Resident Ensemble of Professional Opera Singers Selected for AOP Training Program

July 13, 2017

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

BROOKLYN, NY – AOP (American Opera Projects) announces the six singers who will become its Resident Ensemble for the upcoming ninth season of its Composers & the Voice training program. Comprised of one each of the basic operatic/vocal categories, the singers for the 2017-18 season will be Coloratura Soprano Tookah Sapper, Lyric Soprano Jennifer Goode Cooper, Mezzo-Soprano Blythe Gaissert, Tenor Blake Friedman, Baritone Mario Diaz-Moresco and Bass Adrian Rosas. 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, also serving as C&V’s new Head of Music, and Kelly Horsted 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.

“The philosophy of Composers & the Voice since its beginning has been that by immersing composers and librettists in hands-on work with skilled singers and music directors, we empower them to create groundbreaking works that are true to each of their artistic languages,” says Osgood.  “Composers rarely have the opportunity to work with opera singers during their training, and C&V was designed to address this void.”

In closed workshops from October 2017-April 2018, 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 19 & 20, 2018, in which the singers will perform the composer’s revised and final versions.  Finally, on September 28 & 29, 2018, the AOP Resident Ensemble will perform Six Scenes, an evening of short opera scenes created by the composer-librettist fellows.

Composer Gregory Spears, a fellow in the C&V program from 2007-08 before he created the operas Paul’s Case (2013, UrbanArias world premiere) and Fellow Travelers (2016, Cincinnati Opera world premiere), says that “hearing singers discuss in detail their experience learning and performing a new piece revolutionized the way I write for the voice.”

More information about the 2017-19 Composers & the Voice Series can be found at www.aopopera.org/composers_voice.

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Sopranos Jennifer Goode Cooper and Tookah Sapper finish performing the premiere of a song written in Composers & the Voice at the 2016 First Glimpse concert.

BIOS

RESIDENT SINGERS

View More: http://michaelallenphotography.pass.us/jennifergoodecooperJENNIFER 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). She specializes in crossing genres, as shown in a career fusing opera, Broadway, song, radio, and new works. She can be heard in recording on Albany Records, MSR Classics, and SKG Music. Career highlights: Title role in Floyd’s Susannah (Toledo Opera), Nathaniel Stookey’s Ivonne (Opera Memphis), 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

DiazMoresco Mario-39.1webAn active interpreter of art song, opera and new music, baritone MARIO DIAZ-MORESCO is garnering attention for his versatility and strong stage presence. Mr. Diaz-Moresco studied at the University of Colorado, the University of Southern California, and is currently a member of the Professional Studies Diploma program at the Mannes School, where he is a student of Diana Soviero. He has been a young artist with Central City Opera, The Glimmerglass Festival, Chautauqua Opera and a Stern Fellow at Songfest. Highlights from recent seasons include recitals with pianist Spencer Myer on California’s “ln Concert Sierra” series, the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Series in Chicago and the Rocky River Chamber Music Society of Ohio, in addition to Guglielmo in Cosi fan tutte, The Old Doctor in Vanessa, playing the lead role in Robert Ashley’s Oust, and premiering the song cycle The Wanderlusting of Joseph C. by Joan La Barbara.

Friedman Headshot 2Tenor BLAKE FRIEDMAN has been seen on operatic, concert, and theatrical stages across the country.  His recent appearance as Iago in Rossini’s Otello with LoftOpera earned him praise for “his vast range and clear diction” (NY Observer) and “pliant tenor” (Parterre).  The New York Times said, “The most convincing tenor was that of Blake Friedman as Iago whose voice has a plummy fullness and dusky hue.  His duet with Otello was taut and exciting…”. Other notable New York City performances include: Tenor Soloist in the Liebeslieder Walzer with New York City Ballet, Tenor Soloist at Geffen Hall in Mozart’s Vespri Sollemnes de Confessore, and Singer in Tchaikovsky: None but the Lonely Heart (BAM Fisher).  He has also garnered praise for his “silken and strong” (Tampa Bay Times), “fresh lyric tenor” (OperaNews Online) singing roles such as Jimmy O’Keefe in Later the Same Evening, Conte Almaviva in Barbiere di Siviglia, Nemorino in L’Elisir D’Amore and Alfredo in La Traviata.  He is delighted to rejoin American Opera Projects Composers & the Voice as resident tenor for a second season.

