AOP PRODUCTIONS REACH NEW STAGES

September 25, 2014

American Opera Projects is pleased to announce that several of its recent productions will be produced on stages around the country. Lera Auerbach’s The Blind, Tarik O’Regan and Tom Phillips’ Heart of Darkness, and Laura Kaminsky, Mark Campbell, and Kimberly Reed’s As One are each being performed in the coming months.

 9354607718_b214f9f0b6_zCast and Crew of The Blind At Lincoln Center Festival, 2013. Photo by Matt Gray

Composer Lera Auerbach‘s The Blind  will be presented by Central City Opera in their Summer 2015 Festival. The production was created and directed by John La Bouchardière and first produced by AOP in collaboration with Lincoln Center in 2013. This unusual a cappella opera for 12 singers is transformed into a unique theatrical experience by La Bouchardière’s unconventional production, which requires that the audience be blindfolded so that they must enter the world of the characters. “It’s not the characters who are blind,” said composer Lera Auerbach in a New York Times interview about the one-act opera, “The message is that we are the blind.  With all our means of communication we see each other less and connect to each other less.  We have less understanding and compassion for other people…” Adapted from an 1890 play by Maurice Maeterlinck, the story is about a dozen blind people who are taken by their priest on an outing.  When the elderly priest suddenly dies, they are stranded on an island left helpless and scared. The group realizes that they never really knew the priest as a person as they stumble upon his cold, dead body.  A Russian- American composer, Lera Auerbach wrote The Blind in 1994 while she was a student at Colorado’s Aspen Music Festival.

Alan Oke (Marlow), centre, in Heart Of Darkness by Tarik O'Regan

Royal Opera House Production of Heart of Darkness, London, 2011. Photo by Tristram Kenton.

Composer Tarik O’Regan‘s Heart of Darkness  will receive it’s U.S. premiere in San Francisco’s Z space by Opera Parallèle early May 2015. The opera was developed by AOP for several years, starting in 2006, and received it’s world premiere in London in collaboration with with Opera East, OperaGenesis and the Royal Opera House in the Linbury Studio Theater of the Royal Opera House in 2011. Adapted from the novella by Joseph Conrad by librettist Tom Phillips, Heart of Darkness is a powerful opera that portrays the greedy world of ivory smugglers in Central Africa as narrated by the central character, Marlow. In this new production, the plot unfolds through a series of short, fast-paced scenes that gradually increase in tension, as Marlow’s tale approaches its climax. O’Regan grew up in London, where he was born in 1978, spending some of his childhood in Morocco and Algeria. His music, recorded on over 25 albums and nominated for two GRAMMY’S®, is published exclusively by Novello & Co./G. Schirmer, Inc.

AS ONE photo 4 by Ken Howard for AOP

Kelly Markgraf, Sasha Cooke, and members of the Fry Street Quartet, BAM, 2014. Photo by Ken Howard

Finally, AOP’s recent production of As One will tour to the Caine College of the Arts, part of Utah State University in Logan, Utah. After its September production and premiere at BAM, the critical response has been overwhelmingly positive with critics declaring it “a piece that haunts and challenges” (Opera News), “artistically distinguished, socially important” (WQXR), and “satisfying in an entertaining and delicately moving way” (NY Observer). In the chamber opera by composer Laura Kaminsky, librettist Mark Campbell and librettist/filmmaker Kimberly Reed, a mezzo-soprano and a baritone depict the experiences of its sole transgender protagonist, Hannah, as she endeavors to resolve the discord between her self and the outside world. The work featured performances by Sasha Cooke, Kelly Markgraf, and The Fry Street Quartet, stage direction by Ken Cazan, and music direction by Steven Osgood.


Heart of Darkness orchestral suite premieres in London

March 29, 2013
Tarik O'Regan

Tarik O’Regan

When Heart of Darkness (developed by AOP) premièred at the Royal Opera House’s Linbury Studios in 2011 it met with great acclaim for its ‘music of startling beauty’ (The Observer) and ‘a magical and haunting sound-world’ (The Telegraph).

Composer Tarik O’Regan has now developed Suite from Heart of Darkness for orchestra and narrator. Tom Phillips, the original librettist, has worked closely from Joseph Conrad’s novella to create the text.

The London première of Suite from Heart of Darkness will be held at Cadogan Hall on Tuesday 23rd April at 7.30pm. The concert is part of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra’s Resident Season, will be conducted by Nicholas Collon and narrated by Sam West. Seats can be reserved here.

Go on Tarik’s website for more detail.


