Sirota Opera and Organ Works Introduced In New York
Less than two weeks after organist Victoria Sirota gave the world premiere of Robert Sirota's Holy Ghosts at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Symphony Space presented the New York premiere of that composer's 30-minute chamber opera, The Clever Mistress.
Sirota's organ work was commissioned by the Museum's Department of Musical Instruments for inclusion in a program celebrating the 30th anniversary of the installation of the 1830 Thomas Appleton Organ. It consists of three movements, "Helmsley," "Semley," and "From Greenland's Icy Mountains," each based on hymn tunes that were considered "icons of 19th century piety."
The libretto for The Clever Mistress, based on a story from The Decameron by Boccaccio, was fashioned by the composer himself. Its small cast and compact instrumental ensemble (flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, trombone, percussion, violin, viola, and cello) seem to make it an eminently practical and utterly charming vehicle for imaginative opera workshops. Like so many of the Boccaccio tales, it is discreetly naughty and frequently witty, about a 14th-century Florentine young noblewoman, married to a very aged merchant, who sees her youth slipping away and longs for a passionate affair. By way of her feminine wiles and the unwitting help of a stupid monk, she finds that love's labors aren't lost. Sirota's skilled setting lets the text be understood throughout, to the amusement of the full-house audience.
Video and/or examination score available to opera groups from Music Associates of America.