Maria Brea is one of Venezuela’s most acclaimed opera singers
As a youngster, Maria Brea learned folk music from her Cuatro-playing father. Today, the soprano is fast making a name for herself across North America. Carnegie Hall, The Metropolitan Opera, Palais Garnier are just some of the prestigious stages the Juilliard grad has already graced, where she has stunned audiences with her dazzling range and intoxicatingly lush tones.
Maria makes her Winnipeg debut under the baton of Anne Manson, singing vocal works by Alexandre Regnault and Odaline de la Martinez’s Four AfroCuban Poems. Martinez’s infectious work has its origins in conversations between friends Nicolas Guillen and Langston Hughes. How we would like to have been a fly on the wall for those talks. Guillen is considered Cuba’s national poet, and Hughes one of the Harlem Renaissance’s — and America’s — greatest poets. While visiting Guillen in Cuba, Hughes remarked on the similarities between Cuban ‘son’ music and American ‘blues’ music. This inspired Guillen’s Motivos de son, which draws on Afro-Cubans’ everyday speech, living conditions, and folk music. It’s almost surprising that someone hasn’t already set this masterpiece of poetry to music, as Martinez does in her irresistible Four AfroCuban Poems
Let’s be honest, MCO audiences wouldn’t be fully satisfied without a dash of Mozart or Haydn — at this concert we generously give you both.
The concert begins at 7.30pm on Wednesday, March 27th, in Crescent Arts Centre, 525 Wardlaw Avenue. Casual tickets will be available 7 July 2023 here and on MCO’s Ticketline at 204-783-7377.
Manitoba Chamber Orchestra
Anne Manson, Music Director
Karl Stobbe, Concertmaster
Crescent Arts Centre, 525 Wardlaw Avenue
7.30pm, Wednesday, 27 March 2024
Anne Manson, conductor
Maria Brea, soprano
Odaline de la Martinez (b. 1949)
Four Afro Cuban Poems
Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)
Symphony No. 67 in F Major
Alexandre Regnault (b. 1981)
Symphonic Allegory for Soprano
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
Symphony No. 25 in G Minor, K. 183
Maria Brea, soprano, is one of Venezuela’s most acclaimed opera singers. Praised for being a “very classy Venezuelan soprano” by The Arts Desk, “versatile soprano” by Tampa Bay and “luxurious soprano” by Opera Wire. Maria has performed throughout the world, from Cardiff to Paris, stunning her audiences with her exciting renditions, sparkling clarity and dazzling range.
Ms. Brea starts her 2023-2024 season reprising one of her most performed roles, Micaëla in Bizet’s Carmen at the Hogfish Festival in Maine with a star rising cast. In the fall of 2023, she will be preforming the role of Clomiri in Handel’s adaptation of Imeneo with Opera Essentia in New York City with a baroque specialized 415 ensemble. She returns to the University of Notre Dame to sing a recital accompanied by Israeli pianist Dror Baitel. In December 2023, Maria makes her awaited debut with the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra singing Handel’s Messiah, an adaptation in Spanish under the baton of Maestro Tito Muñoz. In January 2024, she’ll be heard with Vero Beach Opera in her return to the role of Donna Anna with a stellar cast. Maria makes her Canadian debut here with the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra.
In the 2022-23 season Ms. Brea represented Venezuela in the prestigious Operalia. She also had appearances with the Hogfish Music Festival, the American Spirtual Ensemble, Oratorio Society of New York at Carnegie Hall, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, the Tucson Symphony Orchestra, the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra, and with Boston Philharmonic with the legendary conductor Benjamin Zander. Maria made her Schubert Club’s debut in Saint Paul, Minnesota along with the Jasper Quartet in a premiere of award winning Venezuelan composer Reinaldo Moya.
Brea’s father, a music teacher and Cuatro player, taught her Venezuelan folk music from an early age. Maria holds a Bachelor Degree in Music with The Manhattan School of Music and a Masters Degree in Music at the World Renowned Juilliard School.
Odaline de la Martínez
Born in Cuba and brought up in the USA, Odaline de la Martínez is now based in the UK where she has become a formidable force on today’s classical music scene, pursuing a busy career as an award-winning composer, conductor, record producer and event curator. Working with everything from Mozart symphonies to the latest contemporary music, she has acquired an illustrious reputation for her versatile and eclectic vision, with a long-standing commitment to contemporary music, women composers and Latin American composers in particular. Amongst her many achievements, Martínez was the first woman to conduct a BBC Prom at the Royal Albert Hall in 1984.
Martínez enjoys a demanding schedule as guest conductor with leading orchestras worldwide and throughout Great Britain, including all the BBC orchestras. In addition to frequent broadcasts for BBC TV and radio, she has recorded over 40 CDs founded her own ensemble, Lontano, in 1976, with whom she has also performed and broadcast all over the world.
Martínez studied Composition at the University of Surrey, Tulane University and the Royal Academy of Music. Published by Composers Edition, her works have since been showcased across some of the world’s most elite classical music venues, including Carnegie Hall, Wigmore Hall, Southbank Centre and St. John’s Smith Square, amongst many others. Her output traverses a wide range of formats, from intimate solo, chamber and electronic works, to large-scale choral, operatic, and orchestral pieces.
Known also for her exciting productions of unique and imaginative events, Martínez runs the biennial London Festival of American Music (now in its 8th year) and has curated bespoke programmes for major venues and festivals such as Southbank Centre and Cardiff Festival; most recently co-curating Juilliard’s FOCUS Festival of Trailblazer Women Composers. Regarded as a distinguished pedagogue, Martínez’ many artistic and educational residencies include a permanent post at King’s College, London, alongside dedicated outreach work as a Trustee of the Mornington Trust.
