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


AOP Composer-in-Residence Laura Kaminsky receives gold medal of honor from the President of Poland

May 9, 2016

NEW YORK – On Wednesday, May 4th, our beloved Composer-in-Residence Laura Kaminsky was decorated with the Złoty Krzyż Zasługi (Gold Cross of Merit) of the Republic of Poland, one of the highest civilian medals awarded by the President, for her innovative presentations of Polish music in the U.S. over the past decade.

Laura’s love of—and knowledge about—20th century Polish music began in 1996 when she served as director of the European Mozart Academy, and spent a year touring around Poland and other neighboring countries in Central and Eastern Europe, presenting chamber music concerts to widely diverse audiences, reaching small villagers and leading diplomats alike. Years later, as the director of Symphony Space, Laura partnered with Ania Perzanowska, the director of music programming at the Polish Cultural Institute to incorporate music by Polish composers and performances by Polish musicians into Symphony Space programming over a period of 7 years.

In her acceptance speech before those gathered at the Polish Consulate, Laura spoke excitedly of plans to continue her work with the Institute in the future. “And now, a new conversation has begun with the Polish Cultural Institute and American Opera Projects, where I serve as Composer-in-Residence, about continuing this practice of sharing Polish musical culture here in the U.S., and hopefully, in reciprocity, to bring our contemporary American music to Poland. For me, bringing people together across cultures to share their art is among the best ways to bridge barriers, forge new understandings, and, simply, to make the world a better place. It is ennobling and humbling at the same time, and the work I have been permitted to do in collaboration with my colleagues from Poland has been enormously gratifying work that I have done.” Referring to the ceramic cup purchased as a keepsake during her transformative trip to Poland in 96’, Laura concluded by saying, “The beauty of my little hand painted Polish coffee cup lifts me every day – it is truly as simple as that– the beauty of art in a cup, or a poem, or a song, or a string quartet – from one culture to the next. It makes the world a better place.”


Fort Greene Park to be commemorated in student operas in new AOP and NYU Tisch partnership

February 19, 2016

Randall Eng, composer and Assistant Arts Professor at Tisch’s Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program

By the end of this spring, one of New York City’s most historic and vibrant neighborhoods will be commemorated in song. And not just one song, but an entire series of new operas. This spring, students in the Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program (GMTWP) at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts will learn the ins and outs of opera writing when Brooklyn’s American Opera Projects (AOP) partners with the esteemed arts school for a new “Opera Writing Workshop.”  Led by composer Randall Eng, the workshop is an advanced class for composers and librettists of GMTWP at Tisch who will collaborate with an ensemble of eight professional opera singers and two music directors to create short operas under the mentorship of AOP, an opera company in Fort Greene that has developed and premiered contemporary operas for over 25 years.

For the inaugural workshop, AOP and Eng have assigned the students to create operas inspired by the Brooklyn neighborhood Fort Greene and the historic Fort Greene Park, the latter of which has been home to a graveyard of Revolutionary War soldiers as well as a source of inspiration for writers Richard Wright and Marianne Moore and filmmaker Spike Lee. In addition to the musical team, AOP will provide the students with special access to staff from NYC Parks and Fort Greene Park Conservancy.  NYU associate professor and opera director Sam Helfrich will direct the AOP workshop singers in the site-specific scenes being created with the participation of his design students in Tisch’s Design for Stage and Film Department. The operas will be performed in conjunction with American Opera Projects at GMTWP’s Black Box Theatre on May 7, 2016 and in Fort Greene Park itself on May 8, 2016.

AOP General Director Charles Jarden stated, “In this partnership with NYU, AOP is broadening our mission to help mentor creators of opera and music theater work by attracting grad students at one of the best schools in the country.  This project is a great complement to one of our core programs, Composers & the Voice and Randall Eng is one of the alums of that program, which makes the partnership especially valuable and gratifying for us.  We are deeply grateful to The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and to the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs for on-going generous support.”

As of February 1st there are twenty-five (25) students enrolled in the class.

Crowds gather in Fort Greene Park, Brooklyn’s first park and subject for NYU’s Opera Writing Workshop composers.


