Musicians of Ma’alwyck Ensemble Presents a Musical Rendition of “A Water Bird Talk”

Classical chamber music ensemble Musicians of Ma’alwyck presents Pulitzer Prize winner Dominick Argento’s 1975 mono-opera “A Water Bird Talk,” paired with Anton Chekhov’s one-act monologue “On the Harmful Effects of Tobacco,” on which the opera is based.

The performance will take place on June 15 at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, with a pre-opera talk with the performers scheduled at the Hart Cluett Museum, both located in Troy.

Four musicians holding a flute, a violin, a guitar and a cello from left to right.

“A Water Bird Talk” is a sharp-witted piece that follows a gentleman lecturer presenting a scholarly talk on water birds in a late nineteenth-century ladies’ club. His descriptions of each bird serve as metaphors for his own dejected life, portraying him as an inherent victim of constant ridicule from his domineering wife and daughters.

In 1962, Paul Newman directed an Oscar-nominated film adaptation of Chekhov’s play featuring music by David Amram, and Musicians of Ma’alwyck intend to pay tribute by using Arman’s score to provide musical interludes to the play. The opera boasts a 12-piece orchestra, including core Musicians of Ma’alwyck personnel: Ann-Marie Barker Schwartz, artistic director and violin; Norman Thibodeau, flute; and André Laurent O’Neil, cello. Internationally acclaimed baritone Joseph Han will also be part of the opera, with direction by Brian Sheldon, known for his work on plays like “Minutes” in Albany, and musical conducting by Micah Gleason.

“A Water Bird Talk” stands as a testament to Musicians of Ma’alwyck’s mission to cultivate and promote an understanding of American life in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, particularly in New York. The opera follows the legacy of the ensemble’s previous nationally recognized opera “Shield’s The Poor Soldier,” and other remarkable productions like “Blum’s The Ship’s Captain” and “Max Caplan’s Aleda.” They have also been in residence at the Schuyler Mansion in Albany for over twenty years, and currently hold a residency at SUNY Schenectady.

This collaboration with Troy Savings Bank Music Hall in Troy, NY promises a mesmerizing evening of musical brilliance.

Tickets are available for purchase by calling (518) 273-0038 or online here.

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