Critics speak “As One” in praise of latest AOP opera

September 19, 2014

“As One is everything that we hope for in contemporary opera: topical, poignant, daring, and beautifully written.”
New York Classical Review

Kelly Markgraf and Sasha Cooke in "As One"

Kelly Markgraf and Sasha Cooke in “As One”. Photo by Ken Cazan.

On September 7, AOP’s opera “As One” completed a sold-out three-performance run at BAM’s Fishman Theater and the critical response has been overwhelmingly positive with declaring it “a piece that haunts and challenges” (Opera News), “artistically distinguished, socially important” (WQXR), that “satisfies in an entertaining and delicately moving way” (NY Observer). In the chamber opera by composer Laura Kaminsky, librettist Mark Campbell and librettist/filmmaker Kimberly Reed, a mezzo-soprano (Sasha Cooke) and a baritone (Kelly Markgraf) depict the experiences of its sole transgender protagonist, Hannah, as she endeavors to resolve the discord between her self and the outside world. The work featured performances by The Fry Street Quartet, stage direction by Ken Cazan, and music direction by Steven Osgood. Here is a sampling of the praise it received:

From New York Classical Review:

“American Opera Projects has produced a number of significant new pieces in its twenty-five-plus years, and the company’s latest does not disappoint.”

“As One is a remarkable piece, dealing with difficult and sensitive subject matter (even in a progressive city like New York, the topic of gender dysphoria still feels somewhat taboo) but showing not a hint of animus. There is no preaching here, only honest, earnest depiction of an experience. Obviously, the idea of gender identity is central to the work, but this is not a piece about gender identity, per se. It is rather a piece about a human being, Hannah, and her journey, her doubt, her fear, and eventually her joy.”

“The piece itself is formidable on all fronts, starting with an unassuming but nonetheless powerful libretto by Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed.”

“[Laura Kaminsky’s] remarkable score always seems to be in perfect harmony with the libretto.”

From Out.com:

AS ONE photo 1 by Ken Howard for AOP“The brilliance of As One is that the drama is (mostly) internal. With only one character, Hannah, that choice allows for a complex and nuanced portrayal of the coming out experience on stage.”

“The simplicity of their (Reed and Campbell’s) language gives the opera a stream-of-consciousness ease and accessibility. Voice is often a signifier of gender but the opera’s creators potently play with it here as a more symbolic marker of identity.”

“Composer Laura Kaminsky, who first conceived of the project (her first opera), has created a musical world that captures both the discordance of Hannah’s struggle and her growth toward personal harmony. Moments of playfulness, innocence and discovery…are tempered by moments of fear and loneliness. Kaminsky swirls all of these experiences together in layers of competing sounds and rhythms, revealing a complex emotional portrait of Hannah’s inner world.”

“The success and beauty of As One is that it reveals epic emotions within an intimate frame.”

From Opera News:

“The draw of As One, which has a libretto by Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed, lies in its very human depiction of the internal and external issues faced by transgender individuals in the twenty-first century…(it is) a piece that haunts and challenges its audience with questions about identity, authenticity, compassion and the human desire for self-love and peace.”

“Ken Cazan’s production had the singers and the players of the Fry Street Quartet co-exist and interact in the same space, creating a world that was as fantastical and dreamlike as it was gritty and real.”

“Together (Kelly) Markgraf and (Sasha) Cooke—who are husband and wife in real life—created one character with their fully committed physical and emotional connection.”

AS ONE photo 5 by Ken Howard for AOP“Leading with eloquence and focus was Steven Osgood, a champion of modern American opera…Osgood maintained the delicate balance with ease and an ear for the musical and dramatic arc of this compelling journey.”

From David Patrick Stearns/WQXR:

“Artistically distinguished, socially important…says so much with relatively modest means.”

“In a subject with so many ways to go wrong, composer Laura Kaminsky and co-librettists Mark Campbell (best known for Silent Night) and Kimberly Reed (once a star quarterback in Montana but now a female filmmaker) elegantly zeroed in on pivotal moments in the inner life of a single character named Hannah.”

