Monodrama LUCY: A MEMORY OPERA examines thin line between man and ape in Milwaukee World Premiere

October 9, 2014

After exciting collaborations with choreographers Dylan Crossman and Amber Sloan in Montreal and NYC earlier this fall, composer John Glover, librettist Kelley Rourke and director Erik Pearson will receive the world premiere of, Lucy: A Memory Opera  in November. Workshopped in 2010 by AOP at WNYC’s Greene Space, Lucy will receive it’s world premiere November 7-9, 2014, in Milwaukee, WI in a production by Milwaukee Opera Theater, who commissioned the work.

Inspired by true events, Lucy tells the story of psychologist Maurice Temerlin who, along with his wife Jane, adopted a day-old chimpanzee in the sixties. Naming her Lucy, their intention was to raise her “as much as possible as though she were a human being”. Lucy learned to dress herself, eat with silverware, make tea for guests, look at magazines, communicate through sign language and enjoy cocktails. As Temerlin struggles to hold on to memories of a happy, albeit unconventional, family life, documentation from the experiment challenges him to come to terms with the project’s ultimate consequences.

Unfolding in one 70-minute act, this intimate and confrontational one-man show is written for baritone Andrew Wilkowske, REDSHIFT Ensemble and pianist/music director Chris Zemliauskas. With a libretto from Kelley Rourke and projection designs and direction by Erik Pearson, Lucy promises to be a unique operatic experience.

Tickets to the Milwaukee world premiere are only $28 and may be purchased here.

Watch excerpts from the workshop performance at WNYC’s Greene Space, presented by American Opera Projects below:

Or watch an additional excerpt here

 


AOP PRODUCTIONS REACH NEW STAGES

September 25, 2014

American Opera Projects is pleased to announce that several of its recent productions will be produced on stages around the country. Lera Auerbach’s The Blind, Tarik O’Regan and Tom Phillips’ Heart of Darkness, and Laura Kaminsky, Mark Campbell, and Kimberly Reed’s As One are each being performed in the coming months.

 9354607718_b214f9f0b6_zCast and Crew of The Blind At Lincoln Center Festival, 2013. Photo by Matt Gray

Composer Lera Auerbach‘s The Blind  will be presented by Central City Opera in their Summer 2015 Festival. The production was created and directed by John La Bouchardière and first produced by AOP in collaboration with Lincoln Center in 2013. This unusual a cappella opera for 12 singers is transformed into a unique theatrical experience by La Bouchardière’s unconventional production, which requires that the audience be blindfolded so that they must enter the world of the characters. “It’s not the characters who are blind,” said composer Lera Auerbach in a New York Times interview about the one-act opera, “The message is that we are the blind.  With all our means of communication we see each other less and connect to each other less.  We have less understanding and compassion for other people…” Adapted from an 1890 play by Maurice Maeterlinck, the story is about a dozen blind people who are taken by their priest on an outing.  When the elderly priest suddenly dies, they are stranded on an island left helpless and scared. The group realizes that they never really knew the priest as a person as they stumble upon his cold, dead body.  A Russian- American composer, Lera Auerbach wrote The Blind in 1994 while she was a student at Colorado’s Aspen Music Festival.

Alan Oke (Marlow), centre, in Heart Of Darkness by Tarik O'Regan

Royal Opera House Production of Heart of Darkness, London, 2011. Photo by Tristram Kenton.

Composer Tarik O’Regan‘s Heart of Darkness  will receive it’s U.S. premiere in San Francisco’s Z space by Opera Parallèle early May 2015. The opera was developed by AOP for several years, starting in 2006, and received it’s world premiere in London in collaboration with with Opera East, OperaGenesis and the Royal Opera House in the Linbury Studio Theater of the Royal Opera House in 2011. Adapted from the novella by Joseph Conrad by librettist Tom Phillips, Heart of Darkness is a powerful opera that portrays the greedy world of ivory smugglers in Central Africa as narrated by the central character, Marlow. In this new production, the plot unfolds through a series of short, fast-paced scenes that gradually increase in tension, as Marlow’s tale approaches its climax. O’Regan grew up in London, where he was born in 1978, spending some of his childhood in Morocco and Algeria. His music, recorded on over 25 albums and nominated for two GRAMMY’S®, is published exclusively by Novello & Co./G. Schirmer, Inc.

AS ONE photo 4 by Ken Howard for AOP

Kelly Markgraf, Sasha Cooke, and members of the Fry Street Quartet, BAM, 2014. Photo by Ken Howard

Finally, AOP’s recent production of As One will tour to the Caine College of the Arts, part of Utah State University in Logan, Utah. After its September production and premiere at BAM, the critical response has been overwhelmingly positive with critics declaring it “a piece that haunts and challenges” (Opera News), “artistically distinguished, socially important” (WQXR), and “satisfying in an entertaining and delicately moving way” (NY Observer). In the chamber opera by composer Laura Kaminsky, librettist Mark Campbell and librettist/filmmaker Kimberly Reed, a mezzo-soprano and a baritone depict the experiences of its sole transgender protagonist, Hannah, as she endeavors to resolve the discord between her self and the outside world. The work featured performances by Sasha Cooke, Kelly Markgraf, and The Fry Street Quartet, stage direction by Ken Cazan, and music direction by Steven Osgood.


