Heart of Darkness orchestral suite premieres in London

March 29, 2013
Tarik O'Regan

Tarik O’Regan

When Heart of Darkness (developed by AOP) premièred at the Royal Opera House’s Linbury Studios in 2011 it met with great acclaim for its ‘music of startling beauty’ (The Observer) and ‘a magical and haunting sound-world’ (The Telegraph).

Composer Tarik O’Regan has now developed Suite from Heart of Darkness for orchestra and narrator. Tom Phillips, the original librettist, has worked closely from Joseph Conrad’s novella to create the text.

The London première of Suite from Heart of Darkness will be held at Cadogan Hall on Tuesday 23rd April at 7.30pm. The concert is part of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra’s Resident Season, will be conducted by Nicholas Collon and narrated by Sam West. Seats can be reserved here.

Go on Tarik’s website for more detail.

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2013 Lincoln Center Festival to Feature AOP Premiere

March 27, 2013

Composer Lera Auerbach

New York, NY, March 27, 2013 — Nigel Redden, Director of Lincoln Center Festival, today announced the 2013 Festival’s line-up, which includes the latest AOP Premiere – The Blind, an a capella opera by the prolific Russian-born, New York-based composer, Lera Auerbach, featuring a new staging by John La Bouchardière (The Full Monteverdi, Lincoln Center Festival 2007).  The opera is based on an early surrealist play by Maurice Maeterlinck about a group of sightless people who have been abandoned on a desolate island.  There will be six performances in the Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse from July 9-14, 2013. The one-hour production will be conducted by Julian Wachner. The Lincoln Center Festival press release describes the co-production:

Following the sell-out success of his project The Full Monteverdi performed by I Fagiolini during Lincoln Center Festival 2007, British director John La Bouchardière returns to the Festival to direct a new and radical re-imagining of Lera Auerbach’s 2001 a cappella opera The Blind, freely-adapted from  the controversial Symbolist play by Maurice Maeterlinck.

Scored for 12 unaccompanied voices, The Blind chronicles a group of sightless people abandoned on a desolate island as they await the return of the religious leader who led them from their home so they could feel the last rays of sunlight before winter.  The audience will be immersed into complete darkness to experience the sensory world of the story. The cast includes: Dominic Armstrong, Sarah Brailey, Yulia Van Doren, Branch Fields, John McVeigh, Nicole Mitchell, Liam Moran, Kyle Pfortmiller, Barbara Rearick, David Schmidt, Faith Sherman, and Rosalie Sullivan. It is performed in English.

The Blind will be AOP’s fourth premiere at The Lincoln Center Festival following Hildegurls Electric Ordo Virtutum (1998),  Patience & Sarah (1998), and Tone Test (2004). The Festival runs from July 6 through 28, 2013. Single tickets go on sale on April 8 for the festival, which will unfold in six venues on and off the Lincoln Center campus. There will be a total of 62 performances by artists and ensembles from ten countries.

More on The Blind here


Applications now available for Composers & The Voice 2013-14

March 22, 2013

BROOKLYN’S AOP TO SELECT COMPOSERS, LIBRETTISTS FOR FREE TRAINING IN THE FUNDAMENTALS OF OPERA

APPLICATIONS NOW AVAILABLE FOR 7th SEASON OF
“COMPOSERS & THE VOICE” PROGRAM BEGINNING IN FALL 2013

BROOKLYN, NY – American Opera Projects (AOP) announces the return of its  Composers & the Voice program for its 2013-14 season. Created and led by Composers & the Voice Artistic Director Steven Osgood, six composers or composer/librettist teams will be selected for a year-long fellowship, working with the company’s Resident Ensemble of Singers and Artistic Team.  Applications and additional information can be found at AOP’s website www.operaprojects.org. The deadline for applications is May 17, 2013.  All sessions will be at AOP’s home base in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.

