David Patrick Stearns at the Philadelphia Inquirer selected the first full workshop of the opera Paul’s Case for his classical music ten best list for 2009. Stearns praised its “solid dramatic timing, compassionate characterizations, and huge potential.” The opera by Gregory Spears based on a story by Willa Cather was presented in September as part of the Philadelphia Fringe Festival by Center City Opera. The work is currently in development at American Opera Projects, having originated during the 2007-08 season of Composers & the Voice.
Philadelphia audiences finally got to experience the multimedia opera-theatre work Darkling when it premiered in a new, semi-staged version for the Philadelphia Fringe Festival presented by Center City Opera Theater on Sep 8, 10, and 12, 2009. Conductor and CCOT Artistic Director Andrew Kurtz brought composer Stefan Weisman and librettist Anna Rabinowitz‘s haunting experimental work to life as part of ConNEXTions 2009: The Next Generation of Opera. Spanning the decades from the 1930’s to the post-World War period, Darkling is a remarkable story of a poet who struggles to identify and interpret the stories of various Polish-Jewish family affected by the extraordinary events of the Holocaust based only on the few letters and photographs they left behind.
Returning singers Hai-Ting Chinn and Jon Garrison joined with Maeve Hoglund, Martin Hargrove and Jason Switzer, narrator Sharon Sigal, and a string quartet under the stage direction of Matt Gray. AOP premiered Darkling in 2006 at the East 13th Street Theater in a fully staged version conceived and directed by Michael Comlish. A concert version also developed by Mr. Comlish toured through Europe in 2007.
The first piano-vocal workshop of Greg Spears‘s opera-in-development Paul’s Case made a great impression on Jeffrey Edelstein over at Music Web International who asserted it to be “a beautiful, heartrending work.”
The opera currently being developed by AOP and based on a short story by Willa Cather, was presented by Center City Opera Theater (conNEXTions 2009: The Next Generation of Opera in conjunction with the Philadelphia Fringe Festival) at the St. Stephen’s Theater in Philadelphia on Sep 11, 13, and 15.