“Musically, Kaminsky’s dramatically charged music has a tonal ambiguity that allows each scene to go where it needs to, and in a clear dramatic trajectory.”

“Baritone Kelly Markgraf sang with a robust, full-bodied voice that drove home the exterior/interior contrast of being masculine on the outside but moving in more feminine ways in unguarded moments. Mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke had some of the opera’s more ecstatic writing, since the feminine part of Hannah’s life has the greatest discoveries. Both singers, who happen to be husband and wife, sang with beauty, intelligence and superb English diction.”

“Stage director Ken Cazan maintained Brechtian dislocation by keeping the accompanying Fry Street Quartet in the center of the stage. The lack of comprehensive realism in the stage pictures let you stand outside the story and take it in more objectively to more fully process the events at hand.”

From James Jorden/The New York Observer:

“…satisfies in an entertaining and delicately moving way…”

“Mr. Campbell and Ms. Reed’s text is wonderfully tactful, never reaching for grandiose effects.”

“(Ms. Kaminsky’s) setting of text is masterful, so natural and unaffected that the projected titles were superfluous.”

AS ONE photo 2 by Ken Howard for AOP“This world premiere boasted a cast as close to perfection as I can imagine…Ken Cazan staged the piece with subtlety and tact. Ms. Reed directed film segments that were projected around and someone (sic) on the action, starting in faded black and white and gradually blooming into rich color for the “Norway” finale. David Martin Jacques’ intricate lighting design added visual interest…and Sara Jean Tosetti’s costumes, simple hoodies and jeans, posed intriguing questions about the nature of masculinity.”

From [Q]onstage:

“MAGNIFICENT. Our story was made on September 4 at BAM Fisher in the Fishman Space. Composer Laura Kaminsky’s latest work, “As One” stole an entire house full of hearts. A spare stage and few props placed the focus firmly on the music, right where it should be. (Mark) Campbell and (Kimberly) Reed’s libretto has humor, pathos and that most elusive of qualities—true emotion.”

“The multi-media film is projected on translucent material of various sizes and heights, hung in the back of the room. The diaphanous presence of images seemed like thought made flesh.”

“Baritone Kelly Markgraf plays “Hannah before” with gentility, great thoughtfulness and presence, while mezzo soprano Sasha Cooke plays “Hannah after,” as dazzling with character as with the beauty of her voice….this work requires a very particular set of mad skills—these are brilliant singers and accomplished actors both. When they sing together, they are limerance.”

“The Fry Quartet transcend their music.”

From The New York Times:

“Ms. Kaminsky has sensitive collaborators in Mark Campbell, who wrote the libretto for Kevin Puts’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “Silent Night,” and Kimberly Reed, whose documentary, “Prodigal Sons,” traces her own transgender life.”

“The baritone Kelly Markraf sings “Hannah before” with power and clarity. With knowing wit and vocal lushness, the mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke plays “Hannah after.”

“In Ken Cazan’s sparse staging, backed by scene-setting projections from Ms. Reed, the drama powerfully coheres.”

From Parterre Box:

“Kaminsky knows how to write for the voice, permitting beautiful voices to demonstrate their beauties, hitting emotional chords.”

AS ONE photo 4 by Ken Howard for AOP

From the Wall Street Journal:

“The double casting ingeniously sets out the male/female bifurcation of personality, and the two singers, with their matched vocal timbres and expressivity, make it believable. So does Ken Cazan’s choreographed direction.”

From Voce di meche:

“(As One) held our interest from start to finish—words such as TRANScendent and TRANSformation kept popping into our brain…If you are fortunate enough to get a ticket, don’t be surprised if you walk out TRANSformed.”

“(Although) Mr. Markgraf’s physical and forceful baritone are completely masculine, his skillful interpretation allowed us to realize the woman within. Ms. Cooke’s gleaming mezzo and soft appearance was tinged at appropriate moments with the called-for masculine quality as she portrayed “Hannah after.” The roles could not have been better acted or sung.”