In 2018, the Royal Academy of Arts recognised her as one of the UK’s most pioneering-ever female musicians, as part of their itinerant photographic art exhibition, First 100 Women.
Alexandre Regnault was born in Paris in 1981 to Venezuelan parents. He received his first musical training from his mother, the mezzo-soprano Arelys Regnault, and went on to perfect his studies in France, Spain, and Venezuela. He had the privilege of being under the direct tutelage of several masters, including the French conductor Antoine Duhamel, Ivor Osorio, Pedro Blanco, and the great pianist Estrella Sandoval. In 2009, he premiered his first opera, L’Histoire de la Peur, with the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Maestro Alfredo Rugeles, the Polyphonic Choir of Venezuela, and soprano Mariana Ortiz.
Most of his work remains unpublished. His portfolio as a composer specializes in the creation of Symphonic Portraits, a series of symphonic aphorisms and lyrical allegories created to measure for works of art from the 7th century BC to the present day. His works include Five Mystical Adagios, two symphonies, a concerto for classical guitar and orchestra, and five symphonic suites for choir and orchestra. He is currently working on a revised edition of L’Histoire de la Peur created especially for Maria Brea.
Symphony No. 67 in F Major
- Menuetto & Trio
- Finale: Allegro di molto
Haydn spent 30 years (1761-1790) as director of music to an immensely wealthy family of Hungarian aristocrats, the Esterházys. He remained a virtual prisoner on their estates, in and close to Vienna. His music traveled for him, however, winning exceptional popularity in numerous major centres.
This charming symphony made its début in the music room at the recently built family palace at Esterháza, a space designed specifically for concerts. This resulted in music much different from the symphonies Haydn had composed for the hall in the older family seat at Eisenstadt. Haydn scholar H.C. Robbins Landon writes, “The whole atmosphere of the room was more intimate and especially well suited to the small orchestra over which Haydn disposed: hence a work like Symphony No. 67 (which dates from about 1778), with its delicate solo passages and filigree scoring, is perfectly suited to it, while the bold, organ-like scoring of Symphony No. 13’s beginning (1763) seemed designed for the large and generous acoustics of Eisenstadt.”
Symphony No. 67 shows Haydn’s inventiveness working at full throttle. In contrast to many of the later symphonies, the opening movement has no slow introduction. Haydn plunges immediately into this fleet, charming music. The spell of good humour continues through the following slow movement. Haydn calls upon the violins to execute two effects that look forward to the Romantic era: they play with mutes at the start of the movement, and in the concluding bars they play their strings with the wood of the bow rather than the hair. In this work, the latter procedure created a charming effect rather than the sinister one for which Hector Berlioz used it, 50 years later, in the nightmarish finale of the Symphonie fantastique.
The third movement, a minuet, is a stately affair. Haydn scored the central trio section for just a pair of muted violins, one tuned differently than the other. The finale brings further pleasant surprises. Midway through it comes to halt. Haydn replaced the orchestra with a string trio (two violins and a cello). They perform what is an effect a second slow movement, one more pensive than the first. The orchestra joins in, and eventually the opening material returns and drives the movement onward to its conclusion.
Symphony No. 25 in G Minor, K. 183
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
- Allegro con brio
- Menuetto & Trio
This bold, vibrant work is Mozart’s first truly significant symphony, as well as the earliest of his symphonies that receives regular concert performances. Its current popularity dates from the twentieth century, as it was little known and seldom performed prior to that period.
The seventeen-year-old composer completed it on 5 October 1773, seven months after he had returned to his native Salzburg from the last of three trips to Italy. During that visit, his opera Lucio Silla had been greeted with acclaim at its premiere in Milan. Works dating from the summer of 1773 included several serenades and no fewer than six string quartets. He rapidly followed up on Symphony No. 25 with the first examples of two musical forms of which he would prove himself a complete master: the string quintet and the piano concerto (this was Concerto ‘No. 5,’ prior to which he had created four concertos based on themes by other composers).
He wasn’t happy to be back in a city that he considered backward and unappreciative of his talents. His feelings may have coloured this piece. In it, he rejected the conventional cheerfulness that the audiences of the day expected in a symphony. Another possible inspiration was his future friend Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No. 39 (1770), which is set in the same key and which also shares the unusual-for-the-day inclusion of four horns in the orchestra instead of two. Mozart may well have heard it, or read the score, during a two-month visit he and his father Leopold made to Vienna that summer.
Mozart composed just two symphonies in a minor key—the same G Minor, in fact: No. 25 and No. 40 (1788). At times No. 25 has been referred to as the ‘little’ G Minor, not to disparage its considerable worth but to distinguish it from its later, longer, and even more remarkable sister piece. He used this key to express especially passionate emotions. Other compositions in which he did so included the magnificent String Quintet, K. 516 (1787) and his glorious final opera, The Magic Flute (1791).
The pulsing opening measures of Symphony No. 25 (which served as a memorable accompaniment to the title sequence in the film Amadeus), offer complete individuality, rather than the rather bland conventionality of his previous symphonies. The remainder of the movement mingles drama with pathos. The slow movement offers a measure of consolation, but is still not totally free of unresolved tensions. The minuet is a serious and sober affair, framing a central trio section, scored for woodwinds alone, that offers a brief oasis of genteel amiability. In the finale, the first subject resumes the opening movement’s sense of struggle. But Mozart offers a ray of warmth in the second theme. Its character isn’t enough to win the day, but it does help smooth away the roughest edges of the music’s bleakness.