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Concert group presents Wagner

SANTA FE, N.M. — The Santa Fe Concert Association celebrates the 200th anniversary of the birth of composer Richard Wagner by performing selections from Wagner’s operas during its gala opening concert Sunday at the Lensic Performing Arts Center.

“This is the first time in the Santa Fe Concert Association’s history that we’re performing Wagner,” artistic director Joseph Illick said. “Wagner is rarely heard in Santa Fe, primarily because most of his operas are so much longer than the length of a normal opera. Presenting excerpts from Wagner’s operas is a great way for audience members to hear his works without having to make a five-hour commitment.”

The orchestra and singers will perform two operatic overtures and two duets from Wagner’s operatic repertoire Sunday.

Soprano Heidi Melton and tenor Brandon Jovanovich sing “Das susse Lied verhallt” from “Lohengrin” (Act III) and “Die Walkure” (Act I, conclusion), accompanied by a 80-piece orchestra composed of members of the Santa Fe Opera Orchestra and New Mexico musicians.

“We’re so excited to have Heidi and Brandon with us for the concert,” said Illick. “They’re both known for their performances of Wagner’s music. And they love performing together.”

Melton, who performs frequently in Berlin, has also sung at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. She has appeared in “Die Walkure” with the San Francisco Opera and Deutsche Oper Berlin. Melton has won awards from the George London Foundation and the Richard Tucker Music Foundation and been a semi-finalist at the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.

The winner of the 2007 Richard Tucker Music Foundation award, Jovanovich has sung with Melton at the San Francisco Opera. Among his career highlights are assuming the roles of Don Jose in “Carmen” with Deutsche Oper Berlin and Cavaradossi in “Tosca” with Oper Koln, the Seattle Opera and l’Opéra National de Bordeaux.

“Singing Wagner requires a big voice, and these two singers have strong, powerful voices,” said Illick. “In Wagner’s operas, the orchestra is very important and seems like a character in the opera. The instrumentalists tell the listeners what’s emotionally going on in every scene with the singers. Wagner rethought everything about opera, from the roles of the singers and the orchestra to the lighting. His influence on other composers has been huge.”

Since Melton and Jovanovich are singing entirely in German, the Santa Fe Concert Association will project English translations of the texts on a screen above the stage. Although the singers will not appear in costumes, they will act out their scenes.

The overture to “The Flying Dutchman” will open the first half of the program, while the overture to “Tannhauser” will open the second half.