AOP and OOT’s new mission (if you choose to accept it)

February 29, 2012

OPERAtion BrooklynOn March 25 & 26, 2012, American Opera Projects and Opera on Tap will give the go sign to their newest collaboration – OPERAtion Brooklyn. After 10 performances of their series Opera Grows in Brooklyn, AOP and OOT will return to Galapagos Art Space with this new series that presents “the most daring of contemporary opera and song in a relaxed, nightclub-style evening that encourage[s] drinks and discussion as part of the new classical experience. “

“We were looking for a direction to take Opera Grows in Brooklyn in 2012,” says AOP Producing Director Matt Gray, who co-produces the event with OOT’s Artistic Director Anne Hiatt, “and after assessing the successes of that series, we realized we most enjoyed ourselves when we were producing bigger and bolder. So, we decided to do fewer shows during the year, but make those we do real can’t-miss events. To convey this commitment we felt a new name was in order, something that showed our passion and determination for presenting the best of Brooklyn’s contemporary opera scene.”

OPERAtion Brooklyn

David Del Tredici

David Del Tredici

OPERAtion Brooklyn will kick off with a two-evening festival of Alice in Wonderland-inspired works called Curiouser & Curiouser, featuring a performance by the composer most musically associated with Lewis Carroll – David Del Tredici. Celebrating his 75th birthday the week before, Del Tredici, practically a legend of New York’s contemporary classical scene, will play piano for a revival of his 1986 work for soprano and 10-piece orchestra Haddocks’ Eyes, based on a section of Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass. Excerpts from the Alice-inspired operas Dreaming of Wonderland (Manly Romero, composer) and Wonderglass (Susan Botti, composer) will also take audiences down the operatic rabbit hole.

As if that weren’t enough,  “Curiouser & Curiouser” will feature intermezzos from a collection of New York’s top circus-burlesque artists in a two-part program entitled “Through the Peeping Glass.” Producer Rita MenWeep has put together a mixture of acrobats (Joshua Dean, Ben Franklin), contortionists (Miss Ekaterina), and burlesque stars (Jenny C’est Quoi, Tigger!Creamy Stevens) who will portray some of the most iconic characters in Wonderland in the most unexpected of ways.

Rita MenWeep as the Red Queen

Rita MenWeep as the Red Queen

How did burlesque and opera come together? “I’ve known Rita for years,” says Gray. “I was actually in a play where she did her first-ever burlesque act. After one of our Opera Grows in Brooklyn performances I was thrilled to find that the late-night act was her burlesque version of The Wizard of Oz. Seeing the crossover happen between our audiences, we both thought, ‘Man, it would be great to get these people together. They don’t know what they’re missing.”

American Opera Projects and Opera on Tap have been artists-in-residence at Galapagos Art Space since 2009. The venue, just off the waterfront in DUMBO, Brooklyn, has been a primary destination for both new music and burlesque since it was founded by Artistic Director Robert Elmes in 1995.

“What’s funny is that the fans of neo-classical/opera and the fans of neo-burlesque know that both genres are misunderstood as either too highbrow or too lowbrow, respectively,” says Opera on Tap’s Anne Ricci. “We hope to prove to the unfamiliars how wrong they are on both those counts. But we’re not middlebrow, either!” she laughingly adds.

Tickets for Curiouser & Curiouser are available at Galapagos’s website here. Complete OPERAtion Brooklyn program information is available at www.operationbrooklyn.com.

David Del Tredici Photo Credit: Paula Court

AOP REVIEWS: “Remarkable series” Opera Grows in Brooklyn “an open-minded night of musical experimentation”

July 14, 2010

Galapagos Art Space was the place to be for another night of drinks and drama at Opera Grows in Brooklyn, the hit series from AOP and Opera on Tap.

Just look at what the blogs had to say…

Nicole Mitchell at Opera Grows in Brooklyn

Nicole Mitchell sings "Songs from Hood to Riches"

Parterrebox:

“…it seems clear that the Brooklyn hipster is destined to be the next audience for opera.”

“…once again some amazing surprises were presented by this rag-tag bunch of very experimental artists.”

“…the old and new guard of opera viewers mingled in an open-minded night of musical experimentation.”

Read full review

Opera Insider:

“I for one do not intend to miss another installment of this remarkable series!!! … the eclectic and sometimes challenging musical offerings [are] beautifully framed by the contemporary space and the relaxed, social atmosphere.”

