Pittsburgh Opera announces AOP operas ‘The Summer King’ and ‘As One’ for their 2016/17 season

February 26, 2016

THE SUMMER KING by Daniel Sonenberg • World Premiere: April 29, May 2, 5 & 7, 2017
AS ONE by Laura Kaminsky, Mark Campbell, and Kimberly Reed • Pennsylvania Premiere: February 18, 21, 24 & 26, 2017

Pittsburgh Opera has announced it will mount the staged World Premiere of The Summer King in April 2017, with a cast to include mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves and previous AOP artists Kenneth Kellogg and Jasmine Muhammad, direction by Sam Helfrich, and with Pittsburgh Opera Music Director Antony Walker conducting. In addition, AOP’s critically-acclaimed chamber opera As One will make its Pennsylvania debut as part of Pittsburgh Opera’s 2016-17 season.

The Summer King, has been developed with AOP since composer Daniel Sonenberg participated in the first iteration of AOP’s training fellowship program Composers and the Voice in 2003. It was followed by AOP First Chance workshop performances in Brooklyn, at the Manhattan School of Music, and at the University of Southern Maine (USM), where Dan is currently Associate Professor and Resident Composer. The opera received its world premiere in concert form in Portland, Maine in May 2014, in a production sponsored by Portland Ovations, USM and American Opera Projects.

Pittsburgh Opera writes “The very first world premiere in [our] distinguished 78 year history hits close to home. The Summer King tells the story of baseball legend Josh Gibson story. Josh 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.” The opera skillfully portrays the complex inner conflict Gibson faced when the free-living, home-run king was asked to risk his respect to be an activist for integration. Tragically, Gibson died just months before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier.

“Watching an opera grow from an idea in a Composers & the Voice session to a fully staged World Premiere at a house like Pittsburgh is a heart-warming experience for AOP,” said AOP Producing Director. “We are thrilled we could be there every step of the way. We knew from the beginning that this was a very special story, one truly worthy of operatic treatment. We performed scenes on the sidewalks of Brooklyn and crowds couldn’t help but be drawn in. We know that this story can reach new audiences that would never think opera tells stories relevant to their lives. And we know Pittsburgh Opera feels the same.”

"The Summer King"

The Summer King was commissioned by Portland Ovations, with development by American Opera Projects, and deeply appreciated continuing support for the Pittsburgh Opera world premiere from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The Summer King has received major support from American Opera Projects, the National Endowment for the Arts, Bob Crewe Foundation, Maine Arts Commission and University of Southern Maine. The Summer King received its first public presentation as a concert performance on May 8, 2014 at Merrill Auditorium, Portland, Maine under the auspices of Portland Ovations in collaboration with the University of Southern Maine.

RELATED READING: “In its 78th season, a world premiere for Pittsburgh Opera” – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

SK video still 2

AS ONE

AOP’s As One continues to sweep the country following performances in San Francisco, Washington DC, Utah, and the AOP World Premiere in Brooklyn. Pittsburgh Opera will present the critically acclaimed opera by composer Laura Kaminsky and co-librettists Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed as part of its Second Stage series in February 2017 and will star Pittsburgh Opera’s Resident Artists. In As One, a mezzo-soprano and a baritone depict the experiences of its sole transgender protagonist, Hannah, as she endeavors to resolve the discord between herself and the outside world.

AS ONE photo 3 by Ken Howard for AOP

Commissioned and developed by American Opera Projects, As One received generous funding in its creation from OPERA America’s Opera Discovery Grants for Female Composers Program, supported by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo, the New York State Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Art Works, Dr. Coco Lazaroff, Lynn Loacker and Judith O. Rubin.

As One will also be presented by Opera Colorado in the 2016-17 season and will be featured in Montreal at OPERA America’s annual opera conference as part of its New Works Forum in May 2016.


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 Awards Fellowships to Ten Composers And Librettists For Free Training In Opera Composition

July 22, 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Matt Gray, AOP Producing Director, 718-398-4024, mgray@operaprojects.org
Press material is available at: www.operaprojects.org/press

July 21, 2015

BROOKLYN’S AOP AWARDS FELLOWSHIPS TO TEN COMPOSERS AND LIBRETTISTS FOR FREE TRAINING IN OPERA COMPOSITION

FELLOWS WILL STUDY FOR NINE MONTHS WITH PROFESSIONAL OPERA SINGERS, INSTRUCTORS, MENTORS

EIGHTH SEASON OF TRAINING PROGRAM “COMPOSERS & THE VOICE” TO BEGIN IN SEPTEMBER

BROOKLYN, NY – AOP (American Opera Projects) and Composers & the Voice Artistic Director Steven Osgood have selected six composers and four librettists to receive fellowships for its upcoming eighth cycle of Composers & the Voice. The 2015-2017 season will include composers Matthew Barnson, Carlos R. Carrillo, Nell Shaw Cohen, Marc LeMay, Cecilia Livingston, and Sky Macklay and librettists Edward Einhorn, Duncan McFarlane, Emily Roller, and Mark Sonnenblick. 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 two-year fellowships, made possible through a generous grant by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, include a year of working with the company’s Resident Ensemble of Singers and Artistic Team at AOP’s home base in Fort Greene, Brooklyn followed by a year of continued promotion and development through AOP and its strategic partnerships.

Comprised of one each of the basic operatic/vocal categories, the singers for the upcoming C&V season will be coloratura soprano Tookah Sapper, lyric soprano Jennifer Goode Cooper, mezzo-soprano Blythe Gaissert, tenor Blake Friedman, baritone Michael Weyandt and bass-baritone Jonathan Woody. The Resident Ensemble will be joined by returning Music Directors Mila Henry, Kelly Horsted, and Charity Wicks to collaborate on creating new material by the composer and librettist fellows.