Gaissert 2016 4Mezzo Soprano BLYTHE GAISSERT mezzo-soprano has established herself as a fresh and exciting artist in great demand in the United States and abroad for opera, concert and recital engagements. In the coming 2017-18 season, Ms. Gaissert will be creating the role of Walker Loats in Mikael Karlsson’s cutting edge one woman opera The Echo Drift at the Prototype Festival in NYC in a co-production with AOP, reprising the role of Hannah After in As One with San Diego Opera, and singing Hester Prynne in the professional premiere of The Scarlett Professor at Amherst College, Sadie in Ricky Ian Gordon’s Morning Star at On Site Opera. She is also a member of the alt/classical/rock group The Knells, who will be releasing their second album in Fall of 2017. A champion of new music, Ms. Gaissert has worked with numerous composers and librettists on dozens of new works, and has been a part of American Opera Projects Composers and the Voice series since 2014. Ms. Gaissert has worked with companies such as the Metropolitan Opera, LA Opera, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Opera Colorado, Tulsa Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, Aldeburgh Festival in England, Lyrique en Mer in France, Opera Southwest, Opera Saratoga, and more.

Rosas, Adrian HeadshotHailed by the New York Times as “a stalwart bass-baritone with a burnished voice” and in Opera News as a “mellifluous bass-baritone [with] theatrical flair,” ADRIAN ROSAS is an emerging young artist with “impressive experience and talent” (The Boston Globe). Mr. Rosas has performed with opera companies such as the Seattle Opera, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Opera Saratoga, Houston’s Opera in the Heights, and the Detroit Opera House. As a champion of new and modern music, he has had the opportunity to work on a variety of newly written works, including Peter Ash’s The Golden Ticket, Robert Xavier Rodriguez’s Frida, Petr Kotik’s Master-Pieces, Matt Aucoin’s Whitman, newly written operas with the American Lyric Theater in New York, and with the Ostrava Center for New Music in the Czech Republic. Equally versed in concert and oratorio work, he has performed at Carnegie Hall (Stern Auditorium, Weill Recital Hall, and Zankel Hall), Merkin Concert Hall, and Alice Tully Hall. Mr. Rosas holds a Bachelor of Music Degree from Western Michigan University, and a Master of Music Degree from The Juilliard School. Co-Founder and Executive Director of Arts On Site NYC (artsonsite.org), a nonprofit arts organization dedicated to supporting the development of artists and encouraging community collaboration.

Sapper Tookah - HeadshotCherokee soprano TOOKAH SAPPER, from Oklahoma City, holds a Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance from Manhattan School of Music and a Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance with a Minor in Collaborative Piano from University of Central Oklahoma. This summer, she will perform with The Chautauqua Opera Company as a Studio Artist for their 2017 season. This past spring, she performed as a member of the Princeton Singers, under the direction of Steven Sametz. She performed and collaborated with American Opera Projects as a member of their Resident Ensemble for the 2015/16 season of Composers & The Voice. In fall of 2015, she appeared in Sonic Blossom, an interactive performance exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, working with artist Lei Mingwei. She currently plays piano at the Princeton Ballet School and is a Cantor and Choral Scholar at St. John the Evangelist in Lambertville, NJ. MSM credits include: Cendrillon (Feé), Albert Herring (Cis), Schubert’s Mass in G Major (Soloist), Mozart’s C Minor Mass (Soprano II Soloist). 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.

