CONTACT: PETER ALEXANDER
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0072; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: Jan. 14, 2000
Soprano Rachel Joselson to perform Beethoven, Wagner Jan. 25
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Rachel Joselson, who had a significant European operatic
career before joining the faculty of the University of Iowa School of Music,
will combine operatic and song repertoire for a recital program that she will
present at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 25 in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus
Joselson, a soprano, will perform with the pianist Matt Castle, who is coach-accompanist
for the UI Opera Theater. Their performance will be free and open to the public.
From her operatic repertoire, Joselson will perform Leonore's recitative
and aria from Act I of Beethoven's "Fidelio" and Ariadne's Monologue
from Richard Strauss' "Ariadne auf Naxos." From the traditional
song repertoire she will sing six songs by the late-19th-century Viennese
composer Hugo Wolf. And spanning the two categories, she will sing Richard
Wagner's "Fuenf Gedichte von Mathilde Wesendonck" (Five poems by
Mathilde Wesendonck), for woman's voice and piano.
Often performed in a setting for voice and orchestra, Wagner's "Wesendonck
Lieder" (Wesendonck songs) occupy a famous place in operatic history.
Written while the composer was in the middle of his monumental "Ring"
cycle of four musical dramas, they are mostly closely connected with another
of Wagner's works, "Tristan und Isolde."
In the 1850s, Wagner moved into a cottage on the property of the wealthy
Swiss businessman Otto Wesendonck. Wagner may or may not have had an affair
with Otto's wife, Mathilde, depending upon which scholar you want to believe,
but the two certainly had an intense and romantic relationship that became
the inspiration for Wagner's interest in the story of Tristan and Isolde.
Wagner began work on Act I of "Tristan und Isolde" in 1856, and
some time later Mathilde gave him the set of poems she had written in imitation
of Wagner's "Tristan" libretto. Wagner later set the poems as songs,
in a musical style very much like that of "Tristan." In fact, two
of the songs are considered preliminary studies for portions of "Tristan."
In this way, the songs occupy a middle ground between Wagner's powerful operas
and the more intimate style of German song.
In program notes she has written for the recital, Joselson notes that the
piano version of the songs provides singers an opportunity for singing Wagner,
but without the difficulties of the composer's notoriously demanding operatic
"These songs are colorfully rich and expressive, but texturally contrasting
with the majority of Wagner's works, as they are written for voice and piano
rather than orchestral accompaniment," she wrote. "Therefore, a
less sustained and powerful vocal production is demanded, a factor that I
find delightful and refreshing as compared to the customary amount of vocal
power and volume required for performing Wagner's operatic works."
"Fidelio," Beethoven's only opera, is an opera about love, loyalty,
courage in the face of personal and political oppression, and heroism. Leonore,
the leading female role, has disguised herself as a man under the name Fidelio
in order to rescue her husband, Florestan, who has been unjustly imprisoned
in a dungeon.
In Act I of the opera, Leonore has learned that the overseer of the prison,
Don Pizarro, has planned to murder her husband in order to hide his own crimes
and corruption. In her recitative and aria, which Joselson will sing to open
the recital, Leonore/Fidelio proclaims her determination to save her husband,
and calls on the strength of married love to give her hope and illumination.
Before joining the School of Music faculty in the fall of 1997, Joselson
spent 11 years in Europe engaged at opera theaters in Darmstadt, Hamburg,
Essen and Basel. As guest she performed as soloist with opera companies and
orchestras in Aachen, Barcelona, Berlin, Bilbao, Bonn, Braunschweig, Atlanta,
Indianapolis, Madison, Essen, Brussels, Kiel, Gelsenkirchen, St. Gallen, Trier,
and New Brunswick. For the 1995-96 season, she had her first engagement at
the Metropolitan Opera, and was engaged by London's Covent Garden for their
1992 Japan tour.
She has performed many of the major soprano roles in the repertoire, including
Leonore in Beethoven's "Fidelio," in her most recent debut at the
1999 Gars, Austria, Summer Festival; Mimi in Puccini's "La Boheme,"
Micaela in Bizet's "Carmen," Melisande in Debussy's "Pelleas
et Melisande," Donna Elvira in Mozart's "Don Giovanni" and
Eva in Wagner's "Meistersingers of Nuremberg." She was featured
in the 1998 recording of Gian Carlo Menotti's "Help! Help! The Globolinks!"
An accomplished singer, writer and teacher, Castle is serving as visiting
coach-accompanist for the UI Opera Theater. His singing roles in opera and
musical comedy have included Henrik Egerman in "A Little Night Music,"
Nemorino in "The Elixir Of Love," Edvard Grieg in "Song Of
Norway," Archibald Craven in "The Secret Garden," Marco Palmieri
in "The Gondoliers" and Rooster in "Annie," as well as
dozens of cabaret and dinner theater appearances.
As an accompanist, Castle has played in hundreds of recitals and theatrical
productions. He also has extensive experience as a musical director, with
credits in professional, university, community and school theaters. His compositions
represent many genres, ranging from chamber music to musical theater and opera.
He holds a bachelor's degree from the University of the Pacific in Stockton,
Calif., and a master's degree from Northern Illinois University.
For information on UI arts events, visit http://www.uiowa.edu/~uiowacr
on the World Wide Web. You may visit the UI School of Music web site at http://www.uiowa.edu/~music/.