Critics speak “As One” in praise of latest AOP opera

September 19, 2014

“As One is everything that we hope for in contemporary opera: topical, poignant, daring, and beautifully written.”
New York Classical Review

Kelly Markgraf and Sasha Cooke in "As One"

Kelly Markgraf and Sasha Cooke in “As One”. Photo by Ken Cazan.

On September 7, AOP’s opera “As One” completed a sold-out three-performance run at BAM’s Fishman Theater and the critical response has been overwhelmingly positive with declaring it “a piece that haunts and challenges” (Opera News), “artistically distinguished, socially important” (WQXR), that “satisfies in an entertaining and delicately moving way” (NY Observer). In the chamber opera by composer Laura Kaminsky, librettist Mark Campbell and librettist/filmmaker Kimberly Reed, a mezzo-soprano (Sasha Cooke) and a baritone (Kelly Markgraf) depict the experiences of its sole transgender protagonist, Hannah, as she endeavors to resolve the discord between her self and the outside world. The work featured performances by The Fry Street Quartet, stage direction by Ken Cazan, and music direction by Steven Osgood. Here is a sampling of the praise it received:

From New York Classical Review:

“American Opera Projects has produced a number of significant new pieces in its twenty-five-plus years, and the company’s latest does not disappoint.”

“As One is a remarkable piece, dealing with difficult and sensitive subject matter (even in a progressive city like New York, the topic of gender dysphoria still feels somewhat taboo) but showing not a hint of animus. There is no preaching here, only honest, earnest depiction of an experience. Obviously, the idea of gender identity is central to the work, but this is not a piece about gender identity, per se. It is rather a piece about a human being, Hannah, and her journey, her doubt, her fear, and eventually her joy.”

“The piece itself is formidable on all fronts, starting with an unassuming but nonetheless powerful libretto by Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed.”

“[Laura Kaminsky's] remarkable score always seems to be in perfect harmony with the libretto.”

From Out.com:

AS ONE photo 1 by Ken Howard for AOP“The brilliance of As One is that the drama is (mostly) internal. With only one character, Hannah, that choice allows for a complex and nuanced portrayal of the coming out experience on stage.”

“The simplicity of their (Reed and Campbell’s) language gives the opera a stream-of-consciousness ease and accessibility. Voice is often a signifier of gender but the opera’s creators potently play with it here as a more symbolic marker of identity.”

“Composer Laura Kaminsky, who first conceived of the project (her first opera), has created a musical world that captures both the discordance of Hannah’s struggle and her growth toward personal harmony. Moments of playfulness, innocence and discovery…are tempered by moments of fear and loneliness. Kaminsky swirls all of these experiences together in layers of competing sounds and rhythms, revealing a complex emotional portrait of Hannah’s inner world.”

“The success and beauty of As One is that it reveals epic emotions within an intimate frame.”

From Opera News:

“The draw of As One, which has a libretto by Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed, lies in its very human depiction of the internal and external issues faced by transgender individuals in the twenty-first century…(it is) a piece that haunts and challenges its audience with questions about identity, authenticity, compassion and the human desire for self-love and peace.”

“Ken Cazan’s production had the singers and the players of the Fry Street Quartet co-exist and interact in the same space, creating a world that was as fantastical and dreamlike as it was gritty and real.”

“Together (Kelly) Markgraf and (Sasha) Cooke—who are husband and wife in real life—created one character with their fully committed physical and emotional connection.”

AS ONE photo 5 by Ken Howard for AOP“Leading with eloquence and focus was Steven Osgood, a champion of modern American opera…Osgood maintained the delicate balance with ease and an ear for the musical and dramatic arc of this compelling journey.”

From David Patrick Stearns/WQXR:

“Artistically distinguished, socially important…says so much with relatively modest means.”

“In a subject with so many ways to go wrong, composer Laura Kaminsky and co-librettists Mark Campbell (best known for Silent Night) and Kimberly Reed (once a star quarterback in Montana but now a female filmmaker) elegantly zeroed in on pivotal moments in the inner life of a single character named Hannah.”

“Musically, Kaminsky’s dramatically charged music has a tonal ambiguity that allows each scene to go where it needs to, and in a clear dramatic trajectory.”

“Baritone Kelly Markgraf sang with a robust, full-bodied voice that drove home the exterior/interior contrast of being masculine on the outside but moving in more feminine ways in unguarded moments. Mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke had some of the opera’s more ecstatic writing, since the feminine part of Hannah’s life has the greatest discoveries. Both singers, who happen to be husband and wife, sang with beauty, intelligence and superb English diction.”

“Stage director Ken Cazan maintained Brechtian dislocation by keeping the accompanying Fry Street Quartet in the center of the stage. The lack of comprehensive realism in the stage pictures let you stand outside the story and take it in more objectively to more fully process the events at hand.”

From James Jorden/The New York Observer:

“…satisfies in an entertaining and delicately moving way…”

“Mr. Campbell and Ms. Reed’s text is wonderfully tactful, never reaching for grandiose effects.”

