Hope in a Time of Isolation – Anna Woiwood, soprano

    Sunday, October 25th, 5pm (EST)

    Hope in a Time of Isolation

    Anna Woiwood, soprano, with Chris Fecteau, piano
    Songs of Verdi, Chopin (arr. Litvinne), Ned Rorem, and Florence Price


    My program today dives into themes of the life cycle, of death and rebirth. What we try to make happen doesn’t always work out and either something is lost, or what we thought was going to happen changes, and have to discover a renewal.  It’s kind of like a tarot death: you don’t actually die, but one part of you ends in order for another to begin anew. This program takes a journey starting in isolation, getting through darkness, then seeing light on the horizon. I hope it leaves you with a sense of hope for we are not alone even if we aren’t in the same room together.


    Part 1: The Isolation of Love and Madness 

    In this pandemic period, feelings of madness and isolation are relatable to all of us as we each yearn for connection.

    Three songs of Giuseppe Verdi
    – I. Stornello (anonymous text)
    – II. In solitaria stanza (text by Jacopo Vittorelli)
    – III. Deh, pietoso, oh Addolarta (text by Luigi Ballestra after Goethe)

    Giuseppe Verdi is best known for such famous operas as La Traviata, Il Trovatore, Don Carlo, Falstaff and others, which remain staples of the mainstage repertoire.  His art songs encapsulate in isolation the beauty of his beautifully crafted arias.  Several passages from these art songs may recall ones in some of his famous arias. These pieces capture human life at fragile moments and this collected set reflects a  longing for something or someone that does not come to fruition.

    Part 2: The Cycle of Life Continues 

    With the acceptance of death comes an appreciation for the now. There is no going backwards, only forwards.

    I. Tristesse
    Frédéric Chopin
    Arrangement and text by Litvinne

    II. Take me back
    Ned Rorem (from Our Town)
    Text by J. D. McClatchy

    Frédéric Chopin may not be known for composing art songs for voice, but here,  one of his piano etudes was crafted into a gorgeous song. The text and adaptation are by Félia Litvinne, a Russian dramatic soprano who lived in France.  A deliciously warm melody is paired with dramatic text about a foreboding winter.  The melody was also made famous in 1950s pop version by Jo Stafford.

    Ned Rorem brings to life the metaphysical theatrical sensation Our Town with his simplistic albeit complex music. This aria, which falls at the end of the opera, begs the question, “Do we really see what is around us while we are living? Or must we die to truly know?”

    Part 3: Hope on the Horizon

    Optimism towards a new world. Don’t give up.

    Three Songs of Florence B. Price
    – I. We Have Tomorrow (text by Langston Hughes)
    – II. Hold Fast to Dreams (text by Langston Hughes)
    – III. Sunset (text by Odessa P. Elder)

    Florence Price’s music leaps off the page, dripping with hope and encouragement. She persevered no matter the obstacles – from her humble early years in Arkansas to a career boosting move to Chicago, she created a way when there was none. When, as a black woman, she was not admitted into the Arkansas Music Teachers Association, she created the Little Rock Club of Musicians and prospered.  In her Chicago, she took on a pseudonym in order to publish music and instructional piano books, and survived and thrived as an active musician. While she may not have achieved the fame she deserved in life, she lives on in her songs with their hopeful, encouraging messages.