AOP to present the complete video of the 2014 world premiere of As One for one week

June 21, 2017
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 21, 2017

TO CELEBRATE LGBTQ PRIDE, AMERICAN OPERA PROJECTS PRESENTS THE COMPLETE VIDEO OF THE 2014 WORLD PREMIERE OF AS ONE – “A TRANSGENDER STORY WITH POWER, PASSION”

The popular chamber opera by Laura Kaminsky, Mark Campbell, and Kimberly Reed will be screened to the public June 23-30 on the AOP website.

Premiere production at BAM features mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke and baritone Kelly Markgraf sharing the role of the transgender protagonist.

 

BROOKLYN, NYIn celebration of LGBTQ Pride Month, American Opera Projects (AOP) will make available to the public the video of their 2014 World Premiere production of the opera As One from June 23-30, 2017 on the AOP website at www.aopopera.org/AsOne/worldpremiere.  As One, with music and concept by Laura Kaminsky, an original libretto by Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed, and film by Ms. Reed chronicles the experiences of a transgender person with empathy and wit as she emerges into harmony with the world around her.

As One has become one of the most produced contemporary American operas written in the past 50 years with eight new productions around the country (and one in Berlin, Germany) in the three years since its premiere and at least eight more scheduled for the 2017-18 season, including San Diego Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera and Hawaii Opera Theatre.

AOP developed and commissioned the one-act chamber opera specifically for internationally-acclaimed singers (and real-life husband and wife) Kelly Markgraf, baritone, and Sasha Cooke, mezzo-soprano, who shared the role of the protagonist Hannah in the world premiere production at BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music), directed by Ken Cazan, conducted by Steven Osgood, and featuring the Utah-based Fry Street Quartet. The production design by David Jacques includes film by Kimberly Reed, director of the award-winning documentary, Prodigal Sons. Costume design was by Sara Jean Tosetti.

Reviewing the world premiere, The New York Times said, “As One forces you to think, simultaneously challenging preconceptions and inspiring empathy.” Subsequent productions earned the opera additional critical praise: “The real secret of the opera’s success… is that under everything lays a winning coming-of-age story. … By moving beyond the daily news, As One approaches admirable universality.” (The Los Angeles Times); “a transgender story with power, passion … beautiful lyrical moments… as uplifting as any operatic ending could be.” (Seattle Times); “A thoughtful and substantial piece as well as that rarest of operatic commodities — a story that lends itself to dramatization in music.” (The Washington Post); “As One is the hottest title in opera right now … An accomplished bit of art-making, with considerable entertainment value, that thrusts itself smack into the current political and social discourse.” (The Denver Post)

In addition to As One, Brooklyn-based opera producer American Opera Projects has developed and produced numerous LGBTQ-themed works including the 1998 Lincoln Center Festival world premiere of Patience & Sarah by Paula Kimper and Wende Person, one of the first operas about a gay relationship.

“While AOP’s roster of LGBTQ operas is growing, clearly in our era there is still significant progress to be made,” says AOP Producing Director Matt Gray. “Opera has unfortunately been late to embrace contemporary works, especially ones that address current events and lifestyles. But it is encouraging to see that more and more opera companies recognize the need to present stories that reflect contemporary issues and portray a diversity of characters.” In recent years, audiences have seen successful premieres of LGBTQ-themed operas such as Paul’s Case, Before Night Falls, and A Letter to East 11th Street – all having received development in AOP’s First Chance program – as well as Fellow Travelers, Three Decembers, Brokeback Mountain, Prince of Players, Champion, and Angels in America. Gray continues, “For us to empathize with the struggles of others there can be no art form where their stories are not told. AOP holds as a goal that a proliferation of these stories will allow opera audiences to recognize that the conflicts and lives of every person are relatable. And that the discovery of those inherent, relatable truths of our unified humanity makes enlightening, and exciting, entertainment.”

For more information about transgender issues please visit the GLAAD WEBSITE.

AS ONE photo 3 by Ken Howard for AOP

Baritone Kelly Markgraf (left) and mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke shared the role of the transgender protagonist Hannah in the 2014 world premiere of As One, an opera by Laura Kaminsky, Kimberly Reed, and Mark Campbell. Photo by Ken Howard.

