AOP’s Charles Jarden talks to The Washington Post about the art of opera development

October 21, 2013
AOP General Director Charles Jarden, with composer and Phoenix Concerts Artistic Director Gilda Lyons, introduces an AOP 25th anniversary concert, October 2013.

AOP General Director Charles Jarden, with composer and Phoenix Concerts Artistic Director Gilda Lyons, introduces an AOP 25th anniversary concert, October 2013.

“Developing new opera is an art in itself” states last week’s Washington Post article, and of course AOP couldn’t agree more! For her October 16 article, veteran classical music journalist Anne Midgette highlighted AOP’s role in creating a new American repertory and interviewed General Director Charles Jarden about the importance of the workshop process.

“Opera is complex enough to take on layers, like a snowball,” Jarden says, “and developing workshops, and showing workshops, and having capable press look at workshops, is a way to make everything better and grow the buzz.”

For 25 years AOP audiences have been able to participate in the workshopping process with the artists and will continue to do so in the next few months with previews of our opera-in-development Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom at Harlem’s Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture on Dec. 9, among others. The results of our workshops can be seen and heard in the Washington area in November when UrbanArias presents two AOP-developed monodramas from composer Daniel Felsenfeld –  Nora, In the Great Outdoors (2011) and Alice in the Time of the Jabberwock.  “Nora” boasts an AOP-commissioned libretto by Will Eno and will be sung by dynamic soprano Emily Pulley.  The UrbanArias orchestra is led by Robert Wood and the stage director is Beth Greenberg (AOP’s Harriet Tubman). Also in the DC area, AOP-commissioned and developed Lost Childhood, (Hamer/Azrael) which was  staged at Tel Aviv’s International Vocal Arts Institute, will receive a non-staged orchestral concert including original AOP cast members Michael Hendrick and Chris Trakas, in their roles of Judah and Manfred, respectively, on November 9. COMPLETE ARTICLE: http://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/music/developing-new-operas-is-an-art-in-itself/2013/10/16/f7849c26-3687-11e3-8a0e-4e2cf80831fc_story.html

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


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