We have received news of the publication of the first recording of Michael Dellaira’s opera The Death Of Webern, which I had the honor of premiering in New York City in October of 2014 with The Pocket Opera Players. The Death of Webern was directed by Thomas Desi and produced by John Eaton, who also presented his opera Re-Routed. As a project for the Pocket Opera Players, it included not only fully developed vocal roles, but dramatic participation by the instrumentalists.
Michael Dellaira has compiled on his website a few of the positive commentaries that the opera elicited after its premiere, and it is wonderful to read them again as this recording becomes available. The Death of Webern has a taut and focused approach through succinct vignettes that make it an excellent choice for both professional chamber opera companies and university programs, without sacrificing the pathos embedded in its story. The libretto by J.D. McClatchy dramatizes the quest of musicologist Hans Moldenhauer to gather the facts and understand the context of the tragic accidental death of the great composer at the end of the second World War. It is in many ways the story of Moldenhauer as much as Webern, and a humanizing homage to scholars who have the passion to pursue the truth because of their love for art and beauty.
The recording documents the critically-praised live performance by the soloists and chamber orchestra of the Frost School of Music, conducted by Alan Johnson. Tenor Tony Boutté reprises the role of the composer, and baritone Kevin Short sings the part of Moldenhauer. The CD is available from Albany Records.