To enrich its immersion in the music of Belle Époque France, Bard SummerScape 2012 presents the first staged revival in the United States of The King in Spite of Himself (Le roi malgré lui) by Emmanuel Chabrier in its original 1887 version. The production, starring the "lyrical, expressive baritone" (New York Times) Liam Bonner, will receive a contemporary treatment from director Thaddeus Strassberger, whose previous SummerScape opera treatments rank among Bard's undisputed success stories; as Opera News recently observed, "Few young stage directors in opera have demonstrated an intellectual drive to match Thaddeus Strassberger's." The opera's five performances (July 27 & 29; Aug 1, 3, & 5) feature the festival's resident American Symphony Orchestra with music director Leon Botstein, whose 2005 concert performance of the opéra-comique was "vibrant and assured" (New York Times). Botstein also leads an all-too-rare concert performance of Saint-Saëns's grand opera Henry VIII on Sunday, August 19, drawing the 23rd annual Bard Music Festival's exploration of "Saint-Saëns and His World" -- and the entire seven weeks of Bard SummerScape -- to a thrilling close.
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