Hermitage Artist Retreat and American Opera Projects award Opera Genesis fellowships for 2017-18 season

November 16, 2017

 

The second Opera Genesis Fellowships to composer Joseph Rubinstein and librettist Jason Kim will support the creation of a new opera “Legendary”

Composer Joseph N. Rubinstein and librettist Jason Kim at a 2015 American Opera Projects workshop of their opera Legendary. Photo by Steven Pisano.

The Hermitage Artist Retreat in Englewood, FL and New York City’s American Opera Projects (AOP) announce the second Opera Genesis Fellowships to composer Joseph N. Rubinstein and librettist Jason Kim.

The award includes a six-week Hermitage residency, in which these two artists will work on their new opera Legendary, about the drag balls of the 1980s in New York City. The Opera Genesis Fellowship awards are presented annually to artists who have completed training in AOP’s Composer & the Voice (C&V) training program which helps to develop contemporary American opera.

The first fellowships were awarded to the creative team of Mikael Karlsson and co-librettist and visual designer Elle Kunnos de Voss along with co-librettist Kathryn Walat. Their opera, The Echo Drift, on which they worked during their time at the Hermitage, will premiere at the Prototype Festival in January at Baruch Performing Arts Center, New York City.

Hermitage Executive Director Bruce E. Rodgers remarked that “seeing the program come into being with the announcement of the first recipients was very exciting. We exist to inspire and assist artists in the creation of new work. AOP takes it to the next level so that the work can be presented to the public. We are now seeing the fruition of the first fellowship with the world premiere of The Echo Drift, and are eagerly looking forward to welcoming Joe and Jason.”

Charles Jarden, General Director of American Opera Projects, noted, “seeing how much the development of The Echo Drift benefited from the creators’ time at the Hermitage makes me eager to see what new ideas will be sparked when Joe and Jason find their way there this coming year. With so much faith in these two creative artists, AOP is now in the early stages of negotiation about where Legendary will be brought to its full production in an upcoming season.”

American Opera Projects’ Composers & the Voice is a two-year fellowship for composers and librettists which provides experience working collaboratively with singers on writing for the voice and opera stage. This free training includes a year of working with the company’s resident ensemble of singers and artistic team, followed by a year of continued promotion and development through AOP and its strategic partnerships. Launched in 2002, C&V has fostered the development of sixty-three composers & librettists. Alumni works that went through AOP’s opera development program and continued to a world premiere include Love/Hate (ODC/San Francisco Opera 2012, Jack Perla), Paul’s Case (UrbanArias 2013, Gregory Spears), and The Scarlet Ibis (Prototype 2015, Stefan Weisman). AOP’s C&V program is generously supported by a multi-year award from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

 

ABOUT THE NEW FELLOWS

Joseph N. Rubinstein grew up in Newport News, VA and currently lives in New York City. Joseph’s music is often concerned with dramatic narrative and character, and has been presented by Fort Worth Opera Festival, The Manhattan School of Music Opera Theater, Triad: The Boston Choral Collective, American Opera Projects, The Holy Cross Chamber Singers, The Secret Opera, bass-baritone Matthew Burns at the Spoleto Festival USA, Boston Metro Opera, C4, the Society for New Music, and the Young New Yorker’s Chorus, among others. Recent performances include scenes from Legendary in a 2017 workshop by American Opera Projects, scenes from Legendary on Fort Worth Opera Festival’s 2016 “Frontiers” program, the premiere of “Birthday Song” on Sparks and Wiry Cries inaugural songSLAM, and a new choral work as part of Novi Cantori’s 2017 Composers Forum.  In 2016, he was a fellow in New Dramatists’ Composer-Librettist Studio.  Select works are published by See-A-Dot Music and recorded on 4Tay Records.  He studied music at Columbia University (BA) and The Juilliard School (MM).

Jason Kim is a Korean-born dramatist based in New York City. His immersive musical KPOP recently completed a critically acclaimed sold-out run at Ars Nova Theater. His play The Model American opened the Nikos Stage at the 2017 Williamstown Theatre Festival. His work has been presented at Ma-Yi, Keen Company, Naked Angels, The Flea, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington National Opera, Fort Worth Opera, Manhattan School of Music, Spoleto Festival, Opera America, and others. He is an IFP—Marcie Bloom Fellow in Film, a Screenwriters Colony Fellow, a Paul & Daisy Soros Fellow for New Americans, and a Librettist Fellow in American Opera Project’s Composers & The Voice. He is a member of the Ma-Yi Writers Lab and Ars Nova’s Uncharted. He is currently LCT3’s Resident Writer. In television, he has written for HBO’s Girls and Fox’s Gracepoint and has adapted The Middlesteins for Showtime. He is also a Consulting Producer for Love on Netflix. BA Columbia University, MFA New School for Drama. www.waytooserious.com

