New opera about Clara Schumann, Robert Schumann, and Johannes Brahms

Posted on: June 7, 2021

“The love triangle between composers Clara Schumann, her husband Robert and Johannes Brahms is one of classical music’s more, well, operatic episodes,” writes Hannah Edgar in Thursday’s (6/3) Chicago Tribune. “ ‘Ghost Variations,’ a chamber opera streaming … June 4 through 6 under the auspices of Thompson Street Opera, resists more than 150 years of tropes…. ‘Clara is the hero of the story in every way. But when it comes to the things we’re usually told about Clara, we look at her in relation to all the men in her life,’ said ‘Ghost Variations’ librettist Aiden Feltkamp…. Composer [Tony Manfredonia] writes the score with a dark-hued, neo-Romantic sensibility all his own…. Robert’s lonely death in a sanitarium, his own wife barred from visiting him, hits differently after a year defined by forced isolation and its attendant mental health hurdles…. During the first day of filming alongside baritone Ben Ross, ‘In the emotional climax of the opera, Clara goes to visit Robert (at the sanitarium), and he doesn’t recognize her,’ [mezzo-soprano Naomi Brigell, who portrays Clara] said. ‘I walked in and saw the look on Ben’s face, and I almost cried…. I haven’t had that energy with another person in so long.’ ”