THREE COMPOSERS & THE VOICE ALUMNI TO BE FEATURED IN FORT WORTH OPERA FRONTIERS SERIES

December 5, 2014

Conrad Cummings, Zachary Redler, and Clint Borzoni to Present Unpublished Operas

Fort Worth, TX—Three alumni of AOP’s long-running Composers & The Voice program – Conrad Cummings, Zachary Redler, and Clint Borzoni – will have their operas featured in Fort Worth Opera’s Frontiers Series, May 7-8, 2015 at the Kimbell Art Museum. Approaching its third year as part of the Fort Worth Opera Festival, Frontiers will present music from Borzoni’s When Adonis Calls, Redler’s Susan Smith (with a libretto by As One’s Mark Campbell), and Cummings’ The Golden Gate, which received development in both C&V and AOP’s First Chance programs.

The purpose of Fort Worth Opera’s Frontiers program is to give voice to unpublished 21st century operatic compositions. The showcase will be chaired by Fort Worth Opera General Director Darren K. Woods and a jury of composers, directors, conductors, producers, opera administrators, and community leaders.

This follows performances in previous years of works by C&V alumni Robert Paterson, Ronnie Reshef, and Daniel Sonenberg, each with operas that they developed in the AOP training program.

Conrad CummingsCONRAD CUMMINGS has composed operas (productions include “Eros and Psyche,” libretto by the composer, Oberlin Opera Theater; “Positions 1956,” libretto by Michael Korie, P.S. 122; “Photo-Op,” libretto by James Siena, La Mama with Ridge Theater; and “Tonkin,” libretto by the composer with Thomas Bird, Opera Delaware) music for orchestra (including New Jersey, Indianapolis, and Louisville Symphonies and the Brooklyn Philharmonic) and amplified chamber ensemble (at the Knitting Factory and P.S. 122). He trained at Yale, Stony Brook, and Columbia, did post-doc work at IRCAM in Paris, taught at Oberlin Conservatory for ten years where he directed the music and media program, moved to New York to run a kids’ interactive media company, and since 2003 teaches composition in the evening division at Juilliard.

Co-produced by AOP and with a libretto adapted from Vikram Seth’s best-selling novel in verse The Golden Gate, five twenty-somethings experience love, life, and loss in the magical and innocent San Francisco of the early 1980’s. John, handsome and successful, will discover too late the price of  his emotional detachment. He has just met Liz through a personals ad placed by his former college girlfriend Jan, a sculptor and punk rock drummer. Meanwhile, John’s best friend from college Phil, reeling from a divorce which has left him the sole single parent of a six-year-old, begins a passionate relationship with the Ed, Liz’s younger brother. Ed is bright, gorgeous, in search of a lover and mentor, and a profoundly conflicted devout Catholic. Couples come apart; new couples form, families are created, friendships are severed. A tragic death leads John, always the outsider, to the promise of a deeper connection and a warmer life.

T0F-uXArZach Redler is an award winning composer, pianist and copyist. Zach’s music has been performed at Lincoln Center, Merkin Hall, National Opera Center, Joe’s Pub and concert halls around the world and has been critically acclaimed by the New York Times, Variety and the Boston Globe. Ben Brantley of the New York Times said, Zach’s music “follows the patterns of minds grasping, often in vain, for clarity, conviction and lost time…it transcends the expected and achieves a haunting originality.” Zach spent 2011-13 in residence as a Van Lier fellow at American Opera Projects as part of their Composers and the Voice Program. For his work in music theatre with Sara Cooper, the American Theatre Wing awarded them with the 2014 Jonathan Larson Grant. In February, Zach’s Opera Memphis commission “Movin’ Up In The World” (libretto by Jerre Dye) as well as a set of his Walt Whitman Art Songs will be performed at the University of Missouri . Zach is on faculty at New York University teaching at Steinhardt and Tisch.  He is a member of ASCAP, Local 802 and a graduate of the Tisch Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program. www.zachredler.com

With a libretto by Mark Campbell, Susan Smith is an opera in one act about the woman who drowned her two sons in South Carolina in 1994 and the nine days she perpetuated the lie that an African-American man had abducted them at gunpoint. Starting with the filicide and ending with the exposure of Ms. Smith’s guilt, the opera looks closely at the confluence of reasons that brought her to commit such a horrible act: the abuse she suffered as a child, the chaos in her marriage and recent rejection by a lover. By examining these reasons, Susan Smith does not endeavor to exonerate the eponymous woman who committed these crimes, but rather engender some sympathy for her.