AOP in 2015 – an incredible year for new opera

December 30, 2015

AOP2015 banner2

In 2015, AOP projects made best of lists in its home city of New York, nationally, and internationally, by continuing our tradition of creating, developing and presenting opera and music theatre that define the field. These major new works were created through its innovative partnerships and the support of many individuals and organizations like the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

DONATE TO AOP

WORLD PREMIERES

THE SCARLET IBIS

“an outstanding new chamber opera … a moving, intense and dignified creation” – The New York Times

The year opened up with the highly lauded premiere of The Scarlet Ibis, a new opera from composer Stefan Weisman, who trained in AOP’s Composers & the Voice program before AOP developed and premiered his first opera Darkling in 2006. HERE and Beth Morrison Projects, in association with AOP, produced the world premiere in January 2015 as the centerpiece of their innovative PROTOTYPE Festival of new opera after a four year development process. Weisman and librettist David Cote adapted James Hurst’s poignant and tragic short story into a taut 90-minute opera about the unsentimental childhood relationship between Brother (in a nuanced performance by mezzo-soprano Hai-Ting Chinn) and his sickly younger sibling Doodle (elegantly portrayed by a tiny puppet with the voice of countertenor Eric Brenner). Singers Abigail Fischer, Keith Phares and Nicole Mitchell joined the American Modern Ensemble under the baton of the talented and prolific Steven Osgood. Mallory Catlett’s experimental storytelling brought the work to life to universal praise.

ibishttps://vimeo.com/111343103

PARADISE INTERRUPTED

“Composer Huang Ruo and the artist Jennifer Wen Ma … have gloriously fused Western and Chinese idioms, modernity and tradition, to create a mesmerizing new work that is part opera, part dynamic art installation.” – The Wall Street Journal

In May 2015, Spoleto Festival USA produced the world premiere of Paradise Interrupted, a new 90-minute installation opera in one act, conceived, designed, and directed by Jennifer Wen Ma with music by Huang Ruo and a libretto and performance by Qian Yi. Inspired by the Garden of Eden and the Chinese Kunqu opera Peony Pavilion, Paradise Interrupted follows a woman in search for an unattainable ideal, exploring a world that is activated by her singing voice. In order to have it ready for the premiere, the creators entered AOP’s First Chance development program, providing them with the tools and feedback to test the intricate show. A brief preview of Paradise Interrupted was held in March 2015 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Temple of Dendur, exciting audiences for its New York City premiere at the 2016 Lincoln Center Festival, to be co-produced by AOP.

paradisehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WcT88epLiyM

“an original work that beautifully blends Eastern and Western styles and presents five fine singers with remarkable stamina and expression. … Had there been no music at all, just the staging, this would have been a marvelous, immersive experience. But there was music, fascinating music, lyrical, often rhythmic music.” – Charleston Post and Courier

HAGOROMO

“seamlessly integrated the worlds of experimental music, dance, theatre, opera, puppetry and fashion into a rich, sober whole.” – Financial Times

In November, AOP premiered the largest production in our history when we returned to the Brooklyn Academy of Music for the third time with the dance chamber opera Hagoromo. The sold-out run at BAM’s 2015 Next Wave Festival added a performance to accommodate the mass of audiences eager to see this groundbreaking event.

Reuniting former New York City Ballet principal dancers Wendy Whelan and Jock SotoHagoromo is a multidisciplinary work inspired by one of the masterpieces of Japanese Noh drama, that featured contralto Katalin Károlyi and tenor Peter Tantsitsthe International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), and Brooklyn Youth Chorus. The ancient tale of Hagoromo involves a desolate island and the fateful encounter between a poor fisherman (Soto) and a fallen angel (Whelan). A thoroughly contemporary vision, this retelling is a bold experiment in hybrid forms: a chamber opera composed by Nathan Davis and librettist Brendan Pelsue, with dance choreographed by David Neumann, puppetry by Chris M. Green, dramaturgy by Norman Frisch, and costumes created by the celebrated Belgian designer Dries Van Noten. AOP partnered with the American Dance Institute in Rockville, MD in the development of this captivating new work.

Hagoromo ADI video still

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLjbmxRatK2iOJOc-AADFmSytSlRHOP6Hx

 

NEW PRODUCTIONS

AS ONE

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

As One made its West Coast premiere in a new production by West Edge Opera in July 2015 that received attention in the Washington Post’s year end wrap up of best new performances. Another new production premiered in the DC-metro area by UrbanArias in October 2015. The first major opera specifically about the transgender experience, AOP commissioned and premiered As One at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 2014 amidst a national dialogue about transgender lives that was just beginning. As One was conceived and composed by Laura Kaminsky with a libretto by Mark Campbell (Silent Night, The Manchurian Candidate) and transgender filmmaker Kimberly Reed. As One is next slated for a production in Colorado in 2017.