About the Hermitage Artist Retreat

The Hermitage is a not-for-profit artist retreat located at 6660 Manasota Key Road in Englewood, FL.  It invites accomplished painters, sculptors, writers, playwrights, poets, composers and other artists from all over the world for residencies on its beachfront historic campus. Artists are asked to contribute two services to the community during their stay and as a result, Hermitage artists touch thousands of Gulf Coast community residents with unique and inspiring programs each year. In addition, the Hermitage awards and administers the prestigious Greenfield Prize, an annual $30,000 commission for a new work of art, rotating among three disciplines: visual art, music and drama. The Hermitage also partners with the Aspen Music Festival and School to award the annual Hermitage Prize to a composition student during the Festival. For more information about The Hermitage Artist Retreat, call 941-475-2098 or visit the website at www.HermitageArtistRetreat.org.

About American Opera Projects

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 been a producer on over 30 world premieres, including Kaminsky/Reed/Campbell’s As One (BAM 2014), Lera Auerbach’s The Blind (Lincoln Center Festival 2013), Davis/Pelsue’s Hagoromo (BAM 2015 Next Wave Festival), a dance opera starring Wendy Whelan and Jock Soto, and Paterson/Cote’s Three Way (Nashville Opera and BAM 2017).  www.aopopera.org

AOP Contact: Matt Gray, AOP Producing Director, 718-398-4024, mgray@operaprojects.org

Hermitage Contact: Lisa Rubinstein, lisa@LDRcreative.com or 941-587-3396

Press material is available at: http://aopopera.org/press

 

 

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Announcing the winners of the 2017-19 Composers & the Voice fellowships!

July 20, 2017

AOP (American Opera Projects) and Composers & the Voice Artistic Director Steven Osgood have selected six composers and three librettists to receive fellowships for its upcoming ninth season of Composers & the Voice. The 2017-2019 season will train, and present new works from, composers Matthew Browne, Scott Ordway, Frances Pollock, Pamela Stein LyndeAmber Vistein, and Alex Weiser and librettists Laura Barati, Kim Davies, and Sokunthary Svay. The primary focus of Composers & the Voice is to give emerging composers and librettists experience working collaboratively with singers on writing for the voice and contemporary opera stage.

 

“The philosophy of Composers & the Voice since its beginning has been that by immersing composers and librettists in hands-on work with skilled singers and music directors, we empower them to create groundbreaking works that are true to each of their artistic languages,” says Osgood.  “Composers rarely have the opportunity to work with opera singers during their training, and C&V was designed to address this void. I could not be prouder of the commissions and premieres that have flowed to the alumni of C&V.”

The fellows were chosen from an extensive pool of applicants by a panel made up of C&V and AOP staff and professional artists that included Osgood, AOP General Director Charles Jarden, AOP Producing Director/C&V Head of Drama Matt Gray, C&V Head of Music Mila Henry, librettist Sara Cooper, singer Amy van Roekel, and composers Conrad Cummings, Jeremy Gill, Jennifer Griffith, Laura Kaminsky, Kristin Kuster, and Gregory Spears.

The Composers & the Voice fellowships include a year of working with the company’s Resident Ensemble of Singers and Artistic Team, over 45 hours of “Skill-Building Sessions” of acting courses with director Mary Birnbaum (Die Zauberflöte at Juilliard), theatrical improvisation led by Terry Greiss (Co-Founder, Ensemble Actor, Executive Director of Irondale Ensemble Project), and libretto development with Libretto Writing Instructor Mark Campbell (Silent Night, The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, As One), and two public concerts of new works. This is followed by a year of continued promotion and development through AOP and its strategic partnerships.

Composers Ricky Ian Gordon (27, The Grapes of Wrath), David T. Little (Dog Days, JFK), Missy Mazzoli (Breaking the Waves, Songs From the Uproar), Tobias Picker (An American Tragedy, Emmeline), Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Godspell), and Gregory Spears (Fellow Travelers, Paul’s Case), and librettists Gene Scheer (Cold Mountain, Moby Dick) and Royce Vavrek (Dog Days, JFK) will serve as the upcoming season’s “Artistic Chairs,” each of whom are assigned a fellow, providing one-on-one artistic advice and career guidance.

