An Opera in Two Acts

Maslova (Joyce DiDonato) and Prince Nekhlyudov (Scott Hendricks) in The Houston Grand Opera's Resurrection. Photo by Jim Caldwell.

Music by Tod Machover

Libretto by Laura Harrington
With additional material by Braham Murray
Commissioned by Houston Grand Opera

Brown Theater, Wortham Theater Center
April, 1999

Sung in English with English Surtitles

Act I

Prince Dmitry Nekhlyudov, a wealthy nobleman, is being dressed for the day by his valet. Suddenly, all the trappings of a courtroom move into place around him and a trial begins. Nekhlyudov is a juror.
Three people have been charged with robbing a man and poisoning him to cover up the theft. Two defendants, Simon Kartinkin and Euphemia Bochkova, are employees of the hotel where the crime took place. The third is a beautiful young prostitute, Katerina Maslova (Katusha). Nekhlyudov is shocked to recognize her. In a flashback, he remembers meeting her for the first time nearly a decade before. She was an orphan living on his aunt's estate; he was on furlough from officer training. They danced together and fell in love.
The jury is leaning toward a guilty verdict for the first two defendants and an acquittal for Maslova. One holdout believes that Maslova, too, is guilty. To appease him, the others agree to a hastily-worded verdict.
During the jurors' debate, Nekhlyudov's mind wanders to the night he met Maslova. Completely lost in his own passion, he went to her bedroom, ignoring her protests; she finally submitted to his demands. Afterwards, Nekhlyudov thrust 100 roubles into her hand and left her.
His memory fades; he is in the courtroom again. The verdicts are read, and Maslova is sentenced to eight years of servitude in Siberia. The court is shocked. Screaming her innocence, Maslova is led away. Nekhlyudov tells the president of the court that there has been a mistake; the president replies that the sentence may be appealed. Nekhlyudov realizes he is to blame for the course Maslova's life has taken.
That evening, he arrives late for a dinner party given by the Korchagins, whose daughter Missy is generally assumed to be his intended bride. He explains his experience in the court, and how the unjust verdict has unsettled him, but his aristocratic hosts do not understand. When Missy is alone with him, she attempts to seduce him, to cement his commitment to her. Nekhtyudov, disgusted, leaves her. He has suddenly comprehended that he can never marry Mssy, and that he must set things right with Maslova, whatever the cost.
Nekhlyudov goes to visit Maslova in prison. When she realizes who he is, her manner turns harsh. He asks for her forgiveness but she insists she is proud of her life. Nekhlyudov is repelled, but promises to do everything he can to help her. As he leaves, Maslova remembers the night she knew Nekhlyudov had abandoned her for good. She was pregnant, and went to find him on a passing army train, but he never saw her. She ran alongside the moving train, pounding on the window and crying out. That night, she gave up believing in God, faith, help, hope.
Nekhlyudov consults a lawyer to appeal Maslova's sentence, but he realizes that he must do more. He wants to do his part to destroy a society that allows die rich to use the poor in any way they please. He renounces his former lifestyle and makes a plan to sell all his possessions and divide his land among the peasants who work it.
Nekhlyudov returns to the prison to have Maslova sign her appeal. He asks her again to forgive him, and tells her he will marry her. lnftniated, she mocks his "noble" offer. Nekhlyudov hands her a photograph of herself taken long ago. She is moved-the photo reminds her of the young woman she once was. Later, the inspector enters with news that her appeal has been denied, and that she will leave on the next transport for Siberia.

Kriltsov (James Holloway), Simonson (Raymond Very), Maria (Elizabeth Turner), Maslova (Joyce Didonato) in The Houston Grand Opera's Resurrection. Photo by Jim Caldwell.

Act II
The prisoners are marching to Siberia through the snow. Nekhlyudov carries a petition to the
Emperor which Maslova must sign. He is shocked by the brutal treatment of the prisoners. Maslova is overjoyed to see him, and to his amazement he sees that the old Maslova is being reborn. She introduces him to Peter Simonson, a schoolmaster convicted for teaching "subversive" literature. As Maslova rejoins the line, Nekhlyudov feels stirrings of love for her.
Later, in the prison camp, Nekhlyudov arrives with Maslova's pardon, which he has been successful in negotiating. Suddenly, several guards drag Simonson out for a flogging; Nekhlyudov follows. He can't believe what he has seen. When Simonson is returned to the room, Maslova begins to dress his wounds. Nekhlyudov asks the prisoners how this awful system can be changed. They reply that revolution is the only way. Simonson, in agony, says there is another way: Maslova's way, transforming people with kindness, one person to another.
Simonson asks to speak to Nekhlyudov in private. He wants to marry Maslova, but she will not agree unless Nekhtyudov approves. Nekhlyudov now believes he loves Maslova. He tells her about the pardon and the two men ask her to choose between them. Maslova, now no longer a prisoner, decides to stay with Simonson. Nekhlyudov pleads with her, but to no avail. She charges him to go back into the world and use his wealth and position to change it as she does in her small way: one person to another.
As the prisoners go wearily to start another day's work and Maslova tends Simonson's wounds,
Nekhlyudov walks off into the dawn.
PERFORMANCE: 2 hours and 40 minutes.

