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Photo Journal: John Adams's A Flowering Tree Premieres at New Crowned Hope Festival in Vienna

By Matthew Westphal
15 Nov 2006

Scenes from the John Adams/Peter Sellars opera A Flowering Tree at the New Crowned Hope festival in Vienna.
photo by Ruth Walz

A Flowering Tree, the fourth opera co-created by composer John Adams and director Peter Sellars, received its first performance last night in Vienna.

The world premiere run of the work, with three more performances through Sunday (November 19), is a centerpiece of New Crowned Hope, a festival curated by Peter Sellars, at the invitation of the Vienna city government, to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Mozart's birth.

The opera, with a libretto adapted by Adams and Sellars from an ancient South Indian tale, tells of a young girl who tries to help her poor family by turning herself into a tree whose flowers can be made into garlands and sold. And naturally, there's a young prince involved ...

As with all Adams's previous stage works, Sellars is directing the original staging of A Flowering Tree. The vocal soloists are Jessica Rivera, Eric Owens and Russell Thomas; the cast also includes Indonesian dancers Rusini Sidi, Eko Supriyanto, Astri Kusama Wardani. In the pit, the composer himself conducts the Joven Camerata de Venezuela, one of the flagship youth ensembles of Venezuela's renowned music education program; the chorus is the Schola Cantorum de Caracas, which has received worldwide acclaim for its performances of Osvaldo Golijov's Pasión Según San Marcos.

A Flowering Tree is a joint commission of New Crowned Hope, the Barbican Centre (London), Lincoln Center (New York), the San Francisco Symphony and the Berlin Philharmonic. With concert orchestras among the commissioners, the work is intended to be performable as either a fully staged opera or as an oratorio.

The next scheduled performances of A Flowering Tree are December 21 and 22 in Berlin, with Simon Rattle conducting the Berlin Philharmonic. Adams will conduct the work in a semi-staged version with the San Francisco Symphony March 1-3, 2007, and the conductor and Caracas forces will travel to London for a full staging at the Barbican Centre on August 10 and 12, 2007. An Amsterdam concert performance, with Adams conducting the Radio Philharmonic Orchestra of Holland, is scheduled for May 24, 2008; the work's New York premiere is tentatively planned for Lincoln Center in 2009.


Scenes from the John Adams/Peter Sellars opera A Flowering Tree at the New Crowned Hope festival in Vienna.
photo by Ruth Walz




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