Art Opening for a New Opera

February 10, 2017
Thursday, February 9, 2017

Art Opening for a New Opera

Rebecca Allan, Orange Mesa/Medanales, 2016, acrylic on paper, 15 x 17 inches

Rebecca Allan, Orange Mesa/Medanales, 2016, acrylic on paper, 15 x 17 inches

Following a snow-bound day, a crowd of arts and opera enthusiasts gathered at Meredith Ward Fine Art at 44 East 74 Street for the opening of Rebecca Allan‘s solo show, Rain in the Arroyo. Sales of paintings will support Brooklyn’s American Opera Projects and San Francisco’s Opera Parallèle in launching Today It Rains, a new opera about artist Georgia O’Keeffe by the creative team Laura Kaminsky, Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed that also created the most frequently performed contemporary opera in America in the past two years, As One. American Opera Projects is currently developing 28 new operas by contemporary composers. The exhibition continues through February 11.

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Chautauqua Opera Company and AOP announce Gity Razaz as 2017 Composer-in-Residence

February 6, 2017

The Chautauqua Opera Company continues a multi-year collaboration with American Opera Projects’ prestigious Composers & the Voice Fellowship Program

Gity Razaz joins the company as the 2017 Composer-in-Residence, writing three commissions that will receive world premieres during the summer season

Composer Gity Razaz. Photo by Rahima Nasa.

Composer Gity Razaz. Photo by Rahima Nasa.

2017 marks the second year of a multi-year collaboration between the Chautauqua Opera Company and Brooklyn’s American Opera Projects (AOP). Each year the Chautauqua Opera Company will invite one alumnus of AOP’s prestigious Composers & the Voice Fellowship Program to join the company for the 8-week summer season.

“The operatic voice is probably the most complicated and multi-faceted instrument a composer can tackle, and throughout history the most successful operatic composers have been continually immersed in writing for and working with singers. It is with this model that Composers & the Voice was designed, offering a select few composers the chance to work hands-on with the same singers and music directors over a 12-month period. I am tremendously proud of the composers who have come through the program, and am delighted to now be able to bring them into the Chautauqua community as they build their operatic careers,” says Steven Osgood, General and Artistic director of the Chautauqua Opera Company. Osgood is also Artistic Director for the Composers & the Voice Fellowship program, which he created in 2003.

The Chautauqua Opera Company has named Gity Razaz as the 2017 Composer-in-Residence. Hailed by the New York Times as “ravishing and engulfing,” Ms. Razaz’s music ranges from concert solo pieces to large symphonic works. With an ear for intense melodies and expanding harmonic language, Ms. Razaz’s compositions are often dramatically charged; as described by John Corigliano: “…her Middle-Eastern roots have merged with her Western sensibilities to produce music that is both original and startling.“ Ms. Razaz’ upcoming projects include a 60-minute ballet score for Moscow Theatre Ballet, which is scheduled for a world premiere in Moscow in June 2017, as well as a work for classical guitar duo commissioned by Duo Noir(e). Born in Tehran, Ms. Razaz started her musical studies in piano at a young age and began composing intuitively at age nine.

“As a full-time composer accustomed to working in solitude hours on end, I have always yearned for creative opportunities that gather and nurture a community of artists,” says Ms. Razaz. “I believe that my music finds more strength, depth and intensity when I live within a vibrant ecosystem of artists with diverse creative backgrounds. I am thrilled to add my voice to Chautauqua’s musical community this summer.”

American Opera Projects will commission three new pieces from Ms. Razaz, each of which will be premiered as part of Chautauqua Opera’s 2017 season, by members of its Young Artist Program, and then be presented in AOP’s subsequent New York City season. With texts drawn from and inspired by lecturers and speakers at the Chautauqua Institution, these new works will first appear on Chautauqua Opera’s “Afternoon of Song” recital series and their Opera Highlights concert with the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra.

