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Tuesday, September 29, 2015



L'angelo di fuoco. Opera in 3 atti (sette quadri) di S. Prokofiev, dal romanzo di Valerij Brjusov. Versione ritmica italiana di Mario Nordio. Musica di Serghej Prokofiev.

Monday, September 28, 2015
















Some say that Renata, the principal character in Prokofiev's opera "L'ANGELO DI FUOCO", is one of the most fascinating characters in opera from a psychological viewpoint.

This is perhaps the weirdest, most bizarre and disturbing opera of all time,and deals with sorcery , demonology, necromancy , and demonic posession in 16th century Germany, at the height of the Inquisition.

Renata is an insane religious mystic who is obsessed with finding her imaginary childhood companion Madiel, the angel of fire of the title, who is in fact a demon (a fallen angel), and hopes to find him in human form, as he told her he would.

She is befriended by a wandering knight Ruprecht, who falls desperately in love with Renata although his love is not requited, and the two have a fascinating but sick relationship.

The two contact leading necromancers of the day and become involved in the most sinister black magic.

Ruprecht confers with the sorcerer Agrippa Von Nettesheim, a historical figure, but he claims to be merely a philosopher and scientist.

But the skeletons on the wall of his study say "You're lying!".

Renata is frightened by her physical attraction to Ruprecht and rejects his offer of marriage.

When Renata confronts a certain conte, IL CONTE ENRICO, whom she believes to be the incarnation of Madiel and he spurns her, she demands that Ruprecht kill him in a duel.

Ruprecht tells her that she is deluded and that he is just an ordinary man.

But later, Renata has a strange vision in which she is convinced that he IS Madiel, but commands him to fight ENRICO anyway, and he is gravely wounded but survives.

At the beginning, Renata is having horrible hallucinations of being tormented by demons in an inn where the two are staying, and he comforts her.

She tells him the strange story of how Madiel came to her as a child, but left her when she asked for aphysical relationship when she became an adolescent.

Eventually, things have gotten so out of hand that Renata decides to become a nun and joins a convent.

But the sisters are being horribly disturbed by demons , and an inquisitor is called in to perform an exorcism on her.

But the exorcism goes horribly out of control , and the nuns begin tobe possessed and total chaos and horror overtake the convent.

In a rage, the inquisitor orders Renata tobe tortured and burned at the stake as a sorceress.

Prokofiev's music is almost unbearably intense and filled with unbelievably harsh but highly expressive dissonances.

Siegmund Freud would have found Renata and Ruprecht most fascinating.

L'ANGELO DI FUOCO is a great opera.

There is a very good DVD of it.

The Fiery Angel (1927), opera in five acts, music and libretto by Sergei Prokofiev, after the novel (1908) by Valerio Bryusov, sung in Russian

Prokofiev worked on L'ANGELO DI FUOCO from 1919 through 1927, and loved it deeply.

Prokofiev was however unable to see it staged during his lifetime after several attempts, to the point that he abandoned hope and recycled some of the material for his Symphony no. 3.

It was only one year and a half after the death of the composer that this opera premiered in concert form at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris in 1954.

 The first staged performance followed a year later at La Fenice in VENEZIA.

It was however only in 1983 that this opera was first given with the original libretto in Russian.

Valéry Gergiev and the Mariinsky Theater staged this opera and this is the version that we find here on this DVD, with stage direction by David Freeman (a frequent collaborator with composers of contemporary operas) and design by David Roger.

The video direction is by Brian Large.

The work is performed by the Orchestra and Chorus of the Mariinsky Theater, with the acrobatic dancing devils provided by The St. Petersburg Mariinsky Acrobatic Troupe.

The cast includes in the two leading roles of Renata and Ruprecht respectively soprano Galina Gorchakova and baritone Sergei Leferkus.

The other roles are sung by the following all-Russian artists, by order of appearance:

Hostess ... Evgenia Perlasova-Verkovich
Porter ... Mikhail Kit
Fortune-teller - Larissa Dyadkova
Jakob Clock ... Evgeni Boitsov
Agrippa ... Vladimir Galuzin
Mathias ...Yuri Laptev
Doctor - Valery Lebed
Mephistopheles - Konstantin Pluzhnikov
Faust - Sergei Alexashkin
Host - Evgeni Fedotov
Three neighbors - Mikhail Chernozhukov, Andrei Karabanov, Gennady Bezzubinkov
Mother Superior - Olga Markova-Mikhailenko
Inquisitor - Vladimir Ognovenko
Two Young Nuns - Tatiana Filimonova, Tatiana Dravtsova

We're facing greatness here.

L'ANGELO DI FUOCO is a masterpiece, arguably Prokofiev's best operatic effort.

The score is extremely powerful, expressive, vivid, colourful, and the vocal writing is equally good.

Theatrically the work is very appealing, and the libretto is of the highest quality.

The running time of only 124 minutes in spite of five acts adds to the enjoyment because it accounts for a rather intense roller coaster kind of experience.

Second, we have in our hands a masterful performance, by all artists involved with this production.

Staging is exquisite and imaginative, and conveys perfectly the nightmarish atmosphere of the work, with inventive solutions such as the partial walls in act 1, and the constant presence of the bluish devils who engage in impressive acrobatic dance (you can see them on the top half of the cover picture).

The minimalist scenarios with slanted partial walls and platforms as well as stylized colorful buildings are both beautiful and effective, and stage direction in terms of singers/actors movements and dynamics of space are expertly done, with certain scenes getting to be as visually striking as well balanced paintings.

Warning for the prude and faint of heart: there are disturbing scenes and graphic nudity.

If I had any doubts left about Gergiev's gifts, they would get dismissed for good, here.

