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

Former AOP Artistic Director Steven Osgood’s Production of Massenet’s La Navarraise Recieves Rave Reviews

July 20, 2009

Steven Osgood

AOP is excited to announce that Jules Massenet’s one act opera La Navarraise received a rave review from Harry Rolnick of ConcertoNet.  In particular, AOP is proud of the recognition our former Artistic Director, Steven Osgood, received.  Rolnick paid special attention to the New York City Opera Orchestra under Osgood’s baton.  Michael Zegarski, with whom AOP has collaborated on Séance on a Wet Afternoon, the Composers & the Voice song workshop, and is a board member of AOP, served in the ensemble and was singled out by Rolnick for his performance in the “delicious song ‘For Wine! For Cider.’”  Andrew Drost, who sang the role or Ramon, is another AOP alumnus, having sung in the Voice of Brooklyn concert.  Baritone, Jeffrey Tucker, who collaborated with AOP on Before Night Falls, sang the role of Bustamente.

To read the full review, click here

Osgood to conduct Oresteia and Marco Polo

September 17, 2008
Steven Osgood

Steven Osgood

Former AOP Artistic Director Steven Osgood will take the baton to an upcoming American premiere and new production in The Netherlands. Osgood will conduct the opening of the Miller Theater’s season in September with Iannis Xenakis’s Oresteia, and will make his debut with De Nederlandse Opera in November conducting Tan Dun‘s Marco Polo.

Iannis Xenakis: Oresteia
The Miller Theatre at Columbia University
September 13, 16 & 17 @ 8:00

Steven Osgood, conductor
Luca Veggetti, director and choreographer

Xenakis’s only opera, receiving its U.S. premiere, throws together one soloist (Wilbur Pauley), 18 women, 16 men, 20 children, 6 dancers, and 13 instrumentalists (from the remarkable ICE Ensemble).  And if that were not enough, everyone on stage has a handful of percussion instruments– slapsticks, maracas, simantras, and Acme sirens!  At the end of the opera’s 70 minutes of singing and shouting in Ancient Greek, 200 lucky audience members are given small mylar flags to wave in celebration.

For more details and to purchase tickets, click here.

Tan Dun: Marco Polo
De Nederlandse Opera
November 23 (mat), 26, 28

Steven Osgood, conductor
Pierre Audi, director

This new production of Marco Polo features an international cast, including my old friends Nancy Allen Lundy, Stephen Bryant and Charles Workman.  The opera is a fantastic and imaginative musical journey from Italy to China which I have long looked forward to conducting.  I am happy to be be collaborating again with Tan, who will conduct the beginning of the run, and am very excited to be making my debut with De Nederlandse Opera.

For more details and to purchase tickets, click here

Plans announced for C&V 2008-09 season

July 16, 2008
Steven Osgood guides composers in a previous season of Composers & the Voice.

Steven Osgood guides composers in a previous season of Composers & the Voice.

Created in 2002 by former AOP Artistic Director Steven Osgood, Composers & the Voice – AOP’s nationally recognized annual composer workshop series – has not just been a training ground for emerging composers, but also an incubator for dozens of new operatic works over the years. AOP has announced that the 2008-09 season of Composers & the Voice will focus exclusively on the development and presentation of the works of C&V alumni.

AOP Executive Director Charles Jarden states, “The new season will allow audiences and financial sponsors more access to the music from the workshop program that has traditionally been closed to the public.” Funders that joined the growing supporters of this unique fellowship offered to composers include The BMI Foundation and The Virgil Thomson Foundation.

This summer has already seen partnering organizations such as The Walt Whitman Project, Opera on Tap, and Make Music NY create programs around C&V songs, delighting audiences from Theater Ten Ten in Manhattan to the feisty back room bar at Freddy’s in Ft. Greene Brooklyn. In October, C&V Six Scenes 08, the final presentations of the 2007-08 composer class, will be held in Brooklyn. In the 2008-09 Season, C&V will not be accepting new proposals or applications. Composers and librettists are requested to keep checking the website for updates.

Steven Osgood steps down as Artistic Director of AOP

March 3, 2008

Steve Osgood headshotSteven Osgood will step down as Artistic Director of American Opera Projects (AOP) after a seven-year tenure during which he played a crucial role in helping to implement the company’s mission to commission, develop and present new, innovative opera theater works.

Osgood, who made his decision after consultation with the Board, cited the pressures of increased personal and professional demands here and abroad as preventing him from continuing to devote sufficient time to his AOP commitments. It is with great regret that the Board of Directors accepts his resignation. The Board wishes him continued success in all his future endeavors.

Osgood wrote the following about his decision to resign:

American Opera Projects has been a monumental part of my life and career over the last 14 years. My work with the company has introduced me to artists who have become long-lasting colleagues and friends. It has given me the opportunity to delve into a vast repertoire of incredibly varied new pieces. Perhaps most importantly, I have had a home base to return to, and have been given a working laboratory in which to explore concepts and theories of how today’s opera should work. I draw on this experience daily in my work on both contemporary and standard repertoire, and the depth that it brings to that work is irreplaceable.

