“Panov’s Dream” is a new one act opera that will receive its world premiere on Sunday, November 19 at 3:00 p.m. at First Congregational Church in Muskegon. The work is a collaboration between librettist Foley Schuler of Blue Lake Public Radio and composer Floyd Farmer. The text is based on a short story by Leo Tolstoy about an old Russian shoemaker, Papa Panov, who dreams on Christmas Eve that Jesus will be coming to visit him on Christmas day. He is told to wait by his window so that he doesn’t miss the visitor when he arrives. Papa watches all of Chrismas Day, with many people passing by, but never sees Jesus. Or does he? The opera calls for six principal singers, a chorus, and small instrumental ensemble.
Michael Match, a former member of the world acclaimed vocal ensemble “Chanticleer” will sing the title role of Papa Panov and Tom Clark will return to Muskegon to sing the role of Jesus. Other principal singers are contralto Camille DeBoer in the role of Panov’s wife, tenor William Potts as the aging street sweeper, soprano Jessica Coe as the young mother, and tenor Joel Dulyea as the village priest.
This first performance will be presented in its unstaged version and without an intermission. It is approximately one hour in length and is similar in style to “Amahl and the Night Visitors” by Menotti. “Panov’s Dream” was conceived when the composer heard the presiding clergyman at London’s St. Martin-in-the-Fields Church deliver the Tolstoy short story as a sermon on the Sunday following Christmas a few years ago. Farmer and Schuler have worked on other projects together, most notably their “Three Summer Sonnets” on original poems by Foley, but this is their first foray into a venture of this length. Over a period of years they have worked on the project intermittently until recently when they decided it was time to complete the opera and breathe life into the characters.
Thanks to the generosity of underwriters for the orchestra and chorus, and to a grant from the Professional Singers Fund of the Community Foundation for Muskegon County, there will be no admission charge for this premiere performance. The opera is in English and the complete libretto will be printed in the program so that the audience will more easily be able to follow the story line.