Given the right material, Gergiev can extract gold from his orchestra, and this is one such occasion.

His interpretation is energetic and entirely satisfactory, and the orchestra plays beautifully under his waving hands.

Gorchakova is simply spectacular in the role of Renata.

She is a specialist in this repertory, having interpreted this role in Milano, as well as many of the major Russian roles in operas by Rimsky-Korsakov, Tchaikovsky, Borodin, and Glinka.

She is attractive, has great stage presence and good acting skills, sings with full dramatic force, and has a beautiful voice.

Her stage companion Lerfeikus also has a beautiful voice.

No complaints about the secondary roles.

This is a talented group of singers and weak links are hard to find.

Brian Large's video direction is flawless, achieving the right balance between close-ups, panoramic takes, and details of the acrobatic devils that are filmed at the exact moments that do not distract from the singing, and he goes back to the singers fast enough. He's helped by the competent BBC videotaping and editing crew.

Technically speaking, this ArtHaus Musik release with RM Associates and the BBC is generally good but could be better.

The liner notes are complete enough with a nice essay on Prokofiev's tribulations to write this work and insights about leitmotifs and other musical devices, as well as a synopsis, the biography of the main artists, and a chapter list in Russian with duration (but unfortunately, no character list for each track).

These texts are available in English.

Optional, non-intrusive subtitles are provided in English, and one of course profoundly laments the fact that they are not provided in Russian.

Sound format is only given in PCM stereo and is of extraordinary clarity, but sometimes the orchestra does smother the singers - it's hard to know if it is due to microphone placement, poor sound engineering, or just Gergiev's enthusiasm for this score.

We believe it's the latter because the sound does seem well balanced, maybe Gergiev could have toned down his forces a little bit.

We really can't understand the Amazon reviewer who complained that the orchestra doesn't get enough presence from the sound mixing - more presence than this would deafen the audience and we might as well not have singers because we wouldn't be able to hear them!

Image, like in most PAL DVDs, is sharper and more colorful than that in their NTSC counterparts.

The format is unfortunately 4:3, making one regret the lost opportunity to have a wider view of the beautiful scenarios.

So, while we're treated here to good liner notes, clear sound and sharp image, we still crave a surround track (with more emphasis on the voices and less on the orchestra) and widescreen image to do more justice to this spectacular work and this exquisite staging, as well as Russian subtitles (I don't speak Russian but I like to have second screenings with original language subtitles to better understand and enjoy the sonority of the words).

 This is the kind of performance that deserves an Opus Arte blu-ray disc.

Regardless of these small technical shortcomings, this is one of the best opera DVDs I've ever seen, and gets, of course, my Highly Recommended seal, and I'm sure it will easily get Natalie's "Buy it! Buy it! Buy it!" seal once she sees it.



We need to explore the process by which Briusov's novel is adapted to form the libretto of Prokofiev's opera. 

Prokofiev's earliest drafts are contained in a copy of the novel (2nd edn, Moscow: Skorpion, 1909) in which he made extensive marginal notes, underlinings, and other marks. 

This dates from 1919 and is held in RGALI, Moscow. 

The process is pursued through the draft of 1920–22, written largely in Ettal, Bavaria, a copy of which is held in the Serge Prokofiev Archive, and the final version of 1927 as used for the 1991 production in St Petersburg.

We need to examine which aspects of Briusov's novel were retained, which were abandoned and which were modified in the creation of the libretto, and provides a specific example of inter-code translation from a narrative to a dramatic form. 

Extensive reference should be made to Prokofiev's recently published diary and other biographical material relating to the composer's life in this period.



The Fiery Angel (RussianОгненный ангелOgnenny Angel) is a novel by Russian writer Valery Bryusov.

It was first serialised in the Russian literary monthly Vesy in 1907-1908, and then published in a book form (in two volumes) in 1908.

Set in the sixteenth century Germany, "The Fiery Angel" depicts a love-triangle between Renata, a passionate young woman, Ruprecht, a knight and Madiel, the fiery Angel.

"The fiery angel" tells the story of Ruprecht's attempts to win the love of Renata whose spiritual integrity is seriously undermined by her participation in occult practices.

This love-triangle is now recognised to be that which existed between the author, Bryusov, the symbolist novelist Andrei Bely and their shared lover, Nina Petrovskaya.

"The fiery angel" is a meticulous account of sixteenth century Germany, notably Cologne and the world of the occult.

Characters such as Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa and Faust appear alongside a description of a Black Mass.
The Fiery Angel is generally regarded a work of painstaking research and heightened emotion in which the author's comprehensive knowledge of the esoteric is displayed. Its modernity is reflected in its tension between sexuality and spirituality.
The Fiery Angel has been compared to Mikhail Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita for its general theme of the occult, to Joris-Karl Huysmans'sLà-bas for its description of a black Mass and to Aldous Huxley's The Devils of Loudun for its depiction of religious hysteria.
The composer Sergey Prokofiev based his opera of the same name upon Bryusov's novel.
The Fiery Angel translated by Ivor Montagu and Sergei Nalbandov and with an Afterword by Gary Lachman was published by Dedalus in 2005.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

L'ANGELO DI FUOCO, melodramma di Prokofiev, tratto da Brjusov -- prima: FENICE DI VENEZIA.


L'Angelo di Fuoco  (RussianОгненный ангел — Ognenny angel in transliteration) (Op 37)

Sergei Prokofiev's opera, L'angelo di fuoco, could be considered one of the composer’s largest challenges.

Writing, production, and location were all factors in the piece’s progress.

The journey to completion was not truly over until after Prokofiev’s time when the piece was first presented in a full performance at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées on November 25, 1955, and was first premiered at the Venice Festival in 1955.