C&V ARTISTIC DIRECTOR

osgood, stevenSTEVEN OSGOOD is General and Artistic Director of Chautauqua Opera, where the 2017 season will feature new productions of Don Pasquale, Hydrogen Jukebox, and the US stage premiere of Ottorino Respighi’s realization of Monteverdi’s Orfeo.   As Artistic Director of American Opera Projects (2001 to 2008) he 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 in Tel Aviv.  In 2014, he conducted AOP’s acclaimed premiere of As One by Laura Kaminsky, Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed.  He has conducted premieres by Tan Dun, Iannis Xenakis, David T. Little and Daron Hagen, among others.  He has served on the Music Staff of the Metropolitan Opera since 2006.  Most recently he conducted the world premiere of Breaking the Waves by Missy Mazzoli and Royce Vavrek for Opera Philadelphia.

MUSIC DIRECTORS

henry---headshotLauded for her “sublime” playing (Feast of Music) and heralding orchestral scores of “incredible range and color” (OperaPulse), pianist MILA HENRY is returning to Composers & the Voice for her fourth season, now as both music director and Head of Music. An integral member of New York’s contemporary opera community, she frequently collaborates with Beth Morrison Projects, PROTOTYPE, American Lyric Theater and American Opera Projects, where she was Assistant Conductor for the premieres of As One (BAM), The Blind (Lincoln Center Festival) and Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom (Irondale Center). She has performed at LA Opera (Thumbprint), Opera Philadelphia (We Shall Not Be Moved, September 2017) and the Library of Congress (OPERA America’s Fierce Grace: Jeannette Rankin); served as Vocal Director for Ripe Time’s Obie-winning The World is Round (BAM); and appeared on VisionIntoArt’s FERUS Festival, National Sawdust’s Spring Revolution Festival and the New York Musical Festival. milahenry.com

Horsted, Kelly hsKELLY HORSTED enjoys an active career in NYC as an accompanist and vocal coach. Collaborations with AOP have included Sheila Silver’s Beauty Intolerable, Herschel Garfein’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, directed by Mark Morris, Tarik O’Regan’s Heart of Darkness, and Paula Kimper’s Patience & Sarah for the Lincoln Center Festival. He has also collaborated with Chelsea Opera, Center for Contemporary Opera, Opera Company of Brooklyn, Wintergreen Festival, New Jersey Opera Theater, Friends and Enemies of New Music, Five Words in a Line and the Graduate Musical Theater Writing program at the Tisch School. He is a coach at the Hartt School of Music, and has also taught at Mannes College of Music, Hunter College, Intermezzo, Five Towns College and OperaWorks. His Bachelor and Master of Music degrees are from the Eastman School of Music. Kelly has been a music director for Composers & the Voice since 2006. KellyHorsted.com

 

Press contact: Matt Gray, AOP Producing Director, email: mgray@operaprojects.org, phone: 718-398-4024

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


New LGBTQ Operas Coming Out in Hard Times

February 23, 2017
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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.


American Opera Projects to Hire Director of Development

October 17, 2016

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American Opera Projects (AOP), a Brooklyn-based organization that has developed and presented new works of opera across the country for over 25 years, is currently expanding its full time staff, adding a Director of Development beginning in January 2017.

The Director of Development will provide fundraising leadership for AOP. S/he will be a key member of the company’s senior leadership team working alongside the AOP staff and board to develop, implement, and oversee all fundraising and development activities of the organization.

At this critical juncture in AOP’s history, in which the organization’s operating budget has more than doubled in the past two years with the premieres of critically-lauded and commercially successful new operas such as As One and Hagoromo (BAM Next Wave Festival), the Director of Development will continue to stimulate that financial growth by deepening the fundraising capacity of AOP at all levels, from individual contributions and board development, to foundation and government support. The new Director of Development will serve the organization moving forward as a full time member of the senior leadership team. A complete job description and details for interested applicants can be found on AOP’s website at www.aopopera.org/jobopportunities/developmentdirector.

