AOP showcases six new operas by emerging composers and librettists

September 4, 2018

On Friday, September 28, and Saturday, September 29, audiences will get a first look at six wildly different new operas invoking diverse settings such as the Arab Spring in Tunisia, a post-apocalyptic future, and a modern college campus and exploring a multitude of themes and concepts, including the emotional minefield of solar flares, the dissonance of fundamentalism in urban and regional communities, and the nature and validity of Opera itself. COMPOSERS & THE VOICE: SIX SCENES 2018 showcases opera scenes from nine artists emerging in the world of contemporary opera. The composers Matt Browne, Scott Ordway, Frances Pollock, Pamela Stein Lynde, Amber Vistein and Alex Weiser, and librettists Laura Barati, Kim Davies, and Sokunthary Svay, were chosen by AOP to spend a year creating new works in its bi-annual fellowship program Composers & the Voice (C&V). The evening will be hosted by C&V Artistic Director Steven Osgood.

The performances will be held at 7:30pm at South Oxford Space (138 S. Oxford St.) in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, the home of AOP. Tickets range from $10-$20 general admission and are available at https://6scenes2018.eventbrite.com.

Six Scenes 2018 will be performed by the AOP Resident Ensemble of Singers: lyric soprano Jennifer Goode Cooper (NYCO, Glimmerglass), tenor Blake Friedman (BAM, Dallas Opera), coloratura soprano Tookah Sapper (Chautauqua Opera), mezzo-soprano Blythe Gaissert (Metropolitan Opera, LA Opera), baritone Mario Diaz-Moresco (Central City Opera, Glimmerglass), and bass-baritone Adrian Rosas (Seattle Opera, Opera Theatre of St. Louis). Each of the scenes were composed specifically for the singers’ voices, after months of study and experimentation during the C&V program. Supporting on piano will be C&V Music Directors Mila Henry and Kelly Horsted.

Previous Six Scenes concerts have given audiences their first look at operas that went on to fully-produced world premieres including Gregory SpearsPaul’s Case (UrbanArias and Prototype Festival), The Summer King by Daniel Sonenberg (Pittsburgh Opera, Michigan Opera Theatre), Jack Perla‘s Love/Hate (ODC/San Francisco Opera), and Three Way by Robert Paterson (Nashville Opera), and more.

Six Scenes includes the following works:

Dark Exhalation (By Amber Vistein)
“Dark Exhalation” is a meditative, experimental piece exploring our very human tendency to attach cosmic significance to the personal connections we forge. A woman in a nameless city conflates the turmoil of an impending Summer storm with the emotional unrest of her departed lover in this resonant contemporary opera.

Spring (Score by Scott Ordway; Libretto by Meryem Belkaid)
“Spring” takes a frank, empathic close-up view of the moments, mentalities and malaise immediately before and after a revolution overthrows a dictatorial regime. Four personified winds leave politics to the background as they paint intimate portraits of the people who endure these volatile times.

Better Than It Sounds (By Matt Browne)
A comedic assessment of the value of opera as an artform, “Better Than It Sounds” is an absurd, yet articulate debate on the importance of song. When Samuel Clemens is outraged by an operatic interpretation of “Tom Sawyer”; composers and actors, William and Emma must go to the heart of the artform to convince him that he should allow them to produce their show.

The Interaction Effect (Score by Pamela Stein Lynde; Libretto by Laura Barati)
Mikaela, a statistics major at a liberal arts college, just wants to forget the night her friend Adam raped her-instead, she is forced to contend with the aftermath of her community and school administration’s painful mishandling of her assault. “The Interaction Effect” boldly exposes the weaknesses in a justice system governed by institutionalized misogyny.

Salt (Score by Frances Pollock; Libretto by Emily Roller & Frances Pollock)
A contemporary adaptation of the tale of Sodom and Gamora, “Salt” explores the escalating tension between urban and rural communities. When Lot and his two daughters flee their home after a terrorist attack, they must contend with the notion that their flight could lead to further persecution at the hands of a different kind of fundamentalism.

State of the Jews (Score by Alex Weiser; Libretto by Ben Kaplan)
How much must one sacrifice to change the world? “State of the Jews” is a non-linear historical drama chronicling the struggle of Austro-Hungarian writer Theodor Herzl to campaign for the establishment of a Jewish homeland, and the breakdown of his marriage as a result of his slavish dedication to his cause.

The Composers & the Voice 2017-19 fellows. (l. to r.) Laura Barati, Kim Davies, Alex Weiser, Sokunthary Svay, Scott Ordway, Pamela Stein Lynde, Amber Visteein, Matt Browne, Frances Pollock. Photo by Steven Pisano.


