Gregory Spears‘ opera Paul’s Case received high praise for its recent sold-out NYC premiere at PROTOtype Festival. Press called it a “masterpiece…tempting to call it ‘the best new opera I’ve heard in years'” (NY Observer) and “a taut, splendid operatic adaptation” (NY Times). Spears’ vocal writing was lauded as “ravishing” and “especially admirable” and librettist Kathryn Walat’s adaptation of the original Willa Cather short story “finely made” (New York Classical Review). Jonathan Blalock, who reprised his role from the opera’s premiere at UrbanArias last April, had “even more theatrical and vocal authority as Paul” (Wall Street Journal). AOP began development of the opera during the 2008-09 season of Composers & the Voice. A new production of the opera will appear at Pittsburgh Opera in February.
Hot off its premiere with UrbanArias in April, Paul’s Case will be presented as part of PROTOTYPE Festival’s 2014 series. With music by Gregory Spears and a libretto by the composer and Kathryn Walat, Paul’s Case is based on a Willa Cather short story from 1905. The opera follows Paul, a student in turn-of-the-century Pittsburgh who tries navigate his journey to adulthood and find an outlet for his artistic energies. Reacting to his middle-class surroundings, Paul cultivates the image of a dandy and steals money from his father’s business. He runs away to New York City to experience true freedom for the first time. Paul’s Case was developed by AOP and the original cast and production from its UrbanArias premiere will be brought to the festival. Tenor Jonathan Blalock sings the lead role. Performances will take place Jan 8, 9, 11, 12 & 13 at 145 Sixth Avenue. To buy tickets, click here.
PROTOTYPE Festival was launched in January 2013 as an annual festival for visionary opera and music theater works by artists from New York and around the world.
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
“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
– Anne Midgette, Washington Post
Make sure to check out AOP’s earlier blog post about the Fort Worth performance of Before Night Falls here.
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
“…a top-flight production.”
– Chris Shull, Ft. Worth Star-Telegram
“…a daring departure from tradition.”
– Olin Chism, artandseek.net
“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
“…ultimately romantic, intensely emotional… Before Night Falls displays several aspects that predict long-term success.”
– Wayne Lee Gay, D Magazine
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.