YEAR ONE FELLOWSHIP

The Composers & the Voice workshop sessions between September 2015 and April 2016, include composition of solo works for the six voice types. In addition, over 45 hours of “Skill-Building Sessions” for composers and librettists will provide an in-depth and firsthand knowledge of how singers build characters, act in scenes and sing text. These will include acting courses by director Pat Diamond (Wolf Trap, The Aspen Music Festival), theatrical improvisation led by Terry Greiss (co-founder and Executive Director, Irondale Ensemble Project), and a new extended course in libretto development designed by librettist Mark Campbell (Silent Night, The Manchurian Candidate, As One).

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

Past “Composer Chairs,” sponsorships named in honor of mentors and their support of Composers & the Voice, have included composers John Corigliano, Daron Hagen, Jake Heggie, Lee Hoiby, Libby Larsen, John Musto, Tobias Picker, Kaija Saariaho, Tan Dun and composer-librettist Stephen Schwartz.

At the end of the workshop sessions, AOP will present the results of the participants’ work in public performances – First Glimpse, a concert of songs in Spring 2016, and Six Scenes, an evening of short opera scenes in Fall 2016.

YEAR TWO FELLOWSHIP

Following the Six Scenes performances, Composers & the Voice enters its second year of its two-year cycle and focuses on the development and further promotion of the Fellows’ C&V-created works. This includes potential workshops and presentations in AOP “First Chance” opera development program as well as concert series that have included partnerships with Opera Memphis, Phoenix Concerts, Opera on Tap, and Two Sides Sounding, to name a few.

Select C&V operas-in-progress will receive staged readings in 2017 through a twelve-year AOP partnership with The Manhattan School of Music (www.msmnyc.edu) and a new affiliation with The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music (www.schoolofmusic.ucla.edu). These readings using student performers provide continued development of C&V projects while serving to introduce contemporary opera to students.

The second year of the cycle will also include a new partnership with The Hermitage Artist Retreat (http://hermitageartistretreat.org) that nurtures creativity in mid-career writers, painters, poets, playwrights, composers, translators, sculptors, and artists. A C&V Fellow (or Fellowship team) will be selected to receive a 6-week residency to continue opera development at the Hermitage’s Florida estate. AOP artists who have been in residence at The Hermitage include Laura Kaminsky (As One), Mark Campbell (As One), Phil Kline (Out Cold), Lera Auerbach (The Blind), and Huang Ruo (Paradise interrupted).

HISTORY OF COMPOSERS & THE VOICE

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

Since launching in 2002, C&V has fostered the development of 44 composers & librettists including Stefan Weisman (The Scarlet Ibis, PROTOTYPE Festival, 2015), Hannah Lash (Aspen Music Festival), Aleksandra Vrebalov (Mileva, Serbian National Theater), and Vivian Fung (2013 Juno Award “Classical Composition of the Year”). Alumni works that went through AOP’s opera development program and continued to a world premiere include Paul’s Case (UrbanArias 2013, Gregory Spears), and Love/Hate (ODC/San Francisco Opera 2012, Jack Perla). A complete list of alumni can be found at www.aopopera.org/composers_voice.

“Composer Chairs,” sponsorships named in honor of mentors and their support of Composers & the Voice, have included composers John Corigliano, Daron Hagen, Jake Heggie, Lee Hoiby, Libby Larsen, John Musto, Tobias Picker, Kaija Saariaho, Tan Dun and composer-librettist Stephen Schwartz.

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

SUPPORT

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation continues its support of AOP’s Composers & the Voice program through 2016 as part of a multi-year grant award, which also covers artistic personnel and other program activities. The Victor Herbert Foundation will sponsor one fellow’s expenses for travel and costs of preparing and producing scenes with The Victor Herbert Foundation Composers & the Voice Chair, created in memory of longtime opera supporter and former AOP board member, Lois C. Schwartz.

COMPOSER AND LIBRETTIST FELLOW BIOS

Composers

Matthew Barnson is the composer of numerous works for orchestras, choirs, string quartets, voices, chamber ensembles, dancers, and computers.  An assistant professor of composition at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, he has received fellowships, commissions, and awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Barlow Endowment, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His work has been performed at Carnegie Hall, the Museum of Modern Art, the Kennedy Center, the Aldeburgh Festival, the Royal Academy of Music, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, ISCM World Music Days, MATA, Wigmore Hall, Aspen, the San Francisco War Memorial and other venues throughout the United States and Europe. His album of string quartets, Sibyl Tones, was released on Tzadik in 2014. He lives in New York.

Born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, composer Carlos R. Carrillo is the recipient of numerous awards including the Bearns Prize, the Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, BMI and ASCAP awards. He has been commissioned by Music and the Anthology for the Da Capo Chamber Players, the New York Youth Symphony, Concert Artists Guild and the Pennsylvania Music Teachers Association. Dr. Carrillo holds degrees from the Eastman School of Music (BM), Yale University (MM) and the University of Pennsylvania (PhD). He is Assistant Professor of Composition-Theory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. www.music.illinois.edu/faculty/carlos-carrillo

Nell Shaw Cohen’s lyrically expressive, visually evocative music has been performed by The JACK Quartet, WordSong, and members of The Chelsea Symphony and A Far Cry. In 2014, Cohen served as NYU Symphony Composer-in-Residence and her monodrama The Coming of Spring received a workshop staging at Provincetown Playhouse in NYC. A multidisciplinary artist, she frequently integrates her music with video and installations for web & mobile. Cohen has collaborated with The Peabody Essex Museum and Parrish Art Museum to present her music inspired by art. As founder of composers’ network and publication LandscapeMusic.org, she advocates for music that engages with nature and place. Cohen (b. 1988), M.M. New York University, B.M. New England Conservatory, has studied with Herschel Garfein, Michael Gandolfi, Missy Mazzoli, and Julia Wolfe. www.nellshawcohen.com