Composers & the Voice PictureThe primary focus of Composers & the Voice is to give composers and librettists experience working collaboratively with singers on writing for the voice and opera stage.  The workshop sessions between September 2013 and April 2014, include composition of solo works for six voice types (coloratura soprano, lyric soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, baritone and bass) and “Skill-Building Sessions” for composers and librettists in acting, improv games, and libretto development, providing an in-depth and firsthand knowledge of how singers build characters, act in scenes and sing text.

“I can think of no better forum for a composer with a passion for learning the traditions of so-called progressive American opera theater than AOP’s program,” said opera composer and guest C&V instructor Daron Hagen.

Previous seasons of Composers & the Voice have featured guest lectures from notable artists such as composer Mark Adamo (Little Women, Lysistrata) and librettist Mark Campbell (Silent Night, Later The Same Evening).  Past “Composer Chairs,” sponsorships named in honor of mentors and their support of Composers & the Voice, have included Mr. Adamo and composers John Corigliano, Tan Dun, Daron Hagen, John Musto, Richard Peaslee, Tobias Picker, Kaija Saariaho, Stephen Schwartz, and the late Lee Hoiby.

At the end of the program, AOP will present the results of the participants’ work in public performances – First Glimpse, a concert of songs in Spring 2014, and Six Scenes, an evening of short opera scenes in Fall 2014.  One of these operas-in-progress will be selected to receive a staged reading at Manhattan School of Music in Spring 2015. AOP has an eight-year relationship with Manhattan School of Music Opera Studies Program, in which students work alongside the composer and librettist and other professionals provided by AOP.

Since launching in 2002, C&V has fostered the development of 37 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 Off-Broadway and European tour of Darkling (2006-07, Stefan Weisman). Additional AOP-developed works from C&V alumni include Decoration (Mikael Karlsson), The Summer King (Daniel Sonenberg), The Golden Gate (Conrad Cummings), Dream President (Jennifer Griffith), Henry’s Wife (Randall Eng), and Semmelweis (Raymond J. Lustig). Visit www.operaprojects.org/composers_voice

Past AOP Composers & the Voice fellows have received grants and honors from the following organizations: Aaron Copland Fund for Music, ASCAP, BMI, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the American Music Center, the American Composers Forum, OPERA America, the National Endowment for the Arts, Meet the Composer, the Argosy Foundation Contemporary Music Fund, the Fulbright Foundation, the Atlantic Center for the Arts, the Douglas Moore Fellowship, Tapestry New Opera Works, the Frederick Loewe Foundation, New Dramatists, and the Martha Baird Rockefeller Foundation.

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 also conducted premieres by Jonathan Sheffer (Blood on the Dining Room Floor), Tan Dun (Peony Pavilion), Xenakis (Oresteia), Missy Mazzoli (Song from the Uproar), Mohammed Fairouz (Sumeida’s Song), and Daron Hagen (Little Nemo in Slumberland). He has served on the Music Staff of the Metropolitan Opera since 2006.  Upcoming productions include Opera Memphis’ Midtown Opera Festival, Hawaii Opera Theater’s Tosca, and Chautauqua Opera’s Peter Grimes.

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

DOWNLOAD 2013-14 COMPOSER APPLICATION

DOWNLOAD 2013-14 COMPOSER/LIBRETTIST TEAM APPLICATION

MORE INFO AND PRESS MATERIALS AVAILABLE AT:
www.operaprojects.org

March 20, 2013


COMPOSERS & THE VOICE: C&V alumni making news (and music, of course)

March 20, 2013

In addition to Mikael, Zach, and Sara’s music featured this weekend at OPERAtion Brooklyn, the alumni of Composers & the Voice continue to be featured in concerts and festivals, and gather awards, fellowships, and residencies. Here are just some of the recent highlights.


“We would only write when drunk so we couldn’t control it”

March 9, 2013

AOP SPOTLIGHT: MARCH 2013

Composer Mikael Karlsson

Mikael Karlsson

Mikael Karlsson. Photo by Isabelle Selby.