“A remarkable feature of the work is the way the various artists were called upon to cross artistic boundaries….the singers were called upon to dance…the superb conductor Steven Osgood was called up to lay down his baton and assume the role of a schoolteacher…the members of the Fry Street Quartet not only played Ms. Kaminsky’s music with consummate artistry but also participated in the drama just a bit.”

“Stage director Ken Cazan…created the magic of having us see in our mind’s eye what was not onstage.”

“(Ms. Kaminsky’s) writing for the string quartet was nothing short of thrilling…and there were some thrilling moments when Ms. Cooke and Mr. Markgraf sang in gorgeous harmony (symbolic!) and in unison (even more symbolic!).”

Find complete As One reviews, interviews, and profiles at www.operaprojects.org/AsOne#asone_press


AMERICAN OPERA PROJECTS RECEIVES MAJOR GRANT FROM THE ANDREW W. MELLON FOUNDATION TO SUPPORT ARTISTIC INITIATIVES

September 10, 2014

BROOKLYN, NY, September 10, 2014 – American Opera Projects (AOP) is pleased to announce that it has been awarded a major grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.  The $200,000 grant, active through December 2016, will support artistic initiatives by AOP: the Composers & the Voice and First Chance programs. The primary focus of Composers & the Voice is to give composers and librettists extensive experience working collaboratively with singers on writing for the voice and contemporary opera stage. The First Chance program allows composers and librettists to hear their work, in part or in full, for the first time before an audience, and helps to develop new works for future performances by opera companies. By helping fund these and other upcoming American Opera Projects programs, the Mellon Foundation has ensured that AOP can continue to offer opportunities and insights to rising composers, librettists, and presenting institutions. AOP General Director Charles Jarden states, “we are grateful to The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for this generous grant as it allows AOP to move forward with boldness and innovation. Our goal is to keep contemporary American opera vibrant.”

The seventh cycle of the Composers & the Voice (C&V) program will conclude this month with Six Scenes, a concert of opera scenes created in the program by this year’s fellows. Performances will be held on Friday, September 12 and Sunday, September 14 at 7:30 PM, at South Oxford Space in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, home of AOP.  Manhattan School of Music and UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music opera directors will be on hand to select scenes for further development at their respective conservatories.

Fellows from the seventh season of Composers & the Voice in a workshop session. Brooklyn, NY. Photo by Ted Gorodetzky

Fellows from the seventh season of Composers & the Voice in a workshop session. Brooklyn, NY. Photo by Ted Gorodetzky

In addition to the Mellon Foundation grant, AOP has recently received 2014-15 season general operating grants from New Music USA and the Amphion Foundation. New Music USA has contributed to AOP through the Cary New Music Performance Fund, which seeks out organizations that “demonstrate excellence in innovative new music programming and/or performances consisting primarily of new music by living composers, improvisers, sound artists or singer/songwriters working in any style or genre.” In addition, the Amphion Foundation has provided a grant to AOP reserved for those organizations with a “history of substantial commitment to contemporary concert music at a high level of excellence.” AOP Composer-in-Residence Laura Kaminsky notes that: “the commitment that all three of these organizations have made to AOP is critical, timely, and exciting. We are looking forward to shepherding the development of much exciting new music as a result.”

Since its founding in 1988, AOP has been 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. Throughout its existence AOP has striven to bring compelling and innovative opera to New York City and the United States, and with the help of these grants, that mission will continue.


AOP PRESENTS “FIRST GLIMPSE” OF EMERGING COMPOSERS & LIBRETTISTS IN BROOKLYN

April 24, 2014
C&V Fellows 2013-14

COMPOSER DARON HAGEN HOSTS

WORLD PREMIERE SONGS FROM THE 2013-14 
SEASON OF COMPOSERS & THE VOICE

BROOKLYN, NY, April 24, 2014– On Sunday, May 18 and Monday, May 19, 2014 at 7:30pm AMERICAN OPERA PROJECTS (AOP) will present COMPOSERS & THE VOICE: FIRST GLIMPSE 2014, the first public presentation of compositions developed during this season’s Composers & the Voice (C&V) program. Composer Daron Hagen hosts the concert of songs written 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, the home of AOP. Tickets are $15 general admission, $10 for students/seniors and are available at www.operaprojects.org.