Chautauqua Opera’s first Composer-in-Residence, Jeremy Gill, describes his experience at Chautauqua during the 2016 season: “Spending the summer on the beautiful grounds, working closely every day with the wonderful coaching staff and Young Artists there, helping with and observing the creation of multiple productions from the first rehearsal to final performance: these all offered me a complete picture of the loving labors that go into each performance. Naturally, writing for the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra and Young Artists under Steve Osgood’s baton was a highlight of the summer, but even more was the warm reception my work received from the community that, by then, I had become a member of.”

For more information about Gity Razaz, please visit her website, GityRazaz.com
For more information about Jeremy Gill, please visit his website, JeremyTGill.com
For more information about Chautauqua Opera’s Composer-in-Residence program, please visit ciweb.org/composer-in-residence

More about The Composers & the Voice Fellowship Program:
The Composers & the Voice Fellowship Program is a two-year fellowship for composers and librettists that provides experience writing for the voice and opera stage, created and led by Artistic Director Steven Osgood. The fellowship 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. Since launching in 2002, C&V has fostered the development of 54 composers & librettists.

Recent and upcoming world premieres that began development in Composers & the Voice include Gregory Spears’ Paul’s Case at Urban Arias (2013) and PROTOTYPE Festival and Pittsburgh Opera (2014), Jack Perla’s Love/Hate at ODC Theater with San Francisco Opera (2012), Rob Paterson’s Three Way (Nashville Opera/BAM, 2017), Daniel Sonenberg’s The Summer King (Pittsburgh Opera, 2017), and Sidney Boquiren’s Independence Eve (Urban Arias, 2017).

The Composers & the Voice program is made possible in part by a generous multi-year award from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

More about American Opera Projects:
At the forefront of the contemporary opera movement for a quarter-century, American Opera Projects creates, develops and presents opera and music theatre projects collaborating with young, rising and established artists in the field. AOP has been a lead producer on over 30 world premieres; recent highlights include Kaminsky/Reed/Campbell’s As One (2014), Lera Auerbach’s The Blind (2013), and the dance opera Hagoromo at BAM 2015 Next Wave Festival. www.aopopera.org


BROOKLYN OPERA COMPANY AMERICAN OPERA PROJECTS NAMES ANNE TROY AS DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT

January 26, 2017
AOP Director of Development Anne Troy

Anne Troy, AOP Director of Development

NEW YORK, NY, January 10, 2017— Brooklyn-based nonprofit arts organization American Opera Projects (AOP) is pleased to announce the appointment of Anne Troy as its new Director of Development. Troy will create, implement, and oversee all fundraising and development activities of the organization that has developed and presented new works of opera across the country for over 25 years.

At this critical juncture in AOP’s history, in which the organization’s operating budget has more than doubled in the past two years with the premieres of critically-lauded and commercially successful new operas such as As One and Hagoromo (BAM Next Wave Festival), the Director of Development will continue to stimulate that growth by deepening the fundraising capacity of AOP at all levels, from individual contributions and board development, to foundation and government support. The creation of the Director of Development position is funded in part by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Troy served as Development Director of the New York City Mayor’s Fund, the Marilyn Horne Foundation, and Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development as well as on fundraising projects for the Martina Arroyo Foundation, Martha Graham Dance Company, and the YMCA of Greater New York. Before moving into development, Troy was a creative supervisor at Young & Rubicam Direct Marketing. Her career shifted from advertising to social issues when she left to help launch Habitat for Humanity in New York City and work for services and housing for homeless and HIV-positive New Yorkers, including starting the first school in a homeless shelter in the US.

“I am proud to announce that Anne Troy has accepted the position of Development Director,” writes General Director Charles Jarden. “Anne is a great match for this brand new position at AOP. As a former development staff member of The Marilyn Horne Foundation plus being knowledgeable about the opera field in general, she knows the scene from a personal vantage point. She has also had a distinguished career in social justice focusing on affordable housing and economic development advocacy. This AOP position will give Anne an opportunity to bring together her interests and passions—and we will benefit from her broad experience and expertise.”

