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


AMERICAN OPERA PROJECTS PRESENTS “SIX SCENES” OF NEW OPERAS BY EMERGING COMPOSERS AND LIBRETTISTS

August 13, 2014

MUSIC FROM THE 2013-14

SEASON OF COMPOSERS & THE VOICE

 

A Stonewall-era drag queen and the cop entranced by her. A princess manipulates her captor during the Crusades. A man’s literal vacation from Hell. On­­­­ Friday, September 12 and Sunday, September 14 at 7:30 PM, AOP (American Opera Projects) will present these and other excerpts of new operas at COMPOSERS & THE VOICE: SIX SCENES 2014, the culmination of this season’s Composers & the Voice (C&V) opera training program. Audiences will see scenes by five emerging composers - Guy Barash, Avner Finberg, Jeremy Gill, Andreia Pinto-Correia, Gity Razaz – and one composer/librettist team, Joseph Rubinstein and Jason Kim, who were chosen by AOP to spend a year creating new works focusing on the operatic voice. The performances will be held at South Oxford Space in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, home of AOP. Tickets are $15 general admission, $10 for students/seniors and are available at http://www.operaprojects.org.

AOP Resident Ensemble of Singers performing: sopranos Deborah Lifton (Center for Contemporary Opera, Encompass New Opera Theatre) and Kristin Sampson (Dicapo Opera Theatre, Santa Fe Opera), mezzo Blythe Gaissert (Los Angeles Opera, Aspen Music Festival), tenor Dominic Armstrong (New York City Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago), baritone Jorell Williams (Caramoor International Music Festival, Opera Theatre of St. Louis), and bass-baritone Matthew Burns (Boston Lyric Opera, New York City Opera).  Supporting on piano will be Composers & the Voice Music Directors Mila Henry, Kelly Horsted, and Charity Wicks.

The performances will be hosted by C&V Artistic Director Steven Osgood (conductor, Chautauqua Opera, New York City Opera) and feature discussions with the artists about the creative process.

This year’s C&V fellows have benefitted from one-on-one mentoring from esteemed composers Daron Hagen, Jake Heggie, Libby Larsen, John Musto, Tobias Picker, and Stephen Schwartz, as well as librettist Mark Campbell. Each of these distinguished artists reviews their fellows’ work, offers feedback, and participates in C&V discussions.

Previous Six Scenes by C&V alumni produced in the Brooklyn-based bi-annual series featured the first performances of Jack Perla’s Love/Hate (World Premiere 2012, San Francisco) and Gregory Spears’ Paul’s Case (World Premiere Spring 2013, in Washington, DC and New York).

ABOUT COMPOSERS & THE VOICE

Created and led by Artistic Director Steven Osgood, Composers & the Voice began in 2002 and is currently in its seventh season. In Composers & the Voice, fellows establish an understanding of how the operatic voice works and how to write optimally for each voice type, and have hands-on experiences that allow them to explore in their own musical and textual language. Participants meet in closed sessions from September to April to present and discuss new works composed specifically for the individual voices of the Resident Ensemble.

With each new group of fellows, sponsorships are named in honor of mentors and their support of Composers & the Voice. During the workshop session these “Composer Chairs” make themselves available to our fellows for one-on-one discussions and feedback. Past “Composer Chairs” have included composers Mark Adamo, John Corigliano, Tan Dun, Daron Hagen, Lee Hoiby, John Musto, Richard Peaslee, Tobias Picker, Kaija Saariaho, and Stephen Schwartz.

Composers & the Voice holds a long-established partnership with The Manhattan School of Music, and a new affiliation with the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, as a way of introducing contemporary opera to students. Two of the scenes featured in September’s Six Scenes concert will be selected for study and performance in 2015 at the two conservatories.