“(Ms. Kaminsky’s) setting of text is masterful, so natural and unaffected that the projected titles were superfluous.”

AS ONE photo 2 by Ken Howard for AOP“This world premiere boasted a cast as close to perfection as I can imagine…Ken Cazan staged the piece with subtlety and tact. Ms. Reed directed film segments that were projected around and someone (sic) on the action, starting in faded black and white and gradually blooming into rich color for the “Norway” finale. David Martin Jacques’ intricate lighting design added visual interest…and Sara Jean Tosetti’s costumes, simple hoodies and jeans, posed intriguing questions about the nature of masculinity.”

From [Q]onstage:

“MAGNIFICENT. Our story was made on September 4 at BAM Fisher in the Fishman Space. Composer Laura Kaminsky’s latest work, “As One” stole an entire house full of hearts. A spare stage and few props placed the focus firmly on the music, right where it should be. (Mark) Campbell and (Kimberly) Reed’s libretto has humor, pathos and that most elusive of qualities—true emotion.”

“The multi-media film is projected on translucent material of various sizes and heights, hung in the back of the room. The diaphanous presence of images seemed like thought made flesh.”

“Baritone Kelly Markgraf plays “Hannah before” with gentility, great thoughtfulness and presence, while mezzo soprano Sasha Cooke plays “Hannah after,” as dazzling with character as with the beauty of her voice….this work requires a very particular set of mad skills—these are brilliant singers and accomplished actors both. When they sing together, they are limerance.”

“The Fry Quartet transcend their music.”

From The New York Times:

“Ms. Kaminsky has sensitive collaborators in Mark Campbell, who wrote the libretto for Kevin Puts’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “Silent Night,” and Kimberly Reed, whose documentary, “Prodigal Sons,” traces her own transgender life.”

“The baritone Kelly Markraf sings “Hannah before” with power and clarity. With knowing wit and vocal lushness, the mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke plays “Hannah after.”

“In Ken Cazan’s sparse staging, backed by scene-setting projections from Ms. Reed, the drama powerfully coheres.”

From Parterre Box:

“Kaminsky knows how to write for the voice, permitting beautiful voices to demonstrate their beauties, hitting emotional chords.”

AS ONE photo 4 by Ken Howard for AOP

From the Wall Street Journal:

“The double casting ingeniously sets out the male/female bifurcation of personality, and the two singers, with their matched vocal timbres and expressivity, make it believable. So does Ken Cazan’s choreographed direction.”

From Voce di meche:

“(As One) held our interest from start to finish—words such as TRANScendent and TRANSformation kept popping into our brain…If you are fortunate enough to get a ticket, don’t be surprised if you walk out TRANSformed.”

“(Although) Mr. Markgraf’s physical and forceful baritone are completely masculine, his skillful interpretation allowed us to realize the woman within. Ms. Cooke’s gleaming mezzo and soft appearance was tinged at appropriate moments with the called-for masculine quality as she portrayed “Hannah after.” The roles could not have been better acted or sung.”

“A remarkable feature of the work is the way the various artists were called upon to cross artistic boundaries….the singers were called upon to dance…the superb conductor Steven Osgood was called up to lay down his baton and assume the role of a schoolteacher…the members of the Fry Street Quartet not only played Ms. Kaminsky’s music with consummate artistry but also participated in the drama just a bit.”

“Stage director Ken Cazan…created the magic of having us see in our mind’s eye what was not onstage.”

“(Ms. Kaminsky’s) writing for the string quartet was nothing short of thrilling…and there were some thrilling moments when Ms. Cooke and Mr. Markgraf sang in gorgeous harmony (symbolic!) and in unison (even more symbolic!).”

Find complete As One reviews, interviews, and profiles at www.operaprojects.org/AsOne#asone_press


AMERICAN OPERA PROJECTS RECEIVES MAJOR GRANT FROM THE ANDREW W. MELLON FOUNDATION TO SUPPORT ARTISTIC INITIATIVES

September 10, 2014

BROOKLYN, NY, September 10, 2014 – American Opera Projects (AOP) is pleased to announce that it has been awarded a major grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.  The $200,000 grant, active through December 2016, will support artistic initiatives by AOP: the Composers & the Voice and First Chance programs. The primary focus of Composers & the Voice is to give composers and librettists extensive experience working collaboratively with singers on writing for the voice and contemporary opera stage. The First Chance program allows composers and librettists to hear their work, in part or in full, for the first time before an audience, and helps to develop new works for future performances by opera companies. By helping fund these and other upcoming American Opera Projects programs, the Mellon Foundation has ensured that AOP can continue to offer opportunities and insights to rising composers, librettists, and presenting institutions. AOP General Director Charles Jarden states, “we are grateful to The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for this generous grant as it allows AOP to move forward with boldness and innovation. Our goal is to keep contemporary American opera vibrant.”

The seventh cycle of the Composers & the Voice (C&V) program will conclude this month with Six Scenes, a concert of opera scenes created in the program by this year’s fellows. Performances will be held on Friday, September 12 and Sunday, September 14 at 7:30 PM, at South Oxford Space in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, home of AOP.  Manhattan School of Music and UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music opera directors will be on hand to select scenes for further development at their respective conservatories.

