The Wanton Sublime hailed as emotionally captivating and beautifully written

September 4, 2015

The Wanton Sublime, composed by Tarik O’Regan with a libretto by American poet Anna Rabinowitz, focuses on the character of the Virgin Mary as she grapples with the terror of being chosen for a divine purpose. Originally developed in NYC with American Opera Projects, it was just performed at the Grimeborn Festival in East London. Hai Ting Chinn was the star in this one woman opera, conducted by Andrew Griffiths, who lead the Orpheus Sinfonia, and directed by Robert Shaw. A strong, well-rounded production, The Wanton Sublime gives a new voice to a classic figure through powerful text, beautiful melodic lines, a simple production, and atypical instrumentation.

Hai-Ting Chinn in The Wanton Sublime (Grimeborn - Arcola Theatre) © Robert Workman

Hai-Ting Chinn in The Wanton Sublime (Grimeborn – Arcola Theatre)
© Robert Workman

Tim Ashley, writing for The Guardian, applauded the “…bluesy rebelliousness and Monteverdian lyricism…” of Tarik O’Regan’s music in The Wanton Sublime, citing a beautiful moment in which the Virgin Mary is torn between her fear and her faith as “…Chinn sings against a playback of her own voice singing sacred texts…”. Rupert Christiansen of The Telegraph was also impressed by O’Regan’s music, praising its unfaltering heartbeat and melody “…weaving a richly melismatic vocal line into a strikingly coloured orchestral score delicately enhanced by electronic effects. Never sterile or mechanical it seems to have a living organic pulse.”

The What’sOnStage review  by Mark Valencia complemented the music and the characterization of the Virgin Mary calling the opera “…musically rich…and also philosophically absorbing.” Valencia appreciates how Rabinowitz presents Mary as”…a strong young woman who questions, challenges and even defies the God who has slated her to be the mother of Christ.” Tim Ashley (The Guardian) also enjoyed the emotional depth of the opera, “The underlying point, integral to much mystic literature, is that divine intervention has the bewildering potential to shatter lives and identities.” Edward Bhesania’s review for The Stage compliments Rabinowitz’s and O’Regan’s creative partnership as Mary’s character “…begins with incredulity and disdain before finally reaching acceptance, by which point both music and text have attained a more sublime tone.” The EveningStandard review, written by Barry Millington, also applauds their collaboration, stating “…Rabinowitz’s text explores the nervous longings of an idealised iconic figure, complemented by Tarik O’Regan’s inventive and attractive score…”

Hai-Ting Chinn in The Wanton Sublime (Grimeborn - Arcola Theatre) © Robert Workman

Hai-Ting Chinn in The Wanton Sublime (Grimeborn – Arcola Theatre)
© Robert Workman

Valencia (What’sOnStage) also describes the minimalist staging by Robert Shaw “…commendably simple staging presents her as a power dressed young professional who changes midway through into simpler clothes that better assert her individuality. It’s a subtle transition, and beautifully judged.” Edward Bhesania (The Stage) complimented the instrumentation which “…uses a 9 piece band (including electric guitar and rums to underpin the journey of the Virgin Mary figure stripped of her iconic symbolism and grappling in today’s world of her unasked-for role.”

AOP began developing the monodrama in 2009 and co-produced its premiere at Roulette in Brooklyn in 2014. AOP had previously worked with Tarik O’Regan on his first opera Heart of Darkness and with Anna Rabinowitz on Darkling, another operatic adaptation of a book of her poetry. Darkling, music by Stefan Weisman, was commissioned and developed by AOP.

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AOP kicks off summer with free concert in Fort Greene Park

June 17, 2013

On Friday, June 21, AOP, with friends Opera on Tap, Two Sides Sounding, and Lauren Flanigan’s Music & Mentoring House, will perform “The Voice of Brooklyn,” a free outdoor concert of opera, musicals, spirituals, and songs in Fort Greene Park in Fort Greene, Brooklyn from 5:30pm to sundown. A full schedule and details on the performances are available at www.operaprojects.org/events/MMNY2013.

  • The day’s music will begin with songs from composers championed by American Opera Projects over the years, interspersed with selections by local artists paying tribute to Kings County itself in Two Sides Sounding’s “AOP Friends and Neighbors,” with performances by Eleanor Taylor, Hai-Ting Chinn, and Mila Henry, and featuring music from composers such as Renée Favand-See, Matthew Schickele, Lee Hoiby, and Gabriel Kahane.
  • Summer lovebirds might flock to Fort Greene as Opera on Tap presents “Summer Lovin’…”, where Opera on Tap’s divas and divos bring their operatic stylings to the streets to show just how musical summer romance can be.
  • In celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, AOP singers perform a mix of traditional spirituals, operatic favorites, and compelling new songs, featuring music by Nkeiru Okoye from the opera “Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom” and “Brooklyn Cinderella,” a song cycle based on the poetry of Brooklyn teenagers. Performances by Sumayya Ali, Sequina Dubose, Clinton Ingram, and Damian Norfleet.

  • Flanigan KightThe evening will close with musical performances by acclaimed soprano, Lauren Flanigan (Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, AOP’s Seance on a Wet Afternoon, Marina, and Beauty Intolerable), and vocal students of Music and Mentoring House. Together, the singers will perform new works by composer Josh Kight from “Pity,” a musical theatre work that explores the relativity of truth, and song cycles “The Cuckoo” and “Chairs,” a piece that explores the simple but important relationship that people have with different chairs.

The concert will be presented as part of the annual Make Music New York Festival, a live, free musical celebration across New York City that takes place each June 21 – the longest day of the year. This year’s concert is AOP’s fifth partnership with MMNY. For a lineup of other MMNY concerts around the city visit www.makemusicny.org.

Additional links:
http://www.twosidessounding.com
http://www.operaontap.com

AOP’s 2011 Make Music NY concert in Fort Greene Park.


PRESS REVIEWS: “Clear, appealing score” of Golden Gate “not only eminently singable but effective.”

January 22, 2010
Golden Gate workshop photo from NY Times

“The Golden Gate”: David Adam Moore and Katrina Thurman in the Rose Studio at Lincoln Center. Photo: Rachel Papo for The New York Times

January’s sold-out workshop of Conrad CummingsThe Golden Gate at the Rose Studio in Lincoln Center garnered positive reviews from The New York Times and Musical America. Steven Osgood conducted a cast directed by John Henry Davis that included David Adam Moore, Hai-Ting Chinn, Katrina Thurman, Kevin Burdette, and Keith Jameson.

Steve Smith at The New York Times remarked, “In creating an opera based on [Vikram] Seth’s novel, the composer Conrad Cummings has fashioned an equally improbable fusion: lithe melodic lines that flow and entwine in the manner of Monteverdi, peppered with musical references to Henry Mancini and the punk band Black Flag.” “The singers…offered rich, engaged performances. Constantly shifting between firsthand declamation and third-person observation, they achieved a gabby intensity more often encountered in Stephen Sondheim’s musicals than in the opera house.” Read full review

At Musical America, Patrick Smith praised the composer, stating that “Cummings has always had a gift for opera, and his vocal line is not only eminently singable but effective in giving the accompaniment a feeling of being complimentary rather than at odds with the voices. And, like all good opera composers, his music-making keeps the dramatic impetus moving.” Read full review


New semi-staged version of Darkling premieres in Philadelphia

October 2, 2009

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.

Maeve Hoglund as the bride fleeing to America in the Sep 2009 performance of Darkling in Philadelphia.

Maeve Hoglund as the bride fleeing to America in the Sep 2009 performance of Darkling in Philadelphia.

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.


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