as onehttps://vimeo.com/122028096

HEART OF DARKNESS

“All things considered, it’s something of a surprise that Tarik O’Regan’s opera Heart of Darkness took four years to reach the United States after its 2011 premiere at the Royal Opera’s Linbury Studio Theatre. Its brevity and eloquence, as well as the small forces it requires, make it a natural for adventurous opera companies everywhere.” – San Francisco Classical Voice

San Francisco’s Z Space saw the U.S. premiere of British composer Tarik O’Regan’s “elegant, moving” (The Wall Street Journal) debut opera Heart of Darkness. Artist Tom Phillips’ libretto combined with O’Regan’s “score of concise originality” (The Observer, UK) to transform Joseph Conrad’s classic novella of a mad ivory trader in colonial Africa “into a compellingly taut evening of music theatre” (Sunday Telegraph, UK). In May 2015, the 75-minute chamber opera, which premiered in London in 2011, received a new production created by conductor Nicole Paiement and director/designer Brian Staufenbiel and produced by their new music company Opera Parallèle (OP), in association with AOP. AOP began First Chance development of Heart of Darkness in 2006.

hearthttps://vimeo.com/128703881

“a powerful U.S. premiere… the kaleidoscopic inventiveness of O’Regan’s score uses a chamber ensemble and vivid vocal writing to conjure up the moral miasma of the African interior as Marlow encounters it” – San Francisco Chronicle

THE WANTON SUBLIME

“a tour de force… The Wanton Sublime is musically rich… and also philosophically absorbing.” – What’s On Stage

Inside Intelligence held the universally praised London premiere of The Wanton Sublime, a monodrama from Tarik O’Regan (Heart of Darkness) and Anna Rabinowitz (Darkling), commissioned by AOP. Presented at the Arcola Theatre as part of the Grimeborn Festival, it starred frequent AOP collaborator mezzo-soprano Hai-Ting Chinn as the Virgin Mary, who returned to the role she created at AOP’s 2014 premiere in Brooklyn. Andrew Griffiths conducted the Orpheus Sinfonia with staging by Robert Shaw. The Wanton Sublime explores the human and mythic aspects of the Virgin Mary as she struggles to retain her flesh and blood identity in the face of external forces intent on symbolizing her as the ideal woman.

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AOP FIRST CHANCE – WORKS IN DEVELOPMENT

Throughout its twenty-seven years, AOP has been known as a place for artists to call home as they create new operas and music theatre pieces. AOP’s First Chance program combines workshops and readings with institutional and artistic support allowing creators to try out new work, receive feedback, promote their project to potential presenters, and avoid alliterative sentences.

First Chance workshops were held for two operas-in-development at OPERA America’s National Opera Center in Manhattan. In Tesla, three iconoclastic artists – composer Phil Kline, filmmaker Jim Jarmusch, and director Robert Wilson – create a theatrical “portrait” as visionary as its subject, the eccentric 19th century inventor Nikola Tesla. Presented in January 2015 as part of OPERA America’s New Works Forum, the showcase featured performances by Ryland Angel, James Harrington, Jacqueline Horner Kwiatek, Brandon Snook, Gregory Purnhagen, Kamala Sankaram, and American Contemporary Music Ensemble.

TESLA at OPERA America New Works Forum, Jan 14, 2015

TESLA at OPERA America New Works Forum, Jan 14, 2015

In June 2015, AOP returned to OPERA America to present scenes from A Thousand Splendid Suns, a two act opera with music by Sheila Silver and libretto by Stephen Kitsakos based on the bestselling novel by Khaled Hosseini. In a society where women are worse than second class citizens, A Thousand Splendid Suns tells the story of two oppressed women, one older, one younger, forced into marriage with the same brutal man. Silver’s music is infused with the color of raga based North Indian classical music, which is at the heart of the music of Afghanistan. Additional scenes will be presented in January 2016 at The Studios of Key West in Florida and in the New Opera Showcase, part of the OPERA America New Works Forum, OPERA America’s annual gathering of opera creators.

A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS at National Opera Center

A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS at National Opera Center

AOP brought one of its most topical new works to the Harlem School of the Arts in February 2015. Independence Eve is a new chamber opera in three scenes by composer Sidney Marquez Boquiren and librettist Daniel Neer that 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. The staged workshop performances featured music direction and piano by Mila Henry.

