MSM Opera Program to Showcase Scenes from New Opera “Decoration”

September 11, 2012

Selections from an eerie, hallucinatory new opera Decoration by Composers & the Voice fellow Mikael Karlsson will be presented by the Manhattan School of Music’s opera department in a program of new operas in March 2013. One of the “Six Scenes” performed this past weekend at an AOP showcase of various operas in development, Decoration follows the pre-apocalyptic journey of two sisters – one pregnant, one dying – and their extremely different outlooks on the future.

Composer Mikael Karlsson (photo by Anna Österlund)

Decoration scenes, libretto by the composer and David Flodén, will be performed in a staged reading by MSM voice students at Greenfield Hall as part of the annual New American Opera Previews, from Page to Stage series, hosted by WQXR’s Midge Woolsey, produced by Opera Index. The selection was made by a panel of judges including Assistant Dean of Opera Studies/Opera Production at MSM Gordon Ostrowski and Head Coach William Tracy.

The nationally recognized Composers & the Voice (C&V) is a fellowship for six composers or composer/librettist teams to work with an artistic team, headed by Steven Osgood, and AOP’s Resident Ensemble of Singers. The primary focus of C&V is to give composers extensive experience working collaboratively with singers on writing for the voice. With each new group of fellows, sponsorships are named in honor of mentors and their support of Composers & the Voice.

Tobias Picker

Composer Tobias Picker (American Tragedy) served as a Mikael Karlsson’s “Composer Chair,” providing a one-on-one mentorship throughout the year. Other Composer Chairs during the past C&V season included John Corigliano, Daron Hagen, John Musto, Kaija Saariaho, and Stephen Schwartz.

Decoration marks the ninth presentation by MSM of opera excerpts to come out of  C&V.  Previous C&V operas have included “The Summer King” by Daniel Sonenberg, “Exiles” by Renee Favand-See, “Dream President” by Jennifer Griffith, “The Golden Gate” by Conrad Cummings, “Death in Summer” by Gregg Wrammage, “Paul’s Case” by Gregory Spears, “Henry’s Wife” by Randall Eng, and “Love/Hate” by Jack Perla, which went on to a world premiere in April 2012 in partnership with The San Francisco Opera.

Music from C&V fellows will also be programmed at upcoming presentations by OPERAtion Brooklyn and the BEAT Festival, Opera Memphis and AOP Artistic Partner The Walt Whitman Project.

“For the composers selected the implications are many and very rewarding,” said C&V Artistic Director Steven Osgood. “Each of them will have their music brought to a wider and diverse audience [and] each of them will forge relationships with major artistic institutions, which is today an increasingly difficult hurdle for emerging artists.”

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.


Whitman in Song travels up the Hudson

October 7, 2008
Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman

This evening we will be performing our Walt Whitman in Song program in a special presentation for The Rockefeller Brothers Fund at Pocantico, the estate of John D. Rockefeller and home of Kykuit. We will be adding a new song to the program, premiering tonight – Gilda Lyons’s “Old Walt”, an a cappella piece for trio commissioned by AOP.

Walt Whitman in Song at Pocantico
Greg Trupiano, Walt Whitman Project, emcee
Kelly Horsted, music director and keyboard
Donna Smith, soprano
Adrienne Danrich, soprano
Matt Curran, bass

I C&V composers settings of Whitman texts:
“the silvery round moon” – Ray Lustig; (Donna)
“When lilacs last by the dooryard bloomed” – Jack Perla (Adrienne)
Wallabout Martyrs – Gilda Lyons, (Adrienne)
“O Me! O Life!” – Clint Borzoni (Matt)
“Old Walt” (Langston Hughs text) Gilda Lyons (Trio)

II Other composers with texts about or related to Whitman themes:
Aids Quilt song, deBlasio; Whitman text (Matt)
Star Spangled Banner with unpublished words by Whitman (Donna)
Hymn – “ My Days are Swiftly gliding by” Whitman weaves into “Speciman Days” (Donna)

III Other song texts with themes related to Whitman themes:
“Lady of the Harbor” – Lee Hoiby (Adrienne)
“Black Max,” Bill Bolcom (Matt)
“Jewel Song” from Gounod’s FAUST (Adrienne)
Duet from Mozart’s GIOVANNI (Adrienne and Matt)


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