photo-Clint_Borzoni1-241x300CLINT BORZONI’s music reflects his passion for lyricism and functional harmony. He has written over sixty pieces, including two full length operas, two one act operas, a piano concerto, percussion quartet, piece for orchestra, two string quartets, several works for chamber orchestra, and over forty art songs. He also wrote the music for the musical, My Life as a Bald Soprano which premiered in the June Havoc Theater during the 2008 Midtown International Theater Festival. Among Borzoni’s honors are the Morton Feldman Award, a Boston Metro Opera Festival Award, the Maurice Liberman music scholarship, operamission’s new cabaret song competition winner, and world premieres by the New York Youth Symphony and the Mannes School of Music’s Percussion Ensemble. He received a B.A. and M.A. in Music Composition from CUNY where he studied with Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Del Tredici.

When Adonis Calls is a new opera with music by Clint Borzoni. The libretto was constructed by John de los Santos from the poems of Gavin Geoffrey Dillard. It tells the story of an accomplished author, called the Poet, who is struggling with writer’s block and isolation. He is contacted by an eager young fan, known as the Muse, who is interested in both an artistic and personal correspondence. At first reluctant, the Poet joins the Muse in a sensual game of literary discovery that leads the two into unexpected realms of unbridled eroticism. Through their poems, they unleash one another’s pasts, demons, and secret longings. Their harmonized writings culminate with a final meeting in the flesh that transcends beyond what either of them ever believed was possible when they first put pen to paper. When Adonis Calls is a striking new work that blends an exciting score of romantic lyricism with dance and a fresh perspective of operatic storytelling. The music and poetry guide the characters through a surreal journey filled with wit, lust, rage, and ultimately, love. When Adonis Calls utilizes an ensemble of two baritones, string quartet, percussionist, and two dancers. whenadoniscalls.com

 


Martín’s Before Night Falls Released on Amazon

September 24, 2010

Fort Worth Opera announced yesterday that their recording of Jorge Martín’s opera Before Night Falls, which was given its world premiere at FWO this past spring, will be released on Amazon.com on October 1st.  American Opera Projects was lucky enough to have given the opera its first concert reading of scenes from Act I back in 2004, when they were presented as part of the Dance Theater Workshop here in New York, and again in 2005, at the Clark Studio Theatre at Lincoln Center (during the Third Annual Cuban Arts Festival).

Before Night Falls traces the life of Cuban poet Reinaldo Arenas, beginning with his early years growing up in poverty in Cuba, to his emigration to the US in 1980, to his last decade suffering from AIDS.  Based on his famous memoir, the opera follows his trials and tribulations as a political prisoner forced to smuggle his manuscripts abroad for publication.

Joshua Rosenblum of Opera News raved in his May 2010 article,

“Martín’s opera…bursts with restless passion and sustains a dark undertone of anxiety throughout. The composer skillfully draws on numerous influences, including suave Cuban dance rhythms, which are sometimes overt but more often dextrously embedded within the colorful orchestral texture. In addition, one is reminded variously of Mahler, Shostakovich, Ravel, Villa-Lobos and even Varèse…but Martín has the skill and individuality to synthesize these strands into a coherent and dramatically potent tapestry. Best of all, his melodies almost always blossom and sing, even in the extended recitative-style dialogue.” To continue reading, click here.

Interested in pre-ordering?  Purchase Before Night Falls on Amazon.


More Praise for “Before Night Falls”

June 29, 2010
Jarden, Koch and Koch at Fort Worth

Charles Jarden, Executive Director of AOP, with Gloria Koch (daughter of the late Dolores Koch, co-librettist of Before Night Falls and friend of Reinaldo Arenas) and her daughter.

A full month after it’s world premiere with Fort Worth Opera, Before Night Falls, a new opera by Jorge Martín, is still receiving rave reviews. Before Night Falls tells the compelling story of gay Cuban counterrevolutionary Reinaldo Arenas and his struggles as a political dissident and homosexual in both Cuba and America.

“Vibrant, musically substantive, and very touching… One of the most admirable American operas of recent years.”

– David Shengold, Gay City News

Read full review…

“Although Martín’s score is eclectic, it is not annoyingly pastiche-like. It is nicely shape-shifting. And it all coheres. The orchestration often has a beautiful sheen: transparent but not thin or barren. And I will tell you something extraordinary: Before Night Falls is full of arias, duets, trios, and choruses. There are real, unabashed melodies and tunes. That is old-fashioned; indeed, it is well-nigh counterrevolutionary.”