Stepping down at this time is an extremely difficult decision, especially as I see the fruits of so much of our labor over the past seven years coming in. I do look forward to as many opportunities as possible to work with the company on projects and programs I have fostered, as well as new pieces that are on the horizon.”

Executive Director, Charles Jarden, said, “We are all very sorry to see Steve go. He has been with us through thick and thin, devoting himself to helping AOP develop into the strong and stable company it is today. He has proven himself to be outstanding in his collegiality and musicianship. Indeed, all of us at AOP look forward to continuing our relationship with Steve on a freelance basis as AOP continues its exciting forward momentum.”

Mr. Osgood will continue to lead AOP’s Composers and the Voice program until this season’s final concerts on May 8 and May 9. Composers and the Voice, now in its fifth year and a model educational program for professionals at all levels, is the internationally acclaimed AOP initiative founded and directed by Osgood.

A search committee to replace Mr. Osgood is in formation.

“Firm, flexible guidance of Steven Osgood” leads MSM’s Griffelkin to a rave review

December 28, 2007

Opera News online review of AOP Artistic Director Steven Osgood conducting Griffelkin.

NEW YORK CITY — Griffelkin, Manhattan School of Music, 12/5/07

griffiekin logoOn December 5, forty-two years after its premiere on NBC-TV, Lukas Foss’s fantasy opera Griffelkin was performed by Manhattan School of Music (itself marking its ninetieth anniversary) in honor of the composer’s eighty-fifth birthday, last August. The composer, who was present and took a bow, had started the work literally as a children’s opera, when he was eight, to a story written by his mother. Decades later, with a new libretto by Alastair Reid, Griffelkin turned out to be a sly, sophisticated work for audiences of all ages. In that respect it honors its descent from such European prototypes as Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel (1893), Dvorák’s Cert a Káca (The Devil and Kate, 1899) and Jaromir Weinberger’s hit Svanda Dudák (Schwanda the Bagpiper, 1927). In musical idiom, however,Griffelkin today sounds positively postmodern.

Griffelkin‘s title character, a young devil (literally), receives from his hellish cohorts a tenth-birthday present of a whole day upstairs on earth, with license to commit mayhem. He wields his magic powers to bring to life a Fountain Statue in Central Park, two Lions guarding the Public Library, a Letterbox, later a shopful of toys. But, befriended by a Girl and her family, he commits the crime (by devil standards) of using his magic to save the dying Mother’s life, and this gets him thrown out of Hell. Instead of punishment, he finds joy in his newfound human status.

Foss’s crafty score weaves allusions to styles current in the mid-twentieth century, notably Stravinsky, Prokofiev and Shostakovich, but its comic aesthetics incline more toward Falstaff, Gianni Schicchi and Broadway. Above all, one senses the composer having enormous fun with a subject that in less adept hands might have taken a sentimental turn: his intricate, riotous finales to Acts II and III clear the air of this risk. MSM’s forty-two-piece orchestra, under the firm, flexible guidance of Steven Osgood, appeared to enjoy its assignment immensely, as did the production team, headed by director Linda Brovsky, set designer Erhard Rom, costume designer Elizabeth Hope Clancy and choreographer Tom Gold, working with a cast of thirty-eight. Rom’s vivid backdrop projections, including New York City subways (for the Hell scenes), the Public Library, Lincoln Center Plaza and the like, filled the stage without overpowering it, evoking memories of the film On the Town.

While MSM’s troupe included five junior members in bit parts, it entrusted the principal youth roles to young adults. The title role, which calls for dancing and acrobatics as well as strenuous singing, had more than a match in Anthony Roth Costanzo, a countertenor of assurance, spirit and expressive dynamic range. His characterization held the stage more effectively than ever in the last two scenes, where his cry of “One word, please!” emerged a good deal louder than one usually hears from a countertenor. The devils were a street-tough crew. As the human family with whom Griffelkin forms a bond, Kristen DiNinno as the Girl, Shelly Wade (Boy) and Andrea Martin (Mother) performed their roles (borderline Menotti tearjerkers) with nice simplicity. Griffelkin’s Grandmother had an improbably glamorous protagonist in mezzo Margaret Peterson, spoofing a Hollywood femme fatale of the “Whatever Lola Wants, Lola Gets” variety.

The other singers, and the composer too, made capital of the abundant genre roles. The voluble Letterbox and philosophical Policeman (Scott England, Benjamin Bloomfield) brought familiar urban accents, while the Fountain Statue (Nicole Percifield), something of a scold, gently recalled Susan B. Anthony in Thomson’s The Mother of Us All. The Lions (Zachary Altman, Matthew Anchel) stole the show from time to time, though elaborate costumes kept them from sharing in the general animation.


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