Coming up in Philly music: Strong story, great music
by Tom Purdom Broad Street Review
Ilya Repin's 1899 watercolor of Eugene Onegin and Vladimir Lensky's duel. (Image via Wikimedia Commons.)
Many popular operas tell stories that seem unbelievable or absurd. Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin is one of the great exceptions. It combines a believable, meaningful story by a great Russian writer, Alexander Pushkin, with music by a great composer. This week, the Russian Opera Workshop will present three concert-style performances of Eugene Onegin at the Academy of Vocal Arts theater on Spruce Street.
The story, complete with a duel and love turning the tables, follows a St. Petersburg man who inherits a country estate and captures the heart of a girl in the village — but she does not stay poor and obscure.
The Russian Opera Workshop is an intensive professional development program conducted by Ghenady Meirson, who teaches opera students at Curtis and AVA. Rising young vocalists come to Philadelphia to study the Russian opera repertory with a renowned expert. It’s primarily an educational program, but its free concerts have become one of the entertainment bargains of the Philadelphia summer. The Russian Opera Workshop will present Eugene Onegin on July 31 and August 2 and 3 at 7:30pm at the Helen Corning Warden Theater at the Academy of the Vocal Arts (1920 Spruce Street). Admission is free, but the theater is small and intimate, so it’s recommended you come early.
Coming up in Philly music: Prince Igor vs. the Polovetsians
by Tom Purdom Broad Street Review
The real-life exploits of Igor Svyatoslavich (1151–c. 1201) inspired a major opera. (Image via Wikimedia Commons.)
Ghenady Meirson’s Russian Opera Workshop is a classic Philadelphia combo, blending big-time art with Center City’s small-scale neighborhood ambiance. The public performances are free, relatively informal events, but the performers are all rising young vocalists who come from all over the world to study the Russian opera repertoire with an internally renowned expert. The participants workshop two operas and perform them concert-style, with Meirson accompanying them on the piano. They may be working on a bare stage (score in hand) when they present the operas, but they’re working very hard, and the performances include little touches that let you know the event has been organized by experienced pros.
The first opera this year, Prince Igor, would make a good Hollywood historical epic. The heroic Russian prince takes on the invading Polovetsians in a plot that includes imprisonment, escape, chivalrous warriors, young love, and marital fidelity.
Before these performances run for three nights starting on June 27, things kick off on June 26 with a program devoted to Russian “romances” (the term Russians use for their contributions to the art-song repertoire). Russian songs tend to be about things most modern Americans can relate to, and the Russian language is just as melodious as Italian but darker and more sensuous. The Russian Opera Workshop will present An Evening of Russian Romances on Tuesday, June 26, at 7:30pm and Prince Igor on June 27, 28, and 29, at 7:30pm. All performances are at the Helen Corning Warden Theater (the Academy of Vocal Arts, 1920 Spruce Street). Admission is free, but the theater is small and intimate, so it’s recommended you come early.
Coming up in Philly music: The water nymph’s revenge
by Tom Purdom Broad Street Review
Soprano Brianna Meese as Rusalka. (Photo by Leonard Meirson for
Russian Opera Workshop.)
Czech composer Antonín Dvořák and the Russian composer Alexander Dargomyzhsky both wrote versions of Rusalka that have become cornerstones of their countries' national opera repertoires. The next Russian Opera Workshop performances offer Philadelphians a chance to hear the older, lesser-known Russian version in a concert-style performance. Dargomyzhsky based his opera on a play by Pushkin and the result has been highly praised for its lyrical music and psychological insight. In the Russian version, a peasant girl drowns herself when she is betrayed by a prince. She becomes a water nymph — a rusalka — and her new incarnation seeks revenge.
The Russian Opera Workshop is an annual summer event directed by Ghenady Mierson, an opera coach with an international reputation who teaches at Curtis and the Academy of Vocal Arts. Rising young vocalists from all over the world spend part of their summer studying the Russian opera repertoire. Local audiences can hear free performances of unfamiliar repertoire and check out some of the newer voices on the international opera circuit.
The Russian Opera Workshop will present Rusalka on August 1, 2, and 3 at 7:30pm at the Helen Corning Warden Theater at the Academy of Vocal Arts, 1920 Spruce Street, Philadelphia. Admission is free but the theater is small and intimate, so it’s recommended you come early.
Coming up in Philly music: Cards, guns, and love, opera-style
by Tom Purdom Broad Street Review
Gambling! Murder! Love beyond measure! 'Queen of Spades' sings it all.
The Russian Opera Workshop is a prime example of the high-level quality and summertime casualness that characterize Philadelphia’s summer music season. Its free events feel pleasantly informal, but the workshop is a major learning experience for rising young vocalists from all over the world. Its director, Ghenady Mierson, is an opera coach with an international reputation who teaches at Curtis and the Academy of Vocal Arts. The participants tackle their concert-style workshop performances with the same seriousness they would bestow on a full-dress performance at the Met. Read more ...