Composer Daron Hagen (AmeliaA Woman in Morocco) will host the concert. In addition to seven months of workshop training sessions, the C&V fellows received one-on-one mentoring from Mr. Hagen, as well as esteemed composers Jake Heggie, Libby Larsen, John Musto, Tobias Picker, Stephen Schwartz and librettist Mark Campbell. Each of these distinguished artists review their fellow’s work, offer feedback, and participate in C&V discussions.

The AOP Resident Ensemble of Singers performing at First Glimpse are sopranos Deborah Lifton (Center for Contemporary Opera, Encompass New Opera Theatre, Joy In Singing Competition Winner) and Kristin Sampson (Best Female Performer Award- Mezzo Television Armel Opera Competition, Dicapo Opera Theatre, Santa Fe Opera), mezzo Rachel Calloway (Castleton Festival, Gotham Chamber Opera, PROTOTYPE), tenor Dominic Armstrong (New York City Opera, New York Philharmonic, Lyric Opera of Chicago), baritone Jorell Williams (Caramoor International Music Festival, New York City Encores!, Opera Theatre of St. Louis), and bass-baritone Matthew Burns (Bard SummerScape, Boston Lyric Opera, New York City Opera). Supporting on piano will be Composers & the Voice Music Directors Mila Henry, Kelly Horsted, and Charity Wicks.

Created and led by Artistic Director Steven Osgood (and former Artistic Director of AOP), Composers & the Voice began in 2002 and is currently in its seventh season.American Opera Projects selects six composers for a year-long fellowship to work with the company’s Resident Ensemble of Singers for the nationally recognized workshop series, with additional training in acting, improv, and libretto study. The primary focus of Composers & the Voice is to give composers and librettists experience working collaboratively with singers on writing for the voice and contemporary opera stage. 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.

Composers & the Voice is made possible in part by a generous multi-year award from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Composers & the Voice fellows are supported, in part, by funding from The Victor Herbert Foundation.

First Glimpse 2014 on May 18 and 19 will be the first public performances of compositions created during this year’s workshops. In September 2014, the Composers & the Voice fellows will return from a summer hiatus with Six Scenes, an evening of short opera scenes presented as part of AOP’s First Chance series. One of these scenes will be selected to receive a staged reading at Manhattan School of Music in Spring 2015 as part of their annual “New American Opera Previews, from Page to Stage”.

FG14-banner-5_1

AMERICAN OPERA PROJECTS presents

Composers & the Voice: First Glimpse 2014
World Premiere Songs from the 2013-14 Season of Composers & the Voice

COMPOSITIONS 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, Rachel Calloway, Dominic Armstrong, Jorell Williams, Matthew Burns
HOSTED BY: Daron Hagen

COMPOSERS & THE VOICE ARTISTIC DIRECTOR: Steven Osgood

Sunday, May 18 and Monday, May 19, 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

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

PRESS PHOTOS AVAILABLE HERE.


Harriet Tubman Opera Preview at Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

November 19, 2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

harriet banner new

New York, NY– AOP (American Opera Projects), and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture will co-present an evening of scenes from Nkeiru Okoye’s folk opera Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom that tells of how a young girl born in slavery, becomes Harriet Tubman, the legendary Underground Railroad conductor. The musical excerpts will be followed by an artist Q&A moderated by WQXR’s Terrance McKnight. The concert will be presented on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 6:30 PM at the Langston Hughes Auditorium: 515 Malcolm X Boulevard, New York, NY 10037-1801. General admission will be $10 ($8 for Schomburg Society Members) and available by calling (212) 491-2206 or visiting www.showclix.com/event/HarrietTubman.

Harriet Tubman will include performances by soprano Sumayya Ali (Lincoln Center, Berkshire Opera, Sarasota Opera), soprano Sequina DuBose (Lyric Opera of Chicago, Opera Memphis, PAB Theater), contralto Nicole Mitchell (Lincoln Center Festival, Sarasota Opera), tenor Clinton Ingram (Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, Teatro Real), and baritone Damian Norfleet (Perseverance Theater, AMAS Musical Theater, Prospect Theater Company). The evening will feature a string ensemble with music direction by Mila Henry, stage direction by Beth Greenberg (New York City Opera) and WQXR’s Terrance McKnight moderating a Q&A with the artists.

