by Douglas J. Cuomo,
Directed by Jonathan Moore • February 17, 20, 23 & 25, 2018
"BREAKING BAD meets Samuel Beckett...a journey to a Dante-esque underworld."
Pittsburgh Opera is proud to produce our second world premiere in two years. Savage Winter (formerly called Ashes & Snow), composed by Douglas J. Cuomo and directed by Jonathan Moore, is based on Wilhelm Müller’s 24 poem cycle used as the text for Franz Schubert’s famous Winterreise (“Winter Journey”).
The 24 poems and songs of the Winterreise tell an anguished story of lost love, through what is essentially a single dramatic monologue, sung here by Pittsburgh Opera Resident Artist tenor Eric Ferring.
The protagonist (Eric Ferring) reminisces about a Linden Tree, a reminder of happier days.
Savage Winter is set in the present day, and unfolds in a run-down motel room in the desert of the American West. The protagonist must confront his demons and face up to everything he has done, and all he has lost, in his life. He is searching for forgiveness, enlightenment and atonement.
Mr. Ferring will be accompanied by three on-stage musicians, led from the piano by Pittsburgh Opera Director of Musical Studies Mark Trawka. Also included is a trumpet, an electric guitar played by the composer himself, and electronic sound effects. The musical style is ‘21st century art-song,’ infused with acid jazz and punk energy, to create a very raw and emotional experience.
BREAKING BAD is a trademark of Sony Pictures Television Inc. This production contains brief nudity.
*Eric Ferring: The Protagonist
The Artistic Team
Conductor - Douglas J. Cuomo
Director - Jonathan Moore
Scenery & Properties Designer - Brandon McNeel
Video Designer - Joseph Seamans
Lighting Designer - Cindy Limauro
Assistant Director - Frances Rabalais*
Sound Design - Kristian Tchetchko
Stage Manager - Emily Grand
*Pittsburgh Opera Resident Artist
Here's what other people are saying about Savage Winter (previously called Ashes & Snow):
- Opera Wire: Ashes & Snow to World Premiere at Pittsburgh Opera
- Broadway World: Pittsburgh Opera Presents The World Premiere of Ashes & Snow
- Trib Live: Entertainment Planner: Feb 8-21
- Pittsburgh Magazine: Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in February
- Pittsburgh Owl Scribe: Ashes and Snow - "BREAKING BAD meets Samuel Beckett"
- LOCAL Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh Opera’s Second World Premiere Goes Intimate with Ashes & Snow
- Pittsburgh in the Round: Eric Ferring on Pittsburgh Opera’s Ashes & Snow
- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Ashes and Snow is man's psychological journey to oblivion and redemption
- WQED: Voice of the Arts podcasts
- WQXR 105.9 FM, New York City’s classical music radio station: Operavore - A World of New Operas
- Trib Live: Event Planner: Feb. 15 - 28
- City Paper: Short List, Feb. 15-22
- Burgh Vivant: video interview - ERIC FERRING – Tenor, ASHES & SNOW, Pittsburgh Opera
- Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh: Staff Picks - A Story of Lost Love
- Trib Live: Pittsburgh Opera presents world premiere of Ashes and Snow
- 90.5 WESA-FM, Pittsburgh's NPR News Station: Pittsburgh Opera Goes Electric With World-Premiere Of Ashes & Snow
- Pittsburgh in the Round: Review- Ashes & Snow
- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Review: Pittsburgh Opera's 'Ashes & Snow'
- Broadway World: Photo Flash - Inside Pittsburgh Opera's ASHES & SNOW
- Radio 3, Rome, Italy: Momus il caffè dell'Opera - Douglas Cuomo
- OperaWire: Top 5 Operas to See This Weekend – North America (2/23-25)
- Classical Voice North America: Opera Inspired By Winterreise Makes Powerful Theater
The Protagonist dreams of springtime and love, but wakes to cold and darkness and the shrieking of ravens.
The Protagonist wonders "Why do I take secret ways and avoid the other travelers?" as he becomes increasingly agitated.
A dancing light wants to lead the Protagonist astray, and he is glad to go along.
The Protaganist implores himself to have courage in his time of troubles, reminding himself that pain is "for fools".
The poems upon which Savage Winter is based “tell the story of a lonely traveller who ventures out into the snow on a journey to rid himself of his lost love. Along the way he experiences a turmoil of different emotions, mostly ranging from despair to greater despair.” - Jeanell Carrigan
The following brief synopsis of each of the Winterreise’s 24 poems is adapted from Wikipedia.
- "Good Night": “A stranger I arrived; a stranger I depart.” In May, he won the love of a girl and hoped to marry her. But now the world is dreary, and he must leave, in winter, in the dead of night, finding his own way in the trackless snow. He writes “Good Night” on her gate as he passes to show he thought of her.
- "The Weathervane": The weathervane on her house creaks in the shifting winds, mocking him and showing the inconstant hearts inside. “What do they care about my suffering? Their child is a wealthy bride!”
- "Frozen Tears": He notices he has been crying and chides his tears for being only lukewarm so that they freeze. They come out of his heart hot enough to melt all the winter’s ice!
- "Numbness": He looks in vain for her footprints beneath the snow where she once walked with him through the green meadow; he wants to melt away the snow and ice with his tears. He has nothing to remember her by except his pain. She is frozen in his heart; if it thaws, her image will flow away.