Fellows from the seventh season of Composers & the Voice in a workshop session. Brooklyn, NY. Photo by Ted Gorodetzky

Fellows from the seventh season of Composers & the Voice in a workshop session. Brooklyn, NY. Photo by Ted Gorodetzky

In addition to the Mellon Foundation grant, AOP has recently received 2014-15 season general operating grants from New Music USA and the Amphion Foundation. New Music USA has contributed to AOP through the Cary New Music Performance Fund, which seeks out organizations that “demonstrate excellence in innovative new music programming and/or performances consisting primarily of new music by living composers, improvisers, sound artists or singer/songwriters working in any style or genre.” In addition, the Amphion Foundation has provided a grant to AOP reserved for those organizations with a “history of substantial commitment to contemporary concert music at a high level of excellence.” AOP Composer-in-Residence Laura Kaminsky notes that: “the commitment that all three of these organizations have made to AOP is critical, timely, and exciting. We are looking forward to shepherding the development of much exciting new music as a result.”

Since its founding in 1988, AOP has been a driving force behind the revitalization of contemporary opera and musical theater in the United States through its exclusive devotion to creating, developing, and presenting new American opera and music theatre projects. Throughout its existence AOP has striven to bring compelling and innovative opera to New York City and the United States, and with the help of these grants, that mission will continue.


AMERICAN OPERA PROJECTS APPOINTS LAURA KAMINSKY AS ITS COMPOSER-IN-RESIDENCE

September 8, 2014

Brooklyn, NY, August 21, 2014 – American Opera Projects Inc. (AOP) announces the appointment of Laura Kaminsky as its composer-in-residence commencing September 1, 2014, three days before her opera “As One” premieres at BAM in an AOP production (performances September 4, 6, and 7). In this role, Kaminsky will bring broad expertise to AOP enabling the Brooklyn-based company to expand its mission of identifying, developing, and presenting new and innovative works of music theater by emerging and established artists and to engage audiences in an immersive, transformative theatrical experience.

kaminsky, laura 2

Laura Kaminsky

Recently celebrating its 25th anniversary season, AOP creates, develops and presents opera and music theater projects collaborating with the young, rising, and established artists in the field. General Director Charles Jarden and the board of directors invited Kaminsky to take on this position for a two-year cycle because she is an active and engaged composer who is also renowned as an innovative presenter and producer, and an arbiter of contemporary music trends with a broad and open-minded aesthetic. Jarden states, “Having first worked with Laura when we collaborated on an historic presentation of two of Lee Hoiby’s operas (one a premiere) in 2008, I was eager to further develop our working relationship. When she expressed interest in composing As One, AOP commissioned it and during development, with the addition of Laura’s co-creators Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed, we quickly found we had a fantastic work on our hands. Our working relationship during As One has been vibrant and creative, and led, naturally, to AOP’s desire to continue working with Laura. We are delighted that she has come on board to help us further our mission. “

As Composer-in-Residence at AOP, Kaminsky will serve as both a public face for AOP as well as a strategic partner, collaborating with the staff and board to articulate and implement a series of events and activities that will allow AOP to better serve the field while making AOP a more robust organization at this critical time when traditionally structured opera companies are increasingly vulnerable and yet there is an efflorescence of new opera activity. She will work with the General Director to identify projects that will be considered for development, and will plan a series of artistic events that will be of interest both to professionals within the opera world as well as to the general opera-loving public. Having just composed her first opera As One, Kaminsky will bring fresh insights and expertise from her experience of conceiving, collaborating, composing, developing and producing a new opera to the programs she will develop for AOP.

Kaminsky notes, “the time I spent working with AOP to develop As One has been personally and professionally transformative to me in so many extraordinary ways, and it is my intention now to bring all that I have learned to this new position of composer-in-residence so that I can help AOP to better support other composers who also have the desire to make an opera, and to help AOP expand its reach so that more people both can understand the exhilarating collaborative creative process of opera, and can experience the best of what is being created today. I am thrilled to be named composer-in-residence at AOP and look forward, as soon as As One closes, to dedicate myself to the tasks at hand.”

At the forefront of the contemporary opera movement for a quarter-century, AOP creates, develops and presents opera and music theatre projects collaborating with young, rising and established artists in the field. AOP has produced over 20 world premieres including Nkeiru Okoye’s Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom, Lera Auerbach’s The Blind, a co-production with Lincoln Center Festival 2013. Other notable premieres include Kimper/Persons’ Patience & Sarah (1998), Stefan Weisman’s Darkling (2006), Lee Hoiby’s This is the Rill Speaking (2008), and Phil Kline’s Out Cold (2012) at BAM. AOP-developed projects with premiere with collaborating companies: Gregory Spears’s Paul’s Case at Urban Arias (2013) and PROTOTYPE Festival (Jan 2014), Kamran Ince’s Judgment of Midas at Milwaukee Opera Theatre (2013), Jack Perla’s Love/Hate at ODC Theater with San Francisco Opera (2012), Stephen Schwartz’s Séance on a Wet Afternoon at New York City Opera (2011), Tarik O’Regan’s Heart of Darkness at London’s Royal Opera House (2011), Jorge Martín’s Before Night Falls at Fort Worth Opera (2010), Lee Hoiby’s This Is the Rill Speaking at Opera Memphis (2013) and Purchase College (2008). Upcoming: As One at BAM and Composers & the Voice: Six Scenes, September 2014.