Founded in 1988, American Opera Projects is at the forefront of the contemporary opera movement, commissioning, developing, presenting, and producing opera and music theatre projects, collaborating with young, rising, and established artists, and engaging audiences in unique and transformative theatrical experiences. AOP has produced over 30 world premieres, including the Nathan Davis/Brendan Pelsue dance chamber opera Hagoromo starring Wendy Whelan (BAM, 2015), Kaminsky/Reed/Campbell’s As One (BAM, 2014), Nkeiru Okoye’s Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom (Irondale Center, 2014), and Lera Auerbach’s The Blind (co-production with Lincoln Center Festival, 2013) and the upcoming 2017 co-production with Nashville Opera of Robert Paterson’s Three Way (Nashville Opera, BAM Fisher). AOP-developed operas that premiered with co-producers include Stefan Weisman’s The Scarlet Ibis at PROTOTYPE Festival (2015), Gregory Spears’ Paul’s Case at Urban Arias (2013) and PROTOTYPE Festival and Pittsburgh Opera (2014), 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) and Opera Parallèle (2015), and the upcoming The Summer King by Daniel Sonenberg at Pittsburgh Opera (2017).

AOP is an IRS recognized 501(c)3 non-profit corporation, and is a member of OPERA America, Fort Greene Association, the Downtown Brooklyn Arts Alliance, the New York Opera Alliance, and Alliance of Resident Theatres/ New York (A.R.T./NY).


Three new operas developed by American Opera Projects to premiere in early 2017

January 18, 2017

American Opera Projects (AOP) in New York is currently developing twenty-one new operas with three to premiere in 2017 in multiple locations across the US:

THREE WAY – a sex comedy opera
Premieres January 27 – 29 @ Nashville Opera and June 15-18 @ Brooklyn Academy of Music.
Developed in AOP’s Composers & the Voice and First Chance programs
With music by Robert Paterson (The Whole Truth) and a libretto by David Cote (The Scarlet Ibis), Three Way is a new opera on the present and future of sex and love. In three playful one-acts, average heroes explore the worlds of android lovers, BDSM and multiple partners in their searches for the emotional connections that are ever-elusive in today’s romantic world. Sexy, funny and a little bit shocking, Three Way combines complex but melodic music with witty humor and personal drama creating an Il trittico for the Tinder generation. Nashville Opera and AOP will present the world premiere of Three Way January 27-29, 2017 at The Tennessee Performing Arts Center in Nashville, TN and June 15-18, 2017 at BAM Fisher in Brooklyn, NY in a production directed by John Hoomes and conducted by Dean Williamson. It will feature performances by singers Courtney Ruckman, Samuel Levine, Danielle Pastin, Jordan Rutter, Wes Mason, Melisa Bonetti, Matthew Treviño, and Eliza Bonet with the Nashville Opera Orchestra (January) and the American Modern Ensemble (June performances). Three Way is sung in English with projected English titles, and contains adult language and situations intended for mature audiences. Tickets for the January world premiere are on sale at www.nashvilleopera.org.

THE SUMMER KING – life of Negro League baseball star, Josh Gibson
Premieres April 29-May 7 @ Pittsburgh Opera
Developed in AOP’s Composers & the Voice and First Chance programs
The very first world premiere in Pittsburgh Opera’s distinguished 78-year history, The Summer King tells the story of baseball legend Josh Gibson who went from the sandlots of Pittsburgh’s North Side to the pinnacle of greatness in the Negro Leagues, before ultimately being enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. With music by Daniel Sonenberg and libretto by Daniel Sonenberg and Daniel Nester, and additional lyrics by Mark Campbell, Pittsburgh Opera will present the world premiere at Pittsburgh’s Benedum Center for the Performing Arts. Alfred Walker and Denyce Graves lead a cast directed by Sam Helfrich and conducted by Antony Walker. The Summer King was commissioned by Portland Ovations. For tickets and details see www.pittsburghopera.org/show/the-summer-king.