The Opera is based on Leo Tolstoy's 1899 novel of the same name. Resurrection was Tolstoy's last long novel, and his protagonist Nekhlyudov mirrors much of the author's inner struggle for truth. After Tolstoy's successes with War and Peace and Anna Karenina, he decided that it wasn't enough to write novels for the amusement of idle readers, so his later writings are devoted to propagating his theories about religious, social and educational issues.




TOD MACHOVER’s music breaks artistic boundaries, offering a synthesis of acoustic and electronic sound. Since 1985, MACHOVER has been professor of Music and Media, head of the Opera of the Future / Hyperinstruments Group and, since 1995, co-director of the Things That Think (TTT) and Toys of Tomorrow (TOT) consortia at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Laboratory. His work has been commissioned and performed by artists and ensembles including Yo-Yo Ma, the Kronos Quartet, the Boston Symphony, the London Sinfonietta, the Ensemble InterContemporain (Paris), the Tokyo String Quartet and Lincoln Center. RESURRECTION is MACHOVER’s second opera; his first was VALIS, an international success named Best of the Year by the New York Times. Another musical work, titled Brain Opera but not an opera in the conventional sense, invites the audience to participate live or via the INTERNET using technology MACHOVER invented.


Joyce DiDonato and Scott Hendricks in The Houston Grand Opera's Resurrection. Photo by Jim Caldwell.



By Theresa Hyde
April, 1999

HARLOW ROBINSON is truly blessed. He teaches at Northeastern University, the author of biographies of Sergei Prokofiev and Sol Hurok. And he is the author of many essays and articles on Russian music and culture. He is such a blessed man. He is blessed because he got to interview THE MAN for the Houston Grand Opera. I didn’t get a chance to interview THE MAN, but I had the opportunity to meet him. I’m talking about TOD MACHOVER, THE COMPOSER. He is not unlike the Great Masters of the 1800s, the Master Composers of All Time, WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART, ARRIGO BOITO, RICHARD WAGNER, JACQUES OFFENBACH and GIUSEPPE VERDI. We’re not just name-dropping here, we’re talking OF ALL TIME. But I wouldn’t call Tod Machover a Great Master of the 1800s. He’s definitely a Millenium Kinda Guy.

Unlike these composers who’s been dead over a hundred years, HE IS STILL WALKING AMONG US. He is still living and breathing among us. And he’s been doing more than that. Since 1985, Machover has been professor of Music and Media, head of the Opera of the Future / Hyperinstruments Group and, since 1995, co-director of the Things That Think (TTT) and Toys of Tomorrow (TOT) consortia at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Laboratory. His work has been commissioned and performed by artists and ensembles including Yo-Yo Ma, the Kronos Quartet, the Boston Symphony, the London Sinfonietta, the Ensemble InterContemporain (Paris), the Tokyo String Quartet and Lincoln Center. His first opera was named VALIS. It was an international success that was named Best of the Year by the New York Times.

“I was trying to find a project about what kind of difference an individual could make in the outside world. I wanted to show how you can make the best of yourself in a way that will also help others.”
Interviewed by Harlow Robinson
“Tolstoy’s Transformation”, Spring 1999
The Houston Grand Opera Stagebill

RESURRECTION is Tod’s second opera. Oh yeah, not only is he a composer, he’s also an inventor. Brain Opera, another musical work, invites the audience to participate live or via the INTERNET using technology Tod Machover invented. Chhaahh.

The way Harlow Robinson described him was, “he talks at a rapid pace only slightly ahead of the thoughts tumbling from his brain.” That’s funny. That’s what I felt like when I first met him. I met him one warm Houston night at Mingalone’s Italian Restaurant right across the street from The Houston Grand Opera headquarters at The Wortham Center. Right after the Houston Grand Opera’s Production of Leo Tolstoy’s 1899 novel, RESURRECTION. If you had the opportunity to view this marvelous production, that’s great for you. But if you didn’t get to see it, well, you could have missed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Like the time I got to shake Tod Machover’s hand.

