“More Between Heaven and Earth”: With Music From the Time of Thomas Jefferson

05/01/2012

More Between Heaven and Earth: Soloists, Members of Clarion Society Orchestra, Salon/Sanctuary Concerts, Abigail Adams Smith Auditorium, New York City. 17.12.2012 (AS)

Performances of music from the Enlightenment — or public airings of the ideas of that era so central to our nation’s founding — are in scarce supply in contemporary America. Having both in one evening is fairly unheard of. That was a great part of the appeal of More Between Heaven and Earth (presented by Salon/Sanctuary Concerts), combining theater and opera, with a text culled directly from four decades of letters between Thomas Jefferson and the Italian/British composer Maria Cosway.

Staged at New York’s Abigail Adams Smith Auditorium, this “musical historical drama” starred Matthew Modine as Jefferson, Melissa Errico as Cosway and Kathleen Chalfant as narrator, and was expertly directed by Erica Gould. The director’s sister, Jessica Gould, Artistic Director and Founder of this series (sponsored by Gotham Early Music Scene) originated the idea, and wore additional hats as music researcher and translator, not to mention excellent soprano soloist.

The performance was – appropriately, given Jefferson’s thinking and writing on religion – a benefit for Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

The acting was superb, with Modine giving Jefferson a down-to-earth southern humanity and Errico infusing Cosway with a spark every bit the match for Jefferson’s towering intellect. Director Erica Gould managed to integrate selections from the actual Jefferson/Cosway letters into a seamless script that brought these historical figures to life.

The musical performances were first-rate. Jessica Gould researched repertoire referred to in the Jefferson/Cosway correspondence, which included music discussed by the two after having heard it, or in the case of Cosway’s songs, music that she wrote for Jefferson.

Tenor Karim Sulayman entranced the audience with his lyrical, focused and tender voice in arias and songs by Sacchini and James Hewitt. Soprano Jessica Gould was dazzling in two Sacchini arias, both perfectly suited to her expansive range, coloratura facility, and multi-hued, powerful sound.

The two singers had superb accompaniment by members of the Clarion Society Orchestra, who also shone in several instrumental pieces. Violinist Cynthia Roberts gave a beautifully mournful Corelli Adagio, and in this dramatic context, Avi Stein’s furious and powerful harpsichord solo, Duphly’s Medée, symbolized the onslaught of the French Revolution.

Cosway and Jefferson’s love story included an inevitable growing apart once they went to opposite sides of the Atlantic. But the pair and their many ideas were reunited and brought to life again in this lovely, stirring performance. Let’s hope this unique production will not remain a one-night only event.

Alexandra Simon

Comments

Comments are closed.

Recent Reviews

MW

Facebook-button-1

Season Previews

__________________________________
  • NEW! Geneva Grand Théâtre in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • UPDATED! 2019-20 at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden __________________________________
  • NEW! Bregenz Festival 17 July – 18 August 2019 __________________________________
  • NEW! Sergei Polunin and Friends at London Palladium 28 May – 1 June 2019 __________________________________
  • NEW! City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! 2019 Elgar Festival in Worcester from 30 May to 2 June __________________________________
  • NEW! Musikfest Berlin 2019 from 30 August to 19 September __________________________________
  • NEW! 2019 BBC Proms 19 July – 14 September __________________________________
  • NEW! Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Zurich Opera House in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! English National Opera in 2019-2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! Leeds Lieder Announces 2019 Art-Song Festival __________________________________
  • NEW! Adrian Partington Introduces the 2019 Three Choirs Festival in Conversation with John Quinn __________________________________
  • NEW! ENB in 2019-2020 and Updates on their New London City Island Home __________________________________
  • NEW! Classical Music and Other Events at the Southbank Centre in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Longborough Festival Opera’s 2019 Season __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Cleveland Orchestra in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Review Summary Newsletter

    Reviews by Reviewer

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • NEW! English National Ballet Announces Winners of Emerging Dancer 2019 __________________________________
  • NEW! CONDUCTOR THOMAS SANDERLING IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • NEW! YOUNG RUSSIAN PIANIST ALEXANDRA DOVGAN TALKS TO GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • NEW! Chelsea Opera Group Perform Anton Rubinstein’s The Demon on 30 June __________________________________
  • NEW! When Music is Indistinguishable from Drama by Jack Buckley __________________________________
  • NEW! In August Fulham Opera’s Most Ambitious Project to Date – Die Meistersinger Von Nürnberg __________________________________
  • R.I.P. IN MEMORIAM ANDRÉ PREVIN (1929-2019) __________________________________
  • NEW! CHRISTOPHE ROUSSET IN CONVERSATION WITH COLIN CLARKE __________________________________
  • CONDUCTOR ÁDÁM FISCHER IN CONVERSATION WITH MICHAEL COOKSON __________________________________
  • SOPRANO ELENA MOȘUC IN CONVERSATION WITH CASEY CREEL __________________________________
  • MAESTRO RICCARDO FRIZZA IN CONVERSATION WITH MARGARIDA MOTA-BULL __________________________________
  • A Q&A WITH GERMAN SOPRANO PETRA LANG __________________________________
  • HOW TO CONTACT SEEN AND HEARD INTERNATIONAL __________________________________
  • A Q&A WITH ITALIAN BARITONE FRANCO VASSALLO __________________________________
  • Search S&H

    Archives by Week

    Archives by Month