AOP: Tell us about your new opera, Decoration.

Mikael: Well, I co-wrote the story with David Flodén. He’s a good friend of mine, and neither of us are librettists, but we just like to hang out. We got drunk, had a lot of fun and just started talking. He said “Why don’t we write an opera?” So we did, and we decided that we would only write when drunk so we couldn’t control it. We didn’t want to know what we were going to write, because then, why write it? The process has to be fun, and this way, it was.

And so the story has changed a lot, and it was always about whether to lie or not. The title refers to the way that we pretend that there’s meaning, the way that we pretend that love conquers all, or that it has meaning or that it matters. And the truth is that the conflict is between devotion or belief on the one hand, which helps us live, and science and the cold facts, that this little shit hole that we’re in is going to burn up in a couple of million years, so no matter how we live our lives, it’s not gonna matter. But we can’t live knowing that, so we decorate our lives by lying a little.

I tell myself that my friendships to other people really matter, and it feels like they do, I know they don’t. On a personal level they do, but to the universe they don’t, so the story is about that.

Rebecca Ringle as "She" in a promotional photo for Decoration. Photo by Krister Atle.

Rebecca Ringle as “She” in a promotional photo for Decoration. Photo by Krister Atle.

So our main character, her name is SHE – it’s very impractical – we wanted her to have a neutral name because she’s not about the beauty of the name, for instance. She’s a woman, and an astrophysicist. She treats her scientific belief and conviction as if it were a religion. So she’s maniacal about it, she truly believes that science is all that matters. She refuses to cope with any other belief, so she becomes very lonely. She’s diagnosed with an MS-like disease that slowly starts to destroy her body, and she’s losing control over it. And to a scientist, that should be great news, because you’re only a brain, you know? You can be a martyr for science by giving your body, saying that “this doesn’t matter, and it doesn’t, ideas are all that matters.” So at first, she’s being brave, and she thinks, “I can live like this, I can prove that ideas are what I am.” And I like that idea; it’s very brave of her.

In the second Act, as she’s slowly deteriorating, she changes her mind, and she wishes that she would have listened to some of the lies – to some of the love. But it might be too late, and it turns out that she’s losing her mind also. So she talks to the universe as if it’s a god, and it goes on from there. The central question is, should you be honest when nothing matters? And if nothing matters, why should honesty matter? If nothing matters, truth doesn’t matter. Then what are you going to do?

It’s a very strange story, and I like that it has logical loops and holes in it. We have an aria about dimensions also, so the idea of wormholes comes into the story, where something makes sense to a limit, and then you slip into another logic where it no longer makes sense over here. I hope that there are mistakes in it, because then the listener will have to figure something out. That’s what I love about David Lynch, noise music, anything that’s really gritty, distorted or fucked up – that you have to make sense of it, it’s not presenting itself to you. Then it’s interesting – then it’s trusting its audience that they’re not kids. That they’re grownups who can deal with problems. So we’re giving them a problem, and I hope we’re giving them an interesting enough one that they’re willing to solve it for us.

AOP: You’ve eclectically composed for video games, dance and opera. Do you feel your composer’s “voice” changes based on the medium? How has working in one medium influenced the way you compose for the others?

Mikael: I’m not sure I’m aware of what my voice is. I think it’s inevitable, and if you have one, it’s going to carry over into the different mediums no matter what you do; you have no choice. I never sat down and decided that this is going to be my voice. My voice is what I love and am able to do, those two things combined. And what I’m trying to achieve in terms in terms of furthering where I go. What I love in sound carries over the different genres.

My mom, who’s not a classical listener says that she can hear me; that I wrote it, no matter what it is. Whether it’s a gnarly, atonal clustery song-cycle, or if it’s a sweeping orchestral score for a movie, she hears that it’s my music; that’s good to me. My voice is there, it’s my brain, so it’s going to have something of me in it.

