“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”


UrbanArias to feature AOP operas LUCY and THE BLIND in upcoming season

July 27, 2016

UrbanArias, the bold and exciting presenter of contemporary opera in the Washington D.C. area, has announced productions of two AOP operas as part of their 2016-17 seasonLucy: A Memory Opera, by composer John Glover and librettist Kelley Rourke, and The Blind, director John La Bouchardière‘s immersive production of composer Lera Auerbach‘s a cappella opera. Under the leadership of founder Robert Wood, UrbanArias’ has been fulfilling its mission “to expose DC-area audiences to engaging, accessible, entertaining operas, and to provide a venue at which both established and emerging composers can present their shorter works” since its creation in 2011.

“…in Kelley Rourke’s and John Glover’s haunting new chamber opera… ‘Lucy’ becomes a potent exploration of the divide between human and animal.” – Milwaukee Mag

Developed by AOP First Chance in early workshopsLucy: A Memory Opera is a multi-media work of music-theater for baritone and chamber ensemble in one 70-minute act that tells the story of psychologist Maurice Temerlin who, along with his wife Jane, adopted a day-old chimpanzee in the sixties. Naming her Lucy, their intention was to raise her “as much as possible as though she were a human being”. Lucy learns to dress herself, eat with silverware, make tea for guests, look at magazines, communicate through sign language and enjoy cocktails. As Temerlin struggles to hold on to memories of a happy, albeit unconventional, family life, documentation from the experiment challenges him to come to terms with the project’s ultimate consequences.

Upon its premiere by Milwaukee Opera Theater in 2014 (which also commissioned the opera), On Milwaukee called the opera “an incredible triumph” and “absolutely mesmerizing.” UrbanArias will present the East Coast premiere of Lucy on April 1, 2, 7 and 8, 2017 at the Atlas Performing Arts Center.

AOP First Chance Workshop Performance of Lucy: December 10, 2010 at the Greene Space at WNYC

“Adventurous, eerie and thoroughly engaging” – The New York Times on the 2013 world premiere of THE BLIND.

At a lonely clearing in a wood, a group of blind people await the return of a priest who led them there in order to enable them to enjoy the last rays of the sun before the beginning of winter. Only the sound of the nearby sea can be heard. The longer they wait, the more restless the blind people become; in their desperation they realize that they are helpless and cannot move from their place. Their fear escalates to naked terror when they make a morbid discovery.

Premiered by AOP and Lincoln Center Festival in 2013, director John La Bouchardière’s reimagining of composer Lera Auerbach’s a cappella opera immerses the audience in the story by blindfolding them and placing them amongst the protagonists. Denying all the power to see and situating the voices within the audience, the performance unfolds in a shifting surround-sound world, in which non-visual senses are heightened as the smells of the forest, the feeling of sea breezes, the cold falling snow and Auerbach’s music enfold them. UrbanArias will present The Blind on June 3, 4, 9, 10 and 11, 2017 at Signature Theatre.

AOP/Lincoln Center Festival 2013 World Premiere of The Blind at  Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse.

The two operas in the upcoming season will continue AOP’s close presenting partnership with UrbanArias, following last year’s new production of AOP’s As One the world premiere of the AOP-developed She After, and their 2012 world premiere of the AOP-developed Paul’s Case, a production that made its NYC premiere at the PROTOTYPE Festival in 2014. In addition to Lucy and The Blind, UrbanArias 2016-17 season includes Michael Nyman’s The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat in October.


Monodrama LUCY: A MEMORY OPERA examines thin line between man and ape in Milwaukee World Premiere

October 9, 2014

After exciting collaborations with choreographers Dylan Crossman and Amber Sloan in Montreal and NYC earlier this fall, composer John Glover, librettist Kelley Rourke and director Erik Pearson will receive the world premiere of, Lucy: A Memory Opera  in November. Workshopped in 2010 by AOP at WNYC’s Greene Space, Lucy will receive it’s world premiere November 7-9, 2014, in Milwaukee, WI in a production by Milwaukee Opera Theater, who commissioned the work.

Inspired by true events, Lucy tells the story of psychologist Maurice Temerlin who, along with his wife Jane, adopted a day-old chimpanzee in the sixties. Naming her Lucy, their intention was to raise her “as much as possible as though she were a human being”. Lucy learned to dress herself, eat with silverware, make tea for guests, look at magazines, communicate through sign language and enjoy cocktails. As Temerlin struggles to hold on to memories of a happy, albeit unconventional, family life, documentation from the experiment challenges him to come to terms with the project’s ultimate consequences.