Marc LeMay is a composer based in Philadelphia, where he is a Doctoral Fellow in Composition at the University of Pennsylvania. Marc’s career as a composer has spanned a variety of media, from works for solo instruments and chamber ensembles to pieces for singers, choir, orchestra, and electroacoustic forces. A frequent collaborator, he has also written extensively for dance, theatre, film, art installations, and interactive media. His wide-ranging interests include philosophy, pop culture, words, maps, ritual, spirituality, and social issues; these interests continue to inform and influence his music. Upcoming projects will focus on works for the opera stage. http://www.marclemaymusic.com

Cecilia Livingston is known across Canada and the US for intensely dramatic chamber and vocal music, Cecilia Livingston explores memory, place, childhood, and solitude in a lush yet spare musical language that reveals the strange made familiar and the familiar made strange. A 2014 Composition Fellow at Bang On a Can’s Summer Music Festival, her music has been heard at the 21C Music Festival, World Choral Games (Latvia), Eastman’s Women In Music Festival, Vancouver International Song Institute, Scotia Festival of Music, ACDA’s Summer Choral Composers Forum, Tapestry Opera’s Composer-Librettist Laboratory, Canadian Contemporary Music Workshop, and on tour in Canada with The Bicycle Opera Project. She lives in Toronto.  www.cecilialivingston.com

Sky Macklay is a composer, oboist, and multimedia artist originally from Minnesota and now based in NYC. Her recent projects include a piece for Spektral Quartet’s Comic Cadences album (Many Many Cadences), a sonic and kinetic installation of harmonica-playing inflatable sculptures (Harmonibots), and new works for ICE and the New York Virtuoso Singers. Her orchestral piece, Dissolving Bands, was commissioned by the Lexington (MA) Symphony and was the winner of the 2013 Leo Kaplan award from ASCAP. Sky is pursuing her DMA in composition at Columbia University and is on the faculty of The Walden School Young Musicians Program.

Librettists

Edward Einhorn is a director, playwright, librettist, and novelist. Among his work: plays about neurology; adaptations of sci-fi novels; translations of plays written in French, Czech, and ancient Greek; puppet theater; modern Oz novels; explorations of economic theory; autobiographical found text explorations; midrashim on Jewish cultural icons; and picture books about math. Recently, he has worked at HERE, La MaMa, 3LD Art & Technology Center, The New Ohio, St. Ann’s Warehouse, the Walter Bruno Theater at Lincoln Center, The Brick, and the Czech Embassy. The New York Times has called his work “exquisitely ingenious”, “dramatically shrewd,” and “almost unbearably funny”.

Duncan McFarlane studies and teaches satire, writes lyrics and libretti as asked, and denies that brevity’s wit’s soul.

Emily Roller is the librettist for Esther and Teach for A While, which received readings in the 2015 Thesis Reading Series at NYU. She is also the author of The Alloway Files (New Stein Publishing House),Hookers, Flankers, and Locks (Bare Knuckles Press), and many short pieces for the page and the stage. She is a graduate of Yale, the MA in Writing program at Johns Hopkins, and the Graduate Musical Theater Writing Program at NYU Tisch. She lives in Brooklyn and blogs at www.ejroller.com.

Mark Sonnenblick writes words and music. As playwright, lyricist, and/or composer: Independents (“Best Production” FringeNYC, NYTimes “Critics’ Pick”), Ship Show (Yale Institute for Music Theatre), Stompcat in Lawndale (Ars Nova), Wheel of Misfortune (Denver Center for the Performing Arts), Rodman in North Korea (Houghton Lyric Theater), and Bunkerville (Yale DRAMAT). Mark has been a composer fellow at the John Duffy Institute (Virginia Arts Festival), a member of the Johnny Mercer Songwriting Project, and a finalist for the Kleban Prize. Currently, Mark is a Dramatists Guild fellow and a librettist for the Kennedy Center’s American Opera Initiative. www.marksonnenblick.com

Bios of C&V singers and music directors available at http://bit.ly/1JeFmE5

ABOUT THE PRODUCER

At the forefront of the contemporary opera movement for over 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 produced over 25 world premieres, most recently Kaminsky/Reed/Campbell’s As One (2014), Nkeiru Okoye’s Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom (2014), and Lera Auerbach’s The Blind (2013), a co-production with Lincoln Center Festival. Other notable premieres include Kimper/Persons’ Patience & Sarah (1998), Weisman/Rabinowitz’s Darkling (2006), Lee Hoiby’s This Is the Rill Speaking (2008), and Phil Kline’s Out Cold (2012) at BAM. AOP-developed operas that premiered with co-producers:  Gregory Spears’s Paul’s Case at UrbanArias (2013) and PROTOtype Festival (Jan 2014), Kamran Ince’s Judgment of Midas at Milwaukee Opera Theatre (2013), 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, San Francisco), Jorge Martín’s Before Night Falls at Fort Worth Opera (2010), Huang Ruo’s Paradise Interrupted at Spoleto Festival USA (2015). http://www.aopopera.org

UPCOMING in 2015: Hagoromo at BAM 2015 Next Wave Festival, As One at West Edge Opera (Berkeley, CA) and UrbanArias (Arlington, VA).