Read full review

Adrienne Danrich performs the Calamus Songs

Adrienne Danrich

The July 9 show kicked off with the rousing set Brooklyn Poets – Past and Present, a combination of songs from AOP and the Walt Whitman Project’s Calamus Songs (Daniel Felsenfeld, Andrew Staniland) and “Songs from Hood to Riches” (Gilda Lyons). Soprano Adrienne Danrich and cellist Hamilton Berry drew thunderous applause for the Whitman settings and mezzo Nicole Mitchell continued her dramatic interpretations of Lyons’s songs based on the poetry of Brooklyn children featuring longtime AOP artist Kelly Horsted on the piano.

Ross Benoliel and Indre Viskontas get busy in the "Chamber"

Ross Benoliel and Indre Viskontas get busy in the "Chamber"

The night continued with singer/songwriter Corey Dargel’s Removable Parts, a disturbing and touching series of portraits about voluntary amputees featuring the incredible piano stylings of Kathleen Supové. Soprano Indre Viskontas and baritone Ross Benoliel brought sexy back with The Bloody Chamber by Daniel Felsenfeld, a new opera being developed by the former C&V composer (prolific, ain’t he?) and staged by the Vineyard Theater’s Sarah Stern.

Opera Grows in Brooklyn will return to Galapagos in 2010 on October 15 and December 10 with all new cutting edge scenes and songs. Mark your calendars now!


Opera Grows in Brooklyn is the place to see “the next great masterwork by the next great composer”

April 21, 2010
AbSynth at Opera Grows in Brooklyn

AbSynth at Opera Grows in Brooklyn

Friday April 16, 2010, proved to be a memorable evening of three exciting new operatic works, performed within an equally modern and unique theater space.  American Opera Projects in conjunction with Opera on Tap produced a trio of contemporary opera compositions.

The triple lineup included a futuristic opera in one act entitled Absynth, a collection of songs by composer Tom Cipullo and Margot Alone in the Light, an operatic work that takes place on Venus.  Audience members watched the show from circular seating in the house, surrounded by black pools of water and dim, colored lighting. The almost alien ambiance of Galapagos contributed to the futuristic performances of both Absynth and Margot Alone in the Light, while creating an interesting backdrop for Cipullo’s songs about love and regret.

The iconoclastic reviewers over at Parterre Box were in the audience and noted:

Galapagos was quite an interesting place to see an event like this. I personally think this type of venue is a great place for workshopping new works; those in the audience were young and seemingly very supportive of the performances…

What I kept thinking about though, was the Lower East Side of Manhattan in the ’60s, where visionaries like Philip Glass would play in spacious lofts simply because they could. While Galapagos is definitely a money making venture, I think this is as close as the opera world will get to that type of experimental sharing as was seen all those years ago… I would certainly go again to a presentation like this. You never really know if you’ll be there for the premiere of the next great masterwork by the next great composer, and if you aren’t, well, the beer is still cold.

more…

In reply, a blogger named Will also remarked:

…the atmosphere you describe at Galapagos is virtually identical to the way audiences experienced the plays of Shakespeare, and the operas of Cavalli, Handel, Gluck and Rossini when they were new.

The production began with AOP’s Absynth, commissioned, conceived and performed by mezzo- soprano Abigail Fischer.  The futuristic piece combined electronics and vocals to tell the story of a machine that becomes a woman and wishes to return to her original state of being.  Absynth includes compositions by Nico Muhly, Kevin McFarland, Florent Ghys, Caleb Burhans and AOP’s “Composers and the Voice” composers Stephen Andrew Taylor and Andrew Staniland.  The work at large was directed by American Opera Projects Producing Director Matt Gray and also featured actors Mateo Moreno, Erin Posanti, and Craig Kelton Peterson.

“Dreams of Pure Spirit: Songs of Tom Cipullo” rounded out the program as the second performance of the evening.  Cipullo served both as composer and pianist for the compilation, accompanying alternating performers Tory Browers (Soprano), Rebecca Jo Loeb (Mezzo) and Michael Anthony McGee (Baritone).  The songs ranged from humorous commentaries on New York City, to melancholy expressions of love and regret.  Cipullo’s range of emotion was well received by Paterre Box critic Valmont who commented, “His songs can weave several different moods into the same line, and the writing is lyrical and beautiful. He does excel at quirky humor and chooses wonderful texts for this purpose…”

“Opera Grows in Brooklyn” ended with C&V composer Clint Borzoni’s mini-opera Margot in the Light. The text for this opera, written by librettist Emily Conbere, is based on Ray Bradbury short story about the inhabitants of Venus who only see sunlight once in seven years.  Margot in the Light follows the plight of native Earthling Margot, who moves to Venus but still remembers the sun.  The title role of Margot was sung by soprano Martha Guth to positive reviews.  Valmont says of her voice, “Her lyric soprano is easily produced and with great beauty”.  Supporting cast members included Alteouise deVaughn, Lisa Williamson, Kimberly Sogioka and Dennis Blackwell.