Composers & the Voice is made possible in part by a generous multi-year award from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Fellows in the C&V program are supported by funding from The New York Community Trust, Edward and Sally Van Lier Fund, and Musical Arts Fund. In the 2013-2014 season, The Victor Herbert Foundation has announced the sponsorship of one fellowship as The Victor Herbert Foundation Composers & The Voice Chair. The Chair is created in memory of longtime opera supporter Lois C. Schwartz.

 picture

C&V Fellows  (l. to r.) Jason Kim, Joseph Rubinstein, Jeremy Gill, Gity Razaz, Andreia Pinto-Correia, Guy Barash, and Avner Finberg. Photo by Ted Gorodetzky. Additional photos: https://flic.kr/s/aHsjGVwRYe
 

CALENDAR LISTING INFORMATION

AMERICAN OPERA PROJECTS presents

Composers & the Voice: Six Scenes 2014

World Premiere Opera Scenes from the 2013-14 Season of Composers & the Voice

WORKS BY: Guy Barash, Avner Finberg, Jeremy Gill, Andreia Pinto-Correia, Gity Razaz, Joseph Rubinstein and Jason Kim

MUSIC DIRECTION: Mila Henry, Kelly Horsted, Charity Wicks

PERFORMANCES BY: Deborah Lifton, Kristin Sampson, Blythe Gaissert, Dominic Armstrong, Jorell Williams, Matthew Burns

Friday, September 12 and Sunday, September 14, 7:30 p.m.

South Oxford Space

138 S. Oxford St., Brooklyn, NY 11217

Subway: 2, 3, 4, 5, Q, B to Atlantic Avenue – Barclays Center

D, N, R to Pacific Street; G to Fulton Street; C to Lafayette Avenue

Train: Long Island Railroad to Atlantic Terminal – Barclays Center

Bus: B25, B26, B45, B52, B63, all stop within three blocks of South Oxford Space

Car: Commercial parking lots are located adjacent to BAM and Barclays Center

Tickets: $15 General Admission, $10 Students/Seniors

Tickets available at www.operaprojects.org

Complete information about Composers & the Voice and this year’s artists can be found at www.operaprojects.org/composers_voice.htm

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, September 2014.

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


AMERICAN OPERA PROJECTS PREMIERES AS ONE, A CHAMBER OPERA FOR TWO VOICES

July 3, 2014

 BY LAURA KAMINSKY, KIMBERLY REED, AND MARK CAMPBELL, AT BAM FISHER, SEPTEMBER 4-7, 2014

With mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke and Baritone Kelly Markgraf sharing the role of the transgender protagonist, and featuring the Fry Street quartet

 AsOne_Acosta WP image

BROOKLYN, NYAOP (American Opera Projects) announces the world premiere of As One, with music and concept by AOP’s newly-named composer in residence Laura Kaminsky, and with an original libretto by Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed. With compassion, candor, and humor, As One chronicles the experiences of a transgender person as she emerges into harmony with herself and the world around her. Performances take place at BAM Fisher (321 Ashland Place, Brooklyn, NY 11217) from September 4 and 6 at 7:30 pm, and September 7 at 3 pm. Tickets are $25 and will go on sale in mid-July at BAM.org/AsOne.

A monodrama for two voices sharing one central role, AOP commissioned the one-act chamber opera specifically for internationally-acclaimed singers (and real-life husband and wife) Kelly Markgraf, baritone, and Sasha Cooke, mezzo-soprano, who share the role of the protagonist. The production is directed by Ken Cazan, with music direction by Steven Osgood, and features the Utah-based Fry Street Quartet. The production design by David Jacques includes film by transgender filmmaker Kimberly Reed, director of the award-winning documentary, Prodigal Sons. Costume design is by Sara Jean Tosetti.The performance is the culmination of AOP’s participation in the BAM Professional Development Program, a professional training program led by BAM and the DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the Kennedy Center.

 

Free panel discussions with the artists will take place after the September 4 (“Creating As One,” moderator TBA) and September 7 performances (“Gender Identity in As One,” moderated by Jean Malpas, Director, Gender and Family Project at the Ackerman Institute for the Family).

 

A second production of As One will take place at the Caine School of the Arts at Utah State University in April, 2015.