Founded in 1988, American Opera Projects is at the forefront of the contemporary opera movement, commissioning, developing, presenting, and producing opera and music theatre projects, collaborating with young, rising, and established artists, and engaging audiences in unique and transformative theatrical experiences. AOP has produced over 30 world premieres, including the Nathan Davis/Brendan Pelsue dance chamber opera Hagoromo starring Wendy Whelan (BAM, 2015), Kaminsky/Reed/Campbell’s As One (BAM, 2014), Nkeiru Okoye’s Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom (Irondale Center, 2014), and Lera Auerbach’s The Blind (co-production with Lincoln Center Festival, 2013) and the upcoming 2017 co-production with Nashville Opera of Robert Paterson’s Three Way (Nashville Opera, BAM Fisher). 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, also at BAM (2012).

AOP-developed operas that premiered with co-producers include Stefan Weisman’s The Scarlet Ibis at PROTOTYPE Festival (2015), Gregory Spears’ Paul’s Case at UrbanArias (2013) and PROTOTYPE Festival and Pittsburgh Opera (2014), Jack Perla’s Love/Hate at ODC Theater with San Francisco Opera (2012), Stephen Schwartz’s Séance on a Wet Afternoon at New York City Opera (2011), Tarik O’Regan’s Heart of Darkness at London’s Royal Opera House (2011) and Opera Parallèle (2015), and the upcoming The Summer King by Daniel Sonenberg at Pittsburgh Opera (2017).

American Opera Projects is an equal opportunity employer (EOE) and considers all candidates for employment regardless of race, color, sex, age, national origin, creed, disability, marital status, sexual orientation or political affiliation.

AOP is an IRS recognized 501(c)3 non-profit corporation, and is a member of OPERA America, Fort Greene Association, the Downtown Brooklyn Arts Alliance, the New York Opera Alliance, and Alliance of Resident Theatres/ New York (A.R.T./NY).


“Powerful”, “engrossing” Paradise Interrupted garners raves at Lincoln Center Festival

August 5, 2016

The AOP-developed opera Paradise Interrupted wowed audience and press during its New York City premiere at the Lincoln Center Festival in July. at the Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston, SC this past week. Drawing inspiration from the legend of Adam and Eve, as well as the Chinese story of The Peony Pavilion, Paradise Interrupted combines strong visual and aural effects, to tell the moving story of a woman’s journey towards self-realization. Combining composer Huang Ruo (Dr. Sun Yat-sen), visual artist Jennifer Wen Ma (opening and closing ceremonies of Olympics Beijing 2008), and singer Qian Yi (Peony Pavilion), this riveting production has critics raving about a new genre of opera: installation opera.

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“Paradise Interrupted,” with, from left, Yi Li, Qian Yi and Joo Won Kang, at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College. Credit: Stephanie Berger for The New York Times

 

Anthony Tommasini of the New York Times praised the production, calling it “”powerful… engrossing…. [Qian Yi] was superb.” He gave particular praise to Huang Ruo’s “integrated, richly detailed score” stating that opera was “so alluring and powerful due largely to the inventive and personal music of its composer, Huang Ruo.”

Alina Cohen at The New York Observer found Paradise Interrupted “”a thrill to watch … a living, vivid variation of one of humanity’s oldest stories … infuses an old form with contemporary ideas and technology” while WQXR’s Operavore said, “[Huang Ruo is] a thrillingly inventive composer … [Jennifer Wen Ma’s production] fit the libretto’s parable beautifully … Qian Yi [is] a charismatic marvel.”

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The Chinese singer Qian Yi in “Paradise Interrupted,” directed and designed by Jennifer Wen Ma, composed by Huang Ruo and presented as part of the Lincoln Center Festival. Credit: Stephanie Berger for The New York Times

The New York Classical Review called the work “dreamily poetic … part of what makes Paradise Interrupted so compelling is the ways in which it surprises … powerfully communicative thanks to its superb realization, beginning with the score. Huang Ruo’s writing…lands with dramatic force, powered by the depth of its imagination … Qian Yi[‘s] gestures, presence, and characterization were mesmerizing.”