Resident Ensemble of Singers selected for AOP training program Composers & the Voice

June 16, 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

RESIDENT ENSEMBLE OF SINGERS SELECTED
FOR AOP TRAINING PROGRAM

SIX SINGERS TO ASSIST COMPOSERS, LIBRETTISTS
IN UPCOMING SEASON OF “COMPOSERS & THE VOICE”

BROOKLYN, NY – AOP (American Opera Projects) announces the six singers who will become its Resident Ensemble for the upcoming eighth season of its Composers & the Voice training program. Comprised of one each of the basic operatic/vocal categories, the singers for the 2015-16 season will be Coloratura Soprano Tookah Sapper, Lyric Soprano Jennifer Goode Cooper, Mezzo-Soprano Blythe Gaissert, Tenor Blake Friedman, Baritone Michael Weyandt and Bass-Baritone Jonathan Woody. The singers will spend a year working collaboratively with composers and librettists who have received fellowships to develop skills for writing for the voice and contemporary opera stage. The Resident Ensemble was selected by Composers & the Voice Artistic Director Steven Osgood based on their superior technical and musical skills, as well as their commitment to developing and performing new works.

The Resident Ensemble will be joined by returning Music Directors Mila Henry, Kelly Horsted, and Charity Wicks to collaborate on creating new material by the composer and librettist fellows. Singers will each explain how their particular voice works throughout its range, addressing issues of tessitura, negotiating the passagio, demands for vowel modification, and how these affect their performance of text.

In closed workshops from September 2015-April 2016, the singers will rotate among each composer, giving demonstrations of proper vocal technique and writing, as well as performing short works.  This will culminate with First Glimpse, a public concert of songs on May 20 & 21, 2016, in which the singers will perform the composer’s revised and final versions.  Finally, on September 23 & 25, 2016, the AOP Resident Ensemble will perform Six Scenes, an evening of short opera scenes created by the composer-librettist fellows.

Previous singers from the Composers & the Voice program have gone on to perform with some of the leading companies and festivals in America, including Matthew Worth (Doubt, Minnesota Opera, 2013 and Eugene Onegin, Chautauqua Opera, 2015), Keith Jameson (Billy Budd, Metropolitan Opera, 2012 and Capriccio, Lyric Opera of Chicago, 2014), Caroline Worra (Orphee, Pittsburgh Opera, 2014 and Lizzie Borden, Boston Lyric Opera, 2013)  and Rebecca Ringle (Die Walküre, Metropolitan Opera, 2013, and Dido and Aeneas, Opera Memphis, 2015).

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation continues its support of AOP’s Composers & the Voice program through 2016 as part of a two hundred thousand ($200,000) multi-year grant award, which also covers artistic personnel and other program activities.

More information about the 2015-16 Composers & the Voice Series can be found at www.operaprojects.org/composers_voice.

BIOS

RESIDENT SINGERS

sapper---headshotTookah Sapper (soprano), from Oklahoma City, is a second-year Master’s degree candidate at Manhattan School of Music studying with Joan Patenaude-Yarnell. She graduated from the University of Central Oklahoma last year with a BM in vocal performance and a minor in collaborative piano. Last November, she performed as a soloist in the Mozart C Minor Mass at Manhattan School of Music. UCO credits include L’Elisir d’amore (Adina), The Messiah (Soloist), Dido and Aeneas (Belinda), Gallantry (Lola), and Gianni Schicci (Nella). Summer program credits include The Maid of Orleans (Solo Angel) with Russian Opera Workshop in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Pirates of Penzance (Mabel) and Le nozze di Figaro (Barbarina) with Opera in the Ozarks in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

good cooper---headshotJennifer Goode Cooper is a “lustrous soprano” (Wall Street Journal) with “steely eyed ferocity” (NY Times) who “fills the theater with her soaring soprano voice” (Variety).  Last season, she joined Mark Delavan as Blitch to sing the title role in Floyd’s Susannah with Toledo Opera, and premiered Nathaniel Stookey’s Ivonne at Opera Memphis, which she reprised at this year’s New Works Sampler at the Opera America Conference at Wolf Trap.  Other career highlights:   Miss Jessel in Britten’s The Turn of the Screw (New York City Opera), Titania/Hippolyta in the first known a cappella opera, Michael Ching’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Opera Memphis), Musetta in Baz Luhrmann’s acclaimed Broadway and LA productions of La Bohème, Backup singer for Patti Lupone, Weekly Hip-Hopera singer with celebrity DJ’s Ed lover and Dr. Dre (NY’s Power 105.1). Jennifer was a 2013 Arts Envoy of the US Embassy (to Mozambique), and a 2014 recipient of a Professional Development Grant from the Weill Foundation. www.jennifergoodecooper.com

gaissert---headshotBlythe Gaissert (mezzo-soprano) In the 2014-15 season Ms. Gaissert performed with the Composers & the Voice Series at AOP and covered the world premiere of Hannah After in As One as well as performing the West Coast premiere in Utah. The season also included Mahler’s Ruckert Lieder, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, and the Mozart Requiem, as well as readings of new operas by Martin Hennessey and Alden Terry.   In 2013 Ms. Gaissert continued her relationship with the Metropolitan Opera covering Siegrune in Die Walküre and worked on the staged premiere of John Adams The Gospel According to the Other Mary with the Los Angeles Philharmonic.  She also created the role of Zellah in Matthew Harris’ opera The Mark of Cain with Chelsea Opera, sang her first Verdi Requiem with the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra, and a program of Copland, Ravel and de Falla with the Sarasota Orchestra. Ms. Gaissert made her Carnegie Hall debut as the Alto soloist in Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass and Mozart’s Solemn Vespers. She was the 1st place winner in the National Opera Associations Artist Awards, 2nd Prize Winner of the New York Oratorio Society’s Solo Competition, and National Semi-Finalist and Alternate to the Finals in the NATSAA competition. Upcoming performances include The Whole Truth by Robert Patterson and Mark Campbell with the American Modern Ensemble and a recital with the Phoenix Concert Series.