Using a mixture of opera and vernacular folk music, featuring gospel spirituals, ragtime, early blues, minstrel songs, work songs, call and responses, and field hollers, Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom tells this important chapter of American history in the context of Tubman’s tight-knit family of lively characters and two sisters vowing that nothing but death will separate them, despite the slavery threatening to tear them apart. The work is in development at Brooklyn-based AOP who has featured music from Tubman at venues such as Galapagos Art Space, SUNY Albany, and the Brooklyn Public Library Main Branch.

 A semi-staged performance of the entire Harriet Tubman opera will be presented by AOP in February 2014 at Brooklyn’s Irondale Center as part of Lines of Freedom, a theatrical celebration of African-American history. Presentations of Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom are supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Art Works.

 

BIOS

Okoye, Nkeiru_hs Nkeiru Okoye is an established voice in new music. Her works have been performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, Virginia Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, Grand Rapids Symphony, New Jersey Symphony and countless regional orchestras. She has garnered numerous awards, commissions and commendations from MEET THE COMPOSER, the Virginia Symphony, MetLife Creative Connections, John Duffy Composer Institute, Composer’s Collaborative, Inc., the Walt Whitman Project, Yvar Mikhashov Trust for New Music and the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP). After penning her first composition at age 13 and winning first prize at a national competition, she decided to pursue training as a composer. Okoye’s best known works include Brooklyn Cinderella (2011, commissioned by American Opera Projects), Songs of Harriet Tubman (2007, on the CD Heart on a Wall), Phillis Wheatley (2005 recorded by the Moscow Symphony), Voices Shouting Out (2002, commissioned by the Virginia Symphony); African Sketches (2007-08, published in the Oxford University Press Anthology of Piano Music of the African Diaspora); and The Genesis. As a frequent guest lecturer and panelist, Okoye was a composer mentor at the University of Ghana for the 2005 International Society of Contemporary Music’s World New Music Days. In 2006, she was the winner of a British American Project Fellowship. A native New Yorker of African American and Nigerian descent, Okoye was honored at Nigeria’s 40under40 ceremony in Lagos. Dr. Okoye is a multi-talented polymath who designed the acclaimed “Canbie Collection”, a series of multicultural, soft sculpture dolls, found in the Smithsonian and museums nationwide. She holds degrees from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and Rutgers University and currently serves on the composition faculty at the State University of New York at New Paltz.

Ali, Sumayya_hsSumayya Ali has been recognized for her remarkable artistic integrity and versatility. Blessed with a “heart wrenchingly tender yet powerful soprano,” her intentions are to use her voice to heal, speak truth and enlighten. Sumayya has illuminated stages on Broadway, as well as concert halls and opera houses throughout the world. In addition to her theatrical work, she has started to break into film. Ms. Ali made her film debut in Red Hook Summer directed by Spike Lee this past summer. Most recently, Sumayya Ali was in the Tony award winning Broadway revival of Porgy and Bess; understudying the title character as well as Clara and Serena. Last month she was featured in The Ragtime Concert at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall. In addition to these performances, Ms. Ali stays focused as an avid songwriter, guest artist, recitalist and mentor. Born in Lawrence, KS and partly raised in the Washington, DC area, Sumayya’s artistic gifts were largely cultivated at the Duke Ellington School of Arts. Sumayya Ali holds a bachelor’s degree from Spelman College in Atlanta, GA as well as a master’s degree in music from the New England Conservatory in Boston, MA. Immediately after graduation, Ms. Ali secured contracts with Berkshire Opera, Sarasota Opera and Central City Opera and was declared a Boston district winner for the National Metropolitan Opera Competition. She has danced and sung around the world with Step Afrika!, been featured as a Hollywood contestant on American Idol season 6, made her Broadway debut as the soprano soloist in the 2009 revival of Ragtime! and received several artistic grants and awards from opera companies. However, her greatest accomplishment is being mother to her most precious gem, Hasiba Zahara.