- "The Linden Tree": The tree, a reminder of happier days, seems to call him, promising rest. But he turns away, into the cold wind. And now, miles away, he still hears it calling him: “Here you would find peace.”
- "Flood Water": The cold snow thirstily sucks up his tears; when the warm winds blow, the snow and ice will melt, and the brook will carry them through the town to where his sweetheart lives.
- "On the River": The gaily rushing river lies silent under a hard crust. In the ice, he carves a memorial to their love. The river is an image of his heart swelling up powerfully beneath the frozen surface.
- "A Backwards Glance": He recounts his headlong flight from the town and recalls his springtime arrival in the “city of inconstancy,” and two girlish eyes that captivated him. When he thinks of that time, he would like to go back and stand silently in front of her house.
- "Will o’ the Wisp": The false light of the will-o’-the-wisp has led him astray, but he’s used to that. Every path leads to the same goal. Our joys and sorrows are but a trick of the light. Every stream reaches the sea, every sorrow its grave.
- "Rest": Only now that he has stopped to rest does he realize how tired & sore he is. And in the quiet he feels for the first time the “worm” which stings him inwardly.
- "Dream of Spring": He dreams of springtime and love, but wakes to cold and darkness and the shrieking of ravens. He sees frost leaves painted on the window. When will they turn green? When will he again embrace his beloved?
- "Solitude": He wanders, like a sad and lonely cloud, through the bright and happy life around him. “Even when the storms were raging. I was not so miserable.”
- "The Post": He hears a postal horn. “Why does my heart leap up so? There’s no letter for you! But maybe there’s some news of her?”
- "The Gray Head": Frost has turned his hair gray and he rejoices at being an old man. But when it thaws, he is horrified to be a youth again: “How far it is still to the grave.”
- "The Crow": A crow has been following him. It has never left him, expecting to take his body as its prey. “It won’t be much longer now. Crow, show me constancy unto death!”
- "Last Hope": He gambles on a leaf quivering in the wind. If it falls from the tree, all his hopes are dashed. He falls to the ground himself and weeps over the “grave” of his hopes.
- "In the Village": Dogs bark, and all the people are asleep, dreaming of success and failure, finding on their pillows what eluded them in life. “I am done with all dreaming. Why should I linger among the sleepers?”
- "The Stormy Morning": The storm is an image of his heart, wild and cold like the winter.
- "Illusion": A dancing light wants to lead him astray, and he is glad to go along. “Behind ice and night and horror” it shows him a warm, bright house and a loving wife within. Illusion is all he has to go on.
- "The Signpost": “Why do I take secret ways and avoid the other travelers? I’ve committed no crime. What foolish desire drives me to seek the wastelands?” He journeys endlessly, seeking peace and finding none. A signpost points the way: “I must travel a road where no one has ever yet returned.”
- "The Inn": He comes to a graveyard and wants to enter. But all the rooms in this “inn” are taken; he resolves to go on his way with his faithful walking-stick.
- "Courage": He shakes the snow from his face and sings cheerfully to silence his heart’s stirrings, striding into the world, against wind and weather: “If there’s no God on earth, then we ourselves are gods!”
- "The False Suns": He sees three suns staring at him in the sky. “You are not my suns! Once I too had three, but the best two have now set. If only the third would follow, I’ll be happier in the darkness.”
- "The Hurdy-Gurdy Man": Back of the village stands a hurdy-gurdy man (organ grinder), cranking his instrument with frozen fingers. His begging bowl is always empty; no one listens, and the dogs growl at him. But his playing never stops. “Strange old man. Shall I come with you? Will you play your hurdy-gurdy to accompany my songs?”
Full texts of the songs, with a good translation by Celia Sgroi, are available as a PDF at http://www.gopera.com/lieder/translations/schubert_911.pdf
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- Run time: 1 hour 14 minutes, with no intermissions
- This performance contains brief nudity.
- Understand Every Word: Sung in English with English supertitles shown at all performances
- Study Guide provided by our education department
- Audio Description available at Pittsburgh Opera Headquarters
- Braille Programs available at Pittsburgh Opera Headquarters
- Large-Print Programs available at Pittsburgh Opera Headquarters
Listen to Pittsburgh Opera General Director Christopher Hahn give a brief synopsis of Savage Winter featuring excerpts from the following audio clips from a special concert performance of the new work at the University of Miami, courtesy of Schott Music Corporation & European American Music Distributors Company:
- "...Path concealed beneath the snow" - sung by Tony Boutté playing the role of The Protagonist
- Instrumental Interlude - performed by Alan Johnson (piano), Brian Lynch (trumpet), and composer Dougals Cuomo (guitar)
Click play below or download these excerpts for an offline treat!
American Opera Project Partnership
Savage Winter is being developed in partnership with American Opera Projects (AOP).
AOP is at the forefront of the contemporary opera movement, commissioning, developing, presenting, and producing opera and music theatre projects, collaborating with young, rising, and established artists.
This will be the fourth Pittsburgh Opera project involving AOP, and the third in the past two years. AOP developed Paul’s Case and co-produced its 2013 premiere, produced the world premiere of As One, which Pittsburgh Opera performed in February 2017, and developed The Summer King, which made its world premiere at the Benedum Center in April 2017.