 

ABOUT AS ONE:

 

For many years composer Laura Kaminsky has concerned herself with political and social issues in her music. Her compositions have included works about the natural world and environment (Rising Tide; Terra Terribilis), political and social issues (Vukovar Trio; And Trouble Came: An African AIDS Diary), and works which have been inspired by visual art concepts and artists (Cadmium Yellow, The Full Range of Blue). As a married lesbian, Kaminsky was intrigued by a 2008 article in the New York Times about the legal implications of a marriage in which one of the parties transitioned from male to female, which transformed the couple from hetero- to homo- sexual. For Kaminsky, the story also raised questions about self-identity, including what one is willing to give up in order to simply be oneself. It prompted her first ideas for a musical theater work on the topic. In 2011 Kaminsky saw Kimberly Reed’s documentary film, Prodigal Sons, the story of Reed, a transgender woman, and her return home to Montana for her high school reunion. The composer was moved by the story and was taken with Reed’s artistic sensibility; she wrote to Reed, asking for a meeting. Ms. Reed was intrigued by the concept and agreed to collaborate.

 

While Ms. Kaminksy and Ms. Reed had a concept and visuals, they had not come up with a story. That’s when they turned to librettist Mark Campbell (who is most known for writing the libretto for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize-winning opera, Silent Night). In their first meeting, Mr. Campbell asked Ms. Reed to relate her own experiences and, moved by her humor, bravery and compassion, began envisioning a story about the journey of a transgender person from youth to adulthood. The resultant libretto, written by both Ms. Reed and Mr. Campbell, is told in three parts and is organized into songs that were inspired by Ms. Reed’s story, the stories of other transgender people, and the themes they felt were necessary to explore.

 

As One was developed through public workshops at AOP under its First Chance program. AOP has developed and/or produced over 20 world premiere operas, many of which started within First Chance, including most recently a sold-out co-production of Lera Auerbach’s The Blind (Lincoln Center Festival 2013), Tarik O’Regan’s Heart of Darkness (Royal Opera House, London), and Gregory Spears’ Paul’s Case (UrbanArias, PROTOTYPE, Pittsburgh Opera).

 

Commissioned by American Opera Projects, As One is supported in part by funding from OPERA America’s Opera Discovery Grants for Female Composers Program, supported by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo, the New York State Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Art Works, Bronx Council on the Arts, Purchase College Development Fund, Tanner Fund, Jeremy T. Smith Fund, Dr. Coco Lazaroff, Lynn Loacker, Judith O. Rubin, and many generous individuals. Special thanks to Purchase College Conservatory of Music and Utah State University. As One is presented by AOP as part of the BAM/DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the Kennedy Center Professional Development Program (PDP).

Creators Kimberly Reed, Laura Kaminsky, and Mark Campbell (with Mila Henry in bg) at early AOP workshop of As One.

Creators Kimberly Reed, Laura Kaminsky, and Mark Campbell (with Mila Henry in bg) at early AOP workshop of As One.

ABOUT THE ARTISTS:

 

Laura Kaminsky, recently appointed Composer-in-Residence at American Opera Projects, has received commissions, fellowships, and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Koussevitzky Music Foundation, Opera America, and the Copland Fund, among others. She has received six ASCAP-Chamber Music America Awards for Adventuresome Programming and is the recipient of the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage 2010 Chopin Award. She is on the faculty at the Conservatory of Music at Purchase College/SUNY. Her music is recorded on the Albany, Mode, MSR, Innova and CRI labels.

 

Mark Campbell is one of the most in-demand librettists working in opera today. His last opera, Silent Night, which he wrote with composer Kevin Puts, received the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in music. He has written nine operatic works, including Later the Same Evening, Volpone, Bastianello/Lucrezia and Rappahannock County. He is currently working on operas based on the novels The Manchurian Candidate (Minnesota Opera, 2015; composer: Kevin Puts), The Shining (Minnesota Opera, 2016, composer: Paul Moravec), The Trial of Elizabeth Cree (Opera Philadelphia, 2017; composer: Kevin Puts) and the play Dinner at Eight (Minnesota Opera 2017, composer: William Bolcom).

