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Rare New American Production of Anton Rubinstein’s Demon Opens at Bard SummerScape Next Friday (July 27); Plus Rimsky-Korsakov’s Operas Mozart and Salieri (Aug 18) and The Tsar’s Bride (Aug 19) in Bard Music Festival

Anton Rubinstein’s Demon opens next Friday (July 27) at Bard SummerScape, in a new production by Thaddeus Strassberger, director of such previous SummerScape opera success stories as Der ferne Klang, Les Huguenots, and Oresteia.

Top Photo: Nadezhda Babintseva, Efim Zavalny, and Olga Tolkmit in Demon at Bard SummerScape (photo: Maria Baranova)

Anchored by the American Symphony Orchestra under music director and festival co-artistic director Leon Botstein, the new staging represents an all-too-rare opportunity to see one of 19th-century Russia’s most popular operas in the West. Demon runs for five performances between July 27 and August 5, with an Opera Talk, free and open to the public, before the matinee on July 29. SummerScape 2018 also offers the chance to see Rimsky-Korsakov’s seldom-staged operas Mozart and Salieri (Aug 18) and The Tsar’s Bride (Aug 19) at the 29th annual Bard Music Festival. Featuring the Bard Festival Chorale under the direction of James Bagwell, all three presentations take place on Bard’s glorious Hudson Valley campus in the striking Frank Gehry-designed Fisher Center. As the New York Times notes, “Bard has become a haven for important operas.”

Anton Rubinstein’s Demon (1871)
Best-known as a keyboard virtuoso and star teacher whose students included Tchaikovsky, Anton Rubinstein was also a prolific composer. Demon, the most popular of his 20 operas, depicts a fallen angel, or demon, who falls desperately in love with a mortal princess named Tamara, and tries everything in his power to seduce her. Tamara’s struggle to resist him becomes a battle not only for her soul but for the fate of the earth itself. When at last she weakens, the price of her redemption is death, and the demon finds himself condemned to eternal solitude. On the few occasions the opera has been heard in the West, Demon has received a warm welcome; a 2009 London presentation prompted The Independent to declare: “You can see why it did, and still does, carry the wow factor in Russia.”

 Demon stars Efim Zavalny and Ola Tolkmit (photo: Maria Baranova)

Conceived expressly for SummerScape 2018, Bard’s new production is by renowned American director Thaddeus Strassberger, whose previous SummerScape successes include Oresteia, by Rubinstein’s contemporary Sergei Taneyev; the latter opera’s first full staging outside Russia, this was nominated for a 2014 International Opera Award. Making his U.S. debut in Demon’s title role is baritone Efim Zavalny, first prize-winner at the International Shtokolov Vocalists’ Competition. Singing opposite him as Tamara is soprano Olga Tolkmit, a nominee for Russia’s prestigious Golden Mask Award, in her third major role at Bard. Belarusian bass Andrey Valentii, who has appeared at Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre and Milan’s La Scala, sings Tamara’s father, Prince Gudal. Her Nanny is portrayed by mezzo-soprano Ekaterina Egorova, a frequent leading lady at St. Petersburg’s Mikhailovsky Opera, and her fiancé, Prince Sinodal, by tenor Alexander Nesterenko, a regular headliner at Moscow’s Stanislavsky Opera. Bard’s all-Russian cast is completed by bass-baritone Yakov Strizhak as Sinodal’s Old Servant, mezzo-soprano Nadezhda Babintseva as the Angel, and tenor Pavel Sulyandziga as the Messenger. Demon’s sets are designed by 2017 Helen Hayes Award-nominee Paul Tate dePoo III, with video projections by Greg Emetaz, lighting by Oresteia’s JAX Messenger, and costumes by Obie Award-winner Kaye Voyce.

High resolution images for Bard’s production of Demon are available here.

Rimsky-Korsakov’s Mozart and Salieri (1897), Bard Music Festival Program 8
No 19th-century composer contributed more substantially to Russia’s opera repertoire than Rimsky-Korsakov, subject of this season’s Bard Music Festival, “Rimsky-Korsakov and His World.” Based on the same Pushkin verse drama that inspired Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus, his one-act opera Mozart and Salieri covers the same territory, animating the rumor that Salieri, official composer of Vienna’s Hapsburg court, so envied Mozart’s genius that he was driven to poison him. Although the opera is rarely mounted even in Russia, this is to be regretted, according to the New York Times, which ranks it among Rimsky-Korsakov’s “most interesting work.” Forming the second half of a program exploring “Domestic Music-Making in Russia,” Bard’s presentation stars tenor Gerard Schneider, whose “imposing tenor” (Wall Street Journal) “stole the show” (Allegri con Fuoco) in SummerScape 2016’s mainstage production of Iris. Schneider sings the role of Mozart, with Grammy nominee Mikhail Svetlov, who impressed the Washington Post with his “titanic, all-encompassing bass,” as the composer’s nemesis, Salieri.