My friend and I were having dinner that night. We were sitting at a table having white wine with our Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo, discussing how the Houston Grand Opera was able to recreate the desolate Siberian landscape onstage, when 45 year old Tod Machover whizzed past me. He was headed towards the long table behind us, to a big group of Houston Grand Opera celebrants, members of the Resurrection production.


I recognized him as the last man onstage before the curtain closed and I bluntly yelled out, “Oh my god. It’s the conductor!” Knowing fully well that the conductor was Patrick Summers, I blurted out these words in such a rapid pace that they were slightly ahead of the thoughts tumbling from my brain. The words were tumbling out of my mouth so fast, like I didn’t know what I was talking about.

But Tod Machover promptly corrected me. I remember that night like film shot in slow motion. He quickly turned around, and with his curly brown hair (like Mozart) flying around his head, he said, “No. It’s the composer.”

I stood corrected. So, I introduced myself. I shook his hand and called him “The Modern Day Mozart.” I was so excited, like a teenage Fanatic girl in a Back Street Boy Concert. Hey, never mind the fact that he has created SIBERIA onstage as Leo Tolstoy would have envisioned it. But the incredibly unbelievable powerful voices took me to a level that was quite……..heavenly. Although I vaguely recollect specific details of our conversation, I remember him telling me that he was an American.

”I first read RESURRECTION when I was 18 or 19, when I was reading all of the big Tolstoy novels. But observing the recent incredible events in Russia, and reading David Remnick’s book about them (also entitled Resurrection) brough me back to it once again. Suddenly, the novel seemed so right as a subject for an opera. Because Tolstoy here asks the fundamental questions that we forget about when we get so wrapped up in daily life and current events. Resurrection is a story about seeing past your nose. And the issues raised are very relevant to America right now.”
Interviewed by Harlow Robinson
“Tolstoy’s Transformation”, Spring 1999
The Houston Grand Opera Stagebill

Maybe my wild enthusiasm was just a little obvious at the time, but my friend, this big shot film distributor gave me this rule, “Never act like you’re meeting someone bigger than you.”

Ex-squeeze me? But, what kind of a rule is that? I mean, we’re sitting here, meeting the Great Maestro himself, in Flesh and Blue Blood, our Modern Day Mozart, and this guy’s telling me I’m supposed to just lay back and act cool about it? Like, NO Huh-WAY!!! No Way!!! HE IS BIGGER THAN ME. Much Bigger. Way Bigger than me. Oh my gosh, this is really Tod Machover. This guy’s like totally “fresh from the oven” HOT! And he’s actually talking to me! And that’s how I got to meet him that one warm Houston night at Mingalone’s Restaurant.

My name is what?
My name is who?
A jiggy who?
A jiggy what?

My brush with Greatness didn’t stop there. He thanked me for all my praise of his Opera Composition and he introduced me to his sweet little daughter, who looked like a few years old. I touched her brown, baby-soft hair as she looked up and was tugging at his sleeves. She was asking her dad for something, simple, in her own words. I didn’t catch her name. Girl, you are such a blessed child. Right next to her, I felt like a scrub.

“It’s as clear as DVD on a Digital TV screen.”
----- Lisa “Left Eye” Lopez

In my Ally McBeal fantasy, she is surrounded by soft billowy clouds flying around in her fairy wings (why is it that one starts seeing angels after seeing an Opera? Maybe it’s all the string instruments and the angelic voices that make one feel like one is in heaven.) She is wearing a creamy pink and white tinker-bell costume, waving her fairy wand and dutifully distributing angel dust containing beauty, peace and happiness to the fortunate few around her.

I couldn’t help but marvel at this whole scene as he introduced me to his beautiful wife, who is Japanese, with a petite frame, and who possesses an incredibly sweet and beautiful smile. I felt like I was suspended in time. I was among Royalty. The Ultimate Blue Blood Line. The revelers surrounding their table, the members of the Houston Grand Opera Production of Resurrection continued to celebrate this great, wonderful evening. A pretty blonde girl stood up among the crowd and proposed a toast. I saw a man that looked like David Gockley. Gosh, could we be that fortunate? And this big time film distributor hands Tod Machover his business card. Yeah, right. Like Tod Machover’s really gonna call him or something. AAAAAAAAAS IF!

“Tolstoy believed that people should devote themselves to the highest possible goals, and not waste life on trivia. He wanted us to set our sights as high as possible, even if we couldn’t get there. In the character of Prince Nekhlyudov, he shows us that the right answers are always the simplest ones, and that we know the right thing to do. We must listen to the voice inside. Society will never get better unless we take these fundamental moral responsibilities seriously. And you can never say that too often.”
Interviewed by Harlow Robinson
“Tolstoy’s Transformation”, Spring 1999
The Houston Grand Opera Stagebill

You can say that again. Mr. Tod Machover, let me be one to commend you on setting the highest goals and being able to achieve them. Having the opportunity to listen to the heavenly voices of The Houston Grand Opera and view the magnificent production of your Composition enabled me to understand Leo Tolstoy’s message and elevated me to a higher plateau. It is simply Quite Heavenly.

