AS ONE librettist takes NY Times through a day in the life of a transgender person

May 4, 2015

As One co-librettist and transgender filmmaker Kimberly Reed has created a video for The New York Times showing a day in her life – specifically April 7, when the AOP-commissioned opera opened at Utah State University. In the video, Reed shows glimpses of the various ways she has introduced the quotidian stories of transgender individuals – through documentaries, news interviews, spoken word performances, and now the critically-praised opera As One.

Reed explains, “It’s not unusual for me to be the first transgender person someone has known. I’m happy to be in that position, because the best way to dispel misunderstanding and increase empathy for The Other is to simply get to know someone. … For this video essay, I wanted to let you get to know a real, live trans person. I decided to record the day leading up to the premiere of an opera, As One, for which I created a film and co-wrote the libretto.”

View the video:

As One premiered in September 2014 in a production by AOP at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Fisher Center. The production toured to the Caine College of the Arts at Utah State University in April 2015. A new production of As One by West Edge Opera will open in July 2015.


AOP Makes the NYTimes “Best Of” list for the 2nd Year in a Row with OUT COLD

December 17, 2012

Theo Bleckmann and ACME. Photo: Rahav Segev

“Out Cold” continues to gather great reviews and is now showing up on some best of the year lists!

The New York Times‘s Vivien Schweitzer named Out Cold one of six “performances that have stuck with me through the year” :

“…the vocalist Theo Bleckmann offered a vivid portrayal of the lovelorn protagonist of “Out Cold,” Phil Kline’s alluring new monodrama, which received its premiere there in October with the American Contemporary Music Ensemble. Mr. Bleckmann proved equally arresting in an arrangement of Mr. Kline’s “Zippo Songs.” FULL ARTICLE

Out Cold was also one of the top five best of 2012 in WQXR‘s year-end round up:

“In the BAM world premiere of Kline’s Schubert-meets-Sinatra song cycle, Bleckmann conjured Buster Keaton’s melancholy and Fred Astaire’s grace, transforming a black-box theater with a few café tables into a world as vast as a lover’s hopes and as stifling as regret. Directed by Emma Griffin and backed by the splendid American Contemporary Music Ensemble, he sang with sweetness, clarity, and self-lacerating woe. His performance of Kline’s Zippo Songs, a post-modern classic, was no less shattering. DVD, please, and soon.” FULL ARTICLE

And The Brooklyn Rail weighed in by choosing us as one of the best in this year’s BAM NextWave Festival:

“…a wonderful evening of music from Phil Kline with singer Theo Bleckmann, Kline’s great “Three Rumsfeld Songs” and “Zippo Songs” and a new set, “Out Cold,” all either written or orchestrated for ACME, the American Contemporary Music Ensemble. From the moment Bleckmann, in a suit, stood on top of a television and sang, “As we know, there are known knowns,” the whole performance, with smart staging from Emma Griffin, was as gripping and entertaining as a thriller. Kline’s music and original lyrics for “Out Cold” combine the aesthetic profundity of the art song with the succinct clarity of pop music, and the social and political message is more powerful for his light touch.” FULL ARTICLE

For a complete list of reviews for our Out Cold/Zippo Songs performance at BAM this past October, visit the OUT COLD page on the AOP website.


Felsenfeld gives a rebel yell to classical music on the NYTimes blog

April 8, 2010

Daniel Felsenfeld

Daniel Felsenfeld

Composers & the Voice alum and man of many talents Daniel Felsenfeld revealed his rebel background and its influence on his composing in a recent essay on the New York Times Opinionator blog.

At 17, rebellion was of course a staple in my life. The smartest kids I knew took the route of dolling themselves up in anti-establishment finery — goth, punk, straight edge — forming bands, going to clubs in Los Angeles, spouting manifestos.  I had auditioned this mode, joining a band (whose name escapes me) and, in one of my great (mercifully unphotographed) late high school moments, taking a long, throbbing solo at a school assembly on one of those bygone over-the-shoulder keyboards.

It seems implausible now, but the “something really wild” Mike held was not goth, metal, or punk.  It was a neatly hand-labeled tape of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.  He put it on, and I listened.  I think it was then I actually heard music for the first time.

Read Danny’s full story here…


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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