Nicole MitchellNicole Mitchell (contralto) is a proud native of Brooklyn, New York. She has performed regularly with American Opera Projects and The Walt Whitman Project extensively promoting the works of New York composers. Most notably was the song cycle Songs from the F Train composed by Gilda Lyons and joint-commissioned by American Opera Projects and The Walt Whitman Project. These songs were performed at Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall. This past summer Nicole performed in the New York premiere of Lera Auerbach’s opera The Blind in an AOP & Lincoln Center Summer Festival production. Ms. Mitchell has performed at Avery Fisher Hall and with New York City Opera and Sarasota Opera where she sang the role of Tituba in Robert Ward’s Pulitzer Prize-Winning opera The Crucible, later reprising the role with Piedmont Opera (2012) at the request of the composer. As a Tanglewood Vocal Fellow (2008) she sang for Maestro James Levine and performed as one of the Six Ladies while covering the role of Leocadja Begbick in Kurt Weill’s The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny. In February 2013, Nicole gave a recital at Brooklyn Navy Yard Center’s BLDG 92 Museum. She was officially the second operatic voice heard at the Navy Yard since Eugenia Farrar’s 1907 radio broadcast. Next year Nicole will appear in David Lang’s work The Difficulty of Crossing a Field (Beth Morrison Projects 2014). In addition to contemporary compositions, Ms. Mitchell’s concert work as alto soloist includes Verdi’s Requiem, Brahms’ Alto Rhapsody, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony & Choral Fantasy, Handel’s Messiah, Rossini’s Stabat Mater and Mozart’s Requiem to be performed with at The Colour of Music Festival in Charleston, SC.

Dubose, Sequina_hs 2Sequina DuBose has most recently performed as a soloist in the U.S. National Tour of famed trumpeter Wynton Marsalis’ work entitled The Abyssinian Mass with Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and Chorale Le Chateau under the direction of Damien Sneed. She has also performed under the baton of Mr. Sneed during her American Opera Projects debut as Rachel in the folk opera Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom (Nkeiru Okoye). She has performed as Clara in Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess (PAB Theater National U.S. Tour), and covered the role of Annie in Porgy and Bess (Lyric Opera of Chicago); a role she will reprise in her upcoming Royal Danish Theater debut (Copenhagen 2014). Additional opera roles include: Clorinda in La Cenerentola (Rossini)- Opera Memphis; Musetta in La Boheme (Puccini)- DiCapo Opera (NY); and Victoria in the world premiere of The Mask in the Mirror (Richard Thompson)- Trilogy: An Opera Company (NJ). Musical Theater and Theater credits include: Chloe in the 2012 New York Musical Theater Festival premiere of 7:32- The Musical; Showboat, The Most Happy Fella, and West Side Story with Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theater Company’ Cleopatra in Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra (Off-Broadway debut); Lady in Blue in For Colored Girls…(ArtsCentric), and Rose in August Wilson’s Fences in New York City. Ms. DuBose has received awards in the Gerda Lissner Foundation International Vocal Competition, The Lotte Lenya Foundation Kurt Weill Vocal Competition, and the American Traditions Competition. On the concert stage, she most notably appeared as a soloist in the world premiere performance, and the Sony Classical recording, of Wynton Marsalis’ All Rise with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic. She is thankful for the opportunity to share her God-given talents and is grateful for the support of family and friends!

