Carlisle Floyd: Wuthering Heights (An Opera In Three Acts)
Our First Ever Opera Release!
Florentine Opera Company
Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra
Joseph Mechavich, conductor
The Florentine Opera Company® brings American opera composer Carlisle Floyd’s operatic masterpiece, based on the classic English novel by Emily Brontë, to life. Floyd’s score takes you to the heart of Catherine and Heathcliffe’s devastating love story.
Carlisle Floyd’s canon of operas is amongst the most performed by any living American opera composer, however four essential operas have never been commercially released. Wuthering Heights was first performed by Santa Fe Opera in 1958, but never recorded until now. With the composer acting as artistic advisor, this Florentine Opera premiere recording was made in January 2015 at the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts, in Brookfield, Wisconsin. It features conductor Joseph Mechavich, soprano Georgia Jarman (Cathy), baritone Kelly Markgraf (Heathcliff), soprano Heather Buck (Isabella), tenor Vale Rideout (Edgar), tenor Chad Shelton (Hindley), mezzo-soprano Susanne Mentzer (Nelly), tenor Frank Kelley (Joseph), The Florentine Opera Chorus and the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. Reference Recordings is proud to release this exceptional recording.
General Director William Florescu states, “This is a unique and exciting Florentine Opera recording. Carlisle Floyd’s Wuthering Heights, an unjustly neglected American gem, made its Florentine debut in this world premiere recording. We had the honor of welcoming Carlisle Floyd to guide this exceptional creative team and shape the concert and recording. Noele Stollmack (director of design and production), conductor Joseph Mechavich (conductor for the Florentine productions of La Traviata 2013 and Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah 2012), Blanton Alspaugh and John Newton, along with all of the production engineers and recording specialists from SoundMirror assembled their talents to bring this premiere recording and concert to life–for live audiences and the world to experience.”
Carlisle Floyd, 90 years of age in June 2016, is still creating new operas (his newest, Prince of Players, was presented to great acclaim by Houston Grand Opera in March 2016), and is intent on having commercial recordings of all his operas released during his lifetime. Describing the music of Wuthering Heights as highly dramatic and quite melodic, Floyd has said he is thrilled to have it recorded. The Florentine has released plans to follow Wuthering Heights with recordings of Floyd’s Willie Stark and Bilby’s Doll.
Wuthering Heights was recorded and mastered by the team at Soundmirror, whose outstanding orchestral, solo, opera and chamber recordings have received more than 70 GRAMMY® nominations and awards.
Two-Disc Hybrid SACD contains 5.1 and Stereo SACD and CD stereo
On This Recording
- Scene One
- Scene Two
- Act Two: Scene One
- Act Two: Interlude
- Act Two: Scene Two – Part II
- Act Three: Scene One
- Act Three: Scene Two
- Act Three: Scene Three
“Maestro Joseph Mechavich leads his Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and the choral forces of the Florentine Opera Company, one of America’s oldest such vocal organizations, in a precedent setting performance that will make listeners unfamiliar with this work sit up and take notice. Composer Floyd writes beautiful vocal lines and the cast led by stunning soprano Jarman takes full advantage of them. Vocal colleagues Markgraf, Rideout, Buck, and Shelton provide excellent support and credible recreations of their characters. Veteran mezzo-soprano Suzanne Mentzer turns in a great rendition of the old serving woman Nelly Dean. … Like Carlisle Floyd’s big hit Susannah, the star soprano gets a virtuosic monologue in Act II that sums up, with an economy of words and music, her deep feelings for Heathcliff: “Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.” This recorded première may finally set the operatic record straight regarding Wuthering Heights, particularly with a cast as good as this one. Audio values are tops and I doubt that we will get a better recording of this neglected masterpiece any time soon. Highly recommended!” —Lawrence Devoe, TheaterByte
“For much of the work Floyd writes in an expressive parlando style that allows the words to be clearly heard even when the voices are competing with large orchestral forces. The dark brooding orchestral score is, even allowing for the tragic nature of the story, mellifluous and often lushly romantic in the style of Puccini and Samuel Barber as, for example, in Edgar’s aria “Then marry me Cathy and make me whole again” (Act 2 Scene 2 ) ardently delivered by tenor Vale Rideout. Floyd’s confident handling of his orchestral palette and his ability to create atmosphere is clear from the start where the doleful horns that open the work immediately capture the bleakness of the North Yorkshire moor setting.
It would be hard to imagine a more committed and much better sung performance than that given here by the Florentine Opera Company, one that has the imprimatur of the composer. The casting of the principal roles is very strong and led by the the soprano Georgia Jarman as Cathy and the baritone Kelly Markgraf as Heathcliff. Jarman’s gleaming soprano has the power to ride over the orchestra when required, but she can also sing with great tenderness and her impassioned portrayal of the opera’s tragic heroine is wonderfully expressive throughout. Kelly Markgraf is a commanding and virile sounding Heathcliff whose rhapsodic account of “Was there ever another place in all the world like this!” (Act 1 Scene1) makes him the epitome of the romantic hero. The singers of the supporting roles generally don’t disappoint, with Susanne Mentzer (Nelly) and Heather Buck (Isabella) worthy of special mention. The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, firmly directed by Joseph Mechavich, does full justice to Floyd’s dramatic score with responsive and vibrant playing sumptuously recorded.” —Graham Williams, HR Audio