WORLD PREMIERE PERFORMANCE OF PENELOPE, A CONCERT WORK WITH MUSIC BY ANDRÉ PREVIN AND TEXT BY TOM STOPPARD, TO GO FORWARD AT TANGLEWOOD ON JULY 24; PENELOPE, PREVIN’S FINAL WORK, WAS UNFINISHED AT THE TIME OF HIS DEATH IN FEBRUARY
LEADING AMERICAN ACTRESS UMA THURMAN TO JOIN RENÉE FLEMING, THE EMERSON STRING QUARTET, AND PIANIST SIMONE DINNERSTEIN IN THE NEWLY-CREATED PART OF NARRATOR
THE UNCOMPLETED MANUSCRIPT, A MUSICAL PORTRAYAL OF PENELOPE FROM HOMER’S ODYSSEY, WAS FOUND IN PREVIN’S APARTMENT; HIS EDITOR DAVID FETHEROLF WORKED FROM THE MANUSCRIPT TO CREATE A FULL WORKING SCORE AND BRING IT TO THE CONCERT STAGE
PERFORMANCE IS DEDICATED TO THE LIFE AND MUSIC OF ANDRÉ PREVIN, AN AMERICAN MUSICAL LEGEND
The Boston Symphony Orchestra will move forward with presenting the world premiere of André Previn and Tom Stoppard’s Penelope at Tanglewood's Ozawa Hall on Wednesday, July 24 at 8 p.m. New to the performance lineup is Boston-born actress Uma Thurman, who will take on the newly created part of narrator, joining the previously announced performers[Renee Fleming]—the Emerson String Quartet, pianist Simone Dinnerstein, and vocalist Renée Fleming, to whom the work is dedicated. Prior to Mr. Previn’s passing in February, the premiere of Penelope was originally conceived as part of Tanglewood’s celebration of Previn’s 90th birthday year. It will now be dedicated to the life and music of this great American musician. A monodrama about Penelope from Homer’s Odyssey, this new work by Mr. Previn and Mr. Stoppard was commissioned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Ravinia Festival, Aspen Music Festival and School, and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
Some Background on the Development of Penelope Since Mr. Previn’s Passing on February 28, 2019
At the time of his death, André Previn was close to completing the composition of Penelope, though the score was still in manuscript form. Upon gathering all the score pages and sketches from his father’s apartment, Previn’s son, Matthew Previn, asked his father’s longtime copyist, David Fetherolf, who is fluent in understanding Previn’s musical shorthand, to create a full working score from the manuscript. In some instances, the composer had written alternate versions and settings of some passages of text. As Mr. Fetherolf delved into the manuscript, it became clear that Previn had still been in the process of deciding whether certain portions of the text would be recited by a narrator or sung as part of the soprano role. Working closely with Renée Fleming, the Emerson Quartet’s first violinist, Eugene Drucker, and pianist Simone Dinnerstein, Mr. Fetherolf realized the score, which will be presented at the premiere performance on July 24. As he wrote in his program note, "I replaced many of the sung parts with the other pages I had found with text which was spoken. Some of these parts were accompanied by the quartet or piano, and some were just spoken." In addition, there were portions of the original manuscript where there were additional orchestral instruments written into the score, possibly indicating that Mr. Previn was anticipating a full orchestration of the work at some point in the future.
"After the loss this winter of my dear friend, the great André Previn, I’m overjoyed that we are indeed able give his last work its world premiere at Tanglewood," said Renée Fleming in a statement. "With the addition of the incomparable Uma Thurman to the performance with the Emerson String Quartet and pianist Simone Dinnerstein, I know we can give André’s beautiful music and Tom Stoppard’s brilliant text the performance André would want."