Laura Kaminsky is a composer with “an ear for the new and interesting” (New York Times) whose music is “full of fire as well as ice, written in an idiom that contrasts dissonance and violence with tonal beauty and meditative reflection.” (American Record Guide)

As both composer and presenter/producer, Kaminsky has received support from the National Endowment for the Arts, Koussevitzky Music Foundation, Opera America, New York State Council on the Arts, Aaron Copland Fund, Chamber Music America, American Music Center, USArtists International, CEC ArtsLink International Partnerships, Likhachev Foundation, Kenan Institute for the Arts, Artist Trust, Seattle Arts Commission, North Carolina Arts Council, Meet the Composer, and others. She has received six ASCAP-Chamber Music America Awards for Adventurous Programming and the Polish Ministry of Culture National Heritage 2010 Chopin Award. Kaminsky serves on the national advisory council of Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle and on the board of directors of the Hermitage Artist Retreat Center in Florida. She is a professor in the School of the Arts at Purchase College/SUNY.

“AOP is very excited about Laura, both as a creative force and an administrator,” said Jarden.  “We believe we are lucky to bring her on board at this critical juncture, in our 26th season, to help with both long range artistic aims and advancing institutional goals. Laura has a dedicated following in NYC. AOP has been fortunate to have been working along side her since 2008, and now she has been bitten by the opera bug.  Be on the lookout for a schedule of Laura’s special events.”


MUSIC OF OPERA COMPOSER CONRAD CUMMINGS PRESENTED IN ONE-NIGHT-ONLY CONCERT

August 15, 2014

EVENING TO FEATURE TWO PREMIERE WORKS

 

NEW YORK, NY — – American Opera Projects and LivelyWorks present Two Premieres and a Reunion, a special evening of music by composer Conrad Cummings Wednesday September 10th, 2014 at 7:30 p.m. at The National Opera Center, 330 Seventh Avenue, Manhattan. Tickets are $15 available online at https://twopremieres.eventbrite.com or $20 at the door. A reception with the artists will follow the concert.

The performance features premieres of two commissioned works: the theatrical song cycle Thoroughfare, written for Metropolitan Opera tenor Keith Jameson with lyrics by Mark Campbell; and the virtuoso concert piece Golden Gate Fantasy, written for award-winning violinist Gregory Fulkerson.

Also featured are two concert duets reuniting frequent Cummings collaborators Jesse Blumberg and Hai-Ting Chinn: Before The Golden Gate, with lyrics by Vikram Seth; and From Positions 1956, with lyrics by Michael Korie. Long-time Cummings collaborator, Charity Wicks, is the pianist for all four works.

Cummings composed Before The Golden Gate as a preparation – a “writing into” – the full-length opera based on Vikram Seth’s novel in verse. Hai-Ting Chinn and Jesse Blumberg have both been frequent collaborators of Cummings’s, and each has sung a role in The Golden Gate, but never at the same time. Here they interweave the voices of multiple characters in an abstract evocation of the novel’s dark lyricism. From Positions 1956 takes moments from Cummings’s and Michael Korie’s opera drawn from instructional manuals of the 1950’s, particularly marriage manuals, and casts them into a concert piece customized for these two interpreters.

Golden Gate Fantasy is a 21st century take on a 19th century form: the virtuoso concert piece drawn from themes of a popular opera, in this case Cummings’s. Gregory Fulkerson notes, “Like Sarasate’s fantasy to Carmen, I asked Cummings for dare-devil virtuosity, playfulness, and a distillation of the opera’s intense lyric spirit. He’s more than succeeded.”

Renowned tenor Keith Jameson, recently appearing in Falstaff at the Metropolitan Opera, will premiere the theatrical song cycle Thoroughfare, a work written expressly for him by Cummings and noted librettist Mark Campbell. Subtitled “A song cycle between places,” the five-part story follows the protagonist from Columbus Circle where his boyfriend has suddenly broken up with him, down Broadway, to Madison Square Park where his heart begins to mend. Jameson explains, “I wanted to be as vulnerable as the lover in Schubert’s Winterreise. But I wanted it to feel fresh, modern, and like it could be a chapter out of my own life.”

AOP General Director Charles Jarden writes, “Conrad has always had a special place at AOP.  One of his many talents as a composer is writing expressly for the singers involved, in this case Jesse, Hai-Ting and Keith. AOP has had the good fortune to work on some of this dramatic material previously, with these talents, including the pianist Charity Wicks. We are excited to connect with it again as it develops into concert form. We predict that Conrad’s newest work for Keith, working with librettist Mark Campbell, will resonate with the audience along with the artists.”

Cummings notes, “It’s rare that commissions, lyricists, and performers of this quality come together in one night. And it’s a wonderful reunion for artists who love each other’s work and have all excelled in my music on separate occasions. For one happy night we all get to work together. And the audience is invited to join us all for drinks and snacks after the concert. Life doesn’t get better.”