“Mesmerizing, Tantalizing,” raved Broadway World. “Shows off the composer at his most alluring … Designer Ma’s physical vision was stunning … Qian Yi [is] totally enthralling in every part of her performance.”

Paradise Interrupted had its world premiere in 2014 at the Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston, SC. The production is scheduled to travel to Singapore in August, and then to Taiwan.


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.


New Opera Tackles Racism In America In Free Concert Performance In Harlem

January 28, 2015

Independence Eve, currently in development at AOP, to be presented at The Harlem School of the Arts

“Stop and Frisk” among three stories exploring a century of race relations.

NEW YORK, NY American Opera Projects (AOP) and The Harlem School of the Arts present Independence Eve, a new chamber opera in three scenes that explores the troubled journey of race relations in America. The free concert performance will take place on Thursday, February 5 at 7:00PM at The Harlem School of the Arts (The Herb Alpert Center, 645 Saint Nicholas Avenue, New York, NY 10030). Composed by Sidney Marquez Boquiren with a libretto by Daniel Neer, the opera will include performances by baritone Jorell Williams and tenor Brandon Snook, while Mila Henry will provide music direction and piano. A talkback with the artists will follow the one hour concert moderated by composer Laura Kaminsky (As One) and HSA Voice Chair Yolanda Wyns.

Currently in development at AOP, Independence Eve is comprised of three unrelated scenes, each of which take place on July 3 on a park bench in an unspecified American city, in the years 1963, 2013, and 2063. Each story focuses on the relationship between two men, one white and one black, who struggle with identity and acceptance. Independence Eve is a study of black and white America, offering commentary on the intricacies of race relations and the insidious and persistent stain of racism that has remained consistent throughout American history.

The first scene, “Stop and Frisk,” has already received numerous community performances throughout Brooklyn and garnered attention from the press, including a recent Talk of the Town profile in The New Yorker.

Independence Eve is currently in development as part of AOP’s First Chance program that allows composers and librettists to hear their works-in-progress performed before an audience. Development of the opera began during Mr. Boquiren’s fellowship in the 2011-12 season of AOP’s composer training program Composers & the Voice with both Mr. Williams and Mr. Snook creating their roles. Development of the opera is made possible, in part, through generous funding by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the New York Department of Cultural Affairs.

AOP plans to present the world premiere of Independence Eve at park benches around New York City in June 2015.

ADDITIONAL PROJECT INFO AND PRESS MATERIALS AVAILABLE AT: www.operaprojects.org

IEJorell Williams and Brandon Snook in Independence Eve (Nov. 2014 performance at Adelphi University).

Photo by Matt Gray for American Opera Projects

Listing Info

INDEPENDENCE EVE
The making of an opera about race relations in America

Thursday, February 5 – 7:00 PM

The Harlem School of the Arts, The Herb Alpert Center 645 Saint Nicholas Avenue, New York, NY 10030

AOP and The Harlem School of the Arts present a staged concert performance of Independence Eve, a new chamber opera in three scenes by composer Sidney Marquez Boquiren and librettist Daniel Neer that explores the troubled journey of race relations in America. Followed by a Q&A with the artists. Part of the 2014 Composers Now Festival.

PERFORMANCES BY: Jorell Williams and Brandon Snook

MUSIC DIRECTION/PIANO: Mila Henry

TICKETS: FREE

RUNNING TIME: Two hours, including Q&A

ABOUT THE ARTISTS:

Sidney Marquez Boquiren is a composer-performer who grew up in the Philippines and Saudi Arabia but has spent most of his life in the United States. He collaborates with artists on various projects that include opera (Independence Eve with Daniel Neer); Biblical illumination (folia ligni for Spark and Echo Arts); and multi-media (The Gretel Project with Lauren K. Alleyne, Catherine Chung, and Tomiko Jones). As a pianist, he performs regularly with Rhymes With Opera and pulsoptional. A MacDowell Fellow, Sidney is currently the Chair of the Department of Music at Adelphi University in Garden City, New York, where he teaches music theory and composition. He is also a cantor and sings in the church choir of The Church of St. Francis Xavier in Manhattan.

