Bard Music Festival — Program 11

August 13, 2023

Fisher Center, Sosnoff Theater


Program Eleven presents Vaughan Williams’ opera, Sir John in Love, in a semi-staged production by American director Alison Moritz, whose projects have been called “raw, funny, surreal, and disarmingly human” (Opera News). Anchored by the American Symphony Orchestra, it is with this rare American presentation of Vaughan Williams’s opera that the 2023 Bard Music Festival draws to a satisfying close.

Marking the 400th anniversary of the First Folio, the first published collection of Shakespeare’s plays. Vaughan Williams was a great lover of the poet’s work, and it was reportedly “entirely for his own enjoyment” that he based a comic opera on The Merry Wives of Windsor. Shakespeare’s comedy was also the inspiration for Verdi’s Falstaff, but unlike the Italian composer, Vaughan Williams had the advantage of writing in English, and his plot and libretto adhere closely to Shakespeare’s original. Despite this, the resulting opera has only rarely been staged, with no UK performances between 1958 and 2005, and no U.S. premiere until 2015. Such neglect reflects no artistic deficiencies, however. Boasting a score rich with folksongs and Elizabethan melodies, including “Lovely Joan” and “Greensleeves,” Sir John in Love features some of Vaughan Williams’s finest writing. As BBC Music observes:

“The score reveals the composer as a master of comic opera, deftly intercutting Shakespeare’s intricate word-play with the chromatically searching manner of works from the 1920s like the Pastoral Symphony or Flos Campi. Everything is drawn together in scintillating style, and the best moments … are from an exceptional vintage in Vaughan Williams’s creativity.”

Livestreat tickets: $20, reserve here.


August 13, 2023
Pre-concert Talk 2 PM, Concert 3 PM
Fisher Center, Sosnoff Theater
Tickets start at $25


Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872–1958)
Sir John in Love  (1928)


Alison Moritz, director
Craig Colclough, Falstaff
Brandie Sutton, Anne Page
Ann Toomey, Mistress Page
Sarah Saturnino, Mistress Ford
Lucy Schaufer, Mistress Quickly
Joshua Blue, Fenton
Keith Jameson, Dr. Caius
William Socolof, Frank Ford
American Symphony Orchestra
Leon Botstein, conductor
Bard Festival Chorale
James Bagwell, choral director