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PRESS CONTACT:  Matthew Gray, AOP Producing Director, 718-398-4024, mgray@operaprojects.org
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New LGBTQ Operas Coming Out in Hard Times

February 23, 2017
as-one-pittsburgh

Taylor Raven, left, and Brian Vu portray Hannah, the transgender heroine of As One at Pittsburgh Opera. Photo by Renee Rosensteel.

In light of recent news from Washington, American Opera Projects (AOP) announces that of its 31 new operas in development, four are on LGBTQ topics. For AOP, this is not new. In 1998, AOP premiered the first opera ever to focus on a lesbian relationship, Patience & Sarah, by composer Paula M. Kimper, and librettist Wende Persons, three years after Houston Grand Opera’s premiere of Harvey Milk composed by Stewart Wallace to a libretto by Michael Korie.

Upcoming LGBTQ operas are:

While AOP’s roster of LGBTQ operas is growing, clearly in our era there is still significant progress to be made. At the same time, these operas are being embraced across the US. As One, the first opera about a transgender person, by artistic team Laura Kaminsky, Mark Campbell, and Kimberly Reed is now one of the most performed new operas in America. Following AOP’s premiere at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, As One has had productions in Seattle, Washington D.C., Berkeley, Logan, UT, Berlin, and just last week, Pittsburgh, where the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette called it “pertinent and moving,” with upcoming shows in San Diego, Denver, New Orleans, Long Beach, Kansas City, and more.

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

Opera has unfortunately been late to embrace contemporary works, especially ones that address current events and lifestyles. But it is encouraging to see that more and more opera companies recognize the need to be an art form that reflects the stories of our time. In recent years, audiences have seen successful premieres of LGBTQ-themed operas such as Paul’s Case, Before Night Falls, and A Letter to East 11th Street – all having received development in AOP’s First Chance program – as well as Fellow Travelers, Three Decembers, Brokeback Mountain, Prince of Players, Champion, and Angels in America.

At a time when the Trump Administration has removed the Obama-era guidance allowing trans people to select school restrooms according to gender choice, AOP will continue to actively pursue works like these for development and production.

AOP’s most recent world premiere Three Way “explores sex without moralizing” (The East Nashvillian) depicting modern sexuality in three short, comic one acts. The co-production with Nashville Opera, where it had its well-received premiere in January, will come to the Brooklyn Academy of Music in June 2017.

I’m here for an opera that explains to straight people what being trans- or cis-gender is. Hopefully, we as the audience come to a deeper understanding with them. – Schmopera.com‘s review of Three Way’s world premiere in Nashville.

For us to empathize with the struggles of others there can be no art form where their stories are not told. Giving every minority – of race, gender, country, political view, you name it – an opportunity to tell their story may seem impossible, but it is still the ideal. More immediately, we hold as a goal that a proliferation of these stories will allow opera audiences to recognize that the conflicts and lives of every person are relatable. And that the discovery of those inherent, relatable truths of our unified humanity makes enlightening, and exciting, entertainment.

Bloggers: Matt Gray & Annie Troy

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Gender-fluid couple Kyle (Jordan Rutter) and Tyler (Melisa Bonetti), left, get eyed by another couple in Three Way. Photo by Anthony Popolo.


AOP C&V Alums: Proving that “music career” is not an oxymoron

March 27, 2014

Perla. Vrebalov. Redler & Cooper. Karlsson.

What do these five names all have in common? (Well, besides making great names for law firms, super-spies, or swanky bars.)

Answer: They all participated in AOP’s Composers & the Voice! Our C&V artists are everywhere, utilizing the irreplaceable skills they learned during C&V’s one-year intensive in how to write for the operatic voice.

To name a few (or rather, several):

Jack Perla’s (C&V ‘07-08) new opera Jonah and the Whale premiered at LA Opera this past weekend, and this Friday Alexandra Vrebalov (C&V ’02-03) kicks off Kronos Quartet’s 40th Anniversary concert at Carnegie Hall.

C&V alums Mikael Karlsson, Sara Cooper, and Zach Redler failed to win any medals at Sochi this year and will have to be satisfied with their music prizes.

C&V alums Mikael Karlsson, Sara Cooper, and Zach Redler failed to win any medals at Sochi this year and will have to be satisfied with their music prizes.

