The Tsar | opera for the Peter the Great Festival of chamber music (NL) | 2013
The Peter the Great Festival invited me to write a chamberopera with accessible music, suited for singers who are just starting their career. Together with singers Marion van den Akker and Marcel Reijans from the Festival I decided to let the 6 roles be sung by 6 different voice-types, to make all kinds of vocal ensembles possible.
A new challenge came up for me: I was asked to conduct it myself! And how I enjoyed it!
Peter the Great looks back upon his life. His youth with his cruel stepsister Sofia, the happy times in Holland with best friend Lefort and falling in love with Lefort's fiancee Anna.
And now he's sick and paranoid, drinks too much and on top of it all his wife Catherine
betrays him with her fraudulous chamberlain Willem Mons.
Willem is convicted to death for fraud and Catherine begs Peter to show him mercy.
Peter decides to do so, but falls asleep after drinking too much...
Of course he wakes up too late and lets Willem's head be taken to Catherine's room.
She bids Willem farewell and shows her love for Peter again.
In the epilogue-like finale everybody gathers around Peter to tell him he was a good Tsar.
Ensemble conducted by Monique Krüs.
The chamberorchestra: piano, string quartet, clarinet and horn.
Directed by Jos Groenier. Dutch libretto by Sjoerd Kuyper, English translation: Monique Krüs
Premiere at the Groninger Museum on 2.August 2013.
We also performed in the garden of the Hermitage Museum at the renowned Grachtenfestival in Amsterdam on 22 and 23 August. All Hermitage photos ©Ronald Knapp
Rehearsing in the beautiful garden of the Hermitage Museum in Amsterdam at the Grachtenfestival.
Hessel bij de Leij, piano
Rolinka Niers, clarinet
Aukje Spijkma, horn
Jan Buizer, violin
Danna Paternotte, violin
Elsbeth de Jong, viola
Teodora Nedyalkova, cello
What does the (Dutch) press say:
Listen to some of the music of The Tsar, live-recording of the opening night in Groningen
• 'Dear Tsar'
Peter visits Holland with his best friend Lefort and Lefort's fiancée Anna. Mayor of Amsterdam Nicolaas Witsen and his wife are eager to tell them about the nation's best.
• 'Peter, you've got to help me!'
Catherine just heard that her alleged lover Willem has been sentenced to death. She runs to Peter and begs him to show mercy
• 'What I feel now'
Peter and Anna hit it off in a passionate duet
• 'I'll dance on needles'
Catherine looks down the palace window at the square where Willem is about to be decapitated. Will Peter be on time to save his life? She dances a menuet to hide her real feelings.