 

ABOUT THE CREATORS

Conrad CummingsA versatile composer on the faculty at The Juilliard School Evening Division, CONRAD CUMMINGS has received the following praise from the NYTimes: “Mr. Cummings is his own man, with an impressive ability to change styles while retaining a compositional image.” His works have been performed at Carnegie Hall, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco, and by the New Jersey, Indianapolis, and Louisville Orchestras. Commissions include Canadian Brass, Opera Delaware, and San Francisco Opera Center. The Golden Gate (“Intensity more often encountered in Stephen Sondheim’s musicals than in the opera house.” – NYTimes) with libretto adapted from Vikram Seth’s novel in verse, received a staged workshop at Lincoln Center’s Rose Studio, co-produced by AOP and Livelyworks, and was named one of the best operas of the 21st century by Opera News. Positions 1956 (“an amusing piece given substance by some tender and some keen, rueful moments.” – The New Yorker), a self-help opera in three parts with libretto by Michael Korie, commissioned by Washington DC opera company UrbanArias, received its premiere production in April 2012, followed by a revival of the political campaign opera Photo-Op (“A must-see” – Washington Post) by the same company in September 2012. Earlier operas include Eros and Psyche, Oberlin Opera Theater (“I can’t think of anybody else who’s doing what he’s doing right now.” – The New Yorker), and Tonkin, Opera Delaware (“Mr. Cummings samples musical history for techniques and sonorities the way rappers sample pop rhythms.”  – NYTimes). Cummings trained at Yale, Stony Brook, and Columbia, did post-doc work at IRCAM in Paris, taught at Oberlin Conservatory for ten years where he directed the music and media program, moved to New York to run a kids’ interactive media company, and since 2003 teaches composition in the Evening Division at The Juilliard School. Recordings are available on CRI’s Emergency Music label; honors include MacDowell, Djerassi and Tanglewood fellowships and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Opera America, and The Rockefeller Foundation. www.conradcummings.com

MARK CAMPBELL is one of the most in-demand librettists in contemporary opera, profiled in Opera News as an artist “poised…to become a major force in opera in the coming decade.” Mark is most known for writing the libretto for Silent Night, which garnered a 2012 Pulitzer Prize in Music for composer Kevin Puts. The opera was produced by Minnesota Opera, aired on PBS’ Great Performances and will be seen in eight cities since its premiere. Other successful operas include Later the Same Evening, Volpone, Bastianello/Lucrezia, Rappahannock County and A Letter to East 11th Street. As a lyricist, Mark penned the lyrics for Songs from an Unmade Bed, which premiered at New York Theatre Workshop and has since been produced around the world. Other musicals: The Audience, Chang & Eng, and Splendora. Mark received may prestigious awards for his work, including: the first Kleban Foundation Award, two Richard Rodgers Awards, a NYFA Playwriting Fellowship, three Drama Desk Award nominations, a Rockefeller Foundation Award, and a Jonathan Larson Foundation Award. Upcoming projects include: The Manchurian Candidate (Kevin Puts, Minnesota Opera), As One (Laura Kaminsky, Kimberly Reed, co-librettist, AOP commissioned, BAM), Burke+Hare (Julian Grant, MTG), The Shining (Paul Moravec, Minnesota Opera), The Trial of Elizabeth Cree (Kevin Puts, Opera Philadelphia), Dinner at Eight (William Bolcom, Minnesota Opera). www.markcampbellwords.com

MICHAEL KORIE writes lyrics for musicals and librettos for operas.  Works include Grey Gardens (Playwrights Horizons, Broadway, Outer Critics Circle Award); Far From Heaven (Playwrights Horizons, Williamstown Festival); The Grapes of Wrath (Minnesota Opera, Carnegie Hall, Los Angeles Walt Disney Concert Hall); Harvey Milk (San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand Opera, New York City Opera); Doctor Zhivago (Lyric Theatre, Sydney, upcoming New York); Happiness (Lincoln Center Theater); Doll (Ravinia Festival, Chicago); Hoppers Wife (Long Beach California Opera); Kabbalah (Brooklyn Academy Next Wave Festival); Wheres Dick? (Houston Grand Opera); Positions 1956 (Knitting Factory, Urban Arias).  Korie serves on the council of The Dramatists Guild, mentors The Dramatist Guild Fellows Program, and teaches lyric writing at Yale.

Best-selling author VIKRAM SETH was born in 1952 in Calcutta, India, educated at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, Stanford University and Nanjing University, and has traveled widely and lived in Britain, California, India and China. His first novel, The Golden Gate: A Novel in Verse (1986), describing the experiences of a group of friends living in California, gained international attention and extraordinary sales. His acclaimed epic of Indian life, A Suitable Boy (1993), won the WH Smith Literary Award and the Commonwealth Writers Prize and sold over two million copies. An Equal Music (1999), the story of a violinist haunted by the memory of a former lover, has been translated and published in sixteen languages. His poetry includes Mappings (1980), The Humble Administrator’s Garden (1985), winner of the Commonwealth Poetry Prize (Asia), and All You Who Sleep Tonight: Poems (1990). His children’s book, Beastly Tales from Here and There (1992), consists of ten stories about animals told in verse. Vikram Seth’s Two Lives, a memoir of the marriage of his great uncle and aunt, appeared in 2005. A Suitable Girl is the much-awaited sequel to A Suitable Boy, scheduled for world-wide release in 2016.