Daniel Neer enjoys a diverse career as a singing actor and librettist. Recent projects include Bruce Bailey with Daniel Felsenfeld for the BEAT Festival, and BQE with Robinson McClellan for the Queens New Music Festival, (both commissioned by Two Sides Sounding). The opera Mercury Falling, with Chandler Carter, was presented at the Long Leaf Festival in Raleigh, North Carolina, and song set HAIKU-NYC with Ellen Mandel recently premiered at the BEAT Festival. Daniel’s auspicious collaboration with Sidney Boquiren began with the workshop of Odes to Earth and Air. Other recent premieres include two chamber works: The Good Doctor Windhager with Ronnie Reshef, and Summer, 1976 by Kim Sherman, both premiered by the lyricist and the Qube String Quartet in Columbus, Ohio.

Baritone Jorell Williams, winner of the Patricia and Heyward Gignilliat Silver Medal Award at the 2014 American Traditions Competition and acclaimed by The New York Times for his “magnificent, rich toned” baritone and his “perfect” comic timing, is gaining international success on both the opera and concert stages. His 2014/2015 season includes debuts with Finger Lakes Opera, Syracuse Opera, Opera on the Avalon, and premieres of new works with American Repertory Theater and American Opera Projects. Jorell is a recipient of top awards from the Gerda Lissner International Competition, Schuyler Foundation for Career Bridges, the Liberace Foundation, Sergei Koussevitzky Foundation, David Adams art song competition, Civic Morning Musicals Foundation, and the Charles A. Lynam Competition. For more information please visit: http://www.jorellmwilliams.com.

Tenor Brandon Snook has been praised by The New York Times for his “vocal freshness”, along with his “appealing and talented” nature, and has collaborated extensively with AOP, most notably being part of the 2011-12 Composers & the Voice Series. In addition to playing Little Bat in productions of Susannah in Tel Aviv, he premiered the role of Robert Johnson in Phil Kline and Jim Jarmusch’s opera Tesla in New York, Tony in the Off-Off Broadway production of Terrence McNally’s Master Class, and Frederic in The Pirates of Penzance in South Carolina. Additional mainstage credits include Cincinnati Opera, Michigan Opera Theatre, Des Moines Metro Opera, Sarasota Opera, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, and solo concert credits at Lincoln Center and Brooklyn Academy of Music. A native of Dallas, Texas, Brandon has voice degrees from the University of Kansas and the University of Michigan.

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 has collaborated with American Opera Projects, American Lyric Theater, Beth Morrison Projects, 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); Smashed: The Carrie Nation Story (FringeNYC); The World is Round and As One (BAM Fisher); The Difficulty of Crossing a Field (Beth Morrison Projects). milahenry.com

ABOUT THE PRESENTERS:

AOP‘s mission is to identify, develop and present new and innovative works of music-theatre by emerging and established artists and to engage our audiences in an immersive, transformative theatrical experience. At the forefront of the contemporary opera movement for a quarter-century, AOP creates, develops and presents opera and music theatre projects collaborating with young, rising and established artists in the field. AOP has produced over 30 world premieres, most recently Kaminsky/Reed/Campbell’s As One at BAM (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. AOP-developed operas that premiered with co-producers include Gregory Spears’s Paul’s Case at PROTOTYPE (2014), Stephen Schwartz’s Séance on a Wet Afternoon at New York City Opera (2011), and Tarik O’Regan’s Heart of Darkness at London’s Royal Opera House (2011). www.operaprojects.org

