WKNO Third Thursday program: Of Clowns and Kings


Of Clowns and Kings: Digital Program

Streaming LIVE on WKNO at 7pm CT on Thursday, March 18

Dane Suarez, tenor

Marcus King, baritone
Jake Stamatis, baritone

Aaron Redburn, tenor

Lieben, Hassen, Hoffen, Zagen from Ariadne auf Naxos (Richard Strauss) – Jake 
Vedrommi intorno from Idomeneo (W.A. Mozart) – Dane 
Der Mond geht auf den Firsten from Der Kaiser von Atlantis (Victor Ullmann) – Aaron 
Der König bei der Krönung (Hugo Wolf) - Marcus 
Monologo from Arlecchino (Ferruccio Busoni) – Jake 
Ma se me forza perderti from Un Ballo in Maschera (Giuseppe Verdi) - Dane 
Pierrot (Francis Poulenc) - Jake 
A Black Pierrot (William Grant Still) - Marcus 
E fra quest’ansie from Pagliacci (Ruggero Leoncavallo)- Jake
O Colombina from Pagliacci (Ruggero Leoncavallo) - Aaron
Pierrot's Tanzlied from Die Tote Stadt (Erich Korngold) - Marcus
La donna è mobile from Rigoletto (Giuseppe Verdi) - Aaron
Come Away, Death (Gerald Finzi) - Marcus
O Mistress Mine from Songs of the Clown (Erich Korngold) – Aaron
Deserto in terra from Dom Sebastiano (Gaetano Donizetti) – Dane 
Le Roi d’Aquitaine from Marie Galante (Kurt Weill) – Jake 
Why Can’t I Walk Away from Maggie Flynn (Hugo Peretti) - Marcus
Vesti la giubba from Pagliacci (Ruggero Leoncavallo) - Dane

 Cris Frisco, curator & pianist

Cris Frisco is delighted to join Opera Memphis as the Interim Director of Musical Activities. As a pianist and conductor, he is equally at home in the worlds of classical and popular music. In past seasons, he has worked on productions on Broadway, at the Philadelphia Orchestra, McCarter Theatre, Walnut Street Theater, Opera Birmingham, Opera Fayetteville, Kentucky Opera, The Princeton Festival, and the Bucks County Playhouse. A committed educator for the next generation of artists, he has served on the faculties of Rutgers University, Westminster Choir College, the New School for Drama, and Hunter College.

 Marcus King, baritone

Born and raised in Memphis, TN, Marcus King has always been musically gifted. In 2013, he made his European debut in Norfolk, England as Demetrius in the Yorke Trust Opera production of Britten’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. In 2014 rejoined the company as Ubalde in Gluck’s Armide. He has been a young artist for the Utah Festival Opera as well as The Charlottesville Opera, formally known as Ash Lawn Opera. For Opera Memphis, he has had many solo roles such as Mr. Gobineau in The Medium, Aeneas in Dido and Aeneas, Vernon in Blue Viola, Samuel in Pirates of Penzance, Joe Harland in Later the Same Evening, and Erminio in The Triumph of Honor. This 2020/2021 season he will be company artist for Moon River Opera, Savannah GA. He will also join the cast of The Magic Flute as Papageno for The Lighthouse Opera’s 2021/22 season.

 Aaron Redburn, tenor

Kansas City native, tenor Aaron Redburn is rapidly cultivating a reputation as an outstanding recitalist and opera performer. Mr. Redburn studied at the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance and was honored with the prestigious Carol Dale Award, recognizing him as the university's "Most Outstanding Undergraduate Musician”. On the opera stage, Aaron is an active performer with Opera Memphis, UMKC Opera, and the University of Memphis opera program. Mr. Redburn has been seen with Opera Memphis as Gherardo in Gianni Schicchi, and was scheduled to perform the title role of Mozart’s Bastien und Bastienne (cancelled due to COVID-19). In his time with the University of Memphis, he has been seen as Ferrando (Così fan tutte), Tamino (Die Zauberflöte), Prunier (La rondine), and Rodolfo (La bohème). Redburn completed his Master’s Degree in Vocal Performance at the University of Memphis under the tutelage of Susan Owen-Leinert and, in tandem with his wife, is currently pursuing his DMA at the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music with Dr. Randal Rushing.