Prokofiev's L'angelo di fuoco is based on a novel of the same name by Valery Bryusov.

Prokofiev was more intrigued by the “orgies” (here, indulgence of passion) presented in the novel rather than the story ideas.

The novel was inspired by Bryusov’s own experiences with one Nina Petrovskaya, and was considered one of the beginnings of the Russian Symbolist movement known as Vesy, or “The Scales.”

Nina was the mistress of Andrey Bely.

In their time together, Nina also came to know Bryusov in 1904, and this started to cause obvious concerns for Bely.

There was an anticipated brawl on a remote road in Moscow.

But a mutual friend of Bryusov and Bely prevented the fight.

Nina, Andrey, and Bryusov inspired Prokofiev’s characters in his opera, making the novel the prime source of inspiration for the work.

The novel was also the basis for the libretto of Prokofiev’s opera, which Prokofiev himself wrote with the help of Demchinsky.

Originally the melodramma was in three acts and eleven scenes.

It was eventually re-organized into five acts and seven scenes.

The story of The Fiery Angel has a culturally taboo subject: demonic possession.

In ATTO I, Renata, a woman searching for a missing love, resides at an inn. 

Ruprecht, a knight errant, meets Renata at the inn. 

She tells him that, since her childhood, she has been in love with an angel. 

This angel, Madiel, encouraged her to do good deeds, and at the age of seventeen she finally asked for his physical love. 

The angel, in response, glowed in fury, but agreed to return in human form. 

After Madiel’s promise, Renata had met Count Heinrich von Otterheim. 

Convinced that this was her angel returned to Earth, Renata immediately gave herself to him. 

One year later, Otterheim left. 

In denial, Renata begs Ruprecht to help her search for Otterheim.

NELL'ATTO II, As the two search for Otterheim, Ruprecht soon falls in love with Renata, although she does not share the feeling. 

They decide to resort to acts of magic and sorcery to find Otterheim. 

A spell is cast, and three knocks are heard at the door afterwards. 

Renata assumes the witchcraft worked and nearly goes insane at the thought of Otterheim returning. 

Nobody is there. Ruprecht and Renata seek out the powerful sorcerer Agrippa von Nettesheim. 

In Agrippa’s lair, Agrippa declines to help. 

His concerns lie with the power of the Inquisition’s actions on his help with such an ordeal.

NELL'ATTO III, Ruprecht learns that Renata has finally found Otterheim, who has rejected her. 

She begs to be avenged, learning that Heinrich was never her angel. 

Ruprecht attempts to exact revenge for Renata and duels with Otterheim. 

The duel is one-sided, as Otterheim easily overcomes Ruprecht and injures him.

NELL'ATTO IV, Ruprecht and Renata have moved in together.

But Renata now insists on joining a convent to better herself and for her soul’s sake. 

Generally in performances, there is a comic relief in this act, involving Faust and Mephistopheles at a tavern. 

The scene, used to break up the dark sarcastic nature of the opera, is sometimes left out of the opera entirely.

NELL'ATTO V, Renata is in the convent, where the leaders accuse her of demonic possession. 

As an attempt to heal Renata ensues, all Hell essentially breaks loose (both on stage and in the orchestra) as the other nuns are also possessed. 

She is condemned by the Inquisitor to be burned at the stake.

With no previous commissions or any actual production being present, Prokofiev set out to write The Fiery Angel at one of the only times of his life in which religion was considered for his works.

The thematic style is more like Prokofiev’s pre-Revolution operas (such as The Gambler), even with the ambiguity.

The only theme that strays from the ambiguous is the theme involved with the evil forces.

The opera as a whole is a contrast to some of Prokofiev’s earlier operas (such as his opera The Love for Three Oranges) just by being a tragedy, and the story was considered very appropriate for Prokofiev’s dark and sarcastic style.

The production of the opera was one of the biggest hurdles, for different reasons, Prokofiev faced.

There was a large amount of extra material in the work, there were what was considered violations of theater, negotiations with different theaters both in Europe and America continued to fail.

In the midst of it all, Prokofiev felt like he was unappreciated and unwanted, but his pride kept him striving for recognition.[11]

In 1926, Bruno Walter made Prokofiev an offer to have The Fiery Angel produced at a Berlin theater, which prompted Prokofiev to work on the orchestration.

The orchestration was finished in 1927.

The production was still unsuccessful.[12]

The opera and inspiration came and went, but it was the promises of production that kept Prokofiev writing.[13]

The Fiery Angel was met with mixed reviews for different reasons.

Largely, The Fiery Angel was, despite lack of productions, reviewed as Prokofiev’s “… strongest and most dramatically intense scores.”[14]

In a review of the Bolshoi performance of The Fiery Angel, it is said that Prokofiev’s “…score is crazy, but shouldn’t sound chaotic.”[15]

Prokofiev may have only been interested in the overarching story rather than the smaller details.

It was also criticized that maybe the language would have been better in French rather than Russian.[16]

Some even called the opera a “16th-century Carmen with supernatural trimmings” amongst other mixed reviews.[17]

Another criticism is that The Fiery Angel is nothing but confusion and noise with the “modern” title.[18]

Using staging should not be there to make up for the music, but to mix with it and make a grand production.[19]

Prokofiev was able to write the music how he saw fit, which appealed to many more than the staging has, according to different reviews.

The first was recorded in 1957, conducted by Charles Bruck with the Orchestra of the Paris Opera

The opera was performed in French with Xavier Depraz and Jane Rhodes in the leading roles.