 

ABOUT THE ARTISTS

Baritone JESSE BLUMBERG, equally at home on opera, concert, and recital stages, has performed roles at Minnesota Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Boston Early Music Festival, Boston Lyric Opera, and at London’s Royal Festival Hall. He has made concert appearances with American Bach Soloists, Boston Baroque, Oratorio Society of New York, TENET/Green Mountain Project, Pacific MusicWorks, Apollo’s Fire, and on Lincoln Center’s American Songbook series.  Jesse has performed recitals with the New York Festival of Song, Marilyn Horne Foundation, and the Mirror Visions Ensemble.  His 2014-2015 season includes European tour with Boston Early Music Festival and debuts with Hawaii Opera Theatre and Atlanta Opera.  Jesse is also the founder and artistic director of Five Boroughs Music Festival, which brings chamber music of many genres to every corner of New York City. www.jesseblumberg.com

American Mezzo-soprano HAI-TING CHINN performs in a wide range of styles and venues, from Purcell to Pierrot Lunaire, Cherubino to The King & I, J.S. Bach to P.D.Q. Bach. She was featured in the revival and tour of Phillip Glass’s Einstein on the Beach, performed at venues around the world from 2011–2014, and she is currently singing the role of Belle in Glass’s La Belle et la Bête, also on tour. She has performed with New York City Opera, The Wooster Group, OperaOmnia, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, and the Waverly Consort; and on the stages of Carnegie Hall, the Mann Center in Philadelphia, the Edinburgh Festival, the Verbier Festival, and London’s West End. She has premiered new works by Du Yun, Conrad Cummings, Stefan Weisman, Yoav Gal, and Matt Schickele. Hai-Ting is also an Artist in Residence at HERE arts center, where she is developing Science Fair, a staged solo show of science set to music.

Violinist GREGORY FULKERSON enjoys an active performing career in both standard and contemporary repertoire. He won First Prize in the International American Music Competition sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation and the Kennedy Center, and has performed the World Premieres of the John Becker Concerto with the Chattanooga Symphony, the Richard Wernick Concerto with the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Roy Harris Concerto with the North Carolina Symphony (later performing and recording it with The Louisville Orchestra). He has performed the title role in the Philip Glass opera, EINSTEIN ON THE BEACH, for a total of 48 performances on four continents, and later recorded the work for Nonesuch. Fulkerson’s debut recording (on New World Records) was chosen one of the year’s best by The New York Times, and his complete Violin Sonatas of Charles Ives (Bridge Records) has become the standard for that repertoire. His complete Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin by J.S. Bach (Bridge) was chosen one of the Best CDs of 2000 by The New Yorker magazine.

KEITH JAMESON, tenor, has performed with the Metropolitan Opera in Falstaff (Live in HD) Carmen (Live in HD, released on DVD), Billy Budd, and War and Peace among others. He recently performed the title role of Candide with the Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra, and Bardolfo in Falstaff with the Saito Kinen Festival in Japan. Notable roles include Candide, Oronte in Alcina, Tobias in Sweeney Todd, Nanki-Poo in The Mikado, and many others with New York City Opera, Nanki-Poo with English National Opera, and Peter Quint in The Turn of the Screw with Opera Royal de Wallonie, the Novice in Billy Budd with Santa Fe Opera, Los Angeles Opera and the Metropolitan Opera. He sang Haydn’s Creation and Lord Nelson Mass, with Boston Baroque, both released on CD. Future engagements include Capriccio with Lyric Opera of Chicago, Iolanta and Carmen at the Metropolitan Opera, and Candide with the Baltimore Symphony. He will record his first solo CD this year, including the new song cycle Thoroughfare by Conrad Cummings and Mark Campbell.

CHARITY WICKS is a pianist and music director who is highly lauded for her versatility, as she is at ease with a wide range of repertory from solo works and chamber music to contemporary opera and musical theater. She has been the pianist for numerous workshops and performances of The Golden Gate, and is always thrilled to be playing Conrad’s music! Charity has been a music director and pianist for many AOP projects over the years, including the Composers and the Voice program and Semmelweis by Ray Lustig, and she was most recently the associate conductor of the world premier of The Summer King, a new opera by Daniel Sonenberg. She also was involved in the workshops of Stephen Schwartz’s opera Séance on a Wet Afternoon, for which she was the associate conductor for the world premier. She has additionally worked on several Broadway musicals including Wicked, Violet, Big Fish, Nice Work if You Can Get It, Billy Elliot, In the Heights, and Spring Awakening, and regularly develops new musicals. She holds a BM and MM from Temple University, and a DMA from The Manhattan School of Music.