Zach Redler and Sara Cooper were awarded the 2014 Jonathan Larson Grant while their fellow C&V ‘11-12 alum Mikael Karlsson picked up the Wladimir and Rhoda Lakond Prize from The American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Rounding out C&V ’11-12 is Ronnie Reshef, who won the Yardena Alotin Composition Competition for her 2010 piece Suicide (after Grosz), and Robert Paterson, whose robot-opera The Companion is debuting at Roulette this April…not to be confused with Rachel Peters’ baguette-opera Companionship, which just finished at the Manhattan School of Music, and has a reading at the John Duffy Composers Institute this May. Ronnie and Rob also turn up at Fort Worth Opera’s Frontiers festival with two C&V-developed works, also in May.

An early AOP workshop of The Summer King, held on a sidewalk in Brooklyn. Daniel Sonenberg's opera has its concert premiere in May.

An early AOP workshop of The Summer King, held on a sidewalk in Brooklyn. Daniel Sonenberg’s opera has its concert premiere in May. Indoors, even! Progress!

And in case your May isn’t busy enough, Daniel Sonenberg’s (C&V ’02-03) The Summer King gets its world premiere at Portland Ovations. In late April, Hannah Lash’s (C&V ’05-06) This Ease premieres with the LA Chamber Orchestra.

Last month, Andrew Staniland (C&V ’07-08) won the 2014 Harry Freedman Recording Award. In the past year, Gregory Spears’s (C&V ’07-08) opera Paul’s Case has had three different runs (Pittsburgh Opera, PROTOTYPE, and Urban Arias). Stefan Weisman’s (C&V ’03-04) family opera The Scarlet Ibis is slated for PROTOTYPE 2015.

The latest group of composers who will be filling up your concert calendar. Photo by Ted Gorodetzky.

The latest group of composers who will be filling up your concert calendar. Photo by Ted Gorodetzky.

From this year’s class of super-composers, Gity Razaz was awarded the 2013 Jerome Fund Prize for her concert length vocal piece Abraham in Flames/Elegies of the Earth, which will be presented by VisionIntoArt at The Stone this May. Guy Barash released his debut album Facts About Water on innova recordings. Joseph Rubinstein will have select choral pieces available through See-A-Dot Music Publishing in the coming months.

Not to mention that Jason Kim (C&V ’13-14 librettist) was hired to write for HBO’s Girls, and Daniel Felsenfeld (C&V ’06-07) has worked with everyone from writers Robert Coover, Will Eno, and Wesley Stace to hip-hoppers Jay-Z and The Roots…with those trail-blazing ladies Nora and Alice thrown in there for good measure.

This is just a fraction of our alums’ successes. And that’s not even counting the dozens of operas and concerts that our Resident Singers appear in every month! (Trust us, that would be one crazy calendar.)

This is the future of new music. You heard it here first, and here’s where you can hear it next.


Critics call PAUL’S CASE a “Masterpiece”

January 31, 2014

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Gregory Spears‘ opera Paul’s Case received high praise for its recent sold-out NYC premiere at PROTOtype Festival. Press called it a “masterpiece…tempting to call it ‘the best new opera I’ve heard in years'” (NY Observer) and “a taut, splendid operatic adaptation” (NY Times). Spears’ vocal writing was lauded as “ravishing” and “especially admirable” and librettist Kathryn Walat’s adaptation of the original Willa Cather short story “finely made” (New York Classical Review). Jonathan Blalock, who reprised his role from the opera’s premiere at UrbanArias last April, had “even more theatrical and vocal authority as Paul” (Wall Street Journal). AOP began development of the opera during the 2008-09 season of Composers & the Voice. A new production of the opera will appear at Pittsburgh Opera in February.


The Summer King, Judgment of Midas, and Paul’s Case to be featured in the Spring

October 29, 2013
The Summer King, Judgment of Midas, and Paul's Case

The Summer King, Judgment of Midas, and Paul’s Case

OPERA America will be presenting The Summer King and Judgment of Midas as part of their New Works Forum, a series of showcases of works-in-progress and recent premieres. Now in its third year, the New Works Forum will take place January 12-15, 2014 in the Audition Recital Hall at the National Opera Center in New York City. Panel discussions will accompany performances and explore the developmental process.

The Summer King (music by Daniel Sonenberg, libretto by Sonenberg & Daniel Nester) covers the legacy of Negro League baseball player Josh Gibson. Dubbed “the black Babe Ruth”, Gibson was the second Negro League player to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. The opera explores the racial tensions surrounding black-owned teams and delves into the stadium culture of the 1930s. The Summer King will have its world premiere with Portland Ovations in May 2014.

