Igor Stravinsky’s L’Histoire du Soldat was written originally as a work that could be done with minimal numbers of players and actors, and in any old kind of performance space.
Stravinsky and writer C.F. Ramuz wrote the piece in 1918, at the very end of the war that had killed the Belle Epoque, and in its hand-me-down stylings and simple but tragic story that evokes medieval folktales, it has an unforgettable sound and makes a powerful impact.
This classic of the early 20th century gets two adapted outings in the coming weeks for the sixth season of Elaine Rinaldi’s Orchestra Miami.
On Sunday, a suite from the piece is played by members of the orchestra on a chamber music program with music by Beethoven and Menotti. The chamber suite from L’Histoire, arranged by Stravinsky for piano, clarinet and violin, will be played by Rinaldi, violinist Mei Mei Luo, and clarinetist Richard Hancock.
Also on the program are two early Beethoven works: the Trio, Op. 11, for piano, cello and clarinet (with cellist Ashley Garritson), and the third of a set of three piano quartets the composer wrote when he first moved to Vienna. He recycled some of the music from this quartet – which is WoO 36, No. 3, in C – for two of his early piano sonatas. Violist Richard Fleischman will join Rinaldi, Luo and Garritson for the quartet.
Although Gian-Carlo Menotti is best-known for his operas, particularly Amahl and the Night Visitors, he also wrote a good deal of instrumental music. His rarely heard Trio for Violin, Clarinet and Piano gets a welcome performance Sunday, and then soprano Elizabeth Beers Kataria is joined by Rinaldi for Beethoven’s Abscheulicher! Wo eilst du hin, Leonore’s big aria from Act I of the opera Fidelio.
The concert is scheduled for 7 p.m. Sunday at the Coral Gables Museum. This concert is also a fundraiser and season preview, and includes a silent auction as well as drinks and refreshments. Tickets are $30; call 305-274-2103 or visit the orchestra’s website.
World War I ended on Nov. 11, 1918, and for the 94th anniversary of the Armistice, Orchestra Miami will do L’Histoire with a libretto written by Kurt Vonnegut in 1993 about Private Eddie Slovik, who in January 1945 became the first U.S. soldier since the Civil War to be executed for desertion.
As it turns out, Nov. 11 is also Vonnegut’s birthday; the American author, who died in 2007, would have been 90. This version of L’Histoire – retitled An American Soldier’s Tale — hasn’t been done in Miami before, and this version, which had been commissioned and performed by New York Philomusica, was the subject of a fight with the Stravinsky estate before it was revived in 2006.
Orchestra Miami, directed by Rinaldi, will perform the Stravinsky score, and be accompanied by actors Ivan Lopez, Kristoff Skalet, Francesca Toledo and Matthew Glass. Slovik deserted because he was too terrified by the action on the front lines, and that fits well with Vonnegut’s tales of his own World War II service and what it did to young men, as well as his longtime pacifist activism.
There will be two performances of the Vonnegut version of Stravinsky’s tale: at 8 p.m. Nov. 10 at the Performing Arts Exchange on SW Eighth Street, and at 7 p.m. Nov. 11 at the Banyan Bowl at Pinecrest Gardens. Tickets range from $20-$30, and can be had by calling 800-838-3006 or visiting www.orchestramiami.org