 

ABOUT THE PRODUCER

At the forefront of the contemporary opera movement for a quarter-century, AOP creates, develops and presents opera and music theatre projects collaborating with young, rising and established artists in the field. AOP has produced over 20 world premieres including Nkeiru Okoye’s Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom, Lera Auerbach’s The Blind, a co-production with Lincoln Center Festival 2013. Other notable premieres include Kimper/Persons’ Patience & Sarah (1998), Stefan Weisman’s Darkling (2006), Lee Hoiby’s This is the Rill Speaking (2008), and Phil Kline’s Out Cold (2012) at BAM. AOP-developed projects with premiere with collaborating companies: Gregory Spears’s Paul’s Case at Urban Arias (2013) and PROTOTYPE Festival (Jan 2014), Kamran Ince’s Judgment of Midas at Milwaukee Opera Theatre (2013), Jack Perla’s Love/Hate at ODC Theater with San Francisco Opera (2012), Stephen Schwartz’s Séance on a Wet Afternoon at New York City Opera (2011), Tarik O’Regan’s Heart of Darkness at London’s Royal Opera House (2011), Jorge Martín’s Before Night Falls at Fort Worth Opera (2010), Lee Hoiby’s This Is the Rill Speaking at Opera Memphis (2013) and Purchase College (2008). Upcoming:  As One at BAM and Composers & the Voice: Six Scenes, September 2014.

Emma Lively is the president of LIVELYWORKS, a young company committed to developing and producing tuneful, optimistic and entertaining works for the stage.

 

ADDITIONAL PROJECT INFO AND PRESS MATERIALS AVAILABLE AT: www.operaprojects.org

 

Two Premieres and a Reunion
An Evening of Music by Conrad Cummings

Wednesday September 10th, 7:30 p.m.

Tickets $15, available online at https://twopremieres.eventbrite.com or $20 at the door

National Opera Center
330 Seventh Avenue at 29th Street, Manhattan

Concert duration: 55 minutes

 

Join Mr. Cummings, the creators, and the artists for drinks and snacks after the concert


Meet the esteemed moderators of our post-show talks for AS ONE

August 14, 2014
 

American Opera Projects will host Artist Talks after each performance of As One, its new opera by Laura Kaminsky, Mark Campbell, and Kimberly Reed, premiering at BAM September 4th, 6th, and 7th. These talks will be free for audience members.

Jean Malpas (far left) leads a discussion with As One's creators (l. to r.) Mark Campbell, Laura Kaminsky, and Kimberly Reed after a June workshop at BAM Fisher.

Jean Malpas (far left) leads a discussion with As One’s creators (l. to r.) Mark Campbell, Laura Kaminsky, and Kimberly Reed after a June workshop at BAM Fisher.

Andrew Solomon – Thursday, September 4

The first talk on September 4th will be moderated by Andrew Solomon, a writer and lecturer on psychology, politics, and the arts; winner of the National Book Award; and an activist in LGBT rights, mental health, and the arts. Solomon’s award-winning book, Far From the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity, tells the stories of parents who not only learn to deal with their exceptional children, but also find profound meaning in doing so.  Solomon’s chapter on transgender individuals profiles As One co-librettist and filmmaker Kimberly Reed (see video below). He also writes about families coping with deafness, dwarfism, Down syndrome, autism, schizophrenia, multiple severe disabilities, with children who are prodigies, who are conceived in rape, who become criminals. While each of these characteristics is potentially isolating, the experience of difference within families is universal, as are the struggles toward compassion and the triumphs of love Solomon documents in every chapter.  Woven into these courageous and affirming stories is Solomon’s journey to accepting his own identity, which culminated in his midlife decision, influenced by this research, to become a parent.

 As One Co-librettist and Filmmaker Kimberly Reed on Far From the Tree

Naomi Lewin – Saturday, September 6

The second talk on September 6th will be moderated by Naomi Lewin, the weekday afternoon host on WQXR, the host of WQXR’s weekly opera program Operavore, the host of weekly podcast Conducting Business, and a great supporter of contemporary opera. Before arriving at WQXR, Lewin was the midday host at WGUC, Cincinnati’s classical public radio station. In Cincinnati, she began writing and hosting the award-winning, weekly program Classics for Kids, which now airs on radio stations across the country. Lewin has produced feature stories and full-length music programs for national broadcast, as well as intermission features for Metropolitan Opera broadcasts. She has also served as an essayist for NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday. 

A Discussion with Marilyn Horne About Melding Opera and Pop Culture

Jean Malpas – Sunday, September 7

The third talk on September 7th will be moderated by Jean Malpas, LMHC, LMFT a psychotherapist in private practice and a faculty member of the Ackerman Institute for the Family in New York City. For the past 10 years, Jean has provided psychotherapy to individuals, couples, families and groups. His expertise includes family and relationship issues, substance abuse and recovery, sexual and gender identity, depression, anxiety, chronic illness and cultural adjustment. In addition to teaching family therapy at the Ackerman Institute, Jean has presented nationally and internationally on addiction counseling, couples therapy, gender and sexuality. His innovations have been published in professional books and journals as well as magazines and blogs in the U.S., Europe and Canada.

Gender Variance with Jean Malpas

Tickets for As One can be purchased at BAM.org/AsOne


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