For Your Grammy® Consideration

Jane Eyre

Louis Karchin: Jane Eyre

ARTISTS: Jennifer Zetlan, Ryan MacPherson, Thomas Meglioranza, Jessica Thompson, Katrina Thurman, Kimberly Giordano, Adam Cannedy, Jessica Best and David Salsbery Fry
ORCHESTRA: Orchestra of the League of Composers, Louis Karchin, conductor
LIBRETTO: Diane Osen
LABEL: Naxos | 8669042-43


Over four decades the American composer Louis Karchin has produced a much-admired portfolio of compositions. His one-act opera Romulus (8.669030) won numerous accolades. Jane Eyre is his largest project to date, in which he and librettist Diane Osen fashion Charlotte Brontë’s beloved novel into a vivid and moving opera cast as a fluid and continuous entity. Karchin’s wide-ranging harmonic language and his flair for contrast ensure that the novel’s drama, its pastoral elements, and most importantly its characterization are fully developed via arias, monologues, ariosi and a quartet, to create a boldly engaging new work.

Crucial arias and scenes build to glittering radiance….big arias that end with flourishes and invite applause…. The cast members gave their all, especially Ryan MacPherson as Rochester and Thomas Meglioranza as St. John Rivers, a minister who appears later in the story. Sara Jobin conducted a colorful, bristling account of the score.

The New York Times

Karchin’s musical language is wildly inventive, and his orchestrations vivid and deft…evocative orchestral passages that captured the novel’s repressed romantic passion. The singers rose to the opera’s challenges with blazing talent and commitment. Jennifer Zetlan’s performance in the title role was nothing short of heroic. Her Jane was plucky, innocent, and appealingly self-aware, quietly observant but palpating with deep emotion. Tenor Ryan MacPherson made a handsome, elegant Rochester, singing with brilliant, bright tone.

Opera News

One of the best things about the new operatic adaptation of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre is that it doesn’t tell the whole story. Written by composer Louis Karchin, this opera is at once a retelling of the celebrated novel and something of a throwback to the way operas were written a century ago.

The Superconductor 2016
Louis Karchin (Photo: J Henry Fair)
Louis Karchin (Photo: J Henry Fair)

About Louis Karchin

Hailed as a composer of “fearless eloquence” by The New Yorker, Louis Karchin has written over 95 works in virtually every genre, including two operas, music for dance, orchestral works and chamber music. A particular focus has been vocal music, including his extended vocal-instrumental song cycles, American Visions, Orpheus, and his recently premiered Four Orchestral Songs on Poems of Seamus Heaney. His highly acclaimed first opera, Romulus, was produced by the Guggenheim Museum and garnered warm acclaim with Steve Smith writing in the New York Times, “I would have happily stayed to hear it again.” Its subsequent CD release was a BBC Music magazine “Best of the Month” selection and a Fanfare “Best of the Year” choice. Jane Eyre, was a winner of both the Inaugural Frontiers Competition of the Ft. Worth Opera, and the Center for Contemporary’s Opera’s annual competition for new works.

Karchin’s music has been championed by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Tanglewood, and by the Louisville Orchestra, the Da Capo Chamber Players, the Earplay Ensemble of San Francisco, Voices of Change (Dallas, TX), the Plurimo Ensemble (Venice, Italy), Specturm Sonori and the Karos Percussion Ensemble (Seoul, South Korea), among many other groups. His music is recorded on Bridge, Naxos, New World, Albany, New Focus, and CRI labels. Mr. Karchin is the recipient of numerous awards for his work including Koussevitzky, Fromm and Barlow Foundation commissions, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and three awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He is Professor of Music at New York University.

Jane Eyre Production Shots

Jane Eyre Recording Sessions

About the Orchestra

The Orchestra of the League of Composers (OLC) provides the instrumental accompaniment on the recording. The Orchestra is devoted to contemporary music and known for performing the newest music of our time under the auspices of its parent organization, the League-ISCM. The New York Times has praised its “polished performances” and “boundary-erasing spirit,” making it a natural fit for this project."

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About the Album

Naxos announces the release of Louis Karchin 's highly acclaimed Jane Eyre, a full-length opera in three acts with a libretto by Diane Osen, based on Charlotte Brontë's novel. The world premiere staging of Jane Eyre took place in the Fall of 2016 at the Kaye Playhouse in New York City, under the auspices of the Center for Contemporary Opera.

The Naxos release features all the singers from the original production, who bring an intense emotional depth to the recording, having been able to develop the dramatic impact of their roles on stage. Singers include soprano Jennifer Zetlan as Jane and tenor Ryan MacPherson as Rochester, who have performed on some of the most acclaimed stages in the world. Notably, Ms. Zetlan was featured in the premiere of Nico Muhly’s Two Boys at The Metropolitan Opera, and Mr. MacPherson has appeared extensively in leading roles with New York City Opera.

Also featured in the cast are soprano Katrina Thurman (Blanche Ingram) and baritone Thomas Meglioranza (Roderick Ingram/St. John Rivers), two singers long associated with Mr. Karchin’s music who participated in the cast of his previous opera, Romulus. Ms. Thurman and Mr. Meglioranza perform roles in Jane Eyre written expressly for them. All the singers from the original production are featured in the recording and bring to their roles the same intense emotional depth that distinguished their performances on stage.

The double CD is one of the very few composer-led recordings of a full-length opera by an American composer. It was recorded in dedicated sessions at Theatre C of SUNY Purchase over three days in September 2017. The recording was produced and digitally edited by Marlan Barry and runs 130 minutes. The full cast includes nine singers (performing 13 roles), a female chorus, and an orchestra of 36 musicians.

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