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Mar. 2023 | 80th Anniversary at the Admiral

Updated: Mar 2, 2023

Please join us for a very special concert at the Admiral Theatre to celebrate 80 years of the Bremerton WestSound Symphony and 80 years of the Admiral Theatre with music beloved by all and complete with birthday cake during intermission.

The Barber of Seville Overture was the very first piece performed by this orchestra in 1942 and will start our celebratory program this week. You may know the famous story of the lazy Gioachino Rossini who almost never finished his compositions on time. The impresario, or concert promoter, would lock Rossini in a room the night before a premier and deny him food or drink until the composition was finished. Rossini worked and handed each page out of the window as he finished writing it. For this opera, Rossini even outdid himself and set a new milestone in laziness. He did not even bother writing an overture but simply gave the impresario this (admittedly great) overture which he had written some years before for different opera.

Ask someone if they like Rodrigo’s Guitar Concierto de Aranjuez, and they may look at you quizzically, but if you hum a few bars of the second movement, they will light up with recognition. This is a universally recognized Spanish melody, and the most performed 20th Century concerto. Both Miles Davis (in Sketches of Spain) and Chick Corea (in Spain) liked this so much that they recorded their own interpretations of this piece. The orchestra is proud to present solo guitarist extraordinaire Mark Hilliard Wilson, currently in Residence at St. James Cathedral, seat of the Archdiocese of Seattle.

Carmen is the world’s best-known opera with beautiful tunes that all of us instantly recognize. However, this opera had a difficult birth. It is the first Verismo opera. Previous operas mostly dealt with the machinations of kings and queens or myths of gods and goddesses. This opera is about real people and real life. Composer George Bizet had a difficult time at the premier. He wanted the chorus of jealous and rival women to actually fight with each other and Carmen, asking them to rip each other’s clothing and tear at each other’s hair. Since they are all workers in a cigarette factory, he asked them to also smoke on stage. The choruses of that time were not accustomed to these kind of demands and fought with the composer instead.

Also, Carmen was probably the first opera to portray a modern woman, in charge of her own fate, and not beholden to, or tethered permanently to, any one man. This was shocking to the audiences of 1875 who called Carmen “immoral” and “subversive,” with “positively dangerous ideas” in a time when women mostly could not inherit property and absolutely could not vote. Perhaps this is not the venue to discuss changing social mores. Suffice it to say that the tunes, drenched in Spanish flavors, colors and rhythms, are as delightful today as they were 150 years ago.


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