The first Russian-language recording was released in 1990, conducted by Prokofiev specialist Neeme Järvi with the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, starring Nadine Secunde andSiegfried Lorenz as Renata and Ruprecht with Bryn TerfelHeinz Zednik and Kurt Moll in Supporting roles.

Valery Gergiev, who has recorded a wide array of Russian operas with the Kirov Opera, released a recording taped from a series of performances at the Kirov opera, with Sergei Leiferkusand Galina Gorchakova as Ruprecht and Renata.


  1. Jump up^ Ed. Larue, Steven C. International Dictionary of Opera, Vol. 1: A-K. St. James Press: Detroit, 1993, 439.
  2. Jump up^ Taruskin, Richard. “Another World.” Opera News, Vol. 60, No. 7 (December 1995). 8, accessed October 6, 2012, http://ezproxy.butler.edu:2293/iimp/docview/1164853/1399C72BE8E1219F6AD/4?accountid=9807
  3. Jump up^ Nice, David. Prokofiev: From Russia to the West, 1891-1935. Yale University Press: New Haven, 2003, 166.
  4. Jump up^ Larue, International, 439
  5. Jump up^ Elsworth, John. “Prokofiev and Briusov: The Libretto of The Fiery Angel.” Slavonica 10, no. 1 (April 2004). 2, accessed September 19, 2012, https://ezproxy.butler.edu:8443/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip&db=aph&AN=13195765&site=ehost-live&scope=site
  6. Jump up^ Clark, Andrew. "Fascinating challenge of demonic possession opera." The Financial Times (January, 2007). 13, accessed: September 26, 2012http://bi.galegroup.com/essentials/article/GALE%7CA158511158/36ed61fe0b73260d302e268165829079?u=butleru
  7. Jump up^ Traeumereien, Valenciennes. “Prokofiev: The Fiery Angel.” YouTube playlist, 2:13:23. Posted by “darkhoneybass,” posted August 10th-16th, 2012, https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLCD660A53D28876B4
  8. Jump up^ Larue, International, 439
  9. Jump up^ Larue, International, 440
  10. Jump up^ Ed. Holden, Amanda. The New Penguin Opera Guide. Penguin Group: London, 2001, 693
  11. Jump up^ Nestyev, Israel V. Sergei Prokofiev: His Musical Life. Alfred A. Knopf: New York, 1946, 82
  12. Jump up^ Nestyev, Musical, 107
  13. Jump up^ Elsworth, “Libretto”, 2
  14. Jump up^ Ed. Holden, Penguin, 693
  15. Jump up^ Conrad, Peter. "Laughing at Stalin: Soviet Russia ruined Prokofiev's life but inspired his most comic, and lyrical, music." New Statesman, Vol. 135 no. 4805 (2006), 35, accessed September 26, 2012,https://ezproxy.butler.edu:8443/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip&db=bth&AN=21969393&site=ehost-live&scope=site
  16. Jump up^ Clark, Fascinating, 13
  17. Jump up^ McAllister, Rita. “Natural and Supernatural in ‘The Fiery Angel’.” The Musical Times, Vol. 111, No. 1530 (August 1970), 785, accessed October 1, 2012, http://www.jstor.org/stable/955299
  18. Jump up^ Taruskin, Another, 8
  19. Jump up^ Clark, Fascinating, 13

External links[edit]

PROKOFIEVIANA: L'angelo di fuoco.


Sergej Prokofiev. La vita, la poetica, lo stile

L'ANGELO DI FUOCO: melodramma


L'angelo di fuoco: melodramma in cinque atti, libretto di Sergio Prokofiev, basato sull'omonimo romanzo simbolista di Valerij Brjusov.

Traduzione italiana di Mario Nordio (1919-27)

14 settembre 1955

Première scenica postuma nel Teatro La Fenice di Venezia dirige Nino Sanzogno per la regia di Giorgio Strehler con:

Dorothy Dow
Gabriella Carturan
Mafalda Masini
Rolando Panerai
Mario Carlin
Gino Del Signore
Antonio Annaloro ed
Enrico Campi

e prima assoluta completa al Théâtre des Champs-Elysées di Parigi il successivo 25 novembre.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

THE STAMFORD YACHT CLUB and environs -- RIPPOWAM -- settled in 1641 by 29 families who had left Wethersfield.


View of West Park, now Columbus Park in downtown Stamford, from a 1906 postcard

Bank and Main Streets, from a 1911 postcard

Stamford was known as Rippowam by the Native American inhabitants to the region, and the very first European settlers to the area also referred to it that way.

The name was later changed, for some reason, to Stamford after a town in Lincolnshire, England.

The deed to Stamford was signed on 1 July 1640 between Captain Turner of the New Haven Colony and Chief Ponus.

The land that now forms the city of Stamford was bought for 12 coats, 12 hoes, 12 ratchets, 12 glasses, 12 knives, four kettles, and four fathoms of white wampum.

The deed was renegotiated several times until 1700 when the territory was given up by the Native American inhabitants for a more substantial sum of money.
In 1641, Rippowam was settled by 29 Puritan families who had chosen to leave Wethersfield.[1]

The group had formed "The Rippowam Company" and contracted with the New Haven Colony to settle the Rippowam area.[2]

Hence initially the settlement was a part of the New Haven Colony, as was Greenwich to the west.[2]

The name of the settlement was changed to Stamford on April 6, 1642.[2]

RIPPOWAM was found too exotic-sounding.

In 1642, Captain John Underhill settled in Stamford and the following year represented the town in the New Haven Colony General Court.

Stamford was included in the creation of a New Haven confederation called "The United Colonies of New England".

Other towns or plantations in the United Colonies of New England included Milford and Guilford in Connecticut -- as well as Southold on Long Island! (Who would have thought!)

