Rebecca Maria Hall (born 3 May 1982) is an English actress, producer, writer, and director. She made her first onscreen appearance at age 10 in the 1992 television adaptation of The Camomile Lawn, directed by her father Peter Hall.Her professional stage debut. American opera singer, born 27 March 1950 in Detroit, Michigan, USA. She was married to Peter Hall (6) from 1982 to 1990. Maria Ewing was born on March 27, 1950 in Detroit, Michigan, USA as Maria Louise Ewing. She is an actress, known for Le nozze di Figaro (1976), Great Performances (1971) and Carmen (1989). She was previously married to Peter Hall.
She calls their relationship 'terribly precious to me.' He praises her ability to 'work as a great actor works.'
She praises his musical sense, his love of opera, his ability to make singers 'use their brains with their voices,' his way of making a performer trust stillness onstage.
The man in question is Sir Peter Hall, 56, completing his 15th and final season as director of the National Theatre of Great Britain. He is also founder of the Royal Shakespeare Company and one of the world`s most eminent stage directors, in opera as well as the legitimate theater.
She is Maria Ewing, 37, the versatile American soprano who is Mrs. Peter Hall-Lady Maria-in her offstage life.
Hall and Ewing have worked together in opera productions in Geneva, Los Angeles and at England`s Glyndebourne Festival, where they first met in 1978 when both were involved with performances of Mozart`s 'Cosi Fan Tutte.' So much did director and singer click that they eventually married.
Also known as M Ewing, Cruz Maria Santa, Maria T Santacruz, Maria Santa Cruz, Teresa Maria Ewing, Maria Teresa Santa-Cruz Includes Address (11) Phone (5) Email (1). The Scottish-born American-raised soprano Mary Garden was one of the first Salomes.
Now it is another Mozart comic opera, 'Le Nozze di Figaro,' that is bringing them to Chicago. On Saturday, Lyric Opera will present the first of eight performances of 'The Marriage of Figaro,' a new production directed by Hall, conducted by Andrew Davis and starring Ewing, Samuel Ramey, Ruggero Raimondi, Felicity Lott and Frederica von Stade.
With nearly 100 major productions in London, Stratford-on-Avon and New York to his credit (including his Tony Award-winning direction of Peter Shaffer`s 'Amadeus'), Hall has worked with some of the greatest actors of his generation. At the same time, he admits to being 'spoiled rotten' in opera, for he works only under the most controlled conditions-most often, London`s Covent Garden and Glyndebourne, where he can function in full collaboration with conductors, designers and singers who will respond to his highly personal methods.
As a matter of fact, one of the principal lures that has drawn him to Chicago is the prospect of collaborating again with designer John Bury, who created the decors for his Glyndebourne Mozart productions, and with Lyric`s principal singers, all of whom he has directed in other 'Figaros,' although not all of them in the same theater.
Talking with Hall and Ewing over lunch, one senses immediately the support and strength they draw from one another, the shared humor, the comfortable union of minds and sensibilities.
Dapper and goateed, Hall speaks in the clear, cultivated tones of a classically trained British actor. Ewing, who, with her wide eyes and sensuous lips bears a remarkable resemblance to Hall`s first wife, Leslie Caron, converses softly, almost in a whisper, her voice betraying more than a trace of a mid-Atlantic accent.
The great challenge of staging 'Figaro,' he explains, is that 'it`s always different, like Shakespeare. When it comes to Mozart, the smaller the house, the better. The public seems to respond more and become more deeply involved in the performance. But the economics of opera are such that in the last 50 years they redesigned our opera houses to be too big, and they haven`t redesigned the singers.'
He smiles, savoring the irony. 'What we are trying to achieve here,' he says, 'is to make the stage feel intimate.'
Maria Ewing Images
Ewing insists that the size of the theater doesn`t affect her performance; she gives her all regardless if she is playing to 3,500 seats or 500. 'When I`m on stage I don`t even think about that. Either you force the voice, or you hold back.'
Hall has special reason to be fond of 'Figaro.' It`s the first opera he ever saw, as a 10-year-old in Cambridge, England, where his family lived. The first time he staged the Mozart work was at Glyndebourne in 1972, with an
'unbelievable' cast headed by Kiri Te Kanawa, von Stade and Ileana Cotrubas. Since then he has directed a dozen 'Figaro' productions, each time discovering new layers of dramatic meaning.
Ewing, too, has changed her perspectives on Mozart. The last time Lyric presented 'Figaro,' in 1975, she sang the role of the page, Cherubino; for Lyric`s new production, she is assuming the part of the maid, Susanna. 'I`m forever baffled by the piece,' she admits. 'It really is completely new each time I perform it.'