blake headshotBlake Friedman (tenor), also known as “The Operatic Jack Black” (Tampa Bay Times) currently lives in New York City. The “fresh lyric tenor” (OperaNews Online) with a “silken and strong” (Tampa Bay Times) voice has wowed audiences with his “world class”, (Theatre is Easy) “powerful vocals” (Eye on Dance) and “climactic high notes”. (Q on Stage) Recent performances include: the “elusive object of attraction” (Critical Dance) in Eve Wolf’s operatic drama Tchaikovsky: None but the Lonely Heart (BAM Fisher), Il Conte Almaviva in Barbiere di Siviglia and Pang in Turandot (St. Petersburg Opera), Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi, Rodolfo in La Boheme, and The Governor in Candide (Ash Lawn Opera), Nemorino in L’Elisir D’amore (New Rochelle Opera), and Alfredo in La Traviata (Long Island Opera).  Equally at home on the concert stage, Mr. Friedman has performed as soloist at Avery Fisher Hall and The Walter Bruno Auditorium at Lincoln Center. Other companies Mr. Friedman has worked with include Bel Canto at Caramoor, Ensemble for the Romantic Century, Ensemble ACWJ, Mid America Productions, and The Castleton Festival.

weyandt---headshotMichael Weyandt (baritone) continues to engage audiences with his “virile, ardent” singing and “notable characterizations” in an increasingly diverse repertoire. He has performed under conductors such as James Levine (Guglielmo in Cosi fan tutte, Masetto in Don Giovanni) and Lorin Maazel (Junius in The Rape of Lucretia, Marco in Gianni Schicchi), and his repertoire spans from the hero Fernando in Handel’s first opera, Almira, to standard repertoire, most recently Marcello and Schaunard in La Boheme, to contemporary works, such as the Muse in Clint Borzoni’s When Adonis Calls, Pete Dayton in Olga Neuwirth’s adaptation of David Lynch’s film Lost Highway, and the Reciter in Eight Songs for a Mad King.

woody---headshotJonathan Woody (bass-baritone) is a sought-after performer of new and early music in New York and across the United States. Equally comfortable as soloist and ensemble member, Jonathan is a member of the Grammy®-nominated Choir of Trinity Wall Street, where he has earned praise as “charismatic” and “riveting” from the New York Times for his solo work. Recent highlights include the premiere of Ted Hearne’s The Source at Brooklyn Academy of Music, a nationwide tour of Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610 with Apollo’s Fire, the 2014 Oregon Bach Festival Vocal Fellowship, and solo engagements with the Washington Chorus, San Diego Bach Collegium, Nashville Symphony, Pegasus Early Music, New Amsterdam Presents, and Spire Chamber Ensemble. He has also shared the stage in recent months with Opera Lafayette, Green Mountain Project, TENET, and the Handel & Haydn Society, and looks forward to upcoming performances with New York Polyphony and New York Baroque Incorporated. Jonathan can be heard on recordings under the labels Musica Omnia, Acis Productions, Naxos & the Wolf Trap Opera Company. He holds degrees from the University of Maryland, College Park, and McGill University and currently resides in Brooklyn, NY.

MUSIC DIRECTORS

henry---headshotMila Henry Mila Henry is a New York-based pianist, coach, and music director who specializes in music theater projects and vocal chamber music, ranging from art song to cabaret, folk opera to indie musicals, standard repertoire to contemporary classics. She served as AOP’s Resident Music Director from 2010-2014 (including C&V 2011-13 and 2013-15), and has collaborated on both workshops and world premieres with American Lyric Theater, Beth Morrison Projects (BMP), Center City Opera Theater, Gotham Chamber Opera, HERE, OPERA America, Opera on Tap, Ripe Time, VisionIntoArt, and Two Sides Sounding. Notable engagements include: The Blind (Lincoln Center Festival); Thumbprint and The Scarlet Ibis (PROTOTYPE); The Difficulty of Crossing a Field (BMP, Cantaloupe Music release 2015); Day of Wrath (New York Musical Theatre Festival); As One and 2014 Obie Award Winner The World is Round (BAM). A native of the Philadelphia area, she lives in Brooklyn. milahenry.com

Horsted, Kelly hsPianist Kelly Horsted, a native of Sioux City, Iowa, enjoys an active career in NYC as an accompanist, music director and vocal coach specializing in new opera, art song, and role preparation. An enthusiast of new music, Kelly begins a fourth season as a co-music director for the Composers and the Voice series at American Opera Projects in Fall 2013. Kelly’s other AOP projects have included Sheila Silver’s Beauty Intolerable, Tarik O’Regan’s Heart of Darkness, Paula Kimper’s The Bridge of San Luis Rey as well as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, by Hershel Garfein, directed by Mark Morris. Kelly prepared the cast of Patience and Sarah for Lincoln Center Festival premiere. Kelly has collaborated with Center for Contemporary Opera’s Atelier Series, Chelsea Opera, Remarkable Theater Brigade, Opera Company of Brooklyn, Urban Arias, New Jersey Opera Theater, Friends and Enemies of New Music and at NYU’s Tisch Graduate Musical Theater Program. Kelly has taught at Hunter College, Mannes College of Music, and Operaworks. Kelly is currently a faculty member at the Hartt School of Music in Hartford, CT. KellyHorsted.com

charity-headshot thumbCharity Wicks, a pianist and music director who is highly lauded for her versatility, is at ease with a wide range of repertoire, from solo works and chamber music, to contemporary opera and musical theater. She is delighted to return as a music director for AOP’s Composers & the Voice program! Wicks has been involved with many AOP projects, including the world premiere of the opera The Summer King by former C&V composer Daniel Sonenberg, Semmelweis by Ray Lustig, The Golden Gate by Conrad Cummings, as well as the workshops of Stephen Schwartz’s opera Séance on a Wet Afternoon, for which she was also the associate conductor for the world premiere. Wicks has also worked on several Broadway musicals, including WICKED, VIOLET, BIG FISH, NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT, IN THE HEIGHTS and SPRING AWAKENING. She holds a BM and MM from Temple University, and a DMA from The Manhattan School of Music.

