Cape Community Orchestra, under the direction of John P. Hagon, presents its fall concerts on Friday, November 17, at 7:30 PM at the Brewster Baptist Church, 1848 Main St. (Route 6A) and Sunday, November 19, at 3 PM at the Yarmouth Senior Center, 528 Forest Road in South Yarmouth.
The program includes a variety of classical and popular music, including Georges Bizet’s “Carmen: First Suite,” the fourth movement of “Serenade for Strings” by Peter Ilvyich Tchaikovsky, two jazz standards by Duke Ellington, Pavane by Gabriel Faure and Pavanne by Morton Gould, highlights from “Wicked” by Stephen Schwartz, and more.
“Carmen” tells of the downfall of Don Jose, a soldier who is seduced by the fiery gypsy Carmen. He abandons his sweetheart and deserts the military for her, but loses Carmen to Escamillo, a glamorous matador. In a jealous rage, he stabs her to death at a bullfight as the crowd cheers for Escamillo.
“Carmen” shocked its audiences with its earthy realism when it opened in 1875. Bizet died suddenly at the age of 36 after the 33rd performance. He was devastated by the negative response to the opera, and convinced he had written a hopeless flop.
Tchaikovsky, however, predicted that “Carmen” would become the most popular opera in the world. Today, “Carmen” is indeed one of the best-love and most frequently performed classical operas. Bizet’s music has been acclaimed for its brilliance of melody, harmony, atmosphere, and orchestration, and the skill with which Bizet represented the emotions and suffering of his characters.
After Bizet’s death, his friend Ernest Guirand assembled Bizet’s original opera orchestration into two suites. The “Carmen First Suite” was performed for the first time seven years after Bizet’s death. Five years later the “Carmen Second Suite” made its debut.
Tchaikovsky considered his “Serenade for Strings” to be one of his finest works. It was, he said, “a piece from the heart.” The Fourth Movement, “Tema Rusa,” includes two Russian folk tunes.
The exotic sound of Duke Ellington’s “Caravan” is attributed to trombonist Juan Tizol, who co-wrote the tune with Ellington in 1936. “Sophisticated Lady” (1932) was inspired by three of Ellington’s grade school teachers. “They taught all winter and toured Europe in the summer. To me that spelled sophistication,” he said.
“Highlights from Wicked” is a medley from the 2003 hit with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz. The show’s opening number, “No One Mourns the Wicked,” is sung as the residents of Oz cheer the death of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West. Glinda (Galinda), the Good Witch, arrives and reveals that she and Elphaba were once best friends and tells the story of their relationship.
In “The Wizard and I,” Elphaba, somewhat of an outcast because of her green skin, dreams about meeting the Wizard of Oz. In “Dancing through Life,” Galinda reflects on the joys of dancing over schoolwork. Galinda and Elphaba become friends and Galinda vows to help Elphaba become “Popular.” After meeting the Wizard, Elphaba realizes he is a charlatan with no magical powers. She uses her own powers to make a broom fly in the show-stopping number, “Defying Gravity.”
Admission is by free-will donation. A non-profit organization, Cape Community Orchestra Inc. is supported by private contributions and grants from local and regional institutions including the Cape Cod Melody Tent.
For more information, visit the orchestra’s website at ccorchestra.weebly.com/.