Toccata Classics has just released a new CD recording of Peggy Glanville-Hicks’ opera Sappho (TOCC 0154-55).
According to the CD release notes,
Sappho, the last grand opera of Australian composer Peggy Glanville-Hicks (1912–90), was written in her stone cottage on Mykonos in 1963. Never heard before this recording, Sappho reflects Glanville-Hicks’ fascination with the orient and folk music, encapturing the colours of ancient Greece, with a heroic brass fanfare and epic writing for chorus, haunting woodwind solos and shimmering percussion evoking the stillness of crystal island waters. Deborah Polaski, who creates the role of the disenchanted Sappho, describes it as ‘the kind of music that singers want to sing’. The libretto, based on Lawrence Durrell’s verse-play, incorporates fragments of Sappho’s own verse.
The cast of Sappho includes:
Deborah Polaski, soprano: Sappho
Martin Homrich, tenor: Phaon
Scott MacAllister, tenor: Pittakos
Roman Trekel, baritone: Diomedes
Wolfgang Koch, bass-baritone: Minos
Sir John Tomlinson, bass: Kreon
Jacquelyn Wagner, soprano: Chloe/Priestess
Bettina Jensen, soprano: Joy
Maria Markina, mezzo soprano: Doris
Laurence Meikle, baritone Alexandrian
Coro Gulbenkian, choir
Orquestra Gulbenkian, orchestra
Jennifer Condon, conductor
Liner notes for the Toccata CD of Sappho — including full cast photos and Durrell’s libretto — can also be found online.
For who can measure peace of mind,
or halve the world of pleasure
for all the water living in the clock.
— from Sappho: Opera in Three Acts (Lawrence Durrell: librettist; Peggy Glanville-Hicks: composer).
In related news, ABC Classic FM has announced that its Sunday Opera program will mark the CD release with a special broadcast of Sappho in its entirety:
‘Sappho’ by Peggy Glanville-Hicks
Jennifer Condon conducts the first complete recording with Deborah Polaski in the tile role.
Broadcast 7:00pm, Sun 04 Nov 2012
Presented by Simon Healy
Peggy Glanville-Hicks [set] Sappho – Opera in three acts to a libretto taken from Lawrence Durrell’s play in verse with additions from Bliss Carman’s ‘Sappho – One Hundred Lyrics’ (1963)
As part of ABC Classic FM’s Australian Music Month and coinciding with this year’s 100th anniversaries of the births of both composer and librettist, tonight’s opera is a world premiere broadcast. Originally commissioned by San Francisco Opera as a vehicle for Maria Callas, Sappho had never received a complete performance until the Australian-born conductor Jennifer Condon’s decade-long dream was fulfilled earlier this year in Lisbon.
Listeners can access the 4 November 2012 program online via the ABC Sunday Opera website.
Durrell 2012 heartily congratulates Jennifer Condon, Owls Nest Opera, and Toccata Classics on the release of the new Sappho CD!