Support for AOP’s Composers & the Voice program is provided in part by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Bios of C&V fellows, singers, instructors, and music directors available at www.aopopera.org/composers_voice/2017-19.html

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Resident Ensemble of Professional Opera Singers Selected for AOP Training Program

July 13, 2017

SIX SINGERS TO ASSIST COMPOSERS, LIBRETTISTS
IN UPCOMING SEASON OF “COMPOSERS & THE VOICE”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

BROOKLYN, NY – AOP (American Opera Projects) announces the six singers who will become its Resident Ensemble for the upcoming ninth season of its Composers & the Voice training program. Comprised of one each of the basic operatic/vocal categories, the singers for the 2017-18 season will be Coloratura Soprano Tookah Sapper, Lyric Soprano Jennifer Goode Cooper, Mezzo-Soprano Blythe Gaissert, Tenor Blake Friedman, Baritone Mario Diaz-Moresco and Bass Adrian Rosas. The singers will spend a year working collaboratively with composers and librettists who have received fellowships to develop skills for writing for the voice and contemporary opera stage. The Resident Ensemble was selected by Composers & the Voice Artistic Director Steven Osgood based on their superior technical and musical skills, as well as their commitment to developing and performing new works.

The Resident Ensemble will be joined by returning Music Directors Mila Henry, also serving as C&V’s new Head of Music, and Kelly Horsted to collaborate on creating new material by the composer and librettist fellows. Singers will each explain how their particular voice works throughout its range, addressing issues of tessitura, negotiating the passagio, demands for vowel modification, and how these affect their performance of text.

“The philosophy of Composers & the Voice since its beginning has been that by immersing composers and librettists in hands-on work with skilled singers and music directors, we empower them to create groundbreaking works that are true to each of their artistic languages,” says Osgood.  “Composers rarely have the opportunity to work with opera singers during their training, and C&V was designed to address this void.”

In closed workshops from October 2017-April 2018, the singers will rotate among each composer, giving demonstrations of proper vocal technique and writing, as well as performing short works.  This will culminate with First Glimpse, a public concert of songs on May 19 & 20, 2018, in which the singers will perform the composer’s revised and final versions.  Finally, on September 28 & 29, 2018, the AOP Resident Ensemble will perform Six Scenes, an evening of short opera scenes created by the composer-librettist fellows.

Composer Gregory Spears, a fellow in the C&V program from 2007-08 before he created the operas Paul’s Case (2013, UrbanArias world premiere) and Fellow Travelers (2016, Cincinnati Opera world premiere), says that “hearing singers discuss in detail their experience learning and performing a new piece revolutionized the way I write for the voice.”

More information about the 2017-19 Composers & the Voice Series can be found at www.aopopera.org/composers_voice.

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Sopranos Jennifer Goode Cooper and Tookah Sapper finish performing the premiere of a song written in Composers & the Voice at the 2016 First Glimpse concert.

BIOS

RESIDENT SINGERS

View More: http://michaelallenphotography.pass.us/jennifergoodecooperJENNIFER GOODE COOPER is a “lustrous soprano” (Wall Street Journal) with “steely eyed ferocity” (NY Times) who “fills the theater with her soaring soprano voice” (Variety). She specializes in crossing genres, as shown in a career fusing opera, Broadway, song, radio, and new works. She can be heard in recording on Albany Records, MSR Classics, and SKG Music. Career highlights: Title role in Floyd’s Susannah (Toledo Opera), Nathaniel Stookey’s Ivonne (Opera Memphis), Miss Jessel in Britten’s The Turn of the Screw (New York City Opera), Titania/Hippolyta in the first known a cappella opera, Michael Ching’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Opera Memphis), Musetta in Baz Luhrmann’s acclaimed Broadway and LA productions of La Bohème, Backup singer for Patti Lupone, Weekly Hip-Hopera singer with celebrity DJ’s Ed lover and Dr. Dre (NY’s Power 105.1). Jennifer was a 2013 Arts Envoy of the US Embassy (to Mozambique), and a 2014 recipient of a Professional Development Grant from the Weill Foundation. www.jennifergoodecooper.com

DiazMoresco Mario-39.1webAn active interpreter of art song, opera and new music, baritone MARIO DIAZ-MORESCO is garnering attention for his versatility and strong stage presence. Mr. Diaz-Moresco studied at the University of Colorado, the University of Southern California, and is currently a member of the Professional Studies Diploma program at the Mannes School, where he is a student of Diana Soviero. He has been a young artist with Central City Opera, The Glimmerglass Festival, Chautauqua Opera and a Stern Fellow at Songfest. Highlights from recent seasons include recitals with pianist Spencer Myer on California’s “ln Concert Sierra” series, the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Series in Chicago and the Rocky River Chamber Music Society of Ohio, in addition to Guglielmo in Cosi fan tutte, The Old Doctor in Vanessa, playing the lead role in Robert Ashley’s Oust, and premiering the song cycle The Wanderlusting of Joseph C. by Joan La Barbara.