Harlem School of the Arts (HSA) enriches the lives of young people and their families through world-class training in and exposure to the arts across multiple disciplines in an environment that emphasizes rigorous training, stimulates creativity, builds self-confidence, and adds a dimension of beauty to their lives. HSA achieves this on-site at The Herb Alpert Center by offering high-quality, affordable, arts training in dance, music, theatre, and visual art to ethnically and socio-economically diverse young people aged 2-18; by providing financial aid and merit scholarships to those who need it most; and by developing key partnerships with other cultural institutions, colleges/universities, and conservatories to prepare its aspiring pre-professional students at the highest possible level. They also reach beyond their walls to provide essential arts education residencies in New York City Public Schools through our Educational Outreach Program. HSA is a dynamic cultural institution that presents a range of high caliber performances, exhibitions and other programming for the community. In addition, they provide rental space/studios for established and emerging artists to rehearse, create and connect with HSA students. Harlem School of the Arts is able to achieve this with the exceptional participation of their family of loyal donors, dedicated parents, involved alumni and generous guest and resident artists. A future in the arts begins here! For more information, visit www.hsanyc.org.


AMERICAN OPERA PROJECTS PRESENTS “SIX SCENES” OF NEW OPERAS BY EMERGING COMPOSERS AND LIBRETTISTS

August 13, 2014

MUSIC FROM THE 2013-14

SEASON OF COMPOSERS & THE VOICE

 

A Stonewall-era drag queen and the cop entranced by her. A princess manipulates her captor during the Crusades. A man’s literal vacation from Hell. On­­­­ Friday, September 12 and Sunday, September 14 at 7:30 PM, AOP (American Opera Projects) will present these and other excerpts of new operas at COMPOSERS & THE VOICE: SIX SCENES 2014, the culmination of this season’s Composers & the Voice (C&V) opera training program. Audiences will see scenes by five emerging composers – Guy Barash, Avner Finberg, Jeremy Gill, Andreia Pinto-Correia, Gity Razaz – and one composer/librettist team, Joseph Rubinstein and Jason Kim, who were chosen by AOP to spend a year creating new works focusing on the operatic voice. The performances will be held at South Oxford Space in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, home of AOP. Tickets are $15 general admission, $10 for students/seniors and are available at http://www.operaprojects.org.

AOP Resident Ensemble of Singers performing: sopranos Deborah Lifton (Center for Contemporary Opera, Encompass New Opera Theatre) and Kristin Sampson (Dicapo Opera Theatre, Santa Fe Opera), mezzo Blythe Gaissert (Los Angeles Opera, Aspen Music Festival), tenor Dominic Armstrong (New York City Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago), baritone Jorell Williams (Caramoor International Music Festival, Opera Theatre of St. Louis), and bass-baritone Matthew Burns (Boston Lyric Opera, New York City Opera).  Supporting on piano will be Composers & the Voice Music Directors Mila Henry, Kelly Horsted, and Charity Wicks.

The performances will be hosted by C&V Artistic Director Steven Osgood (conductor, Chautauqua Opera, New York City Opera) and feature discussions with the artists about the creative process.

This year’s C&V fellows have benefitted from one-on-one mentoring from esteemed composers Daron Hagen, Jake Heggie, Libby Larsen, John Musto, Tobias Picker, and Stephen Schwartz, as well as librettist Mark Campbell. Each of these distinguished artists reviews their fellows’ work, offers feedback, and participates in C&V discussions.

Previous Six Scenes by C&V alumni produced in the Brooklyn-based bi-annual series featured the first performances of Jack Perla’s Love/Hate (World Premiere 2012, San Francisco) and Gregory Spears’ Paul’s Case (World Premiere Spring 2013, in Washington, DC and New York).

ABOUT COMPOSERS & THE VOICE

Created and led by Artistic Director Steven Osgood, Composers & the Voice began in 2002 and is currently in its seventh season. In Composers & the Voice, fellows establish an understanding of how the operatic voice works and how to write optimally for each voice type, and have hands-on experiences that allow them to explore in their own musical and textual language. Participants meet in closed sessions from September to April to present and discuss new works composed specifically for the individual voices of the Resident Ensemble.

