T E S T I M O N I A L S A N D R E V I E W S
FANTASTIC morning at Richmond CenterStage, as we premiered Virginia Opera's The Princess and the Pea, as part of our Wells Fargo OnStage Family Series. Bravo to it's composer, Glenn Winters! It was incredibly entertaining! On to the tour!
Director of Education, Richmond CenterStage, Richmond, VA
I just wanted to send a note to say what a truly charming and wonderful little opera (Princess and the Pea) is. When I worked thru it with the singers and Cody the other day, we all had such a great time. Congratulations!
--Shelby Rhoades, Principal Coach/Emerging Artist Director, Virginia Opera
"Tales from the Brothers Grimm is so completely charming, as well as musically interesting and challenging for audiences and performers alike. We are loving it and so are the crowds."
Executive Director, Cimarron Opera, Norman OK
"Great job with (Tales From the Brothers Grimm)! What a wonderful way to introduce students to opera.
Elementary School Teacher, Norfolk Public Schools
Review of Katie Luther published in "Artsong Update" (www.artsongupdate.org) on November 29, 2014:
Katie Luther, A New Opera by Glenn Winters
Sung by Soprano Elizabeth Medeiros Hogue with Pianist Ruth Winters
Reformation Lutheran Church, Newport News, October 26, 2014
Review by John Campbell
Glenn Winters’ opera Katie Luther was premiered in Baltimore on October 27, 2013 by Elizabeth Hogue and has been performed since in Albuquerque and St. Louis. In this monodrama the known facts are enhanced by a plausible scenario written by Winters based on common human emotions expressed through the voice accompanied by piano.
Martin Luther(1485-1546) was born in Eisleben, Germany. He entered the University of Erfurt where he completed his BA in 1502 and a MA in 1505. He studied to be a lawyer but was drawn to the study of the scriptures and spent three years in the Augustinian monastery there. In 1507 he was ordained as a Catholic priest and went to the University of Wittenberg where he lectured on philosophy and scriptures becoming a powerful and influential preacher.
Katie was born Katherine von Bora (1499-1552). She was a German Catholic nun. From age six she lived in the Cistercian Convent of Nimptshen, near Grimma. Having adopted Lutherine doctrines she ran away from the convent in 1523, and married Martin Luther in 1525.
Written in three scenes, the opera is a little less than an hour long. Soprano Elizabeth Medeiros Hogue is an emotionally expressive and powerful singer; she was accompanied by the accomplished collaborative pianist Ruth Winters. Ms. Hogue, in a black lace floor-length gown with a black shawl and a prominent cross necklace, sings of her anguish because she cannot pray. She tells us of her planned escape from the convent. Her thoughts turn to Martin Luther, who has arranged an escape at the nuns’ request. (In fact, twelve nuns were smuggled out in herring barrels.) Setting aside her fear she affirms her faith in God. The piano reflects clearly the unsettled emotions and their triumphant resolution.
The second scene is built around the translated text and re-imagined melodies of A Mighty Fortress is Our God woven into a story of her longing for love in a marriage where she fears she is only a helpmate. Here the dramatist departs from the facts, giving us a ditsy housewife complaining about her absent-minded professor husband with the contemporary clichéd jokes that elicited a laugh, perhaps thought necessary for a general church audience.
It was a jarring contrast for the woman in the first scene with her deep sense of vocation and great admiration for the man who is now her renowned scholarly husband. As a point of fact, it seems that Luther’s aversion to marriage was his fear of leaving behind a widow because “…I daily expect the death of a heretic.” They married on June 13, 1525 and their first child, Hans, was born a year later when Katie was 27 and Luther was 42 years old. In a letter two months after they married, he wrote: “My Katie is in all things so obliging and pleasing to me that I would not exchange my poverty for the riches of Croesus.”
The music of the second scene was lovely and Ms. Hogue’s singing of the hymn texts was superb as the separate verses were woven into the story. She was overjoyed to find Luther’s letter to a male friend proclaiming his love for her, leading into the triumphal final verse with renewed vigor and power.
As scene two ended, Ms. Hogue sat down in a chair several feet from the podium with her back to the audience. After a pause she rose, transformed by posture and expression into an old woman in pain. Seven years a widow, she has been mortally injured in a carriage accident while fleeing the black plague rampant in the city. In anguish, she prays to be reunited with Martin, humbly accepting God’s presence with arms outstretched. She sings of fighting to keep her children and reads a letter to the King of Denmark, asking him to continue the allowance he gave Luther. She had continued farming as she had during Luther’s life, but she complained that both crops and animals had failed. Luther's hymn From the Depths of Woe I Cry for You, on a text by Elizabette Terga, was delivered in near delirium. Her life was complete.
The large audience responded most enthusiastically. In his extensive introductory remarks Glenn Winters announced that Katie Luther is being considered for the 2017 Wittenberg Festival in Germany.
"Glenn Winters brought Katie Luther to life in a moving, musically pleasing, contemporary way! While it is historically accurate, Katie jumps off the pages to come across as a warm intelligent human being, who might very well be the woman next-door as well as the woman 500 years ago.It has been my distinct pleasure to sing this creative,beautiful work of art. I truly believe it will last through the ages."
Founder of everydayopera.com/everyday-women.com
"(History Alive" was a) great use of music to teach historical facts!"
Third grade teacher, Pearson's Corner Elementary School, Mechanicsville VA
"(Pinocchio's Sister) was educational for students and staff! It was informative, interesting and fun. Thank you for the program - we all enjoyed it and we all learned something new today.
First grade teacher, Rockhill Elementary School, Stafford Co. VA