Shortly after the restoration of Charles II of England, in a session of the Connecticut General Court held on October 9, 1662 the former New Haven "plantations" of Stanford (sic), Greenwich, Guilford, and even Southold were to be recognized as Connecticut Colony towns with constables sworn in.[4]

The first public schoolhouse in Stamford was a "crude, unheated wooden structure only ten or twelve feet square".

It was built in 1671 when settlers tore down their original meetinghouse, which they had outgrown after three decades, and used some of the timbers to put up a school near the Old Town Hall on Atlantic Square.

On the nearby "common" they built a new 38-foot-square (12 m) meeting house, which also served as the Congregational church.

One of the primary industries of the small colony was merchandising by water, which was possible due to Stamford's proximity to New York.
Starting in the late 19th century, New York residents built summer homes on the shore line, and even back then there were some who moved to Stamford permanently and started commuting to Manhattan by train, although the practice became more popular later. (And now there's reverse commuting! -- to the exurbia!)

The densely settled portion of Stamford incorporated as a "borough" in 1830, and later as a city in 1893.

The city consolidated with the rest of the non-city portions of the town of Stamford in 1949 to become the present city of Stamford.

USS Kearsarge Gun Memorial in West Park, now Columbus Park, in Downtown Stamford

On Memorial Day, 1901, a cannon from the USS Kearsarge was placed in West Park (now Columbus Park) as a memorial to Civil War veterans. Cast at West Point in 1827, the cannon had also been used on the USS Lancaster. The artillery piece sat in the park until 1942 when it was hauled away for scrap.[6]

In 1904, the Town Hall burnt down.

A new building in the Beaux Arts style was constructed from 1905 (when the cornerstone was laid) to 1907 in the triangular block formed by Main, Bank and Atlantic streets. The building was eventually named Old Town Hall and held the mayor's office until about 1961, when Mayor William Kennedy moved to the Municipal Office Building which formerly stood further south on Atlantic Avenue. Nearly all municipal offices were moved to 888 Washington Blvd. in 1988.[7]
On February 19, 1919, at the site of the present Cove Island Park, in the Cove section of Stamford, the Cove Mill factory of the Stamford Manufacturing Company burned to the ground in a spectacular conflagration.
Stamford is the birthplace of the electric dry shaver industry. By 1940 Colonel Jacob Schick employed almost 1,000 workers at the Schick Dry Shaver Company on Atlantic Street.[8]

Downtown development[edit]