There will be a talk before the concert by festival co-artistic director Christopher Gibbs, who is the James H. Ottaway Jr. Professor of Music at Bard College.

Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Tsar’s Bride (1898), Bard Music Festival Program 12
One of the most lyrical of all Rimsky-Korsakov scores” (New York Times), The Tsar’s Bride turns to the so-called Time of Troubles, the period of Russian history that inspired Boris Godunov and SummerScape 2017’s Dimitrij. Rimsky-Korsakov’s opera depicts Marfa, the merchant’s daughter whom Ivan the Terrible chooses from among thousands as his third wife. Unfortunately she is already in love with another and subject to the unwanted attentions of a third, who attempts to give her a love potion. When poison is substituted, and the man she loves is blamed and executed, Marfa loses her mind in a bona fide mad scene. In Russia the opera was well-received at its premiere and has remained in regular rotation ever since. In the West, by contrast, revivals are rare. Yet The Tsar’s Bride is “an upfront rumbustious melodrama, packed with big tunes and thrilling climaxes” (The Telegraph, UK), offering “a compelling study of power and powerlessness” (The Independent, UK).

Bard’s semi-staged production features The Orchestra Now (TŌN), Bard’s graduate training orchestra, under Botstein’s leadership. In the title role it stars Lyubov Petrova, “a soprano of ravishing, changeable beauty, blazing high notes and magnetic stage presence” (Opera News). Demon’s Andrey Valentii sings Marfa’s father, Vasily Sobakin, and Mozart and Salieri’s Gerard Schneider plays her falsely accused suitor, Ivan Likov. Efim Zavalny, the Demon himself, portrays her third admirer, Grigory Gryaznoy, with mezzo-soprano Nadezhda Babintseva, who “brought the house down” (RTE, Ireland) on tour with the Moscow State Opera, as his murderous mistress. Joel Sorensen, “a beautifully expressive tenor, gifted at characterization” (The Independent, UK), appears as the Tsar’s physician, with bass-baritone Yakov Strizhak, first-prize-winner at the Rachmaninov International Music Competition, as a member of the imperial police force. Rounding out Bard’s stellar cast as the Sobakins’ housekeeper is mezzo-soprano Teresa Buchholz, winner of the female division at Carnegie Hall’s Nico Castel International Master Singer Competition. With lighting by Anshuman Bhatia, a “Young Designer to Watch” (Live Design), Bard’s production is designed and directed by Doug Fitch, the co-founder of Giants Are Small, whose acclaimed New York Philharmonic collaborations include Le Grand Macabre, named “Best Opera of the Year” by the New York Times, New York, and Time Out New York.

Before the opera, there will be a talk by Bard’s 2018 Scholar-in-Residence, Marina Frolova-Walker, author of Russian Music and Nationalism: from Glinka to Stalin and editor of the forthcoming volume Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and His World.



Opera at Bard SummerScape 2018

 Anton Rubinstein (1829–94)
Demon (1871)

American Symphony Orchestra
Conducted by Leon Botstein, music director
Directed by Thaddeus Strassberger
Bard Festival Chorale
Conducted by James Bagwell

Paul Tate dePoo III: set designer
Kaye Voyce: costume designer
Candida Nichols: associate costumer
JAX Messenger: lighting designer
Greg Emetaz: video designer
Shorena Barbakadz: choreographer
Anne Ford-Coates: hair and makeup designer
Onofrio Colucci: acting coach/assistant director
Roza Tulyaganova: diction coach/assistant director
Jordan Fein: assistant director

Demon: Efim Zavalny, baritone
Tamara: Olga Tolkmit, soprano
Angel: Nadezhda Babintseva, mezzo-soprano
Prince Gudal: Andrey Valentii, bass
Prince Sinodal: Alexander Nesterenko, tenor
Nanny: Ekaterina Egorova, mezzo-soprano
Old Servant: Yakov Strizhak, bass-baritone
Messenger: Pavel Sulyandziga, tenor
Pesvebi Georgian Dancers
Sosnoff Theater
July 27* at 8 pm
July 29*; August 1, 3* & 5* at 2 pm

Tickets start at $25

Opening Night Reception for Members
July 27

Opera Talk with Leon Botstein
July 29 at 12 pm
Free and open to the public

Opera in the 2018 Bard Music Festival, “Rimsky-Korsakov and His World”

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (18441908)
Mozart and Salieri (1897)

Bard Festival Chorale
Conducted by James Bagwell
Mozart: Gerard Schneider, tenor
Salieri: Mikhail Svetlov, bass

August 18
Program Eight, “Domestic Music Making in Russia”
Olin Hall
1 pm Preconcert Talk: Christopher Gibbs
1:30 pm Performance

Tickets: $40

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (18441908)
The Tsar’s Bride (1898)