INDEPENDENCE EVE – 100 years of racial tension and relations in the US
Premieres June 3 – 11, Signature Theatre, Arlington, VA
Developed in AOP’s Composers & the Voice and First Chance programs
Washington D.C.’s UrbanArias and AOP present the world premiere of Independence Eve, a new chamber opera in three scenes by composer Sidney Marquez Boquiren and librettist Daniel Neer that explores the troubled journey of race relations in America. Comprised of three unrelated scenes, each of which take place on July 3 in an unspecified American city, Independence Eve focuses on the stories of three black males (each played by baritone Jorell Williams), and three white males (each played by tenor Brandon Snook), who struggle with identity and acceptance amidst race issues that span one hundred years of the American experience. Independence Eve is the fifth AOP-developed opera presented by UrbanArias following the world premieres of She, After, and Paul’s Case, last season’s As One, and this spring’s Lucy. UrbanArias Artistic Director Robert Wood conducts the world premiere that runs June 3-11, 2017 at Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA. Complete info can be found at www.urbanarias.org.

AS ONE – story of transgender self-discovery also presented across US: This spring will also feature new productions of the chamber opera As One at Pittsburgh Opera (Feb 18-26), Opera Colorado (March 2-4), and Long Beach Opera (May 13-21), making a total of nine new productions since AOP commissioned, developed and premiered the work at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 2014. The opera for mezzo-soprano, baritone and string quartet by composer Laura Kaminsky, librettist Mark Campbell and librettist/ filmmaker Kimberly Reed, depicts the experiences of its sole transgender protagonist, Hannah, as she endeavors to resolve the discord between herself and the outside world.

ABOUT AMERICAN OPERA PROJECTS www.aopopera.org
Founded in 1988, American Opera Projects is at the forefront of the contemporary opera movement, commissioning, developing, presenting, and producing opera and music theatre projects, collaborating with young, rising, and established artists, and engaging audiences in unique and transformative theatrical experiences. AOP has produced over 30 world premieres, including the Nathan Davis/Brendan Pelsue dance chamber opera Hagoromo starring Wendy Whelan (BAM, 2015), Kaminsky/Reed/ Campbell’s As One (BAM, 2014), Nkeiru Okoye’s Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom (Irondale Center, 2014), and Lera Auerbach’s The Blind (co-production with Lincoln Center Festival, 2013) and the upcoming 2017 co-production with Nashville Opera of Robert Paterson’s Three Way (Nashville Opera, BAM Fisher). AOP develops new operas through two programs made possible by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and other generous donors that train emerging artists, and provide resources, workshop and production opportunities:

First Chance: First Chance allows composers and librettists to hear their work in part or in full for the first time before an audience, with live singers and accompaniment. Through question and answer sessions, First Chance allows audience members to provide input while artists discover their own unique voices. AOP then works on attracting presenting partners to produce a fully-staged world premiere including BAM, Lincoln Center Festival, and UrbanArias (in the DC metro area). www.aopopera.org/firstchance.html

Composers & the Voice: Created and led by Steven Osgood (General and Artistic Director of Chautauqua Opera and former Artistic Director of AOP), the Composers & the Voice fellowship training program provides composers and librettists experience working collaboratively with singers on writing for the voice and contemporary opera stage. AOP will begin its ninth season in Fall 2017, with applications made available on its website on March 15. Since launching in 2002, C&V has fostered the development of 54 composers & librettists. A complete list of alumni can be found at www.aopopera.org/composers_voice.

American Opera Projects
138 S. Oxford St. Ste. 3-D, Brooklyn, NY 11217 • 718.398.4024 • aoperaprojects.org


“Inspiring and groundbreaking” AS ONE heads toward record number of productions

November 18, 2016
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The Seattle Times called longtime AOP baritone Jorell Williams and mezzo-soprano Taylor Raven “passionate, powerful performers” in Seattle Opera’s new production.

