‘Love’s Comedy’ Opera Featured in Mason Festival of the Arts

Posted: June 11, 2008 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

Festival of the arts logo

The College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA) announces the Mason Festival Opera’s world premiere concert reading of “Love’s Comedy” on Saturday, June 21, at 8 p.m. at Mason’s Center for the Arts Concert Hall.

Composer Kim D. Sherman wrote the music for “Love’s Comedy” and Center for the Arts Artistic Director Rick Davis wrote the libretto. The opera is based on Leon Katz’s adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s play.

The Mason Festival Opera’s performance takes place during the second weekend of the inaugural Mason Festival of the Arts, held on Mason’s Fairfax Campus June 12-29.

This two-act opera (written in English) receives its first complete performance in a unique concert-style presentation, featuring professional, student and community opera singers. Ibsen’s exploration of the gap between romantic ideals and the facts of love and marriage in the real world is complemented by soaring melodies, witty choruses and a timeless story.

“Love’s Comedy” is the story of a young woman, Svanhild, who like many of Henrik Ibsen’s later female protagonists, is a fiercely independent spirit trapped in a world that refuses to recognize her possibilities.

In the dashing, romantic figure of the poet Falk, she believes she has found her soul mate, and he his muse. They reject the polite society that surrounds them, Falk declares conventional love and marriage to be bankrupt, and it seems that the young rebels are on their way to a blazing future.

However, true to Ibsen’s nuanced view of human nature, the story takes a turn when an older businessman, Guldstad, introduces a different view of marriage and offers himself to Svanhild, creating for her a difficult decision that is the climax of the plot.

In 1983, Leon Katz adapted and directed the play, written by Ibsen in 1862, for the American Ibsen Theater in Pittsburgh. Later, with Rick Davis and Kim D. Sherman, he began the initial conception of turning the play into an opera.

Davis and Sherman have worked on excerpts of the piece at Lake George Opera Festival in upstate New York, Opera Idaho in Boise, and two years ago at Mason as part of the Vision Series of distinguished faculty lectures. The Mason Festival of the Arts has commissioned Sherman to complete the score specifically for this concert’s premiere performance.

The cast features outstanding singers from New York and Washington, D.C., including Abigail Shue as Svanhild, David Schmidt as Falk, James Schaffran as Guldstad, Linda Maguire as Mrs. Halm and Grace Gori as Miss Skjaere.

Philip Bender, Jesse Neace, Matthew Smith, and Emily Castle Dunn round out the principal cast, supported by a chorus that includes members of the Fairfax Choral Society, the George Mason Symphonic Chorus and other ensembles. Stan Engebretson is the conductor, and Rick Davis is the stage director for this concert-style staged reading.

“Love’s Comedy” is presented with the support of Harris N. Miller and Deborah A. Kahn, and Wendy Maiwurm. Squire, Sanders & Dempsey LLP is the Festival Principal Sponsor and Boeing Corporation is the Festival Theater Sponsor.

Tickets are $30 and $20. Charge by phone at 888-945-2468 or visit tickets.com. Festival discount packages are available at the Concert Hall box office at 703-993-2787.

Write to at