Ingram, Clinton_hsClinton Ingram, tenor, was born in Burgin, Kentucky and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Fisk University and his Master of Music degree from the Yale School of Music. He has appeared with The Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, Tulsa Opera, Calgary Opera, Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera, Teatro Real in Madrid, Spain and the Bregenz Festspiele in Bregenz, Austria. His operatic repertoire includes principal roles in Bizet’s Carmen, Verdi’s Aida, Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana, Puccini’s Madame Butterfly, Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman, Massenet’s Heriodiade, and Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess. He was featured as a principal in four operatic world premieres including Angel Levine by Elie Seigmeister at the 92nd Street Y in New York City, X by Anthony Davis at the American Theater Festival in Philadelphia and N.Y. City Opera, The Mummy by George Quincy at the Musical Theater Lab on 42nd Street, and Three Willies by Leroy Jenkins at The Kitchen Theater in New York City. Other premieres include Coincidents by Leroy Jenkins, Katrina- Voices of the Lost by Michael Sahl, and the cantata Martin Luther King (His Dream Lives On) by David Blake. Ingram’s career has taken him to such countries as Italy, Germany, Spain, Austria, Sweden, Holland, France, South Korea, Japan, Bermuda, Jamaica, Australia and New Zealand, and has included performing in St. Louis Woman at City Center in New York City with Vanessa Williams and Charles Dutton. He has performed as tenor soloist in over forty different oratorios and cantatas and is frequently heard during the Christmas and Easter holiday seasons in Handel’s Messiah and DuBois’ The Seven Last Words of Christ. He has also been an active recitalist, church soloist, choral conductor, teacher, composer, and arranger.

Norfleet, Damian_hsDamian Norfleet is a singing actor from Texas who now calls New York City home. Some of his past roles include Coalhouse in Ragtime, Joe in Showboat, Old Deuteronomy in Cats, Scar in The Festival of the Lion King, Ken in Smokey Joe’s Café, Curtis in Dreamgirls, Specialist in Tommy, Young Horseman/Nugget in Equus, King of France in Henry V, Duke of Grenada in Happy Hunting, Olin Britt in The Music Man, Paul in Kiss me, Kate (directed by Diane Paulus), Top in The Tenderland, Henry in Street Scene, Bob in The Old Maid and the Thief, Balthazar in Amahl and the Night Visitors, and led the national tour of In the Mood (a big band musical). Damian played the role of Smith in the Drama Desk Award-nominated production of The Threepenny Opera, and was nominated for an IRNE Award for Best Actor for his performance in Ragtime. In addition to doing established works, Damian actively participates in workshops, including Yeast Nation (by the Tony-winning creators of Urinetown) at the Perseverance Theater, Makandal at Harlem Stage, Go West! (Village People musical), Casanova at AMAS Musical Theater, and multiple new shows with the Prospect Theater Company. Damian is an advocate for new American operas as well. He recently played Frederick Douglass in the new opera Truth, and originated the role of John Tubman in Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom with American Opera Projects.

mila henryMila Henry is a New York-based pianist who specializes in contemporary opera, musical theater, and chamber music. She is currently Resident Music Director with American Opera Projects, where she is a regular at their OPERAtion Brooklyn series and music directs for their nationally recognized Composers & the Voice workshop series. She has worked with both emerging and established composers alike, including Libby Larsen, Conrad Cummings, Douglas Cuomo, Herschel Garfein, Gilda Lyons, Tarik O’Regan, Gregory Spears, and Daniel Felsenfeld. Notable performances: New York Premiere of John Musto’s Later The Same Evening (Albany Records 2009); OPERA America New Works Sampler with Jack Perla’s Love/Hate; HERE’s Culturemart festival with Stefan Weisman’s The Scarlet Ibis; New York Children’s Theater Festival with Scheme of the Super Bullies!; Philip Glass’s In the Penal Colony with the String Orchestra of Brooklyn (vocal coach). Mila holds degrees from the Manhattan School of Music and Elizabethtown College. She lives in Brooklyn. milahenry.com

Greenberg, Beth_hsStage director Beth Greenberg has focused her career on new American work and the challenges of redefining where, and how opera can be performed. Greenberg has been involved in all phases of new work, from libretto development and workshop readings to fully-staged premieres. Adding to her list of new American opera productions will be the professional World Premiere of Lori Laitman’s The Scarlet Letter for Opera Colorado in 2016. She recently directed the West coast premiere of Rorem’s Our Town which was praised as “a splendid production” by the San Francisco Chronicle. She also staged early workshops of Before Night Falls by Jorge Martin and directed the premiere of excerpts from Gordon Beeferman’s The Rat Land, a twice-featured work on City Opera’s VOX series. Pumped Fiction, the comic opera by MacArthur genius John Eaton, also saw its world premiere, in New York, in Greenberg hands. In 2014 she will direct the world premieres of The Red Silk Thread by Stella Sung and Ernest Hilbert, and the children’s opera The Three Feathers by Lori Laitman and Dana Gioia, NEA’s recent Chair.