Seattle Opera opened their run of As One last Friday in the iconic Washington Hall and the glowing reviews followed immediately after continuing a string of positive attention on the hit chamber opera by composer Laura Kaminsky and librettists Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed that was commissioned and premiered by American Opera Projects. As One depicts the experiences of its sole transgender protagonist, Hannah, as she endeavors to resolve the discord between her Self and the outside world.

“No opera, to my knowledge, has told the story of a trans person as either a central or subsidiary character, but novelty alone wouldn’t be enough to carry As One had not that story been framed with such expert and thoughtful craft.” – Gavin Borchert of Seattle Weekly

Gavin Borchert of Seattle Weekly calls As One “a gift… to opera companies hoping to reach untapped audiences who may be more drawn by an examination of here-and-now issues than by vengeful gods or scheming soubrettes” and its immense popularity backs up that statement.

In a time where it is rare for a new opera to ever get a second production, Seattle Opera’s As One is the sixth production of the opera including AOP’s 2014 world premiere at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Three new productions have already been announced for 2017 at Pittsburgh Opera, Opera Colorado, and Long Beach Opera. (And we’ll have more to tell you about very soon!) According to the national service organization OPERA America, by the end of 2017, As One will have received more new productions in the three years since its premiere than any other contemporary American opera.

“The opera’s success is due in part to the talent at the heart of the playbill,” posits Rich Smith of Seattle publication The Stranger. “Another part of the show’s success might be due to its portability.”

Smith made the painful, but honest, assessment that As One is “an evening of heart-rending/heart-lifting opera that will make you think you actually like opera.”

Longtime AOP baritone Jorell Williams (Hannah before) and mezzo-soprano Taylor Raven (Hannah after) comprised As One’s first-ever African-American cast in Seattle Opera’s production. Melinda Bargreen of the Seattle Times called them “passionate, powerful performers” and stated, “Laura Kaminsky’s mainly minimalist score, performed brilliantly by the Saint Helens String Quartet, chugs busily along, with some beautiful lyrical moments.”

“The 2014 chamber opera “As One” has a power all its own. It is the power of intimate revelation, a close encounter in a small gem of a hall where the two singing actors are so near that they can almost touch the audience. And they do touch the audience — with the emotional impact of an affecting story about a child born into the wrong body. …the finale is as uplifting as any operatic ending could be.” – Melinda Bargreen of the Seattle Times

Gavin Borchert of Seattle Weekly says, “composer Laura Kaminsky seems to have made every possible right choice to maximize the impact of Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed’s libretto” which he praised for its somberness, pathos, horror, and wit.

As One, both inspiring and groundbreaking, innovative yet relatable, is built to travel, and deserves to.” – Gavin Borchert of Seattle Weekly

The final Seattle Opera performance will be held this Saturday. At least for now, we hope.

“Don’t miss it.” – City Arts Online (Seattle)

 

Press Clippings for Seattle Opera production of AS ONE:

November 16, 2016 – SEATTLE WEEKLY
Opera profile: “From Seattle Opera, A Trans Person’s Path to Self-Reconciliation”

November 14, 2016 – CITY ARTS ONLINE (SEATTLE)
Opera review: “Seattle Opera’s ‘As One'”

November 12, 2016 – THE SEATTLE TIMES
Opera profile: “‘As One’ tells a transgender story with power, passion”

November 11, 2016 – THE STRANGER (SEATTLE)
Opera profile: “As One Transcends the Trump Blues”

November 7, 2016 – KUOW 94.9 FM (SEATTLE)
Opera profile: “Introducing trans identity to the Seattle Opera”


American Opera Projects to Hire Director of Development

October 17, 2016

aop-logomedium

American Opera Projects (AOP), a Brooklyn-based organization that has developed and presented new works of opera across the country for over 25 years, is currently expanding its full time staff, adding a Director of Development beginning in January 2017.

The Director of Development will provide fundraising leadership for AOP. S/he will be a key member of the company’s senior leadership team working alongside the AOP staff and board to develop, implement, and oversee all fundraising and development activities of the organization.