 

Kimberly Reed’s work has been featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show, CNN, NPR, and in Details Magazine. Her work has made her one of Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 New Faces of Independent Film.” Kimberly Reed directed and produced Prodigal Sons, a “whiplash doc that heralds an exciting talent.” Prodigal Sons landed on many Best of the Year lists and garnered 14 Audience and Jury awards, including the International Film Critics’ FIPRESCI Prize. Ms. Reed was recognized in OUT Magazine’s “Out 100,” and as Towleroad’s “Best LGBT Character of the Film Year” in 2010.

 

Grammy Award-winning mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke has been called “the luminous standout” (New York Times) and “equal parts poise, radiance and elegant directness” (Opera News). Ms. Cooke’s past season included performances with the New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, and Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester, among others. Additional highlights included a production of Anna Bolena at the Opéra National de Bordeaux; recitals at Wigmore Hall, Emory University, and Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall. Her recordings are available on Bridge, Naxos, and Music@Menlo Live labels, as well as her solo album on Yarlung Records.

 

In addition to As One, Kelly Markgraf’s 2014-15 calendar features his debut in the role of Don Pizarro in Fidelio with Madison Opera, and the role of Heathcliff in a concert and subsequent recording of Carlisle Floyd’s Wuthering Heights with Florentine Opera. He returns to Florentine later in the season as Belcore in L’elisir d’amore, and makes his debut with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. Last season brought a debut with Austin Lyric Opera, performances of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with the Green Bay Symphony, and Bach’s St. Mathew Passion with the Oratorio Society of NY at Carnegie Hall.

 

Hailed as “a triumph of ensemble playing” (New York Times), Fry Street Quartet has perfected a “blend of technical precision and scorching spontaneity” (The Strad). The ensemble began its international career in 2002 as cultural ambassadors to the Balkan States, sponsored by Carnegie Hall and the U.S. Department of State. They previously collaborated with composer Laura Kaminsky in a multi-disciplinary performance with physicist Dr. Robert Davies, called The Crossroads Project. The Fry Street Quartet holds the Endowed String Quartet Residency at the Caine College of the Arts at Utah State University in Logan, Utah.

 

Ken Cazan is Resident Stage Director for the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California. He has directed more than 100 productions for more than 40 opera companies, including the Santa Fe Opera, Atlanta Opera, Seattle Opera, Opera Theater of St. Louis, Opera Omaha, Austin Lyric Opera, Chicago Opera Theater, Opera Hamilton, Portland Opera, Fort Worth Opera, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, and Syracuse Opera, among others. Mr. Cazan holds a B.F.A. in acting, directing, and dance from Syracuse University.

 

Steven Osgood, conductor. Notable engagements include: Xenakis’ Oresteia (world premiere, Miller Theater); Tan Dun’s Marco Polo (De Nederlands Opera), La traviata (Edmonton Opera), Tosca (Chautauqua Opera), Conrad Susa’s Transformations (Juilliard Opera). As Artistic Director of AOP from 2001 to 2008, he conducted the world premieres of Paula Kimper’s Patience and Sarah (1998 Lincoln Center Festival), and Janice Hamer’s Lost Childhood (Tel Aviv, 2007). He also created and is artistic director for the company’s nationally recognized Composers & the Voice Workshop Series, soon entering its eighth season.

 

The BAM Professional Development Program (BAM PDP) is a 9-month program that utilizes the strengths of both institutions to provide professional development training and deeply discounted theater and rehearsal studio rental to an annual selection of qualifying non-profit arts organizations. Through the program, supported by Brooklyn Community Foundation and The New York Community Trust, BAM and the DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the Kennedy Center, strive to help arts organizations expand their skill base, increase their institutional capacity, and build necessary foundations for their long-term success. The program culminates with each participating company presenting a self-funded production in the BAM Fisher’s Fishman Theater Space.

 

For more information about transgender issues please visit the GLAAD WEBSITE.