The Orchestra Now (TŌN)
Conducted by Leon Botstein
Bard Festival Chorale
Conducted by James Bagwell
Designed and directed by Doug Fitch
Lighting design: Anshuman Bhatia

Marfa: Lyubov Petrova, soprano
Grigory Gryaznoy: Efim Zavalny, baritone
Ivan Likov: Gerard Schneider, tenor
Lyubasha: Nadezhda Babintseva, mezzo-soprano
Vasily Sobakin: Andrey Valentii, bass
Malyuta Skuratov: Yakov Strizhak, bass-baritone
Yelisey Bomeliy: Joel Sorensen, tenor
Petrovna: Teresa Buchholz, mezzo-soprano

August 19
Program Twelve, “The Tsar’s Bride”*
Sosnoff Theater
3:30 pm Preconcert Talk: Marina Frolova-Walker
4:30 pm Performance

Tickets: $25–$75

* Round-trip transportation from Manhattan to Bard is available for this performance. The round-trip fare is $40 and reservations are required; see further details below.


SummerScape 2018: upcoming key performance dates by genre



Bard Music Festival, Weekend One: Inventing Russian Music: The Mighty Five (Aug 10–12)
Bard Music Festival, Weekend Two: Rimsky-Korsakov and His Followers (Aug 17–19)


“Rimsky-Korsakov and the Poetry of Cinema”
Ottaway Film Center
July 26 – Russian Ark (Aleksandr Sokurov, 2002, Russia/Germany/Canada/Finland, 96 minutes)
July 29 – A Night on Bald Mountain (Alexandre Alexeieff and Claire Parker, 1933, France, 8 minutes) and Fantasia (Walt Disney, 1940, USA, 126 minutes)
August 2 – The Devil is a Woman (Josef von Sternberg, 1935, USA, 79 minutes)
August 5 – Kismet (Vincente Minnelli, 1955, USA, 113 minutes)
August 9 – Man of Music (Composer Glinka), (Grigori Aleksandrov, 1952, USSR, 100 minutes)
August 12 – The Cranes are Flying (Mikhail Kalatozov, 1957, USSR, 97 minutes)
August 16 – Atlantic City (Louis Malle, 1980, Canada/France, 104 minutes)
August 19 – The House of Mirth (Terence Davies, 2000, UK/Germany/USA, 140 minutes)
Tickets: $10

Hosted by Mx. Justin Vivian Bond
Live Music, Cabaret, Festival Dining, and After Hours salon
June 29-August 18
Dates, times, and prices vary

* The Bard SummerScape coach from Manhattan is available for these performances. See further details below.


Bard SummerScape ticket information

Tickets for all Bard SummerScape events are on sale. For tickets and further information on all SummerScape events, call the Fisher Center box office at 845-758-7900 or visit


SummerScape opera, theater, and dance performances and most Bard Music Festival programs are held in the Sosnoff Theater or LUMA Theater in Bard’s Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts, designed by Frank Gehry and celebrated since its opening as a major architectural landmark in the region. Some chamber programs and other BMF events are in Olin Hall, and the Spiegeltent has its own schedule of events, in addition to serving as a restaurant, café, and bar before and after performances. Film Series screenings are at the Jim Ottaway Jr. Film Center in the Milton and Sally Avery Arts Center.


New York City Round-Trip Coach Transportation:
To make a reservation on the round-trip SummerScape coach provided exclusively to ticket holders for specific performances indicated by * in the listings above, call the box office at 845-758-7900 or select this option when purchasing tickets. The round-trip fare is $40 and reservations are required. The coach departs from behind Lincoln Center, on Amsterdam Avenue between 64th and 65th Streets. Find additional details at:


Full Schedule:
For a complete schedule of SummerScape and Bard Music Festival events (subject to change), follow the links given below. Updates are posted at the festival web site
Fisher Center members receive priority access to the best seats in advance, and those who join the Center’s email list receive advance booking opportunities as well as regular news and updates.


Bard SummerScape:

Bard Music Festival:

Tickets and Subscriptions:; or by phone at 845-758-7900. Tickets to all mainstage events start at $25.


Special offers:
Create Your Own Series: save 25% and enjoy maximum flexibility, by choosing four or more events.
SummerScape Mainstage Package: save 30% and guarantee seats for dance, theater, and opera events.
Out-of-Town Package: save up to 23% on mainstage ticket, roundtrip bus from New York City, and three-course meal.
Night Out Package: save up to 15% on mainstage ticket (selected performances only) and three-course meal.

Updates: Bard’s “e-subscribers” get all the news in regular updates. Click here to sign up, or send an e-mail to [email protected].


All programs are subject to change.


The 2018 SummerScape season is made possible in part through the generous support of Jeanne Donovan Fisher, the Martin and Toni Sosnoff Foundation, the Board of The Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College, the Board of the Bard Music Festival, and Fisher Center members, as well as grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

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©21C Media Group, July 2018

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