Jorell Williams in INDEPENDENCE EVE workshop at Harlem School for the Arts

Jorell Williams in INDEPENDENCE EVE workshop at Harlem School for the Arts

Following their residency at The Hermitage Artist Retreat in Florida as the first recipients of The Opera Genesis Fellowships (more info below), composer Mikael Karlsson and designer Elle Kunnos de Voss heard a libretto reading of their opera-in-development The Echo Drift at HERE Arts Center in December. The 70-minute surrealist monodrama written for soprano Amy Shoremount-Obra will have its world premiere as part of the 2017 Prototype Festival in January 2017 in a co-production by American Opera Projects and PROTOTYPE directed by Mallory Catlett (The Scarlet Ibis).

Closing out the year, MATA, in collaboration with AOP First Chance, presented in December a suite from Greg Spears‘ elegant AOP-developed dance opera Wolf-in-Skins as part of MATA’s Radical Pairing – a mix of baroque and gallant-inspired works performed by New Vintage Baroque. Wolf-in-Skins is an evening-length dance-opera choreographed and directed by Christopher Williams inspired by ancient themes of the “mythic hero’s journey” found in medieval Welsh literature.

COMPOSERS & THE VOICE – ARTIST TRAINING FELLOWSHIPS

The seventh group of composers and librettists to receive fellowships for AOP training and mentoring program Composers & the Voice entered the second year of their two year cycle in the 2014-15 season. Created and led by Composers & the Voice Artistic Director Steven Osgood, the two-year 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. C&V alumni featured in other AOP programming in 2015 included Stefan Weisman (The Scarlet Ibis) and Sidney Boquiren (Independence Eve), Mikael Karlsson (The Echo Drift), and Gregory Spears (Wolf-in-Skins).

Following its appearance in the 2014 C&V Six Scenes concert of opera scenes, Legendary, with music by Joseph Rubinstein and libretto by Jason Kim, became the 12th AOP opera-in-progress selected by Manhattan School of Music for the annual Opera Index series New American Opera Previews, From Page to Stage. The staged scenes featuring MSM singers were presented in March 2015 under the stage direction of Knud Adams with music direction by Scott Rednour, and with Q&As hosted by Midge Woolsey and librettist Mark Campbell. Inspired by a true story, Legendary is an opera about double lives and destructive desires set in the glory days of New York City’s underground drag culture.

legendaryhttps://vimeo.com/127211387

The seventh C&V season ended with a private launch party in June hosted by Meredith Monk and Joseph V. Melillo to announce a new partnership between AOP and the Hermitage Artist Retreat. The Opera Genesis Fellowships will invite select C&V alumni to continue the development of a contemporary American opera at the Hermitage’s inspiring Gulf Coast campus during a six-week residency. In September, Mikael Karlsson along with collaborator Elle Kunnos De Voss became the first recipients of the Fellowship, using the residency to develop their opera The Echo Drift (see above).

Elle Kunnos de Voss and Mikael Karlsson

Elle Kunnos de Voss and Mikael Karlsson at Opera Genesis Fellowships announcement.

AOP welcomed the eighth group of C&V fellows who began training in the Fall at South Oxford Space in Brooklyn. Composers Ricky Ian Gordon (27, A Coffin in Egypt), Daron Hagen (Amelia, Shining Brow), Tobias Picker (American Tragedy, Dolores Claiborne), David T. Little (Dog Days, Soldier Songs) and Missy Mazzoli (Song from the Uproar, Vespers for a new Dark Age), librettists Michael Korie (Harvey Milk, Hopper’s Wife), Gene Scheer (An American Tragedy, Moby Dick), Royce Vavrek (JFK, Dog Days) and composer-librettist Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Séance on a Wet Afternoon) were announced as the nine “Artistic Chairs” who will provide one-on-one guidance to the Fellows of the 2015-16 Composers & the Voice training program. Be sure to check out the results, when the ten fellows premiere songs written in the program at the First Glimpse concert in May 2016.

The C&V Fellows, 2015-17

The C&V Fellows, 2015-17

In July/August 2016, American Opera Projects and Chautauqua Opera will launch a multi-year Composer in Residence initiative. Each summer one alumni of AOP’s Composers & the Voice Fellowship will be invited to be in residence for Chautauqua Opera’s entire 8-week season. The Composer in Residence will be a prominent public face for the Chautauqua Opera, speaking passionately about the company’s season, and exploring the role of a composer in today’s society.

COMING IN 2016

2016 promises to be another exciting year in contemporary opera as AOP brings you dozens of exciting new workshops, concerts, and premieres including the New York premiere of Huang Ruo, Qian Yi, and Jennifer Wen Ma’s Paradise Interrupted at the 2016 Lincoln Center Festival in July, marking our fifth time at the prestigious festival!