Friedman Headshot 2Tenor BLAKE FRIEDMAN has been seen on operatic, concert, and theatrical stages across the country.  His recent appearance as Iago in Rossini’s Otello with LoftOpera earned him praise for “his vast range and clear diction” (NY Observer) and “pliant tenor” (Parterre).  The New York Times said, “The most convincing tenor was that of Blake Friedman as Iago whose voice has a plummy fullness and dusky hue.  His duet with Otello was taut and exciting…”. Other notable New York City performances include: Tenor Soloist in the Liebeslieder Walzer with New York City Ballet, Tenor Soloist at Geffen Hall in Mozart’s Vespri Sollemnes de Confessore, and Singer in Tchaikovsky: None but the Lonely Heart (BAM Fisher).  He has also garnered praise for his “silken and strong” (Tampa Bay Times), “fresh lyric tenor” (OperaNews Online) singing roles such as Jimmy O’Keefe in Later the Same Evening, Conte Almaviva in Barbiere di Siviglia, Nemorino in L’Elisir D’Amore and Alfredo in La Traviata.  He is delighted to rejoin American Opera Projects Composers & the Voice as resident tenor for a second season.

Gaissert 2016 4Mezzo Soprano BLYTHE GAISSERT mezzo-soprano has established herself as a fresh and exciting artist in great demand in the United States and abroad for opera, concert and recital engagements. In the coming 2017-18 season, Ms. Gaissert will be creating the role of Walker Loats in Mikael Karlsson’s cutting edge one woman opera The Echo Drift at the Prototype Festival in NYC in a co-production with AOP, reprising the role of Hannah After in As One with San Diego Opera, and singing Hester Prynne in the professional premiere of The Scarlett Professor at Amherst College, Sadie in Ricky Ian Gordon’s Morning Star at On Site Opera. She is also a member of the alt/classical/rock group The Knells, who will be releasing their second album in Fall of 2017. A champion of new music, Ms. Gaissert has worked with numerous composers and librettists on dozens of new works, and has been a part of American Opera Projects Composers and the Voice series since 2014. Ms. Gaissert has worked with companies such as the Metropolitan Opera, LA Opera, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Opera Colorado, Tulsa Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, Aldeburgh Festival in England, Lyrique en Mer in France, Opera Southwest, Opera Saratoga, and more.

Rosas, Adrian HeadshotHailed by the New York Times as “a stalwart bass-baritone with a burnished voice” and in Opera News as a “mellifluous bass-baritone [with] theatrical flair,” ADRIAN ROSAS is an emerging young artist with “impressive experience and talent” (The Boston Globe). Mr. Rosas has performed with opera companies such as the Seattle Opera, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Opera Saratoga, Houston’s Opera in the Heights, and the Detroit Opera House. As a champion of new and modern music, he has had the opportunity to work on a variety of newly written works, including Peter Ash’s The Golden Ticket, Robert Xavier Rodriguez’s Frida, Petr Kotik’s Master-Pieces, Matt Aucoin’s Whitman, newly written operas with the American Lyric Theater in New York, and with the Ostrava Center for New Music in the Czech Republic. Equally versed in concert and oratorio work, he has performed at Carnegie Hall (Stern Auditorium, Weill Recital Hall, and Zankel Hall), Merkin Concert Hall, and Alice Tully Hall. Mr. Rosas holds a Bachelor of Music Degree from Western Michigan University, and a Master of Music Degree from The Juilliard School. Co-Founder and Executive Director of Arts On Site NYC (artsonsite.org), a nonprofit arts organization dedicated to supporting the development of artists and encouraging community collaboration.

Sapper Tookah - HeadshotCherokee soprano TOOKAH SAPPER, from Oklahoma City, holds a Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance from Manhattan School of Music and a Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance with a Minor in Collaborative Piano from University of Central Oklahoma. This summer, she will perform with The Chautauqua Opera Company as a Studio Artist for their 2017 season. This past spring, she performed as a member of the Princeton Singers, under the direction of Steven Sametz. She performed and collaborated with American Opera Projects as a member of their Resident Ensemble for the 2015/16 season of Composers & The Voice. In fall of 2015, she appeared in Sonic Blossom, an interactive performance exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, working with artist Lei Mingwei. She currently plays piano at the Princeton Ballet School and is a Cantor and Choral Scholar at St. John the Evangelist in Lambertville, NJ. MSM credits include: Cendrillon (Feé), Albert Herring (Cis), Schubert’s Mass in G Major (Soloist), Mozart’s C Minor Mass (Soprano II Soloist). UCO credits include: L’Elisir d’amore (Adina), The Messiah (Soloist), Dido and Aeneas (Belinda), Gallantry (Lola), and Gianni Schicci (Nella). Summer program credits include: The Maid of Orleans (Solo Angel) with Russian Opera Workshop in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Pirates of Penzance (Mabel) and Le nozze di Figaro (Barbarina) with Opera in the Ozarks in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