C&V ARTISTIC DIRECTOR

osgood, stevenDuring his tenure as Artistic Director of American Opera Projects (2001 to 2008), Steven Osgood created Composers & the Voice, and conducted the world premieres of Paula Kimper and Wende Persons’ Patience & Sarah at the Lincoln Center Festival, and Janice Hamer and Mary Azrael’s Lost Childhood at the International Vocal Arts Institute (Tel Aviv). He has also conducted premieres by Jonathan Sheffer (Blood on the Dining Room Floor), Tan Dun (Peony Pavilion), Xenakis (Oresteia), Missy Mazzoli (Song from the Uproar), Mohammed Fairouz (Sumeida’s Song), and Daron Hagen (Little Nemo in Slumberland). He has served on the Music Staff of the Metropolitan Opera since 2006.  Recent productions include Opera Memphis’ Midtown Opera Festival, Hawaii Opera Theater’s Tosca, and Chautauqua Opera’s Peter Grimes. srosgood.com

Press contact: Matt Gray, AOP Producing Director, email: mgray@operaprojects.org, phone: 718-398-4024
Press material is available at: http://www.operaprojects.org/press

June 15, 2015


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


Wendy Whelan, ICE Ensemble lead AOP World Premiere at BAM

May 21, 2015

AOP returns to the Brooklyn Academy of Music this November with the world premiere of Hagoromo, a multidisciplinary work of dance-chamber opera inspired by one of the masterpieces of Japanese Noh drama. Reuniting former NYCB principal dancers Wendy Whelan and Jock Soto, Hagoromo is conceived and directed by contemporary artist David Michalek (Slow Dancing) and will feature contralto Katalin Károlyi and tenor Peter Tantsits, the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), and Brooklyn Youth Chorus.

Dancers Wendy Whelan and Jock Soto star in the world premiere of HAGOROMO. Photo by David Michalek.

Dancers Wendy Whelan and Jock Soto star in the world premiere of HAGOROMO. Photo by David Michalek.

 

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.

Hagoromo premieres at BAM’s Harvey Theater (651 Fulton St., Brooklyn, NY 11217) Nov 5—7 at 7:30pm and Nov 8 at 3pm as part of BAM’s 2015 Next Wave Festival. This will be AOP’s first show in the Harvey and third world premiere at BAM, following Phil Kline’s Out Cold (2012) and Kaminsky/Campbell/Reed’s As One (2014), both of which performed at BAM’s Fisher Center.

www.bam.org/dance/2015/hagoromo
www.operaprojects.org/hagoromo


DAVID MICHALEK (director, conception)
David Michalek’s work ranges from photography, video/sound and light installations and live performance to site-specific works of public art. His concentration has been closely tied to his interest in the contemporary person, which he explores through the use of relational aesthetics, performance techniques, storytelling, movement, and gesture. His work in video has been focused on capturing marginal moments —carefully staged — that develop density with minimal action through the interplay of image, sound, and most importantly, time. Exploring notions of durational and rhythmic time (as opposed to the referential time used in cinema) in both form and content, his works engages in intimate yet open narratives. His work has been shown nationally and internationally with recent art exhibitions or performances at the Brooklyn Museum, the LA Music Center, The Louvre, The Cleveland Museum, Covent Garden, Harvard University, Sadler’s Wells, Trafalgar Square, Opera Bastille, Venice Biennale, Yale University, The Kitchen, Tanz Im August, WOMAdelaide, Lincoln Center and the Edinburgh Festival. David Michalek is a visiting faculty member at Yale Divinity School, where he lectures on religion and the arts. www.davidmichalek.net

NATHAN DAVIS (composer)
Nathan Davis “writes music that deals deftly and poetically with timbre and sonority” (NYTimes). Lincoln Center inaugurated the TullyScope Festival with the premiere of Nathan’s landmark work Bells and presented other premieres at the Mostly Mozart Festival. Commissioned by the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), Calder Quartet, Yarn/Wire, La Jolla Symphony Chorus, Steven Schick, Donaueschinger Musiktage, and the Ojai Festival (with sound sculptor Trimpin), Nathan’s music has been performed at NYC’s Carnegie Hall, Park Avenue Armory, Miller Theatre, LPR, Roulette, in a portrait concert at Spoleto USA, and internationally at Darmstadt, Helsinki Musica Nova, Aspekte Salzburg, and Acht Brücken Köln. He has received awards from Meet The Composer, Fromm Foundation, Copland Fund, Jerome Foundation, American Music Center, and MATA. With Phyllis Chen he scored Sylvia Milo’s acclaimed monodrama The Other Mozart. CDs of his music include The Bright and Hollow Sky, one of TimeOut NY’s top 5 classical albums of 2011. http://www.nathandavis.com

WENDY WHELAN (dancer, The Angel)
“America’s greatest contemporary ballerina.” ~ The New York Times
Wendy Whelan was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky, where at the age of three she began taking dance classes with Virginia Wooton, a local teacher. In 1981 she received a scholarship to the summer course at the School of American Ballet (SAB), the official school of New York City Ballet and a year later she moved to New York to become a full¬time student there. She was invited to become a member of the New York City Ballet corps de ballet in 1986 and was promoted to principal dancer in 1991. Whelan has performed a wide spectrum of the Balanchine repertory and worked closely with Jerome Robbins on many of his ballets. She has originated featured roles in 13 ballets for Christopher Wheeldon, as well as in the ballets of William Forsythe, Alexei Ratmansky, Wayne McGregor, Jorma Elo, Shen Wei, Jerome Robbins and Twyla Tharp. In 2007, Whelan was nominated for an Olivier Award and a Critics Circle Award for her performances with Morphoses/The Wheeldon Company. She received the 2007 Dance Magazine Award, and in 2009 was given a Doctorate of Arts, honoris causa, from Bellarmine University. In 2011, she was honored with both The Jerome Robbins Award and a Bessie Award for her Sustained Achievement in Performance. In 2013, she premiered her first original production called Restless Creature at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. Restless Creature has since toured to London and is currently on a 2015 tour across the US. Whelan was recently appointed an Artistic Associate at New York’s City Center. She resides in New York City with her husband, the artist David Michalek.

