News Column

Celebrating Strauss in style

August 21, 2014

By Gail McCarthy, Gloucester Daily Times, Mass.

Aug. 21--International opera stars will once again grace the stage in a free public concert on Monday at Rockport's waterfront Shalin Liu Performance Center Rockport to celebrate the music of Richard Strauss (1864-1949) on the 150th anniversary of his birthday.

This is the third year that Shalin Liu herself -- a major donor for the music hall's construction -- is bringing music to the community for the live opera concert titled "Richard Strauss: Celebrating 150 Years," on Aug. 25 at 7 p.m.

Tickets are available at the box office at 37 Main St. beginning at 5 p.m. on the day of the concert. Tickets are first come, first served. In previous years, the line formed early.

After the enthusiastic public response in 2012 and 2013 and Liu's commitment to opera, the woman for whom the center is named is again sponsoring this concert for the Rockport community.

"This third annual free opera concert, is reflective of Shalin Liu's core belief that the live performance of music should be available to be enjoyed by all, regardless of ability to pay," said Barbara Freedman Wand, who works closely with the philanthropist.

Maestro Michael Recchiuti returns to Rockport to lead the audience on a journey through the operas of Strauss, a composer known for his complex works. He calls Strauss the "alchemist of music."

"Richard Strauss is the most important German composer of the 20th century, and he is a composer whose work are not as well known as they should be," said Recchiuti. "He is such a fascinating character and so critical to the musical culture of the world. He takes theatrical music to its logical conclusion, combining the orchestra and the singers and the narrative."

Strauss was steeped in the classical tradition of the Greek and Roman myths.

"He composed these great symphonic masterpieces, and then he brings this 20th century psychological edge to opera. He composed these operas not just as stories but as stories that mean something -- this was the Freudian age," said Recchiuti. "There are so many layers. The music is deep and resonant, and fiendishly difficult."

Soprano Elizabeth Blancke-Biggs, a veteran opera singer returns to Rockport, and will perform with a rising star, Cameron Schutza, who will debut this season at the famed Metropolitan Opera in New York City.

Recchiuti, who provides a colorful commentary, said the performance will showcase music from Strauss' greatest operas: Salome, Der Rosenkavalier, Daphne, Die Frau ohne Schatten, and Ariadne auf Naxos.

He noted that Strauss' music life spanned from the time of the Civil War through the dropping of the atomic bomb, and "is among the highest, transfiguring achievements of Western civilization, rich in cultural depth and resonance."

Anyone seeking more information, visit

Gail McCarthy can be reached at 978-675-2706, or via email at


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Source: Gloucester Daily Times (MA)

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