C&V ARTISTIC DIRECTOR

osgood, stevenSTEVEN OSGOOD is General and Artistic Director of Chautauqua Opera, where the 2017 season will feature new productions of Don Pasquale, Hydrogen Jukebox, and the US stage premiere of Ottorino Respighi’s realization of Monteverdi’s Orfeo.   As Artistic Director of American Opera Projects (2001 to 2008) he created Composers & the Voice, and conducted the world premieres of Paula Kimper and Wende Persons’ Patience & Sarah at the Lincoln Center Festival, and Janice Hamer and Mary Azrael’s Lost Childhood in Tel Aviv.  In 2014, he conducted AOP’s acclaimed premiere of As One by Laura Kaminsky, Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed.  He has conducted premieres by Tan Dun, Iannis Xenakis, David T. Little and Daron Hagen, among others.  He has served on the Music Staff of the Metropolitan Opera since 2006.  Most recently he conducted the world premiere of Breaking the Waves by Missy Mazzoli and Royce Vavrek for Opera Philadelphia.

MUSIC DIRECTORS

henry---headshotLauded for her “sublime” playing (Feast of Music) and heralding orchestral scores of “incredible range and color” (OperaPulse), pianist MILA HENRY is returning to Composers & the Voice for her fourth season, now as both music director and Head of Music. An integral member of New York’s contemporary opera community, she frequently collaborates with Beth Morrison Projects, PROTOTYPE, American Lyric Theater and American Opera Projects, where she was Assistant Conductor for the premieres of As One (BAM), The Blind (Lincoln Center Festival) and Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom (Irondale Center). She has performed at LA Opera (Thumbprint), Opera Philadelphia (We Shall Not Be Moved, September 2017) and the Library of Congress (OPERA America’s Fierce Grace: Jeannette Rankin); served as Vocal Director for Ripe Time’s Obie-winning The World is Round (BAM); and appeared on VisionIntoArt’s FERUS Festival, National Sawdust’s Spring Revolution Festival and the New York Musical Festival. milahenry.com

Horsted, Kelly hsKELLY HORSTED enjoys an active career in NYC as an accompanist and vocal coach. Collaborations with AOP have included Sheila Silver’s Beauty Intolerable, Herschel Garfein’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, directed by Mark Morris, Tarik O’Regan’s Heart of Darkness, and Paula Kimper’s Patience & Sarah for the Lincoln Center Festival. He has also collaborated with Chelsea Opera, Center for Contemporary Opera, Opera Company of Brooklyn, Wintergreen Festival, New Jersey Opera Theater, Friends and Enemies of New Music, Five Words in a Line and the Graduate Musical Theater Writing program at the Tisch School. He is a coach at the Hartt School of Music, and has also taught at Mannes College of Music, Hunter College, Intermezzo, Five Towns College and OperaWorks. His Bachelor and Master of Music degrees are from the Eastman School of Music. Kelly has been a music director for Composers & the Voice since 2006. KellyHorsted.com

 

Press contact: Matt Gray, AOP Producing Director, email: mgray@operaprojects.org, phone: 718-398-4024

Press material is available at: www.aopopera.org/press


AOP to present the complete video of the 2014 world premiere of As One for one week

June 21, 2017
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 21, 2017

TO CELEBRATE LGBTQ PRIDE, AMERICAN OPERA PROJECTS PRESENTS THE COMPLETE VIDEO OF THE 2014 WORLD PREMIERE OF AS ONE – “A TRANSGENDER STORY WITH POWER, PASSION”

The popular chamber opera by Laura Kaminsky, Mark Campbell, and Kimberly Reed will be screened to the public June 23-30 on the AOP website.

Premiere production at BAM features mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke and baritone Kelly Markgraf sharing the role of the transgender protagonist.

 

BROOKLYN, NYIn celebration of LGBTQ Pride Month, American Opera Projects (AOP) will make available to the public the video of their 2014 World Premiere production of the opera As One from June 23-30, 2017 on the AOP website at www.aopopera.org/AsOne/worldpremiere.  As One, with music and concept by Laura Kaminsky, an original libretto by Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed, and film by Ms. Reed chronicles the experiences of a transgender person with empathy and wit as she emerges into harmony with the world around her.

As One has become one of the most produced contemporary American operas written in the past 50 years with eight new productions around the country (and one in Berlin, Germany) in the three years since its premiere and at least eight more scheduled for the 2017-18 season, including San Diego Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera and Hawaii Opera Theatre.

