde, a friend of W.S. Gilbert’s, who promoted Patience during its first United States tour in 1882.  We are thrilled to have some of Boston’s favorite singers on stage for our final production – including Aaron Engebreth, James Maddalena, and Janna Baty,” ended Osborn.