At this critical juncture in AOP’s history, in which the organization’s operating budget has more than doubled in the past two years with the premieres of critically-lauded and commercially successful new operas such as As One and Hagoromo (BAM Next Wave Festival), the Director of Development will continue to stimulate that financial growth by deepening the fundraising capacity of AOP at all levels, from individual contributions and board development, to foundation and government support. The new Director of Development will serve the organization moving forward as a full time member of the senior leadership team. A complete job description and details for interested applicants can be found on AOP’s website at www.aopopera.org/jobopportunities/developmentdirector.

Founded in 1988, American Opera Projects is at the forefront of the contemporary opera movement, commissioning, developing, presenting, and producing opera and music theatre projects, collaborating with young, rising, and established artists, and engaging audiences in unique and transformative theatrical experiences. AOP has produced over 30 world premieres, including the Nathan Davis/Brendan Pelsue dance chamber opera Hagoromo starring Wendy Whelan (BAM, 2015), Kaminsky/Reed/Campbell’s As One (BAM, 2014), Nkeiru Okoye’s Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom (Irondale Center, 2014), and Lera Auerbach’s The Blind (co-production with Lincoln Center Festival, 2013) and the upcoming 2017 co-production with Nashville Opera of Robert Paterson’s Three Way (Nashville Opera, BAM Fisher). Other notable premieres include Kimper/Persons’ Patience & Sarah (1998), Weisman/Rabinowitz’s Darkling (2006), Lee Hoiby’s This is the Rill Speaking (2008), and Phil Kline’s Out Cold, also at BAM (2012).

AOP-developed operas that premiered with co-producers include Stefan Weisman’s The Scarlet Ibis at PROTOTYPE Festival (2015), Gregory Spears’ Paul’s Case at UrbanArias (2013) and PROTOTYPE Festival and Pittsburgh Opera (2014), 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) and Opera Parallèle (2015), and the upcoming The Summer King by Daniel Sonenberg at Pittsburgh Opera (2017).

American Opera Projects is an equal opportunity employer (EOE) and considers all candidates for employment regardless of race, color, sex, age, national origin, creed, disability, marital status, sexual orientation or political affiliation.

AOP is an IRS recognized 501(c)3 non-profit corporation, and is a member of OPERA America, Fort Greene Association, the Downtown Brooklyn Arts Alliance, the New York Opera Alliance, and Alliance of Resident Theatres/ New York (A.R.T./NY).


Composer and AOP Founding Board Member Richard Peaslee (1936-2016)

October 11, 2016
Composer Richard Peaslee

Composer Richard Peaslee

Composer and American Opera Projects founding board member Richard “Dick” Peaslee passed away on August 20 at his home in Seattle, WA at the age of 86, due to complications from MS. An award winning composer, Dick’s honors include The American Academy of Arts and Letters Marc Blitzstein Award, an Obie, a Villager Award, and fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. He earned degrees from Yale University and The Juilliard School, and his teachers included Nadia Boulanger and William Russo.

AOP premiered his opera Sir Gawain the Green Knight in October 2001 at TADA!, and has performed his songs on concert programs. Dick donated the piano AOP uses at its Fort Greene home base; because of his generosity thousands of people have enjoyed music at our South Oxford Space. On October 16th, there will be a celebration of his life in Seattle, and another in New York at a later date to be announced.

AOP General Director Charles Jarden writes, “Dick was a huge influence on me and others about the way AOP still operates, especially our workshopping process. Dick was an advocate for libretto development ahead of music being written and the work’s stage-worthiness being addressed by the creative team. I was lucky enough to visit Dick and Dixie in Seattle and was touched because of the enormous mutual respect and love, which lit up that couple’s life…two artists (Dixie is a painter) in an inspiring close relationship.”

Link to his obituary

Link to Ardea Arts production of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

AOP Photo Gallery: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, 2001 World Premiere:

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js


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