On Second Thought

By Henry C. Mayer

An Unforgettable Premiere By The Bach Society

Louisville's Bach Society, sparked by its music director Melvin Dickinson and two gifted soprano soloists, closed the 38th season with a stunning musical portrait of King David - probably the most remarkable, popular and gifted of Israel's Kings. The program was comprised of choral selections by twelve distinguished composers, interspersed with readings from the Hebrew Scriptures. The program depicted David as a youngster, man and king; it uses a narrator to lead the audience through David's life. This role was skillfully filled by Chester Diamond, Rabbi Emeritus of The Temple. The treble soloist Margaret Chase Streeter gave a moving performance of Psalm 51, as did soprano soloist Mary Wilson Redden for Psalm 117.

The composers represented included such well known persons as Bach, Schutz, Mozart, Mendelssohn, Handel, and Brahms. Maestro Dickinson chose the musical selections while the narration was the work of Dr. John Hale. It took some eighteen months to put the entire piece together. This work premiered at Indiana University Southeast's Ogle Auditorium, whose acoustics were just right for such a work. The program thoughtfully provided English translations for all the text.

British conductor Sir Thomas Beecham once wrote, "Good music is that which penetrates the ear with facility and quits the memory with difficulty." This observation applies in a special way to this program.

Next season, the Louisville Bach Society will again present four subscription concerts in four locations plus two performances of Handel's Messiah in two other churches. For more information, call 585-BACH.

Kentucky Opera Closes Its Season

Kentucky Opera will close its season with a presentation of a popular Mozart masterpiece, "The Marriage of Figaro." Premiered two hundred-eleven years ago, it has not lost its charm, humor or delightful music which charmed its first audiences.

Actually, it intrigues me that though, in many ways, it is a sequel to the "Barber of Seville" which did not appear on the stage until a quarter of a century later; both have the same source - the play by Beaumarchis. In both presentations, Figaro is the leading personage, always clever and resourceful. There is no character quite like him in operatic literature - not even Falstaff.

Produced just before France went through the "Reign of Terror," the aristocracy comes off second best. This time two ordinary folks, Figaro, a barber, and Susanna, a maid, outwit the nobility, in the person of Count Almaviva.

One should note that the composer, Wolfgang Mozart, was a many-sided genius. His symphonies are equal in talent to those of Haydn and Beethoven. His religious music is a close rival to that of Bach and his opera is still as popular as any work by Verdi and Wagner. All these works were written by Mozart's 35th year.