The Aspern Papers
Composer: Dominick Argento
Librettist: Dominick Argento
Other Artistic Personnel: Nicola Rescigno (Conductor)
John Conklin (Set Designer)
Richard Winkler (Lighting Designer)
Mark Lamos (Director)
Original Cast: Elisabeth Söderström (Juliana Bordereau)
Neil Rosenshein (Aspern)
Eric Halfvarson (Barelli)
Katherine Ciesinski (Sonia)
John Calvin West (A Painter/Pasquale)
Frederica von Stade (Tina)
Richard Stilwell (The Lodger)
Joan Gibbons (Olimpia)
Premiere Date: November 19, 1988
Producing Company: The Dallas Opera
Description: Juliana Bordereau, a former prima donna and mistress of the composer Aspern, is living with her spinster niece, Tina, in a secluded villa on the edge of Lake Como. A stranger appears, requesting that the two women rent him a room at the villa. The lodger is a scholar and biographer of the composer Aspern, and he believes that Juliana may have in her possession the score of an operatic masterpiece, believed lost, that Aspern wrote for her shortly before his death sixty years earlier. The action alternates between two time periods: The summer of 1895, when the lodger is attempting to discover whether a score of Aspern's opera Medea exists, and the summer of 1835, where we see the young Juliana and Aspern, learn about a relationship between Aspern and a young soprano, Sonia, and find out about the fate of the opera Medea. Juliana dies, and Tina suggests that the stranger may have the score to the opera if he will consent to marry her. He rejects her offer and plans to leave the next day. In the morning, he tells Tina that he has changed his mind and must have the score. She tells him that it is too late, and he departs. Later, alone in her music room, Tina drops the score of the opera-page by page-into a blazing fire.
Character List (Major): Juliana Bordereau(s)
The Lodger(bar)
Reviews: The New Yorker, Andrew Porter, 12-26-88; Opera News, James Helme Sutcliffe, 11-88; Newsweek, Katrine Ames, 11-28-88; The Wall Street Journal, Willard Spiegelman, 11-22-88; Los Angeles Times, William Albright, 11-21-88 The New York Times, Bernard Holland, 11-21-88; The Dallas Morning News, John Ardoin, 11-20-88; The Dallas Morning News, Maryln Schwartz, 11-20-88; The Dallas Morning News, John Ardoin, 11-19-88.
Length: 01:56
Total Acts: 2
Chorus: Off-Stage SATB Chorus
Orchestration: 2 fl(picc), 2 ob(Eng Hrn), 2 cl(bcl), 2 bsn(dbn) - 3 hrn, 2 tpt, 2 tbn, 1 tba - timp, 2 perc(SD, BD, tamb, tgl, bell tree, crot, glsp, chimes, large bell, steel plate(or anvil), cyms, susp cym, tam-t, wind chime(bamboo), maracas) - pf(=cel) - hp - str
Musical Style: Rich harmonic palette: neo-romantic with some dodecaphony and bel canto influences. Strong tonal centers.
Contact: Boosey & Hawkes, Inc.
E-mail Address:
Phone: 212-358-5300
Publisher Web Site:
Schedule of Performances Listings
The Aspern Papers (Argento)
Friday, February 11, 1994 - Illinois Opera Theater
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