Dallas Symphony blazes in music inspired by famed art duo Georgia O’Keeffe, Alfred Stieglitz

In 1916, a mate of Georgia O’Keeffe introduced some of the artist’s charcoal drawings to Alfred Stieglitz, a photographer and dealer at the best of his fame. A observe-up letter from O’Keeffe sparked a tumultuous 30-year romance with Stieglitz that saw her rise from obscurity to intercontinental renown.

American composer Kevin Puts sets letters from the pair to tunes in The Brightness of Mild, for soprano, baritone and orchestra. The 2-year-old piece was specified its North Texas premiere Friday evening by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, with soprano Renée Fleming and baritone Rod Gilfry.

Fleming will give a keynote speech at the DSO’s Girls in Classical Songs Symposium, starting Sunday, and will be honored with an award at the party.

Puts, rhymes with “soots,” retains ties to the spot. He was previously composer-in-residence at the Fort Truly worth Symphony Orchestra. In 2014, the Fort Worthy of Opera created his Pulitzer-prize profitable Silent Night time, about a spontaneous stop-fireplace in the course of Entire world War I.

A number of decades immediately after their relationship, O’Keeffe found out Stieglitz was cheating on her. She then made her very first of lots of excursions to New Mexico, which turned a longtime resource of inspiration.

Frequently taut and powerful, Brightness unfolds in a dozen steady sections, shifting from the duo’s to start with tentative trade to expressions of sexual desire and O’Keeffe’s adoration of New Mexico. In “Taos,” Places underscores O’Keeffe’s escalating independence with bold traces that efficiently distinction Stieglitz’s pained nostalgia in “The Matter You Phone Holy.”

Puts’ neo-intimate language embraces a wide variety of influences — echoes of Benjamin Britten and Aaron Copland from time to time surface area. Befitting the title, comprehensive-orchestra climaxes blaze and lush passages glow with warmth. Layered brass phone calls build piquant tone clusters. And wide-open up sonorities in “Sunset” evoke cathedral-like spaciousness. Led by songs director Fabio Luisi, the DSO played with urgency and committed totally to the modernist effects.

As in Silent Night, Puts writes normally and lyrically for voices. Gilfry’s stalwart baritone was resonant all over his range. His hushed higher notes ended up significantly poignant.

Fleming is a charismatic performer. In “Violin,” about O’Keeffe’s amateurish qualities on the instrument, Fleming solid sly glances towards the audience, eliciting laughs.

Still her vocal phrasing was often choppy, with emphases landing in odd destinations. Her voice projected noticeably fewer than Gilfry’s and tended to slender out in her small sign up.

Dallas Symphony Orchestra, led by music director Fabio Luisi, performs Kevin Puts’ 'The Brightness of Light' with soprano Renée Fleming and baritone Rod Gilfry at the Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas on Nov. 5.
Dallas Symphony Orchestra, led by songs director Fabio Luisi, performs Kevin Puts’ ‘The Brightness of Light’ with soprano Renée Fleming and baritone Rod Gilfry at the Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas on Nov. 5. (Nitashia Johnson / Distinctive Contributor)

Conceived by Wendall Harrington, videos projected onto a screen depicted pictures of O’Keeffe’s art and pics of the couple, heightening the music’s effect. Supertitles were helpfully exhibited above the films. The program booklet omitted the name of a motion.

Opening the plan was Richard Strauss’ Metamorphosen, accomplished in the vicinity of the stop of Environment War II. Scored for 23 strings, it conjures recollections of factors earlier in thick, contrapuntal textures.

Luisi challenged the orchestra with adventurous tempo changes, and the musicians responded sympathetically. The ensemble sounded loaded and warm during, and the looking at was tighter than the a person on Thursday night time.


Repeats at 3 p.m. Sunday at Meyerson Symphony Centre, 2301 Flora St. $34 to $179. 214-849-4376, dallassymphony.org.

The Dallas Symphony Orchestra and Dallas Symphony Chorus perform under music director Fabio Luisi, with soloists, L to R, Kim-Lillian Strebel (soprano), Kelley O'Connor (mezzo), Spencer Lang (tenor) and David Leigh (bass) at Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas on Nov. 4, 2021.
Jeri Lynne Johnson conducts the Dallas Symphony Orchestra during a performance of Gospel Goes Classical with the DSO, Feb. 7, 2019.

The Fort Worth Opera Festival’s “Silent Night” recounts a famous Christmas incident on a World War I battlefield in which opposing soldiers put their guns down and sang Christmas hymns together.