With each new group of fellows, sponsorships are named in honor of mentors and their support of Composers & the Voice. During the workshop session these “Composer Chairs” make themselves available to our fellows for one-on-one discussions and feedback. Past “Composer Chairs” have included composers Mark Adamo, John Corigliano, Tan Dun, Daron Hagen, Lee Hoiby, John Musto, Richard Peaslee, Tobias Picker, Kaija Saariaho, and Stephen Schwartz.

Composers & the Voice holds a long-established partnership with The Manhattan School of Music, and a new affiliation with the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, as a way of introducing contemporary opera to students. Two of the scenes featured in September’s Six Scenes concert will be selected for study and performance in 2015 at the two conservatories.

Composers & the Voice is made possible in part by a generous multi-year award from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Fellows in the C&V program are supported by funding from The New York Community Trust, Edward and Sally Van Lier Fund, and Musical Arts Fund. In the 2013-2014 season, The Victor Herbert Foundation has announced the sponsorship of one fellowship as The Victor Herbert Foundation Composers & The Voice Chair. The Chair is created in memory of longtime opera supporter Lois C. Schwartz.

 picture

C&V Fellows  (l. to r.) Jason Kim, Joseph Rubinstein, Jeremy Gill, Gity Razaz, Andreia Pinto-Correia, Guy Barash, and Avner Finberg. Photo by Ted Gorodetzky. Additional photos: https://flic.kr/s/aHsjGVwRYe
 

CALENDAR LISTING INFORMATION

AMERICAN OPERA PROJECTS presents

Composers & the Voice: Six Scenes 2014

World Premiere Opera Scenes from the 2013-14 Season of Composers & the Voice

WORKS BY: Guy Barash, Avner Finberg, Jeremy Gill, Andreia Pinto-Correia, Gity Razaz, Joseph Rubinstein and Jason Kim

MUSIC DIRECTION: Mila Henry, Kelly Horsted, Charity Wicks

PERFORMANCES BY: Deborah Lifton, Kristin Sampson, Blythe Gaissert, Dominic Armstrong, Jorell Williams, Matthew Burns

Friday, September 12 and Sunday, September 14, 7:30 p.m.

South Oxford Space

138 S. Oxford St., Brooklyn, NY 11217

Subway: 2, 3, 4, 5, Q, B to Atlantic Avenue – Barclays Center

D, N, R to Pacific Street; G to Fulton Street; C to Lafayette Avenue

Train: Long Island Railroad to Atlantic Terminal – Barclays Center

Bus: B25, B26, B45, B52, B63, all stop within three blocks of South Oxford Space

Car: Commercial parking lots are located adjacent to BAM and Barclays Center

Tickets: $15 General Admission, $10 Students/Seniors

Tickets available at www.operaprojects.org

Complete information about Composers & the Voice and this year’s artists can be found at www.operaprojects.org/composers_voice.htm

ABOUT THE PRODUCER

At the forefront of the contemporary opera movement for a quarter-century, AOP creates, develops and presents opera and music theatre projects collaborating with young, rising and established artists in the field. AOP has produced over 20 world premieres including Nkeiru Okoye’s Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom, Lera Auerbach’s The Blind, a co-production with Lincoln Center Festival 2013. Other notable premieres include Kimper/Persons’ Patience & Sarah (1998), Stefan Weisman’s Darkling (2006), Lee Hoiby’s This is the Rill Speaking (2008), and Phil Kline’s Out Cold (2012) at BAM. AOP-developed projects with premiere with collaborating companies: Gregory Spears’s Paul’s Case at Urban Arias (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), Jorge Martín’s Before Night Falls at Fort Worth Opera (2010), Lee Hoiby’s This Is the Rill Speaking at Opera Memphis (2013) and Purchase College (2008). Upcoming:  As One at BAM, September 2014.

ADDITIONAL PROJECT INFO AND PRESS MATERIALS AVAILABLE AT: www.operaprojects.org


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