Release (2003/04/06)

Sunday, April 6, 2003 at 3pm
Carnegie Hall

Samuel Barber’s “Antony and Cleopatra”

Steven Sloane, conductorAntony and Cleopatra image
New York Concert Singers, Judith Clurman, music director
Carol Vaness, Cleopatra; Louis Otey, Antony
Neil Rosenshein, Caesar; Arthur Woodley, Enobarbus

with: Elizabeth Batton; Matthew Burns; Peter Couchman; Jonathan Goodman; Andrew Martens; Richard Lippold; Douglas Purcell; Mark Rehnstrom;Margaret Thompson; James Archie Worley

SAMUEL BARBER: Antony and Cleopatra, Op. 40

Tickets are $15, $34, & $45. Call CarnegieCharge: 212-247-7800

Pre-concert discussion, moderated by ACO Artistic Director Robert Beaser, is free to all ticket holders and begins at 1:45 pm.

ACO Presents Carnegie Hall Premiere of Samuel Barber’s “Antony and Cleopatra”
in Concert, April 6

Carol Vaness is Cleopatra; Louis Otey sings Antony First performance in New York in over 25 years

American Composers Orchestra brings Barber’s Antony and Cleopatra to Carnegie Hall for the first time on Sunday, April 6, 2003, at 3 pm. The performance will be conducted by ACO Music Director Steven Sloane, and features Carol Vaness as Cleopatra, Louis Otey as Antony, Neil Rosenshein as Caesar, Arthur Woodley as Enobarbus, and the New York Concert Singers, Judith Clurman, music director.

Antony and Cleopatra is both one of the most overlooked masterpieces of American opera and one of the most sensational flops of the 20th Century. It was Barber’s final work for the stage, occupying-some would say preoccupying-the composer during the last productive decade of his life. The work was commissioned for the grand opening of the new Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center in 1966 with Leontyne Price and Justino Diaz in the title roles. Despite some of the composer’s most stunning and heart-felt music, the premier production was widely viewed as a failure-mostly due to an overly elaborate production by Franco Zeffirelli, who sought to utilize every aspect of technical wizardry available in the new opera house.

Following the premiere, Barber virtually hid from public view, spending the next five years ensconced in the Italian Alps. In a stunning development, Francis Goelet, who underwrote the original commission (and whose Estate has provided lead funding for ACO’s performance) asked Barber to re-work the musical material, giving Antony and Cleopatra the distinction of being possibly the only work to have been commissioned twice!

In 1974, Barber revised the opera with the assistance of Gian Carlo Menotti. This version was performed in a student production at The Juilliard School in 1975, with additional performances at the Spoleto Festival in 1983 and Chicago Lyric Opera in 1991. The opera has not been heard in New York City in nearly 30 years.

“We felt it was high-time for a re-appraisal of this gorgeous work,” says ACO artistic director Robert Beaser. “Barber was one of the truly exceptional and truly American composers of the late 20th-century. The history of Antony and Cleopatra is one of unfortunate luck, as a flawed production in its theatrical premiere, coming at a time when American music was moving away from the romantic lyricism that was Barber’s great strength,” Beaser adds.

About the Artists

A major stage personality noted for his incisive and provocative interpretations, baritone Louis Otey has performed with leading theaters throughout the world. Notable roles he has performed include the title role in Don Giovanni with Houston Grand Opera, Escamillo in Carmen at Opera Theatre of St. Louis, and Eisenstein in Die Fledermaus with the Lyric Opera of Chicago [find out more…]

American soprano Carol Vaness’s illustrious career has encompassed regular appearances at all the world’s major opera houses, collaborations with today’s foremost conductors in operatic and symphonic repertoire, a distinguished catalogue of recordings, and frequent television broadcasts in Europe and North America. [find out more…]

Founded in 1988 by music director and conductor Judith Clurman, the New York Concert Singers is an innovative professional ensemble that performs as a chamber chorus, full chorus, a cappella group, or quartet. [find out more…]

About Steven Sloane, Music Director
Steven Sloane is one of the most adventurous and innovative conductors to have emerged in recent years. Through his work with orchestras, festivals, choruses, and opera companies across Europe and in America, Mr. Sloane has won acclaim for his compelling programming, theatrical flair, and impressive technique. His passion for unusual repertoire, interest in eclectic juxtapositions of music of divergent eras and styles, commitment to contemporary works, and willingness to challenge convention, have established Mr. Sloane as a bold champion of the future of concert music. [find out more…]

About ACO
Founded in 1977, American Composers Orchestra is the only orchestra in the world dedicated to the creation, performance, preservation, and promulgation of music by American composers. Through its concerts at Carnegie Hall, recordings, radio broadcasts, educational programs, Whitaker New Music Readings, and commissions, ACO identifies today’s brightest emerging composers, champions prominent established composers as well as those lesser-known, and increases regional, national, and international awareness of the infinite variety of American orchestral music, reflecting geographic, stylistic, and temporal diversity. [find out more…]

Tickets & Information:

Barber’s “Antony and Cleopatra” will be performed on Sunday, April 6, 2003 at 3pm in Carnegie Hall. Tickets are $15, $34, and $45 and may be purchased through CarnegieCharge at 212-247-7800, by visiting Carnegie Hall’s website at, or at the Carnegie Hall box office on 57th Street at 7th Ave. The concert is preceded by a discussion, free to ticket-holders, at 1:45pm.
Major support of American Composers Orchestra is from Alliance Capital Management L.P., Amphion Foundation, ASCAP, Mary Duke Biddle Foundation, Bodman Foundation, Booth Ferris Foundation, BMI Foundation, Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, Citigroup Foundation, Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, Edward T. Cone Foundation, The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Eleanor Naylor Dana Charitable Trust, Jean and Louis Dreyfus Foundation, Fidelity Foundation, The Estate of Francis Goelet, Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, The Greenwall Foundation, Henfield Foundation, Geoffrey Hughes Foundation, Christian Humann Foundation, Jephson Educational Trust, The Jerome Foundation, Josephine Bay Paul and C. Michael Paul Foundation, Koussevitzky Foundation, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, JPMorganChase, National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, Fan Fox & Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, The New York Times Co. Foundation, the Virgil Thomson Foundation, Oakleigh L. Thorne Foundation, and The Helen F. Whitaker Fund. ACO programs are also made possible with public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.