AOP is developing several exciting new works and we will keep you up to date on these with informative notes and invitations to special events.   You will be the first to discover fascinating operatic adaptations of prize-winning books:  Michael Dellaira and J. D. McClatchy’s The Leopard and Sheila Silver and Stephen Kitsakos’s A Thousand Splendid Suns.  We also boast original work, including Robert Paterson and David Cote’s racy Three Way, slated for a Nashville Opera partnership; Hannah Lash and Royce Vavrek’s irreverent Stoned Prince in collaboration with The John Duffy Composers Institute, and Today It Rains, a new work by the As One team inspired by the life of Georgia O’Keeffe, with San Francisco’s Opera Parallèle.

In addition to the new opera programs with The Hermitage Artist Retreat and Chautauqua Opera mentioned above, AOP will soon announce details of our Dance Opera Initiative that will specifically foster highly choreographed operatic works under the guidance of Hagoromo director David Michalek.

Your support enables us to meet the public’s demand for new and innovative work. Our organization has almost doubled in size — both in terms of the projects it develops and presents, and in budget — in just over a year, and continued growth can only be sustained with your help. In a time when arts organizations are shrinking, folding, and are no longer able to serve the field, AOP is busting with vigor and activity. Please continue to be a part of this artistic family and make your tax-deductible contribution before the end of the year.

Please visit www.aopopera.org for news about all of the upcoming premieres, workshops, and artists to be featured in the 2015-16 season.


New Partnership to Give AOP Composers & Librettists Residency in Florida

June 8, 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: The Hermitage Artist Retreat in Englewood, FL and AOP have formed a partnership that will result in a six-week residency to be called Opera Genesis Fellowships. This newly created program allows for a composer and a librettist from AOP’s Composer & the Voice (C&V) training program to be invited to continue the development of a contemporary American opera at the Hermitage’s inspiring Gulf Coast campus. The first team will be selected in 2016.

“The Hermitage was created as a place for mid-career artists to come and work on new art,” explained Bruce E. Rodgers, executive director. “We have 10 acres of beachfront property on the Gulf of Mexico and serve four to five invited artists of all disciplines at any one time. It’s a quiet, peaceful and inspiring setting. Many new operas have already been written and composed here. We know this new partnership with AOP’s C&V program will produce more exciting work that will eventually be enjoyed in opera venues throughout the country.”

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

Bass-baritone Matthew Worth works with composer Andreia Pinto- Correia during a 2013 C&V workshop in Brooklyn, NY. Photo by Ted Gorodetzky

American Opera Projects’ Composers & the Voice is a two-year fellowship for composers and librettists that 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.

The Hermitage Artist Retreat (http://hermitageartistretreat.org) nurtures creativity in mid-career writers, painters, poets, playwrights, composers, translators, sculptors, and artists. Even before the partnership, the two organizations had many artists in common. Some of AOP’s artists who have been in residence at The Hermitage are Laura Kaminsky (As One), Mark Campbell (As One), Phil Kline (Out Cold), Lera Auerbach (The Blind), and Huang Ruo (Paradise Interrupted).

Our artists live and work in — and are inspired by — five "Old Florida" buildings that have been lovingly restored into living space and studio space. Fifteen miles of Gulf of Mexico beach .

The Hermitage Artist Retreat provides artists living and studio space in five “Old Florida” buildings along fifteen miles of Gulf of Mexico beach.

Since launching in 2002, C&V has fostered the development of 44 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).

The cast of the 2013 World Premiere of Paul's Case presented by Urban Arias. The opera began development during composer Gregory Spears' fellowship in AOP's Composers & the Voice program.

The cast of the 2013 World Premiere of Paul’s Case presented by Urban Arias. The opera began development during composer Gregory Spears’ fellowship in AOP’s Composers & the Voice program.

“AOP and C&V Artistic Director Steven Osgood created the Composers & the Voice program with the vision of teaching to emerging composers & librettists the fundamentals of writing an opera,” stated AOP Producing Director Matt Gray. “We are thrilled that the partnership with The Hermitage Artists Retreat furthers that vision by providing a creative place for those artists to convert their knowledge into the operas themselves – operas that will become the core of a new, modern repertoire.”

PRESS CONTACTS:

Hermitage Contact: Lisa Rubinstein, lisa@LDRcreative.com or 941-373-3803

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


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