MSM Opera Program to Showcase Scenes from New Opera “Decoration”

September 11, 2012

Selections from an eerie, hallucinatory new opera Decoration by Composers & the Voice fellow Mikael Karlsson will be presented by the Manhattan School of Music’s opera department in a program of new operas in March 2013. One of the “Six Scenes” performed this past weekend at an AOP showcase of various operas in development, Decoration follows the pre-apocalyptic journey of two sisters – one pregnant, one dying – and their extremely different outlooks on the future.

Composer Mikael Karlsson (photo by Anna Österlund)

Decoration scenes, libretto by the composer and David Flodén, will be performed in a staged reading by MSM voice students at Greenfield Hall as part of the annual New American Opera Previews, from Page to Stage series, hosted by WQXR’s Midge Woolsey, produced by Opera Index. The selection was made by a panel of judges including Assistant Dean of Opera Studies/Opera Production at MSM Gordon Ostrowski and Head Coach William Tracy.

The nationally recognized Composers & the Voice (C&V) is a fellowship for six composers or composer/librettist teams to work with an artistic team, headed by Steven Osgood, and AOP’s Resident Ensemble of Singers. The primary focus of C&V is to give composers extensive experience working collaboratively with singers on writing for the voice. With each new group of fellows, sponsorships are named in honor of mentors and their support of Composers & the Voice.

Tobias Picker

Composer Tobias Picker (American Tragedy) served as a Mikael Karlsson’s “Composer Chair,” providing a one-on-one mentorship throughout the year. Other Composer Chairs during the past C&V season included John Corigliano, Daron Hagen, John Musto, Kaija Saariaho, and Stephen Schwartz.

Decoration marks the ninth presentation by MSM of opera excerpts to come out of  C&V.  Previous C&V operas have included “The Summer King” by Daniel Sonenberg, “Exiles” by Renee Favand-See, “Dream President” by Jennifer Griffith, “The Golden Gate” by Conrad Cummings, “Death in Summer” by Gregg Wrammage, “Paul’s Case” by Gregory Spears, “Henry’s Wife” by Randall Eng, and “Love/Hate” by Jack Perla, which went on to a world premiere in April 2012 in partnership with The San Francisco Opera.

Music from C&V fellows will also be programmed at upcoming presentations by OPERAtion Brooklyn and the BEAT Festival, Opera Memphis and AOP Artistic Partner The Walt Whitman Project.

“For the composers selected the implications are many and very rewarding,” said C&V Artistic Director Steven Osgood. “Each of them will have their music brought to a wider and diverse audience [and] each of them will forge relationships with major artistic institutions, which is today an increasingly difficult hurdle for emerging artists.”

Composers & the Voice is made possible in part by a generous multi-year award from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Fellows in the C&V program are supported by funding from The New York Community Trust Edward and Sally Van Lier Fund and Musical Arts Fund.


AOP and OOT’s new mission (if you choose to accept it)

February 29, 2012

OPERAtion BrooklynOn March 25 & 26, 2012, American Opera Projects and Opera on Tap will give the go sign to their newest collaboration – OPERAtion Brooklyn. After 10 performances of their series Opera Grows in Brooklyn, AOP and OOT will return to Galapagos Art Space with this new series that presents “the most daring of contemporary opera and song in a relaxed, nightclub-style evening that encourage[s] drinks and discussion as part of the new classical experience. ”

“We were looking for a direction to take Opera Grows in Brooklyn in 2012,” says AOP Producing Director Matt Gray, who co-produces the event with OOT’s Artistic Director Anne Hiatt, “and after assessing the successes of that series, we realized we most enjoyed ourselves when we were producing bigger and bolder. So, we decided to do fewer shows during the year, but make those we do real can’t-miss events. To convey this commitment we felt a new name was in order, something that showed our passion and determination for presenting the best of Brooklyn’s contemporary opera scene.”

OPERAtion Brooklyn

David Del Tredici

David Del Tredici

OPERAtion Brooklyn will kick off with a two-evening festival of Alice in Wonderland-inspired works called Curiouser & Curiouser, featuring a performance by the composer most musically associated with Lewis Carroll – David Del Tredici. Celebrating his 75th birthday the week before, Del Tredici, practically a legend of New York’s contemporary classical scene, will play piano for a revival of his 1986 work for soprano and 10-piece orchestra Haddocks’ Eyes, based on a section of Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass. Excerpts from the Alice-inspired operas Dreaming of Wonderland (Manly Romero, composer) and Wonderglass (Susan Botti, composer) will also take audiences down the operatic rabbit hole.

As if that weren’t enough,  “Curiouser & Curiouser” will feature intermezzos from a collection of New York’s top circus-burlesque artists in a two-part program entitled “Through the Peeping Glass.” Producer Rita MenWeep has put together a mixture of acrobats (Joshua Dean, Ben Franklin), contortionists (Miss Ekaterina), and burlesque stars (Jenny C’est Quoi, Tigger!Creamy Stevens) who will portray some of the most iconic characters in Wonderland in the most unexpected of ways.

Rita MenWeep as the Red Queen

Rita MenWeep as the Red Queen

How did burlesque and opera come together? “I’ve known Rita for years,” says Gray. “I was actually in a play where she did her first-ever burlesque act. After one of our Opera Grows in Brooklyn performances I was thrilled to find that the late-night act was her burlesque version of The Wizard of Oz. Seeing the crossover happen between our audiences, we both thought, ‘Man, it would be great to get these people together. They don’t know what they’re missing.”

American Opera Projects and Opera on Tap have been artists-in-residence at Galapagos Art Space since 2009. The venue, just off the waterfront in DUMBO, Brooklyn, has been a primary destination for both new music and burlesque since it was founded by Artistic Director Robert Elmes in 1995.

“What’s funny is that the fans of neo-classical/opera and the fans of neo-burlesque know that both genres are misunderstood as either too highbrow or too lowbrow, respectively,” says Opera on Tap’s Anne Ricci. “We hope to prove to the unfamiliars how wrong they are on both those counts. But we’re not middlebrow, either!” she laughingly adds.

Tickets for Curiouser & Curiouser are available at Galapagos’s website here. Complete OPERAtion Brooklyn program information is available at www.operationbrooklyn.com.

David Del Tredici Photo Credit: Paula Court

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