Unfolding in one 70-minute act, this intimate and confrontational one-man show is written for baritone Andrew Wilkowske, REDSHIFT Ensemble and pianist/music director Chris Zemliauskas. With a libretto from Kelley Rourke and projection designs and direction by Erik Pearson, Lucy promises to be a unique operatic experience.

Tickets to the Milwaukee world premiere are only $28 and may be purchased here.

Watch excerpts from the workshop performance at WNYC’s Greene Space, presented by American Opera Projects below:

Or watch an additional excerpt here

 


Virgin Mothers and Sex Robots Perform Operas at Brooklyn’s Roulette

March 20, 2014

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American Opera Projects (AOP) in partnership with American Modern Ensemble (AME) and presented by Ear Heart Music (EHM), performs “The Wanton Sublime & The Companion”, a pair of one-act chamber operas, on Tuesday, April 22, 2014, 8:00 PM, at Roulette (509 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY). Tickets: $20 general; $15 members/seniors. Roulette.org

The Wanton Sublime, from composer Tarik O’Regan, librettist Anna Rabinowitz and commissioned by AOP,  explores the human and mythic aspects of the Virgin Mary. In this one-act monodrama for mezzo-soprano and amplified chamber ensemble, Mary struggles to retain her flesh and blood identity in the face of external forces intent on symbolizing her as the ideal woman. Featuring mezzo-soprano Hai-Ting Chinn under the direction of Mallory Catlett. This 30 minute monodrama is being developed through the AOP First Chance program and was last seen at Opera New Jersey in 2012.

Says Anna Rabinowitz, “The Virgin Mary comes down to us through western cultural history as the eternal feminine, exemplar of woman as gentle and compliant. The vehicle through which she has been known may be theology, but, as the dominant female in our culture, many of the characteristics of her womanhood are today in conflict with powerful social and political issues of gender. In The Wanton Sublime, Mary is a woman who, in the face of the destiny presented to her, occupies an interior world rife with questions rather than received answers. She is troubled, anxious, ambiguous, aware of her rights or lack thereof.”

In The Companion, a futuristic one-act opera by composer Robert Paterson and librettist David Cote, people live with biomorphic androids that cook, clean, and make love on demand. Maya is not completely satisfied with her model so she calls in tech-support worker Dax. But can Maya handle Joe 2.0? Featuring soprano Nancy Allen Lundy, tenor Brandon Snook, and baritone Kyle Guglielmo under the direction of Walker Lewis. The 35 minute opera is the second act of an Il trittico-style evening called Three Way. Both The Companion and its preceding act Safe Word were developed during Robert Paterson’s 2011-12 fellowship in AOP’s Composers & the Voice program.

Brandon Snook performs an aria from The Companion. Composers & the Voice 2012.

Says David Cote, “The Companion is the second act of an opera triptych about sexuality and power called Three Way. Clearly The Companion is science fiction, but who doubts that society is headed this way? In the piece, I wanted to tell a funny yet strange story about obsession, detachment and projection. Technology enables Maya’s quest for perfect love, even as it reflects the absurdity of that quest back at her. Dax knows how robots work, but people are a dark mystery. Joe has amazing perceptual and cognitive powers, but he lacks emotional integration. Whether that makes him more human or less is an open question.”

These semi-staged premieres, featuring the American Modern Ensemble with Tyson Deaton, conductor, will be presented with an intermission. The author A.M. Homes, best known for her novel The End of Alice and her memoir, The Mistress’s Daughter, moderates a mid-concert discussion with fellow Yaddo artists Mallory Catlett, Walker Lewis, Tarik O’Regan, Robert Paterson, and Anna Rabinowitz, as well as David Cote.

READ THE COMPLETE PRESS RELEASE

For press inquiries: Sarah Baird Knight | sarah@dotdotdotmusic.net | t. 718/344-3690 | www.dotdotdotmusic.net


AOP’s Charles Jarden talks to The Washington Post about the art of opera development

October 21, 2013
AOP General Director Charles Jarden, with composer and Phoenix Concerts Artistic Director Gilda Lyons, introduces an AOP 25th anniversary concert, October 2013.

AOP General Director Charles Jarden, with composer and Phoenix Concerts Artistic Director Gilda Lyons, introduces an AOP 25th anniversary concert, October 2013.

“Developing new opera is an art in itself” states last week’s Washington Post article, and of course AOP couldn’t agree more! For her October 16 article, veteran classical music journalist Anne Midgette highlighted AOP’s role in creating a new American repertory and interviewed General Director Charles Jarden about the importance of the workshop process.

“Opera is complex enough to take on layers, like a snowball,” Jarden says, “and developing workshops, and showing workshops, and having capable press look at workshops, is a way to make everything better and grow the buzz.”