“Opera Grows in Brooklyn” will return to Galapagos on Friday, July 16.


April line-up for “Opera Grows in Brooklyn” announced

March 11, 2010

Opera Grows in BrooklynTom Cipullo, Nico Muhly, and a collection of Composers & the Voice alums will be the next to join the rosters of composers to participate in the Opera Grows in Brooklyn series.  The show will be held on Friday, April 16 at 8pm at Galapagos Art Space in Brooklyn’s DUMBO neighborhood. Tickets are $20 ($15 for students/seniors) at www.galapagosartspace.com and they tend to sell out, so buy early!

Opera Grows in Brooklyn is an ongoing collaboration between American Opera Projects and Opera on Tap that presents three 30-minute selections of songs and scenes from contemporary composers in a hip, cabaret-style atmosphere. Audiences have a chance to meet the artists and composers after the performance.

American Opera Projects begins the evening with Absynth, a futuristic monodrama made up of newly-commissioned electronic songs from composers Nico Muhly, Kevin McFarland, Florent Ghys, Caleb Burhans and C&V composers Andrew Staniland and Stephen Andrew Taylor. Conceived and performed by frequent AOP collaborator mezzo-soprano Abigail Fischer (Composers & the Voice, Semmelweis, Judgment of Midas), Absynth explores questions about the influence and relationship between (wo)Man and Machine.

Dreams of Pure Spirit:  Songs of Tom Cipullo will showcase some of Tom Cipullo’s more accessible and lyrical works.  The performers for the evening are three of the most exciting young singers in New York, soprano Tory Browers, mezzo Rebecca Jo Loeb, and baritone Michael Anthony McGee. Mr. McGee, the winner of numerous competitions, will be making his Kennedy Center debut on April 10 in Tom Cipullo’s mini-opera LUCY.  He is one of only forty young artists that have been recently selected to attend Operalia, Placido Domingo’s international opera competition in Milan.  Ms. Loeb has performed with the New York Festival of Song in their Rising Stars series.  Tory Browers has performed Mr. Cipullo’s music at Merkin Hall under the auspices of Joy in Singing, and at SongFest in Malibu.  As Anne Midgette noted in The New York Times, “Call it aria, call it Broadway, Mr. Cipullo’s strengths are in song.”

Finally, Opera on Tap will present the one-act opera Margot Alone in the Light, an adaptation of Ray Bradbury‘s short story All Summer in a Day by C&V composer Clint Borzoni and librettist Emily Conbere and produced by Jennifer Peterson‘s operamission. Ray Bradbury’s story is set in a classroom of schoolchildren on the planet Venus, where it rains constantly with the exception of one hour every seven years.  None of the schoolchildren remember the sun, except for ‘Margot,’ who moved to Venus four years ago from Ohio.  The role of ‘Margot’ will be portrayed by soprano Martha Guth and the role of ‘Mrs. Clott,’ the schoolteacher, will be sung by mezzo-soprano Alteouise de Vaughn.  It will be staged by Scott C. Embler (founding member and former producing director of Vital Theatre Company). Jennifer Peterson, founder and director of operamission, will conduct the opera.

The inaugural performance of Opera Grows in Brooklyn at Galapagos in April 2009 was called “an exciting new level of work for these young companies. Brooklyn and the rest of the city will benefit from future collaborations like these.” (The Curator). Past Opera Grows in Brooklyn performances have featured music by David T. Little, Stefan Weisman, Christopher Berg, Gilda Lyons, Matthew Schickele and Jack Perla and performances by David Adam Moore, Lauren Worsham, Jonathan Hays, and Daisy Press.

“Director Robert Elmes is adding opera to a space known best for its Obie Award winning, progressive programming,” says AOP General Director Charles Jarden. “We think it’s not just cool for opera to be in a spectacular space like Galapagos, it’s essential for creating new music that connects to audiences. Opera away from opera houses is the best way for the genre to thrive and grow. It is economically smart and creatively daring and the voices sound great to both new listeners and fans. If one audience member walks out with an interest in discovering music by living composers, we’ll know we are on the right track.”


Brooklyn Daily Eagle profiles Opera Grows in Brooklyn

July 16, 2009

New Opera Takes Center Stage At Galapagos in DUMBO

by Brooklyn Eagle (edit@brooklyneagle.net), published online 07-15-2009
Girls on the F Train and The Witches of BushwickBy Zoe Thomas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle

DUMBO – The opera is coming to town, but in this case you won’t need binoculars, tuxedos or even an expensive ticket to get in.

“Opera Grows in Brooklyn” will have its second installment at the Galapagos Art Center in DUMBO tomorrow, presented by American Opera Projects (AOP) and Opera on Tap.

read full article


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