Opera Philadelphia to stage Lembit Beecher opera about Alzheimer’s, with von Stade in central role

Posted on: March 21, 2018

“Frederica von Stade is taking on another challenging late-career role, singing in the world premiere of an opera about two women afflicted by Alzheimer’s disease,” writes Ronald Blum in Tuesday’s (3/20) Associated Press. “Opera Philadelphia announced Tuesday it will present ‘Sky on Swings,’ composed by Lembit Beecher with a libretto by Hannah Moscovitch, to open its 2018-19 season…. Two of Von Stade’s aunts, Carol and Marjorie, died of Alzheimer’s.… She will be 73 in June. Von Stade sings Danny, who at the start of the opera has just been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Mezzo Marietta Simpson portrays Martha, whose disease is more advanced…. ‘Does the disease change who we are or reveal who we are?’ Beecher said. ‘I think ultimately in the piece that question sort of becomes moot. What matters is that these two characters have a relationship and a connection.’ Beecher, 37, was Opera Philadelphia’s composer in residence from 2011-14 and had written a scene portraying characters with Alzheimer’s that was performed in a workshop about five years ago. Beecher orchestrated the 70-minute, one-act chamber work for 11 musicians, and Opera Philadelphia will present the four-character opera at the 627-seat Perelman Theater as part of its O18 Festival.”

Posted March 21, 2018