AOP developed and 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 shared the role of the protagonist Hannah in the world premiere production at BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music), directed by Ken Cazan, conducted by Steven Osgood, and featuring the Utah-based Fry Street Quartet. The production design by David Jacques includes film by Kimberly Reed, director of the award-winning documentary, Prodigal Sons. Costume design was by Sara Jean Tosetti.

Reviewing the world premiere, The New York Times said, “As One forces you to think, simultaneously challenging preconceptions and inspiring empathy.” Subsequent productions earned the opera additional critical praise: “The real secret of the opera’s success… is that under everything lays a winning coming-of-age story. … By moving beyond the daily news, As One approaches admirable universality.” (The Los Angeles Times); “a transgender story with power, passion … beautiful lyrical moments… as uplifting as any operatic ending could be.” (Seattle Times); “A thoughtful and substantial piece as well as that rarest of operatic commodities — a story that lends itself to dramatization in music.” (The Washington Post); “As One is the hottest title in opera right now … An accomplished bit of art-making, with considerable entertainment value, that thrusts itself smack into the current political and social discourse.” (The Denver Post)

In addition to As One, Brooklyn-based opera producer American Opera Projects has developed and produced numerous LGBTQ-themed works including the 1998 Lincoln Center Festival world premiere of Patience & Sarah by Paula Kimper and Wende Person, one of the first operas about a gay relationship.

“While AOP’s roster of LGBTQ operas is growing, clearly in our era there is still significant progress to be made,” says AOP Producing Director Matt Gray. “Opera has unfortunately been late to embrace contemporary works, especially ones that address current events and lifestyles. But it is encouraging to see that more and more opera companies recognize the need to present stories that reflect contemporary issues and portray a diversity of characters.” In recent years, audiences have seen successful premieres of LGBTQ-themed operas such as Paul’s Case, Before Night Falls, and A Letter to East 11th Street – all having received development in AOP’s First Chance program – as well as Fellow Travelers, Three Decembers, Brokeback Mountain, Prince of Players, Champion, and Angels in America. Gray continues, “For us to empathize with the struggles of others there can be no art form where their stories are not told. AOP holds as a goal that a proliferation of these stories will allow opera audiences to recognize that the conflicts and lives of every person are relatable. And that the discovery of those inherent, relatable truths of our unified humanity makes enlightening, and exciting, entertainment.”

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

AS ONE photo 3 by Ken Howard for AOP

Baritone Kelly Markgraf (left) and mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke shared the role of the transgender protagonist Hannah in the 2014 world premiere of As One, an opera by Laura Kaminsky, Kimberly Reed, and Mark Campbell. Photo by Ken Howard.

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PRESS CONTACT:  Matthew Gray, AOP Producing Director, 718-398-4024, mgray@operaprojects.org

AOP receives OPERA America Innovation Grant to expand training programs

June 6, 2017

AOP is proud to announce that it has been awarded an Innovation Grant to expand its composer-librettist training curriculum to academic music-theater programs, serving as a potential model for other schools and conservatories.

AOP’s training curriculum was pioneered with the creation of Composers & the Voice in 2002. Conceived by C&V’s current Artistic Director Steven Osgood, AOP’s in-house training program will enter its ninth season in Fall 2017. C&V brings together emerging opera composers and librettists and professional opera singers in private workshops to learn the craft of writing for the operatic voice and stage. The curriculum was adapted by C&V composer alum Randall Eng in partnership with AOP in 2015 to create the Advanced Opera Lab for students in the NYU/Tisch Graduate Musical Theater Program. The Innovation grant will continue this trajectory by supporting the codification of a curriculum for schools and conservatories that rarely provide opportunities for learning composition for the voice. In addition, the grant will support the creation of six new site-specific works on the theme of “New York Stories” that will emerge out of the partnerships between AOP and these institutions.

AOP was one of 27 opera companies around the nation to receive Innovation grant awards from the organization. Launched last fall, OPERA America’s Innovation Grants support exceptional projects that have the capacity to strengthen the field’s most important areas of practice, including artistic vitality, audience experience, organizational effectiveness and community connections. These grants invest up to $1.5 million annually in OPERA America’s Professional Company Members, enabling organizations of all sizes to increase their commitment to experimentation and innovation, as well as contribute to field-wide learning.

“Thanks to the tremendous generosity of the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation, our member companies receive support to pursue new thinking and experimentation — to expand the boundaries of their current practices and adapt to an ever-changing field,” stated Marc A. Scorca, president and CEO of OPERA America in the press release. “These grants benefit not only the recipients but the entire art form: Through the lessons gleaned from the funded initiatives, companies throughout North America will be able to borrow and adapt good ideas, spreading the learning field-wide.”

NYU/AOP Opera Lab Cast, Creators, Designers, and Instructors at the May 14 performances of their opera scenes. International House, NYC. Photo by Steven Pisano.