AOP receives OPERA America Innovation grant to expand composer and librettist training programs

April 12, 2018

American Opera Projects is pleased to announce that it has received one of the twenty OPERA America Innovation grants awarded this cycle. The grants are given to OPERA America’s Professional Company Members to support “exceptional projects that have the capacity to strengthen the field’s most important areas of practice, including artistic vitality, audience experience, organizational effectiveness and community connections.” With this grant AOP will continue to extend our training program for emerging composers and librettists into conservatories and universities to teach students the mechanics and artistry of creating new operas.

This grant is for the second phase in continuing to develop our training program for music theater graduate students. In collaboration with AOP’s Composers & the Voice alum and NYU Tisch program professor Randall Eng, AOP created the “Opera Writing Workshop,” a streamlined version of C&V tailored for the music theater graduate students of the Tisch School of the Arts. With the help of the Innovation Grant, AOP will create a curriculum that can be replicated at other music schools that includes mentoring with by renowned composers and creating site specific performances for new, diverse audiences.

Final Round

NYU/AOP Opera Writing Workshop “Final Round”. International House, NYC, May 13, 2017. Photo by Steven Pisano.

Funded generously by the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation, the OPERA America Innovation Grants project was launched in 2016 with the intent to enable organizations within the OPERA America community to increase their commitment experimentation, innovation, and contribute to fieldwide learning. This cycle of grants will help fund a variety of innovations in the field, including fusing technology with live opera performance, partnerships with arts and non-arts organizations, as well as career-development programs, such as AOP’s. The Innovation Grants program additionally provides infrastructure as well as administrative and technical support.


AOP alum George Lam named Chautauqua Opera Company’s newest Composer-in-Residence

December 19, 2017

Chautauqua Opera Company appoints AOP alumnus, George Lam, as its new Composer-in-Residence.

 

American Opera Projects and Chautauqua Opera are proud to announce George Lam as the upcoming composer-in-residence for Chautauqua Opera’s 2018 season. This is our third year of a multi-year collaboration with Chautauqua Opera that invites one alumnus from AOP’s Composers & the Voice Fellowship program to Chautauqua Institution for the summer and includes three commissions which are premiered by Chautauqua Opera each season.

To learn more about the Composer-in-Residence program and this year’s composer, please visit http://chq.org/opera-about/composer-in-residence-program.

In July/August 2016, American Opera Projects and Chautauqua Opera launched 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.

AOP will commission three pieces from the Composer-in-Residence– 2 for voice and piano, and 1 for voice and orchestra– which will be premiered during Chautauqua Opera’s 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 the “Artsongs in the Afternoon” recital series and the Opera Highlights concert with the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra.

“When an audience knows the creator, they become immediately invested in his or her creations,” Steven Osgood said. “This is the kind of relationship I see being forged throughout the opera community nationwide, and I look forward to sharing it with CHQ.

 

About the Chautauqua Opera Company

Founded in 1929, The Chautauqua Opera Company is North America’s oldest continuously operating summer opera company and 4th oldest opera company after the Metropolitan Opera, Cincinnati Opera and San Francisco Opera. The Chautauqua Opera Company offers more than 40 operatic events each season, including fully staged productions in Chautauqua Institution’s 4000-seat Amphitheater and in the historic 1,300-seat Norton Hall, Concerts with the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra, weekly recitals, Music Theater Revues, Opera Scenes programs, and operatic revues for young audiences. Chautauqua Opera productions feature internationally recognized guest artists as well as promising young singers from our Young Artist Program.

About American Opera Projects

At the forefront of the contemporary opera movement for a quarter-century, AOP creates, develops and presents opera and music theatre projects collaborating with young, rising and established artists in the field. AOP has been a producer on over 30 world premieres, including Kaminsky/Reed/Campbell’s As One (BAM 2014), Lera Auerbach’s The Blind (Lincoln Center Festival 2013), Davis/Pelsue’s Hagoromo (BAM 2015 Next Wave Festival), a dance opera starring Wendy Whelan and Jock Soto, and Paterson/Cote’s Three Way (Nashville Opera and BAM 2017).  www.aopopera.org

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

 

 


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

November 16, 2017

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

ABOUT THE NEW FELLOWS

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

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

About the Hermitage Artist Retreat

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

About American Opera Projects

At the forefront of the contemporary opera movement for a quarter-century, AOP creates, develops and presents opera and music theatre projects collaborating with young, rising and established artists in the field. AOP has been a producer on over 30 world premieres, including Kaminsky/Reed/Campbell’s As One (BAM 2014), Lera Auerbach’s The Blind (Lincoln Center Festival 2013), Davis/Pelsue’s Hagoromo (BAM 2015 Next Wave Festival), a dance opera starring Wendy Whelan and Jock Soto, and Paterson/Cote’s Three Way (Nashville Opera and BAM 2017).  www.aopopera.org

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

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

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

 

 


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

July 20, 2017

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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