– Jay Nordlinger, National Review

Read full review…

“…powerfully moving.”

– Anne Midgette, Washington Post

Read full review…

Make sure to check out AOP’s earlier blog post about the Fort Worth performance of Before Night Falls here.


“Top-flight production” of Before Night Falls has world premiere in TX

June 1, 2010

Foreground, from left: Javier Abreu as Pepe and Wes Mason as Reinaldo Arenas. Photo by Robert Hart for TheaterJones.com.

Jorge Martín’s new opera Before Night Falls, presented by Fort Worth Opera, premiered in the Bass Performance Hall last Saturday evening, May 29th and is quickly becoming the talk of the opera world. The press and blogosphere have chimed as well about the AOP-developed opera, saying:

“Martín’s Before Night Falls succeeds musically and as work of theater…Martín has imbued his score with many lovely moments that evoke the Latin rhythms of Cuba and the musical atmosphere, such as popular songs and film scores, of the various eras he invokes. He does this deftly while still sounding fresh and original… Unlike many cotemporary composers, Martín has a gift for melody and he isn’t afraid to use it.”

– Gregory Sullivan Isaacs, theaterjones.com

Read full review…

“…a top-flight production.”

– Chris Shull, Ft. Worth Star-Telegram

Read full review…

“…a daring departure from tradition.”

– Olin Chism, artandseek.net

Read full review…

“This work is infused with magnificent Cuban-style music that truly reflects the time as well as gives a feel for the heritage.”

– Alan Savada, Opera-L

Read full review…

“…ultimately romantic, intensely emotional… Before Night Falls displays several aspects that predict long-term success.”

– Wayne Lee Gay, D Magazine

Read full review…

Before Night Falls, based on the novel with the same name by Reinaldo Arenas, tracks the harsh life of a political dissident and gay man in Fidel Castro’s Cuba. The production, directed by David Gately and with stirring and provocative projections by designers Peter Nigrini, featured Wes Mason and Jonathan Blalock. AOP helped develop the work in a series of workshops in 2005.


Opera Chic: Before Night Falls one of the top 5 to see

April 7, 2010
Before Night Falls

Before Night Falls

The upcoming world premiere of Jorge Martín‘s opera Before Night Falls continues be all the buzz for the Spring opera season. Just last month the AOP-developed opera was called a “must-see” event by Travel and Leisure and now the notorious Opera Chic has told W magazine that it is her pick for one of “the top five productions that will be in American and European opera houses from now to the beginning of summer.”

Everything’s better in Texas, especially an opera spin-off of Reinaldo Arenas’s autobiography Before Night Falls.

We couldn’t agree more. Find out the rest of her list here…


Before Night Falls is a “must-see” event of 2010

March 9, 2010

Travel & LeisureDo you enjoy travel? How about leisure? Then why not hop on a plane for Fort Worth in May and kick back to a world premiere of the AOP-developed opera Before Night Falls which was just chosen by Travel and Leisure magazine as a “must-see” event in 2010? (yeesh, that was corny. sorry.)

The Fort Worth Opera (fwopera.org) presents Cuban American composer Jorge Martín’s Before Night Falls (May 29–June 6), which features young baritone Wes Mason as the gay dissident and poet Reinaldo Arenas in Fidel Castro’s Cuba.

Check out the rest of Travel and Leisure‘s list of 2010 events not to be missed events…


Martín blogs the birth of Before Night Falls

February 12, 2010

Jorge Martín

Jorge Martín

Jorge Martín, composer of the AOP-developed opera Before Night Falls, has started a blog to document the growth of this new work as it prepares for its world premiere this Spring at Fort Worth Opera. Says Martín:

To count down the time leading up to the world premiere of my opera Before Night Falls at the Fort Worth Opera Festival on May 29, I will be writing about how the book became an opera (it wasn’t overnight!), and other assorted subjects relating to the preparation for the production. It’s my first Big Baby, and what a delivery!

Jorge Martín is a Cuban composer whose family moved to the U.S. in 1965. He acquired the rights to Cuban poet Reinaldo Arenas’ memoir Before Night Falls and wrote the libretto himself with the help of Dolores M. Koch, who translated the book and knew Arenas personally.


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