Librettist and poet J.D. McClatchy dies at 72

April 12, 2018

Librettist and poet J. D. McClatchy

AOP mourns the passing of poet and librettist J. D. McClatchy, known to his friends as ‘Sandy,’ who died on Tuesday in his Manhattan apartment after battling cancer. One of McClatchy’s final librettos was an adaptation of internationally acclaimed 1958 novel Il Gattopardo by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa into The Leopard, an opera currently in development at AOP with music by Michael Dellaira. It was Dellaira’s third collaboration with McClatchy following The Secret Agent (2011) and The Death of Webern (2013).

“It was a privilege and a pleasure to have worked with Sandy for the past twelve years, during which time we wrote three operas together,” Dellaira told AOP. “We had just finished putting the finishing touches on our last, The Leopard, which Sandy called his “crowning achievement.” Sandy McClatchy was a man of words, always the right words, not just for his brilliant libretti, poems, and translations, but ready, and I mean instantly ready, to encourage – or console – his many friends.  I’m lucky to have been one of them.”

J. D. McClatchy on libretto writing: “Poetry was a good preparation, because it is as much an art of leaving things out as of putting things in. That search for the perfect word or the balanced line comes in handy when you are working in a form that demands a great deal of concision, and where you have to turn over the emotional argument to the music.”

McClatchy was well known and respected in the opera community for his librettos for Our Town, composed by Ned Rorem and based on Thornton Wilder’s play, Miss Lonelyhearts, composed by Lowell Liebermann and based on the Nathanael West novel; Orpheus Descending, by Bruce Saylor, based on Tennessee Williams’s play; and Dolores Claiborne, by Tobias Picker, based on the Stephen King novel.

J. D. McClatchy speaks to the standing room only audience about his career and the writing of The Leopard. Poets House – November 8, 2014.

In 2014, audiences packed the event space at Poetry House in Manhattan to hear McClatchy speak about his craft. The AOP produced event was to be followed by the first public libretto reading of The Leopard, but had to be cancelled after an upstairs bathroom flooded and began seeping down into the room as McClatchy spoke. As the slow drip from the ceiling caused the audience to squeeze in even tighter to stay dry, McClatchy did all he could to keep the show going until the fire department arrived and forced the building to evacuate. As the guests and artists were ushered outside, McClatchy was disappointed that the crowd missed out on hearing his libretto read, but mused, “At first I thought it was a sign from God. Apparently it was just a bowel movement. Ah well. They deserve equal thanks for inspiring great art as well.”

The Leopard has been commissioned by and is currently in development at American Opera Projects, made possible, in part, through generous funding by The Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation and The Paul Underwood Charitable Trust.

Staged Piano Vocal Reading of scenes from The Leopard at Manhattan School of Music. March 13, 2016. Photo by Steven Pisano.

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New Partnership to Give AOP Composers & Librettists Residency in Florida

June 8, 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: The Hermitage Artist Retreat in Englewood, FL and AOP have formed a partnership that will result in a six-week residency to be called Opera Genesis Fellowships. This newly created program allows for a composer and a librettist from AOP’s Composer & the Voice (C&V) training program to be invited to continue the development of a contemporary American opera at the Hermitage’s inspiring Gulf Coast campus. The first team will be selected in 2016.

“The Hermitage was created as a place for mid-career artists to come and work on new art,” explained Bruce E. Rodgers, executive director. “We have 10 acres of beachfront property on the Gulf of Mexico and serve four to five invited artists of all disciplines at any one time. It’s a quiet, peaceful and inspiring setting. Many new operas have already been written and composed here. We know this new partnership with AOP’s C&V program will produce more exciting work that will eventually be enjoyed in opera venues throughout the country.”

Bass-baritone Matthew Worth works with composer Andreia Pinto- Correia during a 2013 C&V workshop. Photo by Ted Gorodetzky

Bass-baritone Matthew Worth works with composer Andreia Pinto- Correia during a 2013 C&V workshop in Brooklyn, NY. Photo by Ted Gorodetzky

American Opera Projects’ Composers & the Voice is a two-year fellowship for composers and librettists that provides experience working collaboratively with singers on writing for the voice and opera stage. This free training includes a year of working with the company’s Resident Ensemble of Singers and Artistic Team, followed by a year of continued promotion and development through AOP and its strategic partnerships.

The Hermitage Artist Retreat (http://hermitageartistretreat.org) nurtures creativity in mid-career writers, painters, poets, playwrights, composers, translators, sculptors, and artists. Even before the partnership, the two organizations had many artists in common. Some of AOP’s artists who have been in residence at The Hermitage are Laura Kaminsky (As One), Mark Campbell (As One), Phil Kline (Out Cold), Lera Auerbach (The Blind), and Huang Ruo (Paradise Interrupted).

Our artists live and work in — and are inspired by — five "Old Florida" buildings that have been lovingly restored into living space and studio space. Fifteen miles of Gulf of Mexico beach .

The Hermitage Artist Retreat provides artists living and studio space in five “Old Florida” buildings along fifteen miles of Gulf of Mexico beach.

Since launching in 2002, C&V has fostered the development of 44 composers & librettists. Alumni works that went through AOP’s opera development program and continued to a world premiere include Love/Hate (ODC/San Francisco Opera 2012, Jack Perla), Paul’s Case (UrbanArias 2013, Gregory Spears), and The Scarlet Ibis (PROTOTYPE 2015, Stefan Weisman).

The cast of the 2013 World Premiere of Paul's Case presented by Urban Arias. The opera began development during composer Gregory Spears' fellowship in AOP's Composers & the Voice program.

The cast of the 2013 World Premiere of Paul’s Case presented by Urban Arias. The opera began development during composer Gregory Spears’ fellowship in AOP’s Composers & the Voice program.

“AOP and C&V Artistic Director Steven Osgood created the Composers & the Voice program with the vision of teaching to emerging composers & librettists the fundamentals of writing an opera,” stated AOP Producing Director Matt Gray. “We are thrilled that the partnership with The Hermitage Artists Retreat furthers that vision by providing a creative place for those artists to convert their knowledge into the operas themselves – operas that will become the core of a new, modern repertoire.”

PRESS CONTACTS:

Hermitage Contact: Lisa Rubinstein, lisa@LDRcreative.com or 941-373-3803

AOP Contact: Matt Gray, mgray@operaprojects.org or 718 398-4024


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