Mckight TerranceTerrance McKnight is the WQXR weekday evening host. He also hosts the Saturday evening program, All Ears with Terrance McKnight, a show about musical discovery, which was honored with an ASCAP Deems Taylor Radio Broadcast Award in 2010. McKnight’s musical experiences – from glee club soloist and accomplished pianist, to professor at Morehouse College, and finally as producer and host of several music programs for public radio – have consistently juxtaposed the European Classical tradition alongside American classic traditions – jazz, gospel, African American spirituals and other musical genres. McKnight was first heard in New York in 2008 when he joined the staff of WNYC. He moved to WQXR in October 2009. Previously he worked at Georgia Public Broadcasting, where he was creator, producer and host of Studio GPB, a program that introduced a wide array of musical artists through interviews, live studios sessions and commercial recordings.

ABOUT THE PRODUCERS

The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, located in Harlem, New York, is a research unit of The New York Public Library system. It is recognized as one of the leading institutions focusing exclusively on African-American, African Diaspora, and African experiences. Begun with the collections of Arturo Alfonso Schomburg more than 85 years ago, the Schomburg has collected, preserved, and provided access to materials documenting black life- in America and worldwide. It has also promoted the study and interpretation of the history and culture of peoples of African descent. Today, the Schomburg continues to serve the community not just as a center and a library, but also as a space that encourages lifelong education and exploration.

At the forefront of the contemporary opera movement for a quarter century, AOP (American Opera Projects) creates, develops and presents opera and music theatre projects collaborating with the young, rising, and established artists in the field. AOP has produced over 20 world premieres including most recently 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 premieres with collaborating companies: Gregory Spears’ Paul’s Case at UrbanArias 2013, 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: AOP-commissioned The Wanton Sublime at Roulette (April 2014).

Press Contact: Matt Gray, AOP Producing Director, mgray{AT}operaprojects.org, 718-398-4024


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

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

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

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

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

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

“something I would never, could never do, in a more traditional concert setting”

October 2, 2013

Experimental performance artist Laurie Anderson takes us through her personal journey of The Blind (AOP’s co-production with Lincoln Center Festival 2013) in an interview with composer Lera Auerbach in this month’s Harper’s BAZAAR.

“After experiencing The Blind, I felt that my ears had been directly connected to my mind and that I had somehow heard the desperate and impossibly beautiful music of the bardo*.”

     *The bardo is a Buddhist concept about the sound of the interval between death and rebirth expressed in The Tibetan Book of the Dead.

To Read the Full Story: Lera Auberbach Interview on Opera The Blind – Harper’s BAZAAR 

Director John LaBouchardiere’s production of The Blind just recently wrapped up its first touring performances at the Trondheim Chamber Music Festival in Norway on September 25 & 26.


AOP to perform at New York Opera Alliance Showcase

September 10, 2013

The New York Opera Alliance, a consortium of New York opera companies and producers, is hosting its premiere event at Le Poisson Rouge on Sunday, November 3rd at 3pm (doors open at 2pm). For the first time ever, AOP and the other participating organizations of NYOA are coming together for an afternoon of opera arias and excerpts. With an eclectic program ranging from classical to 21st century works, audience members will be treated to a vast array of operatic styles within one evening’s programming. Come celebrate the diversity of opera in NYC on the final day of National Opera Week. An opera lover’s dream! For tickets and more information, click here.

NYOA

The New York Opera Alliance is a consortium of New York opera companies and producers established to enhance and support the visibility and viability of its organizations, both individually and collectively. Together, it aspires to increase awareness of participating organizations, share ideas and resources, and generate revenue for collaborative projects. www.nyoperaalliance.org


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