By the mid-1950s downtown Stamford had fallen prey to severe urban blight. A once vibrant downtown became littered with vacant storefronts, empty lots, weak economy, unsafe and unsanitary housing. The town leaders at the time sought federal and state funding to launch a revitalization effort that would restore the core of the city to a vital urban center. On January 27, 1960 the City of Stamford and its redevelopment arm, the Urban Redevelopment Commission, entered into a contract with the Stamford New Urban Corporation, a subsidiary of the locally based and nationally active construction contractor the F. D. Rich Company that would lead to a dramatic altering of the face of downtown Stamford. The Rich Company, led by Frank D. Rich Jr., Robert N. Rich and Chief Legal Counsel Lawrence Gochberg, actively building in 25 of the 50 United States at the time, was selected out of a field of 10 developers vying for the opportunity to become the city's sole redeveloper of the 130-acre (0.53 km2) section of the central downtown area known as the Southeast Quadrant. More than $100 million in Federal, State and city funds were invested in a massive property acquisition, relocation, demolition and infrastructure creation program that paved the way for one of the most sweeping urban renewal efforts ever successfully carried out in the United States.[citation needed] The plan, which involved eminent domain takings, the relocation of 1,100 families and 400 businesses, was implemented amidst much controversy and several lawsuits that delayed the start of the project until 1968 when construction commenced on the three round apartment towers, St. John's Towers. These buildings still contain 360 apartments and originally served as relocation housing for some of the displaced residents. Much of the deteriorated downtown was razed to make way for the new downtown, resulting in a lack of historic buildings and a downtown that looks more contemporary and modern as compared to some its New England counterparts.
Although the original plan was more modest in scope, involving light industrial buildings with a motor hotel along Tresser Blvd. and an open-air shopping promenade planned for East Main Street, the city and the redeveloper took advantage of an opportunity to capitalize on corporate moves out of NYC. Although One Landmark Square was completed in 1972, a 300,00 SF office building which for 37 years was the city's tallest, it was the completion of the GTE World Headquarters in 1973 that became the catalyst for downtown office development, setting an example for other corporations seeking a less expensive labor pool, a more favorable income tax structure and lower operating costs. Since then, the downtown renewal area has seen the construction of more than 8 million SF of office space, 1.5 million SF of retail space including the Stamford Town Center Mall and four department stores, 2,500 units of housing, near 80 restaurants have been added, three movie theaters, a branch of the University of CT and two performing arts venues, the Rich Forum and the Palace Theater. In all the city contains almost 17 million SF of office space. The intensely developed central business district is just 3 percent of the city's 39 square miles (101 km2); the rest is heavily residential. Much of the city, especially in North Stamford, remained woodsy.
The few historic buildings include the Old Town Hall (1905, currently unoccupied), the Hoyt Barnum House (1699), and the old Yale and Towne building (1869, part of the Yale and Towne complex was destroyed in a fire on April 3, 2006), which was once a lock company (the city seal has the two keys from it). The Yale and Towne property, owned for many years by Samuel Heyman, was sold in 2006 to a syndicate of investors and developers who are in the midst of redeveloping it into a complex of residential and retail buildings. Stretches of Atlantic and Bedford Streets remain essentially as they were originally constructed.
As noted above, the redevelopment was contentious, with groups of residents suing to prevent the demolition of nine city blocks and the displacement of businesses and families.[9]
After building High Ridge Park, a suburban corporate campus, in the 1960s, the F. D. Rich Company put up the city's tallest structure, Landmark Building, and the GTE building (now One Stamford Forum), both designed by Victor Bisharat. The Stamford Marriott (also Bisharat), with a revolving restaurant at the top, overlooking Long Island Sound, is another F. D. Rich landmark that changed the look of Downtown.[9]
In the 1980s Frank D. Rich III, Susan M. Rich and Thomas L. Rich joined the company playing major roles in the redevelopment of the city. In 1980 F.D. Rich Co. completed 10 Stamford Forum, a 250,000 SF office building (designed by Steven M. Goldberg of the New York office of Mitchell/Giurgola),[10] and throughout the 1980s it built the 1,000,000-square-foot (93,000 m2) Stamford Town Center mall, 4 Stamford Forum (designed by Cesar Pelli), 6 Stamford Forum (Arthur Erickson) and 8 Stamford Forum (Hugh Stubbins), 300 Atlantic Street (Aldo Giurgola) and 177 Broad Street. When real estate prices collapsed in the late 1980s, the company had to sell some of its properties but continued to own the Stamford Town Center Mall, High Ridge Park and key downtown parcels.
Many of the buildings along Tresser Boulevard, parallel to Interstate 95, had little but street-level lobby spaces, garage entrances and exits accessing the street, although they presented a modern, glittering glass facade to travelers along the highway. The Rich family (which still owns F. D. Rich Co. led by President and CEO, Thomas L. Rich) was criticized for creating pedestrian-unfriendly streets, and Tresser Boulevard became notorious among many architecture and urban design critics. Facts that shaped the pedestal design of the office buildings south of Tresser that are little known are as follows. The high water table in that area prohibited the development of multiple levels of underground parking. Therefore, parking needed to be supplied in above-ground structures which served as podiums for the office buildings providing the opportunity for a view over the adjacent highway embankment to the south. The lack of retail along the Tresser Blvd. frontage is attributable to a prohibition on retail being developed in this area by the Planning Board of the City who did not want to dilute the retail existing and planned elsewhere in the renewal area.[citation needed]
"The streets were never meant to be for pedestrians," Robert N. Rich, then head of the company, told a reporter for the New York Times in 1999, apparently referring to Tresser Boulevard and the immediate area around it. "GTE came here because they were bombed in New York. Crime was a problem in the city. That's why the buildings were designed to be impenetrable."[9]
Over the years, other developers have joined F. D. Rich Co. in building up the downtown, including Avalon, Archstone-Smith, Seth Weinstein and Paxton Kinol who have developed many four-story rental apartment buildings. Corcoran-Jenninsen constructed Park Square West apartments on lower Summer Street. The Michigan-based Taubman Company partnered with F. D. Rich Co. in developing the Stamford Town Center Mall. UBS and RBS, taking advantage of state and local tax incentive programs, built their headquarters in downtown Stamford. W&M Properties built and owns Metro Center, a prominent building just south of the Stamford train station where Thomson Corporation, officially a Canadian company, has its operational headquarters. Today most of the downtown office buildings are owned by RFR Realty and S. L. Green.
F. D. Rich Co., still located in downtown Stamford, sold or gave up nearly all of its Stamford buildings (including the Landmark) in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The company developed and owns the Bow Tie Majestic Cinema building, much of the retail and office space on lower Summer Street. Along with the Kahn Family, they brought Target to their Broad Street location on land they jointly owned. Rich and Kahn own the ground floor retail space under Target facing Broad Street. In 2005, the company opened its 115-room Courtyard by Marriott Hotel at the corner of Summer and Broad Streets, which houses the restaurant Napa & Company. Today F. D. Rich Co. has under construction with partners Donald J. Trump and Louis R. Cappelli, Trump Parc Stamford, a 170-unit, 35-story condominium tower which when completed in July 2009 will be the tallest building in the city, eclipsing One Landmark Square by more than 80 feet (24 m) in height.[dated info] F. D. Rich Co. and Cappelli Enterprises own a site at the corner of Atlantic Street and Tresser Blvd. which has been approved for twin 400-foot-tall (120 m) towers slated to contain a 198-room Ritz Carlton Hotel, 600,000 SF of condominiums and 70,000 SF of retail space including the restoration of the Atlantic Street Station post office. The Rich Forum, a downtown performing arts center and the Rich Concourse, the main public space at the downtown branch of UConn are both named after the Rich family. Lowe Enterprises controls a site on Tresser and Washington Blvd that has been approved for three 350-foot-tall (110 m) residential towers slated to contain 835 units of for sale and rental housing along with 135,000 SF of retail space fronting Tresser Blvd.

Twenty-first century[edit]

