Antony and Cleopatra (opera)
Antony and Cleopatra is an opera in three acts by American composer Samuel Barber. The libretto was prepared by Franco Zeffirelli based on the play Antony and Cleopatra by Shakespeare. It originally made use of Shakespeare's language exclusively.
It was first performed in New York City on September 16, 1966, at the opening of the new Metropolitan Opera House in Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. The idea was to have a new opera by an American composer for the gala opening of the new house.[vague]
No expense was spared. Franco Zeffirelli was hired as stage director. Thomas Schippers was the conductor. The stage design and costumes were elaborate; the cast enormous including 22 singers, full chorus, and ballet dancers.
 Performance history
The opera was badly received by the press, and not enthusiastically received by the public (Freeman 1997, 15; Heyman 1992b). This was because of the elaborate staging, gaudy costumes, and to a press focused more on the social glitter of the occasion than on the music (Heyman 1992a). The opera was dropped from the Met's repertory after the initial performances of the production.
Barber revised the opera, with text revisions by Gian-Carlo Menotti, Barber's long-time partner and librettist of his first opera, Vanessa (Heyman 1992a). This version was premièred under Menotti's direction at the Juilliard American Opera Center on February 6, 1975 (Freeman 1997, 15). There were further productions at the Spoleto Festival USA and Festival dei Due Mondi in Spoleto, Italy, in 1983, and the Lyric Opera of Chicago in 1991 (Heyman 1992a).
|Role||Voice type||Premiere Cast, September 16, 1966
(Conductor: Thomas Schippers)
|Mark Antony||baritone||Justino Diaz|
|Octavius Caesar||tenor||Jess Thomas|
|Charmian, servant to Cleopatra||mezzo-soprano||Rosalind Elias|
|Octavia||Mary Ellen Pracht|
|Soldier of Caesar||Gabor Carelli|
|Captain of the Guard||Dan Marek|
|Guard 1||Robert Schmorr|
|Guard 2||Edward Ghazal|
|Guard 3||Norman Scott|
|Soldier of Antony||John Trehy|
|Watchman 1||Paul De Paola|
|Watchman 2||Luis Forero|
- Freeman, John W. (1997). The Metropolitan Opera Stories of the Great Operas. New York: W. W. Norton Co. ISBN 0-393-04051-8
- Heyman, Barbara B. (1992a). "Antony and Cleopatra". The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, 4 vols., edited by Stanley Sadie; managing editor, Christina Bashford. London: Macmillan Press. ISBN 0-935859-92-6
- Heyman, Barbara B. (1992b). "Barber, Samuel". The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, 4 vols., edited by Stanley Sadie; managing editor, Christina Bashford. London: Macmillan Press. ISBN 0-935859-92-6
- Heyman, Barbara B. (1995). Samuel Barber: The Composer and His Music. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-509058-6
- Kolodin, Irving (1966). "Music to my Ears: Barber’s Antony, after Zeffirelli". Saturday Review (October 1).
- Schonberg, Harold C. (September 17, 1966). "Onstage, It Was 'Antony and Cleopatra'; New Opera by Barber a Bit Lost in Shuffle". New York Times.