Judgment of Midas (music by Kamran Ince, libretto by Miriam Seidel) takes as its starting point a series of mythical musical contests said to have taken place on Mount Tmolus, Turkey. Witnessed by King Midas, the contests pit the gods Pan and Apollo against each other in a struggle between ‘street’ music and ‘high’ music. Judgment of Midas had its world premiere in Milwaukee with Present Music in April, 2013.

The 2014 New Works Forum has been scheduled to coincide with PROTOTYPE Festival, presented by HERE and Beth Morrison Projects. Paul’s Case (music by Gregory Spears, libretto by Spears and Kathryn Walat), will be among the works featured at PROTOTYPE. Originating from AOP’s Composers and the Voice program, the opera follows the story of Paul, a high school dandy living in turn-of-the-century Pittsburgh who runs away to revel in the luxuries of New York’s Waldorf Astoria hotel.

Performances at the New Works Forum are only open to OPERA America members. Previous AOP operas featured at the forum include Heart of Darkness, The Golden Gate, and Wolf-in-Skins. PROTOTYPE Festival is open to the public.


A Second Case for Paul’s Case

August 22, 2013
Paul's Case

Paul’s Case as performed by UrbanAria at Artisphere in Arlington, VA.
(courtesy of PROTOTYPE Festival’s website)

Hot off its premiere with UrbanArias in April, Paul’s Case will be presented as part of PROTOTYPE Festival’s 2014 series. With music by Gregory Spears and a libretto by the composer and Kathryn Walat, Paul’s Case is based on a Willa Cather short story from 1905. The opera follows Paul, a student in turn-of-the-century Pittsburgh who tries navigate his journey to adulthood and find an outlet for his artistic energies. Reacting to his middle-class surroundings, Paul cultivates the image of a dandy and steals money from his father’s business. He runs away to New York City to experience true freedom for the first time. Paul’s Case was developed by AOP and the original cast and production from its UrbanArias premiere will be brought to the festival. Tenor Jonathan Blalock sings the lead role. Performances will take place Jan 8, 9, 11, 12 & 13 at 145 Sixth Avenue. To buy tickets, click here.

PROTOTYPE Festival was launched in January 2013 as an annual festival for visionary opera and music theater works by artists from New York and around the world.


Pittsburgh Opera announces AOP Composer’s “Paul’s Case” as Second Stage Project

July 2, 2013

ImagePittsburgh, PA…Pittsburgh Opera General Director Christopher Hahn has announced that Gregory Spears’s opera Paul’s Case is the Second Stage Project for 2014. The Second Stage Project is an additional showcase for the company’s Resident Artists, some of whom have gone on to sing on the world’s most famous stages. The opera runs February 22 – March 2, 2014 in the George R. White Studio at Pittsburgh Opera Headquarters.

Paul’s Case, by 36-year-old Gregory Spears, with a libretto by Mr. Spears and Kathryn Walat, is based on Willa Cather’s 1905 short story. The work was developed at AOP since Mr. Spears was a fellow of AOP’s Composers & the Voice program during the ’07-08 season. Paul is a high school “dandy” whose artistic and social aspirations drive him to escape from sooty turn-of-the-century Pittsburgh. He defies his headmaster and his father, steals money, and goes to New York City to live the high life at the Waldorf Astoria. After a drunken night with a Yale student, reality comes crashing down, and Paul’s longings are crushed in a wrenching finale.

Scored for a nine-piece orchestra and seven singers, Paul’s Case premiered in April 2013 at Arlington, Virginia-based Urban Arias, earning rave reviews from The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal. Gregory Spears’s compositional style blends romanticism, minimalism, and early music; his work has been called “astonishingly beautiful” (New York Times), and “some of the most beautifully unsettling music to appear in recent memory” (Boston Globe). His current projects include a new completion of Mozart’s Requiem, commissioned by Seraphic Fire and Firebird Chamber Orchestra, to premiere in Fall 2013.

Pittsburgh Opera Resident Artist Stage Director George Cederquist directs Paul’s Case. Specific casting and other details will be announced in August 2013. All tickets are $40 in advance, available exclusively to Pittsburgh Opera season ticket buyers until August 26.

Image by Matthu Placek


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