On September 11, 2001, nine city residents lost their lives in the 9/11 attacks, all at the World Trade Center: Alexander Braginsky, 38; Stephen Patrick Cherry, 41; Geoffrey W. Cloud, 36; John Fiorito, 40; Bennett Lawson Fisher, 58; Paul R. Hughes, 38; Sean Rooney, 50; Randolph Scott, 48; and Thomas F. Theurkauf Jr., 44. A total of 65 Connecticut residents lost their lives on that day.[11]
One of the biggest fires in Stamford's history occurred April 3, 2006 in the South End. The fire started in a piano store in a building that was part of the former Yale & Towne lock factory complex. It spread to a neighboring building housing antiques dealers. Eight businesses were destroyed and others were damaged. City fire marshals never determined the cause, but said an unfixed sprinkler system helped the fire spread. Firefighters used 1 million gallons (3,800,000 l) of water in three hours and then had to pump water from Long Island Sound when the water mains ran out. Dark mushroom clouds formed over the scene, visible for miles along Interstate 95. About 200 residents from homes on Pacific and Henry streets were evacuated. In July 2006, more than 100 antiques dealers filed a class-action lawsuit against the owner, Antares Real Estate Services of Greenwich.[12]
In recent years, Stamford has appeared as a setting in some television shows: In the NBC television series The Office, the character Jim Halpert transferred to a Dunder Mifflin branch in Stamford. The sitcom My Wife and Kids is set in Stamford. An episode of The Cosby Show mentioned a neighborhood supermarket chain as being based in Stamford.
In the early afternoon of August 3, 2006, one of the hottest days of the year when air conditioning raised electricity consumption, downtown Stamford experienced a blackout after underground electricity cables on Summer Street overheated and caught fire. Many offices were forced to close down. A concert (part of the Alive@Five series) with Hootie & the Blowfish continued at Columbus Park early that evening, but many restaurants had to throw out their food beforehand.
Stamford was (fictionally) devastated in a 2006 Marvel Comics miniseries called Civil War. The story depicted a group of superheroes being filmed for a reality television show as they raided a suburban home being used as the safehouse for a group of supervillains, one of whom, Nitro, used his power to explode to destroy the neighborhood. Although no specific Stamford buildings seem to be depicted, a store sign from A Timeless Journey" a local comic book shop, is featured in Issue The Amazing Spider-Man #532. Marvel writer Jeph Loeb, who grew up near Riverbank Road and attended the former Riverbank Elementary School, came up with the decision to use Stamford, according to an article in The Advocate of Stamford. The use of the comic-book store sign came because the store owner, Paul Salerno, was quoted in an April Advocate story saying he'd love to have his store depicted, even if it were devastated in the series. The day after the article came out, the store owner got a call from Marvel.[13][14] Stamford had previously appeared in Marvel Comics as the location of the suburban home of Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman of the Fantastic Four, at a time when the married couple were semi-retired as superheroes and attempting to establish a "normal" home life for their son Franklin.[citation needed]
On October 11, 2007, a freak storm dumped 5 inches (130 mm) of rain in about four hours in Stamford and nearby communities of New CanaanDarien and Norwalk. The storm flooded streets and basements and caused the loss of electricity to 700 homes, with about 20 people needing to be evacuated from their cars and 40 others removed from their homes to an emergency shelter. The Federal Emergency Management Agency later said 41 homes in Stamford (and 11 in Darien and New Canaan) had about $167,000 in damage). City sewers and drains were clogged. The city was sued in 2009 by homeowners who asserted that a city employee failed to start a pumping station on Dyke Street soon enough, but a city lawyer called the event a "100-year storm" that simply overwhelmed municipal resources.[15]
Since 2008, an 80-acre mixed-use redevelopment project for the Stamford’s Harbor Point neighborhood has added additional growth south of the city’s Downtown area. Once complete, the redevelopment will include 6,000,000 square feet (560,000 m2) of new residential, retail, office and hotel space, and a marina. As of July 2012, roughly 900 of the projected 4,000 Harbor Point residential units had been constructed.[16]


Ku Klux Klan in Stamford[edit]

The Ku Klux Klan, which preached a doctrine of Protestant control of America and suppression of blacks, Jews and Catholics, had a following in Stamford in the 1920s. Across the state, the Klan's popularity peaked in 1925 when it had a statewide membership of 15,000. Stamford was one of the communities where the group was most active in the state, although New Haven andNew Britain were also centers of support.[17]
During the 1924 election, one of the largest Klan meetings in the state took place in Stamford. Grand Dragon Harry Lutterman of Darien organized the meeting, attended by thousands of Klansmen.[17]
population of
The Stamford Republican Party used its Lincoln Republican Club as a front for all Klan activities in the area. The Stamford Advocate (as The Advocate of Stamford was then known) published an advertisement signed by local Democrats (who relied on the Catholic vote) protesting the meeting. The Klan published an advertisement in response, noting the "un-American" names of some of those who signed the Democrats' statement.[17]
By 1926, the Klan leadership in the state was divided, and it lost strength, although it continued to maintain small, local branches for years afterward in Stamford, as well as inBridgeportDarienGreenwich and Norwalk.[18]


On the National Register[edit]

