Seasons in Hell
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Something original for fans of modern opera by composers like Berg or Henze.

This is a live recording of the world premiere of this opera which took place on February 1, 1996, in Corbett Theater, Cincinnati, Ohio. About himself, Harold Blumenfeld writes: "I was born in Seattle of musical parents, educated at Yale with Hindemith, in Zurich and at Tanglewood, where I trained with Leonard Bernstein and Boris Goldovsky. In the sixties, from my academic base at Washington University, I launched the Opera Theater of St. Louis, forerunner of the present company, focusing on early and contemporary works and training hundreds of young singers in the process. After a 1971 guest stint at Queens College, CUNY and a productive summer at Yaddo, I shifted gears from opera production to composition. There resulted a series of works based upon Rilke and Mandelstam, Blake, Sassoon, and Hart Crane, Verlaine and Baudelaire. Then with a shock, I discovered Arthur Rimbaud." Seasons in Hell is the result of this discovery. Charles Kondek wrote the libretto for the opera. In May 1997 he was awarded the Marc Blitzstein Memorial Award in Music Theater presented by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Blumenfeld says: "In writing our Seasons in Hell, Charles Kondek and I have ventured into largely uncharted territory - a probing of the psyche and inner drives of a genius, and an attempt to convey the full sweep and splendor of his creations. And what creationswhat genius! Arthur Rimbaud remains literature's most astounding, most perplexing prodigy. At 19, after the production of the bulk of his writing (almost entirely unrecognized in his time), he beats the Saison en enfer out of himself in an act of agonized catharsis, programming an imminent and total renunciation of literature. But his self-amputation of poetry is not quite yet to be completed: over the next two years he goes on to pen some of the most transcendent of his Illuminations. At about 22, after having wrought what later would be regarded as an upheaval and renewal of French letters, he renounces it all and embarks upon a life of action. Ultimately, he makes it to Ethiopia, where he trades in coffee and guns. At 36, his second amputation - of a cancerous leg - takes place. Within the year, he dies." Seasons in Hell is a powerful listening experience. It will be especially appreciated by people who enjoy contemporary opera. Full libretto and extensive notes are enclosed.
Harold Blumenfeld, composer
Seasons in Hell
College-Conservatory of Music Philarmonia, Gerhard Samuel, conductor, Rendall Gremillion, Philip Mark Horst, Elizabeth Saunders, Sara Lindell, Chad Smith, Mary Elizabeth Kures, Susana Diaz, James David Lynn, Robin Korsin, Alethea Kolgore, Dieter Cui, Barb

"Blumenfeld's music is expressionist, almost to pointillism - lean, spare recitative alternating with massive sonic outbursts. The Orchestra carefully supports, outlines, and punctuates the vocal line.Although the three Rimbaud voices are exploited to their extremes, the vocal line is so cleverly constructed that the English text is easily intelligible. A remarkable achievement.The opera is a powerful one - strongly dramatic, musically effective. This is an opera that deserves to be heard on CD and better still, staged by some of the more adventurous opera companies. Excellent notes and English libretto." (American Record Guide)
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