 Jake Stamatis, baritone

Jake Stamatis, born and raised in Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania, has performed a variety of roles on the operatic stage. His quick, kind, and loveable demeanor has charmed audiences in such roles as Papageno in Die Zauberflöte, Figaro in Le nozze di Figaro, Leporello in Don Giovanni, Ko-Ko in The Mikado, Schaunard in La Bohème, and Frosch in Die Fledermaus where he “never sang a note yet stole the third act with his hilarious delivery of lines” (Lee Shephard, the Broome County Arts Council). As an Opera Memphis Handorf Company Artist, Jake appeared as Betto in Gianni Schicchi and Guglielmo in Cosí fan tutte. (cancelled due to COVID19) and was a pioneering member of the celebrated Sing2Me program. He received his bachelor’s degree in Vocal Performance from Susquehanna University and his master’s degree from Binghamton University.

 Dane Suarez, tenor

Praised for his "big, heroic voice" and "powerful emotions," tenor Dane Suarez has developed an exciting and varied career. In the winter of 2020, Mr. Suarez returned to West Bay Opera to perform the role of Macduff (Macbeth). For the remainder of the 2020 season, he was scheduled to reprise the role of Rodolfo (La bohème) with Fort Worth Opera (COVID19 postponement), perform the title role in Faust with Opera Neo (COVID19 postponement), and make his role debut as Manrico (Il trovatore) with Opera in the Heights (COVID19 postponement). For 2020-2021, Mr. Suarez is happy to have returned to Opera Memphis, he joined the Memphis Symphony Orchestra for their holiday concert, and he will perform the role of Don José (Carmen) with Festival Opera. Dane was a National Semi-Finalist of The Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, he made his Washington National Opera debut in 2015 and his New York City Opera debut in 2017. He's sung leading roles with Opera San Jose, Opera Memphis, Aspen Music Festival, and more. Dane currently resides in Memphis with his wife and their two perfect dogs.


 Richard Strauss (1864-1949) 

Considered a leading exponent of the late Romantic and early modern era, Strauss achieved renown as a composer and conductor. His operas entered the repertory almost immediately and he enjoyed a quasi-celebrity status in Europe and America. Originally composed as a brief divertissement to be performed with Hugo Hofmannsthal’s translation of Le Bourgeois gentilhomme, Ariadne auf Naxos was later expanded and revised into the version we know today. 

 W.A. Mozart (1756-1791) 

Mozart’s Idomeneo is among the least performed of his mature operas. The opera follows the Italian opera seria form – highly poetic language and a formulaic structure including a significant ballet. It tells the story of the King of Crete in the period shortly after the Trojan Wars. After being saved by Neptune, Idomeneo washes ashore in Crete and vows to sacrifice the first creature he meets to the god in thanks for his salvation.

 Victor Ullman (1898-1944) 

When Ullmann was transported to Terezín in September of 1942, he found an already flourishing concert life. During the two years he spent at the camp, he produced a number of major works, including three piano sonatas, a string quartet, song cycles, and the opera Der Kaiser von Atlantis. While rehearsals were held in the summer of 1944, officers found the Hitler-likeness of the Emperor character too close for comfort and forbid the work’s premiere. Along with many of his colleagues at Terezín, Ullmann was sent to Auschwitz in late 1944. 

 Hugo Wolf (1860-1903) 

Austro-Slovenian composer, Wolf, is particularly noted for his lieder or art songs. He brought a concentrated expressive intensity to the genre, which was unique in late Romantic music. His creative life was sadly interrupted by periods of delusion and he suffered a complete mental collapse in 1898 which sadly brought his creative life to an end. 

 Ferruccio Busoni (1866-1924) 

Italian composer, Ferruccio Busoni, was a controversial figure in the musical community of his time. While born in Tuscany, he aligned himself with the German modernists of the late 19th century. In fact, his operatic output is entirely in German. Drawn to the commedia dell’arte, two of his operas (Arlecchino and his own setting of Turandot) explore the surreal nature of these stock characters.

 Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901) 

One of opera’s most significant composers, Verdi was also intimately involved with Italian politics, as a supporter of the risorgimento movement to unify Italy and then as a member of the Italian parliament and senate. While enormously popular with the Italian public, Verdi often ran afoul of the government censors – particularly with Un Ballo in Maschera, in which the assassination of Gustav III or Sweden figures prominently. The opera’s setting was ultimately changed to colonial Boston to appease the governments in Naples and Rome.

 Francis Poulenc (1899-1963) 

The only son of a prosperous manufacturer, Poulenc was expected to succeed his father in the family business and was not allowed to enroll at the conservatory. As a consequence, he was largely self-taught as a composer. His early works are characterized by a spirited irreverence, while a newfound seriousness and religious fervor emerged in his later works. This song, which features a text also set by Debussy, references the great 19th century mime, Jean-Gaspard Deburau, largely credited with making the Pierrot character a staple of French theater.

 William Grant Still (1895-1978) 

A prolific composer of over 200 significant works, Still was the first Black conductor to lead a major US orchestra, the first to have an opera performed by a major company, and the first American composer to have a work performed by New York City Opera. Born in Mississippi, Still lived and worked in Memphis as a member of W. C. Handy’s band before joining the US Navy to serve in the First World War. This song is set to a text by Langston Hughes, with whom Still enjoyed a close association and collaboration.

 Ruggero Leoncavallo (1857-1919) 

Inspired by Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana, Leoncavallo produced his own verismo opera in 1892: Pagliacci. Interestingly, the two works are often presented together today. His own setting of La Boheme was hailed as a triumph in 1897, but unfortunately has been eclipsed by Puccini’s opera of the same name. His other operas include I Medici and Zaza.


 Erich Korngold (1897-1957) 

Although Korngold’s career began in his native Austria, he became one of Hollywood’s most important film composers. While his compositions garnered tremendous success in Europe, he was forced to flee by the rise of the Nazi regime. Written when he was just 23, Die tote Stadt was one of the greatest hits of the  1920s, quickly circling the globe with performances across Europe and America. Denounced by the Nazis as degenerate music, the work fell into obscurity until a number of important revivals in the 1960s and 70s restored it to the repertoire. 

 Gerald Finzi (1901-1956)

One of the most prominent British composers of his generation, Finzi was born in  London at the turn of the 20th century. While remembered primarily for his choral compositions, Finzi composed a number of important song cycles. His career was sadly interrupted by the outbreak of World War II and then cut short  as he was diagnosed with and ultimately succumbed to Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. This song, from the cycle Let Us Garlands Bring, is set to a Shakespeare text from Twelfth Night, sung by the fool, Feste. 

 Gaetano Donizetti (1797-1848) 

Donizetti was an Italian composer best known for his nearly 70 operas. He was a leading composer of the bel canto style in the 19th century. After the success of Anna Bolena and Lucia di Lammermoor, Donizetti – like Verdi – found himself at odds with government censors. He left Italy for Paris where he composed several operas in French for the Paris Opéra. Dom Sébastien was the last opera Donizetti completed before going insane as a result of syphilis. While originally in French, the opera is often presented in Italian translation.

 Kurt Weill (1900-1950) 

A student of Busoni’s, Weill rose to fame in the 1920s as a member of the Novembergruppe, a collective of leftist Berlin artists. His collaborations with Bertolt Brecht, including The Threepenny Opera, were extremely popular in Germany of the 20s and 30s. As a prominent Jewish composer, Weill was officially denounced by the Nazi regime and he fled to Paris (where he wrote Marie Galante) and then New York, where he achieved a great deal of success on Broadway.


 Hugo Peretti (1916-1986) 

Born to an Italian-American family in New York City, Peretti spent most of his career  writing and producing popular music. Working for RCA Records, he produced recordings for Perry Como and Sam Cooke. With George David Weiss, he cowrote the Elvis Presley hit, Can’t Help Falling in Love. In 1968, they left RCA to write the Broadway musical, Maggie Flynn, about an Irish woman providing asylum for the  orphaned children of refugee slaves during the American Civil War.  


Strauss: Lieben, Hassen, Hoffen, Zagen

Loving, hating, hoping, doubting, 
all of joy and all of pain, 

these are things a heart can bear 

over and over again.

But numbness to joy and sorrow, 
pain deadened or hidden away, 

these are fatal to the heart, 

and I shall not have you that way! 

From the darkness you shall rise, 

even if to endure more pain, 

but live your life you must, dear life,

live your life this once again! 

Mozart: Vedrommi intorno

I shall see about me a lamenting shade 
which night and day will cry to me " I am innocent." 

The blood spilt from his pierced breast, 
his pale corpse will point out to me my crime. 

What horror, what grief! 

How many times this heart of his will die of torment!

Ullman: Der Mond geht auf den Firsten

The moon is climbing higher across the evening sky. 
Farewell night’s pleasures of love and wine. 

It’s love young men are yearning, now night’s come there’s no returning. 

No, there’s no returning. 

So, what are we to drink now? Blood is what we’ll drink now. 

And what are we to kiss now? The devil’s backside. 

The world’s all topsy-turvy now and whirling like a carousel and soon we’ll all fall off. 

Moon, white as fleece, blood hot, wine sweet, 

No love we’ll meet till we have all crossed over to paradise. 

Is this poor world then, what’s our share? 

We’re up for sale at the cattle auction. 

Will nobody buy us? No, they’re all out to help themselves. 

We all run in vain where the four winds drive us. 

Wolf: Der König bei der Krönung

Wedded to you at the altar, 
O Fatherland, I am yours! 

For the righteous and true, let me 

Now be a priest or a sacrifice! 

Pour out upon my head, Lord, your cup, 

With the precious oil of peace – pour it out 

So that I can shine like the sun 

Upon my Fatherland and my home!

Busoni: Monologo

Truly, I hardly know where I am. 
I seem to be lost in that wilderness of Dante’s. 

How thankful I am that brave man stood guard on my house,  

for those two others left me in the lurch. 

Where? Lord only knows. Bergamo is such a big place. 

To all appearances, we’re at peace. The war is over. 

“I’ve only gone out to evening service,  

I will be back as soon as I can, Your Annunziata.” 

This is completely incomprehensible!

Very well then, I’ll wait for her downstairs.

Verdi: Ma se me forza perderti

Perhaps she has reached home and is safe at last. 
Honor and duty have destroyed the abyss between us.  
Ah yes, Renato will return to England –

and his wife with him.
Let the great ocean divide us, with no farewell
and let the heart keep silent.
I still hesitate? But O heaven, must I not? 

Ah, I have signed my sacrifice! 

But if I must lose you forever, light of my life,
my love will reach you wherever you may be,
once the memory of you is locked inside my heart,
and now what dark misgivings assail my heart,
with the fatal desire to see you once again
as if this were the last hour of our love? 

Ah! She is there – I could see her once more –
could speak to her again – but no: 

for now everything has torn me from her.

Poulenc: Pierrot

Good old Pierrot, watched by the crowd, 
Having done with Harlequin’s wedding, 

Drifts dreamily along the boulevard of the Temple. 

A girl in a flowing blouse 

Vainly leads him on with her teasing eyes; 

And meanwhile, mysterious and sleek, 

Cherishing him above all else, 

The white moon with horns like a bull 

Ogles her friend, Jean-Gaspard Deburau.

Still: A Black Pierrot

I am a black Pierrot: 
She did not love me, 

So I crept away into the night 

And the night was black, too. 

I am a black Pierrot: 

She did not love me, 

So I wept until the dawn 

Dripped blood over the eastern hills 

And my heart was bleeding, too. 

I am a black Pierrot: 

She did not love me, 

So with my once gay-colored soul 

Shrunken like a balloon without air, 

I went forth in the morning 

To seek a new brown love.

Leoncavallo: E fra quest’ansie

Ah, you will live forever with this worry...
Oh, Nedda, Nedda, 
resolve my fate, 
stay with me, Nedda, stay! 

You know the holiday is ending 

and everyone will leave tomorrow. 
Nedda, Nedda! 
What will become of me and of my life when you have gone away? 

Nedda, Nedda, answer me. 

If it is true that you have never loved Canio,
if, as you say, you loathe 
this wandering life and trade, 
and if your great love for me is not a myth,
come, let us flee tonight! Come, flee with me!
Why, if you must leave me without pity,
why then, sorceress, have you ensnared me?
Why then, that kiss of yours 
in the abandon of your close embrace?
If you forget those fleeting hours, 
I cannot do so:
I desire still 
that warm abandon and that flaming kiss
that kindled such a fire in my blood!

Leoncavallo: O Colombina

O Colombina, your faithful, loving Arlecchino is close at hand,
Calling you and sighing for you, o wait for your poor swain! 

Show me your sweet face, 

for I long to kiss your little mouth without delay. 

Love plagues me and torments me!
Ah! O Colombina, open your window to me,
for close at hand, calling you 
and sighing for you is your poor Arlecchino!
Korngold: Pierrot’s Tanzlied
My yearning, my obsession, they take my back in dreams.
In the dance I once obtained it, 
now I've lost my happiness. 
While dancing on the Rhein in the moonlight,
she confessed to me with a loving look in her blue eyes,
confessed to me with her pleading words: 

O stay, don't go far away, 

preserve the memory of your homeland's 
peaceful, flourishing happiness. 
My yearning, my obsession, they take me back in dreams.
The magic of things far away brings a burning to my soul
The magic of the dance lured me, and I was then Pierrot.
I followed her, my wonderful sweetheart, 
and learned from tears to kiss. 
Intoxication and misery, illusion and happiness: Ah, this is a clown's destiny.

Verdi: La donne è mobile

Women are as fickle as feathers in the wind,
simple in speech, 
and simple in mind.
Always the loveable, sweet, laughing face,
but laughing or crying, the face is false for sure.
If you rely on her 
you will regret it, 
and if you trust her you are undone! 

Yet none can call himself fully contented 

who has not tasted love in her arms!

Finzi: Come Away, Death

Come away, come away, death, and in sad cypress let me be laid. 
Fly away, fly away, breath; I am slain by a fair cruel maid. 

My shroud of white, stuck all with yew, O, prepare it! 

My part of death, no one so true did share it. 

Not a flower, not a flower sweet, on my black coffin let there be strown. 

Not a friend, not a friend greet my poor corpse,
where my bones shall be thrown. 

A thousand thousand sighs to save,
lay me, O, where sad true lover never find my grave,
To weep there!

Korngold: O Mistress Mine

O mistress mine, where are you roaming?
O, stay and hear; your true love’s coming,
That can sing both high and low:
Trip no further, pretty sweeting;
Journeys end in lovers meeting, 

Every wise man’s son doth know.
What is love? ’tis not hereafter; 

Present mirth hath present laughter;
What’s to come is still unsure: 

In delay there lies no plenty; 

Then come kiss me, sweet and twenty,
Youth’s a stuff will not endure. 

Donizetti: Deserto in terra

Alone in the world, what is left me? 
Even hope has abandoned me. 

Only you remain with me, loving heart, 

Merciful angel, whom heaven gave me. 

Ah, what can I not do for such faith. 

Shall I place my crown at your feet? 

Madness! Why do I speak of thrones? 

Fate has left me nothing. No! 

Ah, alone in the world, what is left me? 

Even hope has abandoned me. 

And yet, in the wrath of cruel destiny, 

I am not totally wretched yet, 

If I am still loved by an angel 

And have the heart of a soldier. 

Weill: Le Roi d’Aquitaine

A grey duck, a blue duck, a white duck... 
The grey one walks behind the the blue one ahead. 

The white one is the biggest, I'll sell it for twenty francs. 

The blue one is quite small, I'll sell it for six francs. 

The King of Aquitaine, if he comes to the market 

to serve the queen, he'll send for me. 

The King of Aquitaine will take my hand. 

Too bad for the queen, tomorrow. 

A grey prince, a blue prince, a white prince... 

The white one has rubies, and the blue, diamonds. 

The grey one has his crown and his sword at his side. 

The blue loves me the best, and I love best the white. 

The King of Aquitaine, if he comes to the market 

to serve the queen, he'll send for me. 

The King of Aquitaine will take my hand. 

Too bad for the queen, tomorrow.

Peretti: Why Can’t I Walk Away? 

Why can’t I walk away? 
Why can’t I just forget? 

Why can’t I make believe I never met? 

What makes my heart refuse to close the door? 

What crazy fool would face the truth yet ask for more? 

Why must I play the clown who walks an empty stage? 

Why can’t I ring the curtain down? 

If she could turn her back, if she could say goodbye, 

If she could walk away, then why can’t I?

Leoncavallo: Vesti la giubba

To recite! While taken with delirium,
I no longer know what it is that I say, or what it is that I am doing! 

And yet it is necessary, force yourself!
Bah! Can't you be a man? 

You are "Pagliaccio" 

Put on the costume, 
and the face in white powder. 
The people pay, and laugh when they please 
and if Harlequin invites away Colombina
laugh, Pagliaccio, and everyone will applaud!
Into a grimace the tears of pain, Ah!
Laugh, Pagliaccio, 
for your love is broken! 
Laugh of the pain, that poisons your heart!
Posted by Kerriann Otano at 22:39