West side of "The Square", from a 1906 postcard
  • Agudath Shalom Synagogue — 29 Grove St. (added June 11, 1995)
  • Benjamin Hait House — 92 Hoyclo Road (added December 30, 1978)
  • C. J. Starr Barn and Carriage House — 200 Strawberry Hill Ave. (added October 14, 1979)
  • Church of the Holy Name — 305 Washington Blvd. (added 1987)
  • Cove Island Houses — Cove Road and Weed Avenue (added June 22, 1979)
  • Deacon John Davenport House — 129 Davenport Ridge Road (added May 29, 1982)
  • Downtown Stamford Historic District — Atlantic, Main, Bank, and Bedford Sts. (added November 6, 1983)
  • Downtown Stamford Historic District (Boundary Increase 2) — Roughly, Bedford Street between Broad and Forest Streets (added February, 2003)
  • Fort Stamford Site (added October 10, 1975)
  • Gustavus and Sarah T. Pike House — 164 Fairfield Ave. (added June 24, 1990)
  • Hoyt-Barnum House — 713 Bedford St. (added July 11, 1969)
  • John Knap House — 984 Stillwater Road (added April 5, 1979)
  • Linden Apartments — 10-12 Linden Place (added September 11, 1983)
  • Long Ridge Village Historic District — Old Long Ridge Road bounded by the New York State Line, Rock Rimmon Road, and Long Ridge Road (state Route 104) (added July 2, 1987)
  • Main Street Bridge — Carries Main Street over the Rippowam River (added June 21, 1987)
  • Marion Castle, Terre Bonne — 1 Rogers Road (added August 1, 1982)
  • Nathaniel Curtis House — 600 Housatonic Ave. (added May 15, 1982)
  • Octagon House — 120 Strawberry Hill Ave. (added September 17, 1979)
  • Old Town Hall — between Atlantic, Bank, and Main Streets (added July 2, 1972)
  • Revonah Manor Historic District — Roughly bounded by Urban Street, East Avenue, Fifth, and Bedford Streets (added August 31, 1986)
  • Rockrimmon Rockshelter (added September 5, 1994)
  • South End Historic District — Roughly bounded by Metro-North railroad tracks, Stamford Canal, Woodland Cemetery, and Washington Boulevard (added April 19, 1986)
  • St. Andrew's Protestant Episcopal Church — 1231 Washington Blvd. (added 1983)
  • St. Benedict's Church — 1A St. Benedict's Circle (added 1987)
  • St. John's Protestant Episcopal Church — 628 Main St. (added 1987)
  • St. Luke's Chapel — 714 Pacific St. (added 1987)
  • St. Mary's Church — 540 Elm St. (added 1987)
  • Stamford Harbor Lighthouse — South of breakwater, Stamford Harbor (added May 3, 1991)
  • Suburban Club — 6 Suburban Ave./580 Main St. (added September 10, 1989)
  • Turn-of-River Bridge — Old North Stamford Road at Rippowam River (added August 31, 1987)
  • US Post Office-Stamford Main — 421 Atlantic St. (added 1985)
  • Unitarian Universalist Society in Stamford — 20 Forest St. (added 1987)
  • Zion Lutheran Church — 132 Glenbrook Road (added 1987)


  1. Jump up^ [1] Charles, Eleanor, "If You're Thinking of Living in: Stamford", an article in The New York Times, August 20, 1989, accessed April 29, 2007
  2. Jump up to:a b c "Stamford Historical Society, Davenport Exhibit - Stamford's Colonial Period 1641-1783". Retrieved 2008-06-19.
  3. Jump up^ Atwater, Edward E. (1881). "Chapter IX". History of New Haven Colony. Retrieved2008-06-29.
  4. Jump up^ "Connecticut Colonial Records (volume 01, page 408/page 388)". Archived from the original on 2002-06-03. Retrieved 2008-06-19.
  5. Jump up^ [2] Updegraff, Mary, "Education Spelled Freedom" article at the Stamford Historical Society Web site, accessed April 13, 2007
  6. Jump up^ Bull, Bonnie K., Stamford "Images of America" series of books, Arcadia Publishing: 2004.ISBN 0-7385-3457-9 Retrieved from Google Books on March 8, 2008
  7. Jump up^ Dalena, Doug, "100 years ago, Old town hall had something new to offer", article in The Advocate of Stamford, page 1, Stamford and Norwalk editions
  8. Jump up^ [3] "About the Avon" web page at web site for the Avon Theatre, accessed 28 June 2006
  9. Jump up to:a b c [4] New York Times article, "Commercial Property/Stamford, Conn.: A Pioneer Business Park That Confounded Critics," by Eleanor Charles, Sept. 26, 1999 Page accessed on 23 June 2006
  10. Jump up^ Horsley, Carter B., "About Real Estate: Offices Designed to Serve as an Entry to Stamford," New York Times, August 26, 1981, accessed August 9, 2006
  11. Jump up^ Associated Press listing as it appeared in The Advocate of Stamford, September 12, 2006, page A4
  12. Jump up^ Lee, Natasha, "South End blaze costs millions: Antiques dealers still displaced after fire", article in The Advocate of Stamford, December 31, 2006
  13. Jump up^ Lockhart, Brian, "An explosion of INK: Stamford comic shop destroyed in pages of 'The Amazing Spider-Man'," article in The Advocate of Stamford, June 3, 2006, pages 1, A4
  14. Jump up^ Tabu, Hannibal; "WWLA: Cup o' Jeph"; comicbookresources.com; March 14, 2008.
  15. Jump up^ Potts, Monica, "Lawsuit alleges negligence before '07 storm", The Advocate of Stamford, Connecticut, p 1, October 13, 2009
  16. Jump up^ [5] Connecticut Post article, "Trending: Why One City is Booming", by Maggie Gordon, May 23, 2013 Page accessed on May 26, 2013
  17. Jump up to:a b c DiGiovanni, the Rev. (now Monsignor) Stephen M., The Catholic Church in Fairfield County: 1666-1961, 1987, William Mulvey Inc., New Canaan, Chapter II: The New Catholic Immigrants, 1880-1930; subchapter: "The True American: White, Protestant, Non-Alcoholic," pp. 81-82; DiGiovanni, in turn, cites (Footnote 209, page 258) Jackson, Kenneth T., The Ku Klux Klan in the City, 1915-1930 (New York, 1981), p. 239
  18. Jump up^ DiGiovanni, the Rev. (now Monsignor) Stephen M., The Catholic Church in Fairfield County: 1666-1961, 1987, William Mulvey Inc., New Canaan, Chapter II: The New Catholic Immigrants, 1880-1930; subchapter: "The True American: White, Protestant, Non-Alcoholic," p. 82; DiGiovanni, in turn, cites (Footnote 210, page 258) Chalmers, David A., Hooded Americanism, The History of the Ku Klux Klan (New York, 1981), p. 268

External links[edit]

Stamford Historical Society links[edit]

Stamford Historical Society "Condensed History of Stamford" online articles: