Photo credit: Dario Acosta
Next we heard the world premiere of the orchestral version of Jake Heggie's song cycle Camille Claudel: Into the Fire. Though the 6 songs express varying degrees of anguish, loss & madness, Mr. Heggie's music is consistently pretty. Mezzo Sasha Cooke sounded velvety & rich & presented the songs tastefully. Her voice blended eerily into the orchestra at the conclusion. Many of the movements have a dance-like quality, & Maestro Carneiro led liltingly. The Shakuntala movement, an exotic oriental dance, reminded me of "What a movie!" from Bernstein's Trouble in Tahiti. The winds are prominent, & the reduced string section often plays with mutes. Mr. Heggie & librettist Gene Scheer were in the audience & came on stage to receive flowers & take a bow with the performers. Mr. Heggie knelt adoringly in front of Ms. Cooke to show his appreciation.
The audience was generally attentive & quiet, though at the start of the Heggie a man took his seat in the center of the front row while the music was playing, then a man in the row in front of me had a coughing fit & had to leave. I spotted John Adams in the audience, as well as Frederica von Stade, who seemed to be Mr. Heggie's date.
§ Berkeley Symphony
Joana Carneiro, conductor
Sasha Cooke, mezzo-soprano
Program III: Imagination
Ravel: Mother Goose Suite
Jake Heggie: Camille Claudel: Into the Fire for Orchestra and Mezzo-Soprano
Brahms: Symphony No. 4 in E minor, Op. 98
February 26, 2015, 8:00 pm
Zellerbach Hall, UC Berkeley