Hall agrees that one problem of many contemporary stagings of 'The Marriage of Figaro' is that directors want to set the Pierre Caron de Beaumarchais 'Figaro'-that is, the original play-rather than the opera that Mozart and his librettist Lorenzo da Ponte actually wrote.
'It`s partly the postwar desire to make everything radical,' explains the director who considers himself 'a militant classicist.'
'Beaumarchais is a more overtly revolutionary text than Da Ponte`s. Da Ponte revels in contradiction and ambiguity; he would have laughed at any dogma. Where Mozart and Da Ponte are revolutionaries is in the sexual area. The three operas they did together (`Figaro,` `Don Giovanni` and `Cosi Fan Tutte`) strongly point to the fact that a valet and a count, or a servant and an aristocrat, are the same in the bedroom. They laugh a great deal about that. In that respect it`s revolutionary.
'We live in a world where critics are rightly concerned about purity of musical text, original instrumentation, things like that. And yet when it comes to staging these works, directors are allowed to fantasize, and whatever comes out of their subconscious they put on the stage. That`s very easy and very stupid. It`s much harder to do what the composer says.
'I`ve been a director for 30 years and have never done anything which I have thought controversial. (Yet) I have scores of things to my credit that have been considered controversial. Sometimes taking the varnish off the painting offends people. They see something they didn`t know was there, or didn`t want to know is there. I don`t think there is anything controversial about my new `Figaro,` but, as I say, I never do.'
In fact, word from backstage at Lyric suggests this is to be a firmly traditional staging, conservative in the best sense, with the close attention to dramatic detail and clearly defined character relationships that are a hallmark (no pun intended) of the director`s Mozart productions.
Many observers, however, found quite a bit that was controversial in Hall`s production of Wagner`s 'Ring' cycle that served in 1983 as the Bayreuth Festival debut for both the director, conductor Georg Solti and designer William Dudley.
This 'British `Ring,'` as critics dubbed it, was to have signaled a naturalistic conception closely allied to German Romantic art. The result was almost universally denounced as a dramatic and visual muddle, indifferently performed by an uneven cast. Solti defected after one summer`s tour of duty. Neither he nor Hall have been back to Bayreuth since.
The imperturbable Hall maintains a discreet distance between himself and the debacle. 'I find it hard to talk about it without sounding defensive, which I`m not. I should have gone even further in asserting the Romantic nature of the piece. There was too little time. Any production that has to change its Siegfried between the general rehearsal and opening night could hardly be called ready. I also believe it`s impossible to do all four music dramas at once; it was impossible in 1876, when the `Ring` was first given, and it`s been impossible ever since.'
Despite what he calls 'the hysterical atmosphere of Bayreuth,' he found it 'a rewarding experience to live inside that colossal work.'
If Hall has sometimes found himself on the receiving line of harsh criticism, he has proved himself perfectly capable of dishing it out criticism of his own. And so has Ewing.
For several years, he has been writing articles and calling press conferences attacking the government of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher for its 'grotesque' cutbacks in public arts subsidies to Britain`s major arts institutions.
Hall recently was embroiled in a legal battle with the Sunday Times of London, which implied that he had used his position as National Theatre head to fatten his pockets while his theaters remain dependent on government subsidy.
Several weeks ago, the director withdrew his libel suit against the Rupert Murdoch-owned newspaper, explaining that to prosecute the case further would be too expensive.
As for Ewing, she made headlines earlier this year when she severed ties with the Metropolitan Opera and with artistic director James Levine, her former mentor, over the Met`s decision to assign a televised performance of
'Carmen' (which production she had originated) to another singer.
'The Met has no manners,' husband and wife say now of the company, whose failure to inform Ewing of the casting change also led to her canceling her scheduled engagements with Levine at last summer`s Ravinia Festival.
In any case, the busy director has no time to look back; his plate is simply too full. Hall is staging a new 'La Traviata' for Glyndebourne and is mounting Richard Strauss` 'Salome,' with Ewing in the title role, for Covent Garden. The highly praised production originated last season in Los Angeles and will turn up at Lyric Opera during the 1988-89 season.
When Hall and Ewing retreat from the madding crowd, it is to their 167-year-old farmhouse in Sussex, about 11 miles from Glyndebourne. There, surrounded by beautiful gardens, they find an oasis of tranquility that, as Maria puts it, is 'very important for us.'
Mozart also is very important for both their careers, and that`s why they are so excited about being in Chicago. Together.
'Over the last 30 years I`ve been blessed with working with all the great actors of British theater,' Hall says, gazing fondly at his wife. 'You work in that way because that`s what you are. I know about 15 other singers who work like that. I`m happy to say that Chicago has put together a cast that contains a high number of my 15. Great singers who can also act-I want both. I don`t want to go into the theater and see a lot of rubbish by people in silly costumes who can`t act.'