JOCK SOTO (dancer, Hakuryo)
Jock Soto, who is half Navajo Indian and half Puerto Rican, was born in New Mexico and raised in Phoenix, Arizona. Mr. Soto’s extensive repertory at New York City Ballet included principal roles in numerous works by George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, and Peter Martins. He also inspired the creation of roles in many new ballets, including Peter Martins’s A Schubertiad (1984), Ecstatic Orange (1987), Fearful Symmetries (1990), Jazz(Six Syncopated Movements) (1993), Sinfonia (1993), and Morgen (2001); Christopher Wheeldon’s Slavonic Dances (1997), Mercurial Maoeuvres (2000), Polyphonia (2001), Morphoses (2002), Liturgy (2003), Shambards (2004), and After the Rain (2005); and Lynne Taylor-Corbett’s Chiaroscuro (1994). After an acclaimed 24-year performing career, he retired from dancing in June 2005. Mr. Soto returned to the stage in May 2007 to originate the role of Lord Capulet in Peter Martins’s new production of Romeo + Juliet for New York City Ballet. Mr. Soto’s life is the subject of a new documentary by filmmaker Gwendolen Cates, Water Flowing Together, that explores Mr. Soto’s roots and documents the final years of his performing career with New York City Ballet. He has been a member of the School of American Ballet’s faculty since 1996.

THE INTERNATIONAL CONTEMPORARY ENSEMBLE (ICE)
The International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), described by the New York Times as “one of the most accomplished and adventurous groups in new music,” is dedicated to reshaping the way music is created and experienced. With a modular makeup of 35 leading instrumentalists, performing in forces ranging from solos to large ensembles, ICE functions as performer, presenter, and educator, advancing the music of our time by developing innovative new works and new strategies for audience engagement. ICE redefines concert music as it brings together new work and new listeners in the 21st century.

DAVID NEUMANN (choreographer)
As artistic director of Advanced Beginner Group, Neumann’s work has been presented in New York at PS 122, Dance Theater Workshop, Central Park Summer Stage, Celebrate Brooklyn, Symphony Space, The Whitney at Altria, The Kitchen, and New York Live Arts. David Neumann and Advanced Beginner Group have received four Bessie Awards, several grants including Creative Capital, BUILD, Rockefeller and MAP funds. In recent years, Neumann has been awarded a 2011 Foundation for Contemporary Arts Award for Dance, a 2013 New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Choreography and a 2014 MacDowell Fellowship. He was recently awarded a 2014 NDP Production Grant. More recently, Neumann directed Geoff Sobelle’s ‘Object Lesson’ at BAM and choreographed Soho Rep’s Obie Award winning production of An Octoroon.

CHRIS M. GREEN (puppetry)
Chris M. Green is a Brooklyn-based designer, performer, composer, and director. His theatrical, sound, and installation works have been presented over the past 18 years in venues including Lincoln Center, New York City Center, National Geographic Museum, La Jolla Playhouse, St. Anne’s Warehouse, Goethe Institute (Delhi), Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Teatro del Lago (Chile) among others. His Brooklyn-based design studio Chris Green Kinetics has received awards from the American Association of Museums, Themed Entertainment Association, and AIA. Recent honors include Creative Capital Award (2009), MacDowell Fellowship (2012), and LMCC Process Space residency (2013). Currently, Green is developing his new play ‘American Weather’ through the HERE Resident Artist and Dream Music Programs with support from the Jim Henson Foundation. Along with wife Erin K. Orr, Green teaches an intensive performance workshop called ‘The Language of Things’ both nationally and internationally. He is honored to be on Hagoromo’s creative team.

DRIES VAN NOTEN (costumes)
Dries Van Noten sells his Men’s, Women’s and Accessories collections all over the world. In addition to his boutiques in Antwerp, Paris, Singapore, Kuwait, Hong Kong and Tokyo, Dries Van Noten works in partnership with some four hundred boutiques in cities such as New York, London, Milan, Berlin, and Moscow. In 2009, Dries was awarded Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in Paris; the Flemish Chamber of Commerce (VOKA) inducted him into the Galerie des Eminents; the Flemish Royal Academy of Belgium gifted him with the Gold Medal (“Gouden Penning”), and the Couture Council of the Museum at FIT in New-York honoured him with the “Couture Council Award for Artistry of Fashion”. In 2014 the work of Dries Van Noten, was featured at the musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. “Inspirations” is the very first exhibition devoted to the artist’s work. In November 2014, Dries Van Noten was appointed president of the jury of the 7th edition of the “A Shaded View on Fashion Film” Festival (ASVOFF). In 2015, the “Inspirations” exhibition moved to Antwerp’s MoMu. This is an evolution in content and expression of the exhibition in Paris devoted to the designer’s work.www.driesvannoten.be


AOP Receives OPERA America Grant to Commission New Opera About the Chinese Zodiac

February 10, 2015

Opera Grant for Female Composers awarded to double-bill by composer Wang Jie currently in development at AOP for 2017 premiere at Festival Opera

American Opera Projects (AOP) is proud to announce it is the recipient of an OPERA America Female Commissioning Grant in support of a new double bill chamber opera by composer Wang Jie currently titled To Kill That Bird. The two one act operas of To Kill That Bird are united by the theme of strong female artists contending against the oppressive bureaucracy of the Zodiac Animal overlords.

