“Séance” Selections in Southampton

August 18, 2010

This past weekend, a very special kind of gathering took place in Southampton. At the house of David H. Koch and his wife, Julia, composer/lyricist Stephen Schwartz and soprano Lauren Flanigan performed selections from Schwartz’s new opera, Séance on a Wet Afternoon. The event was held to hype the opera, which had its beginnings with AOP, and which will open in the David H. Koch Theater at New York City Opera in 2011.

You can read more about the evening on the Wall Street Journal’s website, here.

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Tarik O’Regan’s “Latent Manifest” Wows British Audiences

August 17, 2010

Tarik O’Regan, known to AOP audiences as the composer of Heart of Darkness, has just premiered a new piece in London to rave reviews! Part of the BBC Proms 2010 program, the piece, Latent Manifest, is inspired by the prelude to Bach’s solo violin partita no. 3 in C Major, BWV 1005. The piece was performed in Royal Albert Hall by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra on August 14th, under the baton of Andrew Litton, and broadcast live on BBC 2, BBC HD, and BBC Radio 3.

British publications are applauding O’Regan’s great success:

…a gracefully-controlled meditation on a single Bach phrase.

– Michael Church, The Independent

…[a] personal canvas, taking us a long way from a literal reworking into the realms of evanescent fantasy, with delicately evocative results.

– George Hall, The Guardian

…a beguiling response to response itself – a mirage of intimations and allusions to [O’Regan’s] own experience of hearing Bach’s third solo Violin Sonata.

– Hilary Finch, The Times

Tarik O’Regan’s Latent Manifest ambitiously tried to bring out the implied harmonies and textures of a solo violin piece[…]it created an atmosphere all of its own.

– Paul Gent, The Telegraph

…atmospheric [and] imaginative.

– Richard Fairman, Financial Times

…enjoyable and well written.

– Barry Millington, The Evening Standard

Check out the full piece!

  • Tarik O’Regan’s Latent Manifest ambitiously tried to bring out the implied harmonies and textures of a solo violin piece[…]it created an atmosphere all of its own.

AOP Projects receive funding

August 6, 2010

Some major organizations have shown their support for new opera by funding several AOP upcoming projects. AOP gives great thanks to these contributors.

Semmelweis

Semmelweis – The Ensemble Studio Theatre/Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.  Funding for “credible and compelling work exploring the worlds of science and technology and to challenge the existing stereotypes of scientists and engineers in the popular imagination.” www.operaprojects.org/semmelweis

Our Basic NatureOur Basic Nature – Meet the Composer’s MetLife Creative Connections. “MetLife Creative Connections provides support for American composers to participate in public activities related to specific performances of their original music. By supporting the composer’s interaction with audiences, performers, arts organizations, and local communities, Metlife Creative Connections aims to increase public awareness and enhance the creative artist’s role in society.” www.operaprojects.org/ourbasicnature

DarklingDarkling – The Aaron Copland Fund for Music supporting the upcoming studio recording of Darkling. “The program’s objectives are to document and provide wider exposure for the music of contemporary American composers, to develop audiences for contemporary American music through record distribution and other retail markets, and to support the release and dissemination of recordings of previously unreleased contemporary American music…” www.operaprojects.org/darkling

And multi-year grants confirmed from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and the New York State Council on the Arts.

AOP applauds these recent grants and the continued support of our many individuals and fans. Please consider a donation today to join these important and necessary supporters of the arts.

Donate to AOP


Young Poets Inspire Opera, Opera Inspires Young Poets

August 6, 2010

On a hot summer morning, the Brooklyn Library’s Dweck Auditorium is filled with children (along with their parents and a few other adults) craning their necks to watch five of their fellow students, one by one, take the stage and recite poetry. Not just any poetry, but their own. Poetry that talked about loving Brooklyn, about hating Brooklyn, about being shy, about being ambitious, about looking good in a dress, about living large in a mansion. Moments after these five students, ranging in ages from 6 to 13, had finished reading – some shyly, some proudly, all bravely – they took their seats and all watched as  mezzo-soprano Nicole Mitchell and pianist Kelly Horsted walked on the stage. A few seconds later they heard the poetry again, this time expressed in powerful song.

IHAS at the Dweck Auditorium

I Hear America Singing at the Dweck Auditorium, July 19, 2010. (l. to r. The Walt Whitman Project Artistic Director Greg Trupiano, poet Tyler Forsythe, poetry mentor Angeli Rasbury, poet Tristan Regist, composer Gilda Lyons, poet Keanu Stowe, poet Alexis Cummings, AOP General Director Charles Jarden, mother Angeline Keller, poet Samori Covington, pianist Kelly Horsted, singer Nicole Mitchell)

This was I Hear America Singing, the initiative by American Opera Projects and the Walt Whitman Project to transform the words of ordinary Americans into opera, and its first two song cycles composed by Gilda Lyons – “Songs from the F Train,” premiered in June 2009, and “Songs from the A Train,” premiered on this summer morning July 19, 2010 at the Dweck Auditorium, with all but one of the six young poets in attendance.

Among the enraptured faces was Mr. Jim Vogel, Spokesperson for State Senator Velmanette Montgomery whose district covers a huge swath of Brooklyn from Ocean Hill to Fort Greene and down to Sunset Park.  Mr. Vogel was proud to tell everyone that these young poets were to going to be recognized by the NY State Legislature for their hard work and inspirational voices. The students smiled to learn how far their voices had traveled and how many people had been listening. (And to learn how politics work. They would have been officially presented with this recognition that morning in the form of a framed Proclamation… but Albany first had to complete their months-delayed budget.)

Later, their writing mentor Angeli Rasbury asked the students to express themselves yet again, but this time with a focus on what they felt when they heard Ms. Mitchell, a Brooklyn native herself, sing.

When I hear Nicole Mitchell sing, I hear a talented opera voice in my ears.
I feel very happy to hear her beautiful voice singing, letting all her emotions out.
I hear and see the birds flying high.
I hear the crickets singing and the butterfly flying joyfully through the sky.
When I hear Nicole Mitchell I look back in the days when black people were slaves singing and working hard to get their freedom.
I imagine Nicole back there in time singing to her freedom, singing when will she be free.
When I hear that song it makes me feel proud of black people, of how far we have come,  to this stage right now. When I hear people like Nicole Mitchell, my day keeps getting better and better.
–  Rood Dorestil, 13 years old

When I hear Nicole Mitchell sing, I feel happy and think I’m in heaven.
I hear trees whistling in the breeze.
When I hear Nicole Mitchell, I can imagine different colored flowers moving slowly from side to side.
When I hear Nicole Mitchell sing, I am joyful.
I feel like a red leaf.
When I hear Nicole Mitchell sing, I feel like I am in beautiful, lush Barbados.
I feel Nicole Mitchell is a beautiful singer.
When I hear Nicole Mitchell sing, she sounds excited to be alive.
When I hear Nicole Mitchell sing, I feel free.
When I hear Nicole Mitchell sing, I feel like a pretty slave who has been freed.
–    Aliah Gilkes, 10 years old

master tell me i’m his slave
no i say i’m a flow of music
i’m not a slave
don’t believe such foolishness of your white community
i hear the the voices of opera
and feel the beat of opera
i hear the piano of the flat boards
that used to be teeth
the loud voices saying
you go girl
that my people is pure music!
–  Eva Taylor, 9 years old

This is only the beginning of I Hear America Singing. In the 2010-11 season AOP will branch out with new performances and new songs. There are many voices yet to be heard. Visit www.operaprojects.org throughout the year to discover when and where to hear them.


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