David Perry, star first violinist with Midsummer’s Music and the Pro Arte String Quartet in Madison, made his onstage debut with Lyric Opera of Chicago on October 6th in Lyric Opera’s stunning new production of Richard Strauss’s final operatic jewel, Capriccio. This was only the latest in Perry’s lime-lighted appearances in Chicago following his most recent concerts in Door County with Midsummer’s Music leading up to Labor Day and then again when he returned with his Pro Arte colleagues for a performance at Woodwalk Gallery on Sept. 12th.
In between he made eight solo appearances with the Joffrey Ballet at the historic Auditorium Theater on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue performing the French masterpiece, “Poem,” for violin and orchestra by the late nineteenth century composer Ernest Chausson. In Anthony Tudor’s choreography entitled “Lilac Garden,” a young English woman is forced to give up here true love for someone else picked for her. The presence of Perry’s violin with orchestral accompaniment provided by the Chicago Philharmonic was the constant emotional content driving the ballet.
Lyric’s presentation of Capriccio, part of its 60th anniversary season brings back super star soprano René Fleming in one of her signature roles. Perry is first heard offstage at the beginning of act one as the opera opens with a string sextet as the Composer seeks to woo the rich Countess (played by Fleming) with the power of his music. In the second act, however, an eighteenth century style trio sonata is being performed in which Perry appears onstage in costume. His extended virtuoso performance does not go unnoticed by the Countess who hovers over his shoulder as he performs three eighteenth century dances, a passepied, a gigue, and a gavotte, much to the delight of the Countess.
Performing with Perry on the stage are cellist Yi Xin and harpsichordist William Billingham. Billingham is also familiar to Midsummer’s Music audiences because of his numerous performances as a pianist in the ensemble for many years. In this production, however, Billingham is not in view of the audience. Instead, the character of the Composer is seated at a make-believe instrument and mimes the action of a performer next to Perry and the cellist. Just behind the backdrop, out of sight, Billingham is playing the real harpsichord.
In the large Straussian orchestra in the pit at Lyric are Midsummer’s Music Artistic Director, Jim Berkenstock (Principal Bassoon), and Walter Preucil, Lyric’s Assistant Principal Cello. At the end of Perry’s and his colleagues’ captivating performances onstage, the audience applauds vociferously, but unbeknownst to those in their seats, an equally enthusiastic ovation is coming from the pit, because every musician knows how extraordinary and moving are the performances they have just heard.
“David Perry is simply one of the very finest violinists in the world today,” said Jim Berkenstock. “Whether he is playing onstage at Lyric, with the Joffrey Ballet, with Itzhak Perlman at Ravinia, or in any of the Midsummer’s Music venues throughout Door County, audiences continue to hear extraordinary magic. Those of us who work with him on a regular basis know, understand, and appreciate the greatness of this phenomenal colleague.”
David Perry can be heard in Door County much of June and July and in the days leading up to Labor Day with Midsummer’s Music. Call 920-854-7088 for more information or to make an appointment to hear David up close and personal as a part of Midsummer’s Music’s 25th anniversary season.