Brown and Drutman in performance, photo by Rachel Meirson - Russian Opera Workshop
A wealth of Russian vocal music has been unexplored in western Europe and America. One Philadelphia organization is making an effort to right that wrong.. Read more ...
Coming up in Philly music: Summertime is Russian opera time by Tom Purdom Broad Street Review
Ghenady Meirson’s Russian Opera Workshop has become one of the treasures of the Philadelphia summer season. Promising young vocalists from all over the world come to Philadelphia to study a beautiful, underperformed repertoire. The public performances are all free, the atmosphere is pleasantly informal, and Meirson manages the concert-style staging with a sure professional touch. The first opera on the agenda this year is Rachmaninoff’s Aleko — the story of a man who abandons “civilized society” for the freedom of the gypsy life. Come early and get a good seat.
The Russian Opera Workshop will present Aleko on June 28, 29, and 30 at 7:30pm at the Academy of Vocal Arts, 1920 Spruce Street. The event is free and unticketed.
Russian Opera Workshop 2016 Presents Free Performances of Rachmaninoff's Aleko and Tchaikovsky's Mazepa
Soprano Angela Meade, mezzo-soprano Florence Quivar, and artist manager Sandra Hormozi join Russian Opera Workshop to offer young artists master classes on standard operatic repertoire
PHILADELPHIA, PA (May 31, 2016) -- In its sixth summer season, Russian Opera Workshop presents rarely performed Aleko by Rachmaninoff (June 28, 29 & 30) and Mazepa by Tchaikovsky (August 2, 3 & 4), as well as concerts of Russian Romances (June 27 & August 1).
All events are free to the public. Tickets are not required. Read more ...
Russian Opera Workshop present Rubinstein’s ‘The Demon’
Portrait of Anton Rubinstein by Ilya Repin.
The Demon comes to Philadelphia Tom Purdom June 30, 2015 in Music & Opera
Don’t be embarrassed if you’ve never heard of Anton Rubinstein. The director of the Russian Opera Workshop, Ghenady Meirson, says none of his students had ever heard of Rubinstein either.
To begin with, he isn’t Arthur Rubinstein, the famous 20th-century Polish pianist; he’s a 19th-century Russian pianist and composer who founded the St. Petersburg Conservatory and taught both Tchaikovsky and the third director of the Curtis Institute of Music, Josef Hofmann. When he toured the United States during the 1872-3 season, Rubinstein presented over 200 concerts. Read more ...
Russian Opera Workshop presents Philadelphia Premiere of The Demon by Anton Rubinstein, and Tchaikovsky's Iolanta in Free Public Concerts
PHILADELPHIA, June-July 2015 | In it's fifth summer season, Russian Opera Workshop presents concert opera productions of Anton Rubinstein's The Demon, a Philadelphia premiere (June 23, 24 & 25) and Tchaikovsky's last opera Iolanta (July 28, 29 & 30)
All performances are free to the public and begin at 7:30 PM at the Helen Corning Warden Theater at the Academy of Vocal Arts, 1920 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, USA. All artists are also presented in Russian Romances concerts on June 22 and July 27 ...Read more
Workshopping Saint Joan
Tchaikovsky’s “Maid of Orleans” at the Academy of Vocal Arts (July 01, 2014)
Tom Purdom Broad Street Review
Some of the most enjoyable musical events I’ve attended presented serious major works in informal situations. Chamber music and art songs are natural candidates for that kind of approach, but a relaxed atmosphere can exercise its charms on large-scale works, too.
Ghenady Meirson’s Russian Opera Workshop offers local audiences a chance to hear promising young voices singing major works in an informal setting, with no admission charge. Read more
ROW Premieres Tchaikovsky Rarity
by Lew Whittington Huffington Post
Pianist and repertoire specialist Ghenady Meirson has been the go to-master for two decades in Philadelphia for authentic Russian operatic repertoire. His Russian Romances concerts at the Academy of Vocal Arts, where he is on the faculty, has an avid following. In recent years he has also established Russian Opera Workshop (ROW) for professional and aspiring opera singers that culminates in performances at the AVA. Read more
Rachmaninoff’s ‘Aleko’ by Russian Opera Workshop
by Steve Cohen Broad Street Review No major American company in this country has ever produced Rachmaninoff’s unfortunately neglected Aleko. Ghenady Meirson’s Russian Opera Workshop offered a taste of what we’ve missed.
Russian Opera Workshop Programs Begin With RUSSIAN ROMANCES by Marakay Rogers BroadwayWorld
Ghenady Meirson's annual Russian Opera Workshop was held this year at Academy of Vocal Arts near Rittenhouse Square, from June 3 through June 27. The first public performance, on July 24, was RUSSIAN ROMANCES, a collection of Russian song, mostly by Rachmaninov, performed by the students of the Workshop. Meirson is perhaps better known in the area as a gifted pianist and as a member of the vocal faculties at both Curtis and Academy of Vocal Arts, but he is also perhaps the preeminent expositor of the Russian vocal repertoire in America, and he does that through the annual Russian Opera Workshop programs. Read full review
From Russia with Love by Olivia Giovetti Classical Singer Magazine