THE PRISON SCENE. The Houston Grand Opera's Resurrection. Photo by Jim Caldwell.



April, 1999

American baritone Scott Hendricks will assume the creation of Prince
Dimitry Nekhlyudov for the world premiere of Tod Machover's Resurrection. Mr. Hendricks
stepped in for the previously announced American baritone Christopher Schaldenbrand, who
has been indisposed and forced to withdraw. Mr. Hendricks, who is a member of the acclaimed
Houston Opera Studio, was Mr. Schaldenbrand's understudy for the role during early rehearsals.

"I feel confident that Scott Hendricks will create a superb Nekhlyudov," said HGO's general director David Gockley. "Scott has been a part of the rehearsal process since the beginning and his performances in other HGO productions the last two seasons have convinced me that he is ready for this huge career challenge."
Based on Leo Tolstoy's 1899 novel of the same name, Resurrection opens in the Wortham Center's Brown Theater on Friday, April 23 with additional performances on April 25m and 28, and May 1, 4, and 7.

With a libretto by Laura Harrington and additional material by Braham Murray, Resurrection is a story of spiritual renewal amid the corrupt institutions of a decadent society. It traces the fate of a Russian Prince called as a juror for the trial of a prostitute who proves to be a servant girl he set on the road to ruin.
The creative team includes British director Braham Murray, British set and costume designer Simon Higlett, lighting designer Chris Parry and choreographer Sandra Organ. HGO's music director Patrick Summers, in his premiere season with the company, leads the Houston Grand Opera Orchestra for all performances.

Joyce Didonato as Maslova in The Houston Grand Opera's Resurrection. Photo by Jim Caldwell.

The cast features a trio of mezzo-sopranos, Joyce DiDonato as the prostitute Maslova, Katherine Ciesinski as Sofia lvanova and Judith Christin as Princess Korchagin. Bass-baritone Dale Travis in the dual roles of Prince Korchagin and President of the court and tenor Raymond Very as Simonson, a political prisoner who falls in love with Maslova.

Mr. Hendricks, a native of San Antonio, Texas was recently described as "the sleeper" for his performance in Monteverdi's Orfeo by the Houston Chronicle. The review went on to say that Hendricks, "sounded totally at ease with the (Baroque) style and he had complete command of the ornamentation." Scott Hendricks, a second-year artist with the Houston Opera Studio, is the recipient of both the 1998 Sullivan Foundation Award and the 1998 William H. Wells' Opera Index Grant. This June he will sing Sharpless in HGO's MMS production of Madame Butterfly at Miller Outdoor Theatre.

During HGO's 1998-99 season, Mr. Hendricks sang Baron Douphol in La Traviata and Pastori 11 and Spiriti 11 in Orfeo. During the 1997-98 season he created the role of Friedrich Bhaer in the world premiere of Mark Adamo's Little Women and sang Count Almaviva in the alternate cast performances of The Marriage offigaro and appeared in Billy Budd and Carmen.

Mr. Hendricks made his Wolf Trap Opera debut in the summer of 1996 performing the roles of Don Alvaro in Rossini's II Viaggio a Reims and Ford in Falstaff. He returned to Wolf Trap in 1997 to perform the roles of Slook and Don Parmenine in Rossini's La Cambiale di Matrimonio and L'Occasione fa 'il Ladro respectively, as well as Count Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro. In recognition of his accomplishments with Wolf Trap, Hendricks was awarded the 1996 Richard F. Gold Career Grant.

Single tickets for Resurrection, priced from $20 to $175, are on sale now. In addition, special two opera packages including both Resurrection and Mefistofele starring Samuel Ramey are available. Tickets are available by phone at 713/227-ARTS, out-of-town at 1-800-828-ARTS or in person at both Houston Ticket Center locations (the ticket lobby at the Wortham Theater Center and Jones Hall) and at all TicketMaster outlets. Ticket prices do not include a $1 city surcharge.

Resurrection is an Opera New World Production sponsored in part by Philip Morris Companies Inc. Commissioned through a generous gift from Drs. Dennis and Susan Carlyle. NL Industries, Inc., The Cullen Trust for the Performing Arts, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Inc., and Anonymous are the grand guarantors for Resurrection. Enron and Edward and Frances Bing Fund are the guarantors for Resurrection.