And it turns out that what I love fits into many different categories. If I were to only work with percussion, which is a very popular thing right now, it might limit me, or it might steer me in directions, but my love is melody and noise. To find beauty in something that’s ugly, or to distort something that’s beautiful, until it is almost no longer beautiful.

AOP: If Decoration could be a double-bill with any existing opera, what would you like to see it paired with?

Mikael: A comedy, I think. Decoration will have some comedic elements in it, it needs to. But it’s not a laugh-out-loud, happy romp. It deals with some really difficult stuff. But to have that with another dark piece, that would be unbearable. This is a pretty dark opera, so it needs to be paired with something joyous. I would love to have it paired with something that also celebrates life, but that does it in another way. Ours does it by saying “ok, so we take your bible away from you, we take your burning bush away from you, we take your weddings and your friendships and your love away from you, and we take your fairytale legends away from you, but look! Up there, in the sky, in the universe, in space. How can you not think that’s a better deal? That’s fantastic. Crashing galaxies, black holes, dark matter. If you can pair that with something that’s funny on the surface, then that’s the whole universe to me.

Decoration will be performed on March 17 at The Manhattan School of Music and on March 23 at South Oxford Space in Brooklyn with the composer in attendance. Event info: www.operaprojects.org/events

MORE INFO:
www.operaprojects.org/decoration
www.decorationtheopera.com
www.mikaelk.com


MIDAS composer strikes gold with Arts and Letters Award

March 7, 2013

Last Friday, The American Academy of Arts and Letters announced  AOP composer Kamran Ince  (pictured) as one of four composers who will receive a $7500 Arts and Letters Award in Music, which honors outstanding artistic achievement and acknowledges the composer who has arrived at his or her own voice.  Each will receive an additional $7500 toward the recording of one work.  The winners were selected by a committee of Academy members:  Ezra Laderman (chairman), Samuel Adler, David Del Tredici, John Harbison, Tania Leon, Fred Lerdahl, and Joan Tower.   The awards will be presented at the Academy’s annual Ceremonial in May.  Candidates for music awards are nominated by the 250 members of the Academy.

From the Academy’s press release:

The energy and rawness of Turkish and Balkan music, the spirituality of Byzantium and Ottoman music, the tradition of European art music and the extravert and popular qualities of the American psyche are the basis of Kamran Ince’s sound world. These ingredients happily breathe in cohesion as they spin the linear and vertical contrasts so essential to his works. Ince is Professor of Composition at University of Memphis and at MIAM, Istanbul Technical University. His prizes include the Rome Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Lili Boulanger Prize. Five recent Naxos CD’s are devoted to his music.

Present Music and Milwaukee Opera Theatre will premiere his opera, Judgment of Midas, in April, 2013.  Judgment of Midas was developed in American Opera Projects‘ First Chance program with funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.


WINDOWS: Six monodramas combine for a new show from the composer-librettist team Zach Redler and Sara Cooper

March 6, 2013
Sara Cooper and Zach Redler. Photo by Isabelle Selby.

Sara Cooper and Zach Redler. Photo by Isabelle Selby.

Before their musical The Memory Show  debuts Off-Broadway in April, Zach Redler and Sara Cooper return to AOP with a work developed during the Composers & the Voice program. From a prostitute who is desperately in love with her pimp to a teenage father whose baby will just not stop crying, the six monodramas of Windows look at characters dealing with unrequited love.

The 40-minute show will be presented as part of OPERAtion Brooklyn on Saturday, March 23 with performances by Sumayya Ali, Amelia Watkins, Jeffrey Gavett, Justin Hopkins, Brittney Redler, and Etai BenShlomo and direction by Noah Himmelstein with Mila Henry on piano.

Windows is made possible in part by a generous multi-year award from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Zach Redler and Sara Cooper are supported by funding from The New York Community Trust Edward and Sally Van Lier Fund and Musical Arts Fund.


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