“And Death Shall Have No Dominion” comes to New York

June 18, 2014

And Death Shall Have No DominionThis Saturday, June 21, Composer Pete M. Wyer brings his piece “And Death Shall Have No Dominion” to New York in celebration of the centenary of Dylan Thomas’ birth. “And Death” is a participatory singing event for a synchronized headphone choir. People of all ages are invited to join. Participants do not need to be able to read music or have choral experience, and can sing in groups or by themselves. Using a new, free app (SusSync) that plays the accompaniment and synchronizes their mobile devices, participants will take a 45-minute mapped-out journey through lower Manhattan singing the words of Thomas, creating a moving tapestry that will eventually converge outside Poets House in Rockefeller Park.

Live accompaniment will be provided by the Asphalt Orchestra, a 12-piece ensemble that takes music from concert halls, rock clubs, and jazz basements to the streets and beyond. Feature vocalists include soprano Eleanor Taylor, mezzo Kathryn Krasovec, tenor Glenn Seven Allen, and baritone David Schmidt.

“And Death” commences at 11:00 am on Saturday, June 21 in various locations and converges at Rockefeller Park (Battery Park City) at 11:45 am. The event is being co-presented by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Make Music New York, and Poets House in association with American Opera Projects as part of the River To River Festival 2014.

For more information and to register, please go to http://makemusicny.org/summer-schedule/2014/features/downtown-sound/and-death-shall-have-no-dominion/

READ

the interview with Pete M. Wyer in THE HUFFINGTON POST

LISTEN

to the ADSHND profile on John Schaefer’s WNYC program NEW SOUNDS

WATCH

Pete M. Wyer’s video tour of And Death Shall Have No Dominion


AOP Brings Brooklyn Voices to 5×10 Talks

May 21, 2014

On Tuesday, May 6, 2014, AOP was asked to be a part of the inaugural 5×10 Talks, an event organized by the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership to showcase innovation in the neighborhood.

The event- which raised funds to support the DBP’s year-round public programming and was held at the brand-new BRIC Arts | Media House- highlighted five leaders from Downtown Brooklyn to answer the question, “What’s next?”

Under their I HEAR AMERICA SINGING program, AOP featured two of composer Gilda Lyons’ songs, rapid transit and “I am From the Ghetto ‘Brooklyn'” (the latter from her cycle Songs from the F Train), and three of their regular performers, soprano Adrienne Danrich, contralto Nicole Mitchell, and pianist Mila Henry. In addition, young poet Najaya Royale read her original text for “I Am From the Ghetto ‘Brooklyn'”, which she wrote when she was only 12 years old.

Wanna find out what else is “next”? Watch clips from the entire event here, and check out photos here.

And thanks to a partnership with Brooklyn Independent Media, you can watch a SPECIAL BROADCAST of the 5×10 Talks from 6-7:30pm on May 24th, May 25th, May 31st, and June 1st. Tune in on Brooklyn’s Time Warner Cable 756, Verizon FiOS 46 (all five boroughs), and online at BRIC Brooklyn Indie Media.


Singers and Composers Honor Stephen Schwartz at 25th Anniversary Gala for American Opera Projects

May 13, 2014

Brooklyn’s AOP (American Opera Projects) celebrated its 25th anniversary of developing and producing opera and music theater on Monday, May 12 with a gala that honored Stephen Schwartz, composer and lyricist of Wicked, Pippin, and Godspell as well as the AOP-developed opera Séance on a Wet Afternoon. It was a hot night (and not just because the air-conditioning was on the fritz) as a packed house of composers, singers, producers and supporters of new music entertained by a concert of Mr. Schwartz’s music performed by a mix of opera and Broadway stars including Lauren Flanigan, Anthony Roth Costanzo, and Betsy Wolfe. AOP-produced composers Daniel Felsenfeld (Nora, In the Great Outdoors), Zachary Redler (Jonathan Larson Award, The Memory Show), and Gregory Spears (Paul’s Case) were among those who spoke about their connection to AOP and the influence of Mr. Schwartz on their lives. The event was held at the landmark theater club The Players in New York City and raised funds to support the not-for-profit AOP and its mission.

Check out photos from the evening in the gallery below and here.


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