Instrumentation: Mezzo or soprano and piano
Commission: Claudia Stevens through Painted Bride
Mezzo/pianist Claudia Stevens
Colorado College, Boulder, CO
Carreño, commissioned and premiered by pianist/singer Claudia Stevens, was inspired by the great virtuoso pianist, singer and composer. Carreño had an extraordinary and extraordinarily turbulent life. From her birth in Caracas (1853), to her early success in the United States, to her extended years in Europe, she had seemingly boundless energy. In addition to playing traditional repertoire, she premiered and toured music by Edward MacDowell, toured Grieg’s Piano Concerto and more. Beyond her pianistic brilliance, Carreño was a professional opera singer and briefly directed an opera company in Caracas.
Her personal life was as rich and complex as her musical life. She had four husbands: violinist Emile Suaret, the opera singer Giovanni Tagliaterra, the pianist Eugen d’Albert and Arturo Tagliapietra, brother of Giovanni. She had six children, though she had to give two of them up, and one of those died when only three years old. A complex woman with prodigious talents, and with strong pulls in many directions, Carreño clung to music, her life’s anchor. My monodrama, for which I composed both lyrics and music, intertwines elements of her personal story with some of the music she most loved, as well as quoting her own Teresita Waltz. I am delighted by the renewed interest not only in her biography, but also in her music. The Life and Music of Teresa Carreno (1853-1917): A Guide to Research is now available for those interested in learning more. Earlier, Marta Milinoski’s book By the Grace of God was helpful. Carreño’s achievements would have been extraordinary at any time, but for a woman during that time, it goes beyond talent to a phenomenal combination of utmost boldness and persistence. For more information visit www.judithshatin.com. –JS