For 25 years AOP audiences have been able to participate in the workshopping process with the artists and will continue to do so in the next few months with previews of our opera-in-development Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom at Harlem’s Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture on Dec. 9, among others. The results of our workshops can be seen and heard in the Washington area in November when UrbanArias presents two AOP-developed monodramas from composer Daniel Felsenfeld –  Nora, In the Great Outdoors (2011) and Alice in the Time of the Jabberwock.  “Nora” boasts an AOP-commissioned libretto by Will Eno and will be sung by dynamic soprano Emily Pulley.  The UrbanArias orchestra is led by Robert Wood and the stage director is Beth Greenberg (AOP’s Harriet Tubman). Also in the DC area, AOP-commissioned and developed Lost Childhood, (Hamer/Azrael) which was  staged at Tel Aviv’s International Vocal Arts Institute, will receive a non-staged orchestral concert including original AOP cast members Michael Hendrick and Chris Trakas, in their roles of Judah and Manfred, respectively, on November 9. COMPLETE ARTICLE: http://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/music/developing-new-operas-is-an-art-in-itself/2013/10/16/f7849c26-3687-11e3-8a0e-4e2cf80831fc_story.html

AOP and ONJ Team Up for Two Operatic Monodramas

April 5, 2012

AOP and Opera New Jersey are proud to announce their second summer of collaboration with this July’s Two Operatic Monodramas, after their inaugural partnership last year with Thomas Pasatieri’s The Family Room.

Two Operatic Monodramas –  featuring The Wanton Sublime, by composer Tarik O’Regan and librettist Anna Rabinowitz, and Our Lady, by composer Gregory Spears with texts from medieval Provençal – examines the human and mythic aspects of the Virgin Mary.  Both monodramas will be presented as staged readings on July 21st and 22nd at McCarter Theater Center in Princeton, NJ.

 The Wanton Sublime will feature mezzo-soprano Hai-Ting Chinn raising questions about Mary’s role as the “eternal feminine.”  Countertenor Ryland Angel joins AOP once again to sing of Mary’s sorrow and love in Our Lady, following two performances of the same work in Fall 2011.  Conductor Steven Osgood will lead an ensemble of strings and keyboard under the stage direction of Crystal Manich.

AOP and ONJ present

Two Operatic Monodramas

Our Lady by Gregory Spears
The Wanton Sublime by Tarik O’Regan & Anna Rabinowitz

July 21 at 2 p.m.
July 22 at 7:30 p.m.

Buy tickets online or call Opera New Jersey at (609) 799-7700.


Funny, sexy MODEL LOVE to premiere at Lincoln Center w NORA by its side

September 16, 2011

J. David Jackson's MODEL LOVE premieres October 2. IMAGE: Erik and Julie, NYC, 2006, Photograph by Skye Parrott

On Sunday, October 2, 4pm and 7:30pm, American Opera Projects will present the world premiere of Model Love, a humorous staged song-cycle about contemporary relationships with jazz and rock elements by composer J. David Jackson based on texts by British comedian Henry Normal, and the one-act opera monodrama Nora, In the Great Outdoors, music by Daniel Felsenfeld and libretto by Will Eno, that continues the final scene of Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House moments after Nora abandons her family. The event will be held at Lincoln Center’s Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse. Tickets are $25, $50 for VIP reserve seating, available at www.operaprojects.org.

“Fun, energetic and curious song cycle interested in M-M-W threesome. R U what I M looking 4?” Model Love is a 30-minute song cycle fusing contemporary art song with blues, jazz ,and rock set for three singers (mezzo-soprano Rosalie Sullivan, baritone Gregory Gerbrandt, and tenor Jeremy Little) chamber orchestra and rock band. Based on texts from Nude Modelling for the Afterlife by BAFTA award winning poet/comedian Henry Normal with music by J. David Jackson, Model Love mixes musical styles and genres in a way that humorously (and accurately) represents the variegated emotions and situations of contemporary love affairs. J. David Jackson conducts.

Nora, In the Great Outdoors

Kirsten Chambers will sing the title role in the Felsenfeld/Eno monodrama

Using an icy climate crossed with a fragile-yet-eruptive emotional state of mind as musical grist, Nora, In the Great Outdoors is a take on the ending of Ibsen’s seminal “A Doll’s House,” especially its famous final stage direction, the first collaboration between composer Daniel Felsenfeld and playwright Will Eno. The monodrama takes over immediately where Ibsen leaves off, when the heroine abandons her family, her marriage her security, and perhaps the most famous slammed door in the history of drama. Commissioned by American Opera Projects, Nora, In the Great Outdoors, is a monodrama for soprano and piano trio and will star Kirsten Chambers in the title role. Keith Chambers conducts.


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