On the heels of last year’s premiere, Jonah, based on the famous prophet of whale fame, Taconic Opera presents another world premiere, Daniel, based on the prophet sent to the den of lions. The work is being promoted by Arts Westchester as part of this year’s ARTSEE campaign to promote new works to the public.
“The story isn’t just about a lions’ den; the book of Daniel includes some of the most exciting narrative in canon,” says Dan Montez, the composer, orchestrator, and conductor of the work. The story covers the lives of four kings, including the famous Nebuchadnezzar. “For those who love Verdi’s opera, Nabucco, this oratorio tells the rest of the story,” claims Montez.
The narrative includes the famous “writing on the wall,” the madness of Nebuchadnezzar, the bizarre dreams, the three burning young men, and, of course, Daniel’s survival of the lions’ den.
Much like Jonah, Daniel is a revered prophet in Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. Within Christianity, Catholicism’s version of the Bible (based on the Septuagint) has two additional chapters not found in the King James version. “These two additional chapters contain the words and prayers of the three men cast into the fiery furnace and are some of the most beautiful prose in scripture…it was calling me to write music for it,” says Montez.
Montez describes his composing style as “somewhat impressionistic.” It is similar to Ravel, Poulenc, Debussy, Fauré, and yet seems to have harmonic elements of Puccini, and stylistic elements of Copland and Ralph Vaughan Williams. “Truth be told, as much as I love impressionism, it is hard to get the opera out of me. I like drama, and I love the powerful way opera singers can tell a story. I believe it is time to tell these Biblical stories in the language of the people, in this case English, and not only foreign languages like Latin. They also need to be told to a modern audience in a beautiful way. Too many liturgical oratorios are either only available in early music or in ultra-modern forms. I’m not sure people are being moved by the stories this way…so I don’t apologize for not composing with any sort of atonality. I want to reach people with the narrative.”
The work is about an hour and fifteen minutes in length and features the soloists, opera chorus, and full orchestra of the Taconic Opera.
The company will be presenting the oratorio in two locations:
UNITED METHODIST CHURCH OF OSSINING
One Emwilton (corner of Emwilton and Route 9 next to the high school)
Saturday, May 30, 2015, at 7:30 pm
PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF WHITE PLAINS
39 North Broadway, White Plains, New York (Route 6 exit on Highway 287)
Sunday, May 31, 2015, at 3:00 pm.
Tickets are $27 for adults, $20 for seniors, and $15 for students
Tickets can be purchased safely ONLINE here or by calling toll-free
1-(855) 88-OPERA (67372) or at the door.