AOP will begin workshops of the opera in 2015 through its First Chance program, which 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. The production is slated to debut in 2017 at Festival Opera in Walnut Creek, CA, to be conducted by Festival Opera’s longtime artistic director, Michael Morgan.

First premiered in concert at Carnegie Hall in 2010 where it was called “by turns whimsical, campy, tragic, haunting” by The New Criterion, the first half of To Kill That Bird, the 30-minute “From the Other Sky,” portrays the fable of how the thirteen animals of the Chinese Zodiac downsized to twelve. Experiencing human compassion for the first time, this thirteenth Zodiac Goddess loses her place in the heavens to share her musical powers with mankind. “From the Other Sky” was commissioned by American Composers Orchestra/Mr. Paul Underwood.

The 70-minute second bill “From the Land Fallen” tantalizes the audience with a tragic and haunting transgender love story. New York City in a parallel universe, the Zodiac Animals rules the human world headed by the Rat. As human rebellion erupts, a war widow finds her late husband’s spirit embodied in a deranged woman and falls in love with her.

OPERA America’s Opera Grants for Female Composers provide support for the development of new operas by women, both directly to individual composers and to opera companies producing their work, advancing the important objective to increase diversity across the field.  As part of this grant program made possible through the generosity of The Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation, AOP-sponsored composers Laura Kaminsky (As One) and Sheila Silver (A Thousand Splendid Suns) were each awarded in 2014 a Female Discovery grant, which supported the production of new opera by emerging female composers.

Composer Wang Jie

Composer Wang Jie

ABOUT THE ARTISTS:

Part cartoon character, part virtuoso, musical whiz kid WANG JIE has spent the last decade nudging serious music and its concert audiences into spectacular frontiers. One day she spins a few notes into large symphonic forms, the next she calls grotesque Zodiac animals to the opera stage. She’ll even tempt comedy writer Paul Simms to help her coax belly laughs from an otherwise sedate Opera America audience with “Lord? Please Don’t Let Me Die in a Funny Way”. Her stylistic versatility is a rare trait in today’s composers. Most recently, her Symphony No. 2, commissioned and premiered by Detroit Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Leonard Slatkin was streamed live to a worldwide audience. The showcase of her tragic opera Nannan by New York City Opera’s VOX led to the production of her chamber opera Flown, commissioned and produced by Music-Theatre Group. Having won the Underwood Composers Commission, her concert opera “From the Other Sky” was the centerpiece of the American Composers Orchestra’s season opening concert at Carnegie Hall. Jie holds honors from ASCAP, American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Koussevitzky Foundation in the Library of Congress, NYU, Opera America, among others. http://wangjiemusic.com

ANNE BABSON, a Coney Island poet recently transplanted to Mississippi, was nominated for a Pushcart for work in The Haight-Ashbury Literary Journal and Illya’s Honey. She has won awards from Columbia, Atlanta Review, Grasslands Review, and other reviews. Her work has been published in the US, in England, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, and Turkey. She was included in a British anthology of the best working American poets today entitled Seeds of Fire (Smokestack Books, 2008) and is another British Anthology related to the current riots in England entitled Emergency Verse (Caparison Books, 2011). She has four chapbooks, over a hundred journal publications, including work recently featured in in Iowa Review, Barrow Street, Atlanta Review, and many others. She is featured on a compilation hip-hop CD–The Cornerstone (New Lew Music, 2007). She has read her work for national radio programs and has appeared on television in the United States and in Taiwan.

 

ABOUT THE PRESENTERS:

AOP (American Opera Projects, Inc.) is a driving force behind the revitalization of contemporary opera and musical theater in the United States through its exclusive devotion to creating, developing, and presenting new American opera and music theatre projects. AOP has produced over 25 world premieres, including Kaminsky/Campbell/Reed’s As One (2014) and Phil Kline’s Out Cold (2012) at BAM, and Lera Auerbach’s The Blind (2013), Nicholas Brooke’s Tone Test (2004), and Kimper/Persons’ Patience & Sarah (1998) at Lincoln Center Festival. Other notable premieres include Nkeiru Okoye’s Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom (2014), Weisman/Rabinowitz’s Darkling (2006), and Lee Hoiby’s This is the Rill Speaking (2008). AOP-developed operas that premiered with co-producers: Weisman/Cote’s The Scarlet Ibis at PROTOTYPE Festival (2015), Gregory Spears’s Paul’s Case at Urban Arias (2013) and PROTOTYPE Festival (2014), 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 Jorge Martín’s Before Night Falls at Fort Worth Opera (2010). UPCOMING in 2015: As One at Caine College of the Arts (Logan, UT) and West Edge Opera (Berkeley, CA); Heart Of Darkness at Opera Parallèle (San Francisco, CA); Paradise Interrupted at Spoleto Festival USA (Charleston, SC); The Blind at Central City Opera (Central City, Denver, Aspen and Boulder, CO). www.operaprojects.org

Founded in 1991, FESTIVAL OPERA has focused on developing innovative and creative productions of classic opera from the standard repertory, and has augmented that vision in recent years with rarely-heard productions, commissions, and new works, endeavoring to bridge to diverse members of the community with meaningful stories and music. As Festival Opera enters its 25th season, the company remains committed to bringing extraordinary opera to residents of San Francisco’s East Bay communities. In 2015, the company will stage the West coast premiere of Jack Perla’s River of Light in a double bill with Gustav Holst’s Savitri, as well as a main stage production of Ariadne auf Naxos, directed and conducted by maestro Michael Morgan, Festival Opera’s longtime artistic director. Festival Opera showcases emerging American artists, and presents fully-staged opera in Walnut Creek, California, at the Lesher Center for the Arts, chamber operas in smaller venues, and a free Opera in the Park in June in Walnut Creek’s Civic Park. www.festivalopera.org


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