Carlisle Floyd: Prince of Players – An Opera in Two Acts
$11.98 – $24.98
World Premiere Recording!
2021 GRAMMY® Nominee: Best Opera Recording
2021 GRAMMY® Nominee: Best Contemporary Classical Composition
Florentine Opera Company
Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, William Boggs, Conductor
THE FLORENTINE OPERA BRINGS CARLISLE FLOYD’S DARING NEW OPERA, PRINCE OF PLAYERS, TO LIFE!
Carlisle Floyd (b. 1926) is one of the foremost composers and librettists of opera in the world today. Considered the “Father of American Opera,” Floyd’s operas are regularly performed in the US and Europe. He first achieved national prominence with the premiere of Susannah by the New York City Opera in 1956. His second opera, Wuthering Heights, premiered at Santa Fe Opera in 1958, and continues to have life decades later: a critically-acclaimed recording, released in June 2016 on Reference Recordings, was listed in Opera News’ 10 Best Opera recordings of 2016 (FR-721SACD Wuthering Heights).
During his long career, Floyd has composed 13 operas. His most recent, Prince of Players, which premiered in March 2016 at the Houston Grand Opera, is based on the true story of the Restoration-era actor Edward Kynaston (1640–1706). Remarks about Kynaston in the personal diary of Samuel Pepys inspired a play by Jeffrey Hatcher, Compleat Female Stage Beauty (1999), which was later made into a movie, Stage Beauty (2004). The plot centers on the crisis faced by Kynaston when, by royal decree, he is prohibited from plying the craft that made him famous—playing female roles. With this Milwaukee production, the Florentine Opera gives Prince of Players its world-premiere live recording.
J. Mark Baker describes the new opera in his essay Carlisle Floyd and Opera in America:
“In his newest work, Prince of Players (2016), composer-librettist Floyd again lays bare his passion for social justice and understanding. Though set in 17th-century England, the opera’s highly charged drama deals with issues that confront us in 21st-century America – among them, the intricacies of sexual orientation and gender identity, and the resulting societal consequences. Employing set pieces that evoke the Restoration era – a bawdy tavern song, courtly dances, a folksong used as a maladroit audition piece – and calling on his tried-and-true mixture of affecting lyricism and sometimes-jarring dissonance, Floyd convincingly depicts the world of the actor Edward Kynaston. It’s an inspiring – and true – story of an artist motivated by a soul-deep devotion to his chosen art form.”
Reference Recordings knew that Carlisle Floyd was intent on having a recording released of his newest creation during his lifetime. He writes in the album notes: “And now, having this outstanding performance recorded for the world to hear…my 93 year old heart is filled with joy and oh, so much gratitude!”
Prince of Players was recorded and mastered by the team at Soundmirror, whose outstanding orchestral, solo, opera and chamber recordings have received more than 100 grammy® nominations and awards.
On This Recording
- Act I- Prologue
- Act I- Scene One
- Act I- Scene Two
- Act I- Scene Three
- Act I- Scene Four
- Act II- Scene One
- Act II- Scene Two
- Act II- Scene Three
- Act II- Scene Four
- Act II- Scene Five
- Act II- Scene Six
“The full-orchestral version of Carlisle Floyd’s Prince of Players does full justice to the sexual tensions of the historical period it adores… The dramatic impact is heightened by Phares’s unswerving classical line and intense underlying emotion set against Kate Royal’s stunning portrayal of the era’s first female superstar, moving from the music hall to starring with her lover. The Florentine Opera production features Alexander Dobson’s powerful, compassionate Thomas Betterton, tenors Chad Shelton, Frank Kelley and Vale Rideout as the King and his courtiers, and Rena Harms as Nell Gwyn, each of whom give full reign to their key roles. The participation of the Milwaukee Symphony further justifies the decision to record the full-orchestral version, to which Reference does its usual audiophile justice.” —Laurence Vittes, Gramophone
“rich dramatic fodder. Featuring a first-class cast led by Keith Phares as Kynaston and Kate Royal as his protégé-cum-lover Margaret Hughes, the storytelling comes over loud and clear thanks to a libretto, excellent diction all around, and a beautifully engineered recording. If you respond to opera at its most lyrical, this is for you.” —Clive Paget, Musical America