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Jay Lesenger

Songs of Britten, Russians featured in Artsongs recital

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This week’s Artsongs recital, held at 4 p.m. today in Elizabeth S. Lenna Hall, will feature songs of famous Russian composers, as well as those of Benjamin Britten, a legendary 20th century British composer. The program will showcase the voices of three Young Artists: bass Heath Sorensen, mezzo Courtney Miller and soprano Kasey King, all new to the Chautauqua Opera Company.

Opera’s Lesenger sees his art as expression of spirituality

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Opera is part of Jay Lesenger’s soul, but his soul has been burdened lately. At 2 p.m. today in the Hall of Philosophy, Lesenger, the general and artistic director of the Chautauqua Opera, will explain the challenge the arts are facing right now. His lecture is titled “Opera as a Spiritual Journey: My Confession.” “I also will talk about the time that we’re in right now, which is a very difficult time,” Lesenger said. “Our souls are burdened now because of the economy and because of the lack of exposure to the arts in schools. So the focus will be on how we got there and the impact of what’s going on today.”

Lesenger uses master class to instruct singers on acting

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An opera production derives from the music, not the other way around, said Jay Lesenger, artistic/general director of Chautauqua Opera Company. Sometimes directors will have a concept in mind before delving into a production, but Lesenger said he believes in a firm understanding of opera and its traditions before interpreting the music for the stage. “I’m not of the school that I have to do something different to make it true,” Lesenger said. “I’m all for innovation, but that’s not how I go about looking at a piece. I don’t say, ‘How can we do this differently?’ I just say, ‘How can we do it well?’”

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