NYU/AOP Opera Lab “Final Round”. International House, NYC. Photo by Steven Pisano.


Brooklyn’s AOP To Select Composers, Librettists For Two Years Of Free Training In The Fundamentals Of Opera

March 7, 2017

APPLICATIONS AVAILABLE MARCH 15 FOR 9TH SEASON OF
“COMPOSERS & THE VOICE” PROGRAM BEGINNING IN FALL 2017

Bass-baritone Matthew Burns works with composer Andreia Pinto- Correia during a 2013 C&V workshop. Photo by Ted Gorodetzky

BROOKLYN, NY – American Opera Projects (AOP) announces the return of its popular Composers & the Voice program for its 2017-19 seasons. Created and led by Composers & the Voice Artistic Director Steven Osgood, eight composers and librettists will be selected for two-year fellowships to learn the fundamentals of writing for the voice and opera stage. Workshop sessions with professional opera singers, mentors, and instructors are held at AOP’s home base in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. Applications and complete information will be available beginning March 15 at www.aopopera.org/composers_voice. The deadline for applications is April 28 with fellowships announced by July 1.

The Composers & the Voice fellowships include a year of working with the company’s Resident Ensemble of Singers and Artistic Team followed by a year of continued promotion and development through AOP and its strategic partnerships. The workshop sessions between September 2017 and April 2018 include composition of solo works for six voice types (coloratura soprano, lyric soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, baritone, and bass).

In addition, over 45 hours of “Skill-Building Sessions” of acting courses with director Mary Birnbaum (Die Zauberflöte at Juilliard), theatrical improvisation led by Terry Greiss (Co-Founder, Ensemble Actor, Executive Director of Irondale Ensemble Project), and libretto development with Libretto Writing Instructor Mark Campbell (librettist, As One, Silent Night), will provide in-depth knowledge of how singers build characters, act in scenes, and sing text.

Fellows will also receive individual guidance from “Artistic Chairs,” sponsorships named in honor of mentors and their support of Composers & the Voice. Artistic Chairs for the upcoming season include composers Ricky Ian Gordon (27, The Grapes of Wrath), David T. Little (Dog Days, JFK), Missy Mazzoli (Breaking the Waves, Songs From the Uproar), Tobias Picker (An American Tragedy, Emmeline), Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Godspell), and Gregory Spears (Fellow Travelers, Paul’s Case), and librettists Gene Scheer (Cold Mountain, Moby Dick) and Royce Vavrek (Dog Days, JFK).

At the end of the workshop sessions, AOP will present selections from the participants’ work in public performances – First Glimpse, a concert of songs in Spring 2018, and Six Scenes, an evening of short opera scenes in Fall 2018.

Following the Six Scenes performances, Composers & the Voice enters its second year of its two-year cycle and focuses on the development and further promotion of the Fellows’ C&V-created works. This includes career guidance from AOP’s staff and potential workshops and presentations in AOP’s “First Chance” opera development program.

Composers & the Voice will also continue partnerships with The Hermitage Artist Retreat , which will select a C&V Fellow (or Fellowship team) to receive a 6-week residency to continue opera development at the Hermitage’s Florida estate, and the Chautauqua Opera Company, which annually invites one C&V alumnus to join the company for their 8-week summer season as a Composer-in-Residence and receive world premieres of three works commissioned by AOP.

Since launching in 2002, C&V has fostered the development of 54 composers & librettists. Alumni works that went through AOP’s opera development program and continued to a world premiere include Love/Hate (ODC/San Francisco Opera 2012, Jack Perla), Paul’s Case (UrbanArias 2013, Gregory Spears), The Scarlet Ibis (PROTOTYPE 2015, Stefan Weisman), and three in 2017 – Three Way (Nashville Opera and AOP, Robert Paterson), The Summer King (Pittsburgh Opera, Daniel Sonenberg), and Independence Eve (UrbanArias, Sidney Marquez Boquiren).

“The philosophy of Composers & the Voice since its beginning has been that by immersing composers and librettists in hands-on work with skilled singers and music directors, we empower them to create groundbreaking works that are true to each of their artistic languages,” says Osgood.  “Composers rarely have the opportunity to work with opera singers during their training, and C&V was designed to address this void. I could not be more proud of the commissions and premieres that have flowed to the alumni of C&V.”

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation continues its support of AOP’s Composers & the Voice program through 2019 as part of a two hundred thousand ($200,000) multi-year grant award, which also covers artistic personnel and other program activities.

