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Friday, June 9, 2017

Summer Festival Preview: Caramoor

The stately festival in Katonah prepares for changes.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
The big tent at Caramoor and at one end, the Venetian Theater.
Doings are a-transpiring at the Rosen Estate, the stately faux-Italian Renaissance manor house in Katonah, NY that is the home of the Caramoor Festival. Caramoor is the summer home of the Orchestra of St. Luke's, and is reknowned for its series of chamber music, orchestral concerts and opera performances.

The first big change is at the Orchestra itself. Music director Pablo Heras-Casado is moving to the post of Conductor Laureate. His replacement is Bernard Labadie, a Quebec native expert in baroque and classical repertory. Mr. Labadie will lead the OSL in a Mozart program on July 2. He will take over as music director in 2018.

The second change involves opera. After 15 years, the Bel Canto at Caramoor program is ending, and Will Crutchfield is moving his opera performances over to the Performing Arts Center at SUNY Purchase. However, there's one treasure left: a July 8 performance of Bellini's early opera Il Pirata with Angela Meade singing Imogene, the leading soprano part.

Other highlights of the Caramoor summer season include an appearance by pianist Daniil Trifonov in a challenging program of Schumann, Shostakovich and Stravinsky, including the latter's Three Movements from the ballet score Petrouchka.

The Bel Canto series ends (for good) on Sunday July 23 with Rossini's Il petite messe solenelle, a late religious work that like most of Rossini's music, deserves to be heard more often. Next year, Caramoor will look further back for operatic inspiration, starting a cycle of baroque operas that will thrill the ear with vocal fireworks and the inspirational writing of Handel and Vivaldi.

Caramoor wraps its summer season at the end of July with a concert featuring Mr. Heras-Casado, the Orchestra of St. Luke's and soloist Jean-Yves Thibaudet playing the Second Piano Concerto by Franz Liszt, flanked by orchestral pieces by Schumann and Liszt.

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Critical Thinking in the Cheap Seats