It might seem farfetched that Katherine Hepburn, Winona Ryder and Charles Ives might have anything in common, but there IS a connection of sorts: Hepburn appeared in a 1933 film based on Louisa May Alcott's classic 19th century novel, "Little Women," Wynona Ryder starred in a 1994 Hollywood remake, and, in 1913, American composer Charles Ives composed the music we're hearing now—the second movement of his "Concord" sonata for piano, a movement titled "The Alcotts," which evokes Louisa May, her novel and her real-life family and friends, who included the New England "Transcendentalists," Emerson and Thoreau.
Set during the American Civil War, Alcott's "Little Women" chronicles the coming of age of four young women in Concord, Massachusetts. The story of Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy has charmed readers and film-goers around the world. Ives's music, like Alcott's novel, is nostalgic, affectionate, and quietly powerful.
A young contemporary American composer, Mark Adamo, has written an opera based on Alcott's "Little Women", which premiered on today's date in 1998 at the Opera Studio of Houston Grand Opera. After its premiere, that company's general director, David Gockley, pronounced Adamo's opera "destined to become an American classic," and rescheduled "Little Women" for mainstage performances at Houston Grand Opera in March of 2000.
And Mr. Gockley's predication seems to have been accurate. Since the successful Houston Opera revival in 2000, Mark Adamo's version of "Little Women" has been staged again and again, to equal acclaim from audiences and critics.
Music Played in Today's Program
Charles Ives (1874 - 1954)The Alcotts, fr Concord SonataAnthony de Mare, pianoCRI 837
Mark Adamo (b. 1962)Little WomenHouston Grand Opera; Patrick Summers, cond.Ondine 988