During his tenure as Artistic Director of American Opera Projects (2001 to 2008), Steven Osgood created Composers & the Voice and conducted the world premieres of Paula Kimper and Wende Persons’ Patience & Sarah at the Lincoln Center Festival and Janice Hamer and Mary Azrael’s Lost Childhood at the International Vocal Arts Institute (Tel Aviv). He has conducted the premieres of over a dozen operas, including As One, The Scarlet Ibis, Thumbprint, Peony Pavilion, Oresteia, Song from the Uproar & Breaking the Waves, JFK, and Little Nemo in Slumberland and has served as Conductor Mentor for Washington National Opera’s American Opera Initiative. He has been a member of the Music Staff of the Metropolitan Opera since 2006.  Upcoming productions include the US Stage Premiere of Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo in Respighi’s realization, Don Pasquale, and Hydrogen Jukebox, all part of Chautauqua Opera’s 2017 season, where he is General and Artistic Director.

 

COMPOSERS & THE VOICE 2017-2019: CALENDAR OF DATES

March 15, 2017                        Applications available on AOP site

April 28, 2017                          Applications portal closes

June 30, 2017                           Announcement of 2017-19 C&V Fellows

October 2017 – May 2018          Closed workshop sessions

May 2018                                Composers & the Voice: First Glimpse – concert reading of songs

September 2018                        Composers & the Voice: Six Scenes – concert reading of opera scenes

Fall 2018-2019                         AOP mentoring and opera development

COMPOSERS & THE VOICE 2017-2019: ARTISTIC CHAIRS

Ricky Ian Gordon, David T. Little, Missy Mazzoli, Tobias Picker, Gene Scheer, Stephen Schwartz, Gregory Spears, and Royce Vavrek.

MORE INFO AND PRESS MATERIALS AVAILABLE AT: www.aopopera.org/press.


New LGBTQ Operas Coming Out in Hard Times

February 23, 2017
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Taylor Raven, left, and Brian Vu portray Hannah, the transgender heroine of As One at Pittsburgh Opera. Photo by Renee Rosensteel.

In light of recent news from Washington, American Opera Projects (AOP) announces that of its 31 new operas in development, four are on LGBTQ topics. For AOP, this is not new. In 1998, AOP premiered the first opera ever to focus on a lesbian relationship, Patience & Sarah, by composer Paula M. Kimper, and librettist Wende Persons, three years after Houston Grand Opera’s premiere of Harvey Milk composed by Stewart Wallace to a libretto by Michael Korie.

Upcoming LGBTQ operas are:

While AOP’s roster of LGBTQ operas is growing, clearly in our era there is still significant progress to be made. At the same time, these operas are being embraced across the US. As One, the first opera about a transgender person, by artistic team Laura Kaminsky, Mark Campbell, and Kimberly Reed is now one of the most performed new operas in America. Following AOP’s premiere at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, As One has had productions in Seattle, Washington D.C., Berkeley, Logan, UT, Berlin, and just last week, Pittsburgh, where the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette called it “pertinent and moving,” with upcoming shows in San Diego, Denver, New Orleans, Long Beach, Kansas City, and more.

As One forces you to think, simultaneously challenging preconceptions and inspiring empathy.” – The New York Times

Opera has unfortunately been late to embrace contemporary works, especially ones that address current events and lifestyles. But it is encouraging to see that more and more opera companies recognize the need to be an art form that reflects the stories of our time. In recent years, audiences have seen successful premieres of LGBTQ-themed operas such as Paul’s Case, Before Night Falls, and A Letter to East 11th Street – all having received development in AOP’s First Chance program – as well as Fellow Travelers, Three Decembers, Brokeback Mountain, Prince of Players, Champion, and Angels in America.

At a time when the Trump Administration has removed the Obama-era guidance allowing trans people to select school restrooms according to gender choice, AOP will continue to actively pursue works like these for development and production.

AOP’s most recent world premiere Three Way “explores sex without moralizing” (The East Nashvillian) depicting modern sexuality in three short, comic one acts. The co-production with Nashville Opera, where it had its well-received premiere in January, will come to the Brooklyn Academy of Music in June 2017.

I’m here for an opera that explains to straight people what being trans- or cis-gender is. Hopefully, we as the audience come to a deeper understanding with them. – Schmopera.com‘s review of Three Way’s world premiere in Nashville.

For us to empathize with the struggles of others there can be no art form where their stories are not told. Giving every minority – of race, gender, country, political view, you name it – an opportunity to tell their story may seem impossible, but it is still the ideal. More immediately, we hold as a goal that a proliferation of these stories will allow opera audiences to recognize that the conflicts and lives of every person are relatable. And that the discovery of those inherent, relatable truths of our unified humanity makes enlightening, and exciting, entertainment.

Bloggers: Matt Gray & Annie Troy

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Gender-fluid couple Kyle (Jordan Rutter) and Tyler (Melisa Bonetti), left, get eyed by another couple in Three Way. Photo by Anthony Popolo.


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