O’Regan/Phillips open their “Heart” to praise at London premiere

November 11, 2011

"Superb": Alan Oke, right, as Marlow, with the "splendid" Sipho Fubesi, front left, in Tarik O'Regan's The Heart of Darkness. Photograph: Tristram Kenton

The maiden voyage into Heart of Darkness is complete! On November 1, the AOP-developed chamber opera from Tarik O’Regan and Tom Phillips premiered at London’s Royal Opera House in a co-production by ROH2 and Opera East. AOP Artistic Director Charles Jarden, Managing Director and Board President Bob Lee and several members of the AOP Board were there at the Linbury Studio Theater to see the creators take their bows with so much joy and pride that they barely noticed that they were up to their ankles in the set’s water-filled stage.

“This is a show that any opera company in the world would have been proud to present,” said Mr. Lee. “It’s been incredible to watch it grow through our public development process, from libretto to premiere. AOP does really provide something to opera audiences that they can’t get anywhere else – witnessing the creation of a work of art from beginning to end.”

Across the pond here at the AOP office, we have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of positive response from audience and critics alike. Stephen Pritchard from The Guardian/Observer UK  in particular gave an incredible rave:

Workshopped by OperaGenesis and American Opera Projects, it was developed by Opera East and ROH2 ready for its triumphant world premiere last week – 75 minutes of intense, sinister storytelling, combining crystal-clear narrative with complex ideas about idealism and self-delusion… Underpinning all this is a score of concise originality. Restless, leaping woodwind propel the narrative through the murky waters of the Congo, while interesting combinations of sonorities – double bass and classical guitar, for instance – trickle and bubble through the music… Concision is nowhere more evident than in Tom Phillips’s gloriously spare libretto. Drawn entirely from Conrad’s own writing, it hacks through the dense jungle of the author’s prose and elevates it to the status of the finest poetry.

Jeanne Whalen of The Wall Street Journal said, “’Heart of Darkness’ is very good … The English-language libretto by Tom Phillips is beautiful. … If you think of opera as an often bloated, over-wrought art form with hammy plots and acting, you would do well to try this one. It is elegant, moving, and, at just 75 minutes, short enough to allow time for dinner afterward.” And Claire Seymour from Opera Today said that Tarik O’Regan’s “fluent melodic idiom…skillfully evoked place and ambience with precision and impact.” And finally we can’t help but repeat that “preliminary development work with American Opera Projects and ROH 2’s OperaGenesis, reaped dividends for the finished article as jointly presented by Opera East Productions and ROH2.” Nice to know we’re doing it right.

Read The Genesis Foundation’s digest of press reviews for HEART OF DARKNESS.


The Honor! The Honor! Heart of Darkness heads for a World Premiere

April 21, 2010

Heart of Darkness world premiere logoGet your rivets ready to take your steamer upriver – the Thames, that is.

AOP is very excited to announce that Heart of Darkness will make its World Premiere in 2011 at the Royal Opera House 2 in London, England!  AOP’s Heart of Darkness is a one act chamber opera composed by Tarik O’Regan, based on Joseph Conrad’s much beloved novel of the same name. Heart of Darkness has been developed since 2006 at American Opera Projects with further development in partnership with OperaGenesis & Opera East Productions in England.

The production of Heart of Darkness also boasts an impressive roster of artists and musicians.  The libretto was created by British artist Tom Phillips, and the London premiere will be directed by the acclaimed Edward Dick.   Maestro Oliver Gooch will conduct Britten Sinfonia in the debut performance.

Audiences will have a chance to preview some of the music of Heart of Darkness in an exclusive piano/vocal reading on April 22, 2010. A performance will be held at 7p.m. on 22 Mansfield Street in London as part of The Nicholas Boas Charitable Trust concert series. The vocalist line-up for the evening features a stellar cast of singers (also conducted by Oliver Gooch) including;

-Soprano Jeanine De Bique as Woman of the River
-Mezzo-soprano Miranda Westcott as the Fiancé
-Tenor Philip Sheffield as Marlow
-Tenor Darren Abrahams as Harlequin
-Tenor Steven Ebel as the Boat Director
-Baritone Alex Ashworth as the Manager
-Baritone Ronan Collett as the Boilmaker
-Bass James Gower as Kurtz

Visit www.operaprojects.org/heart_of_darkness for further updates on the world premiere.


The Walrus Magazine discusses O’Regan’s Heart of Darkness

May 13, 2008

Arias of Darkness

Setting Joseph Conrad’s classic novel to music.

by Siobhan Roberts

Published in the June 2008 issue.

brooklyn — On a November night, an audience gathered in the Great Room at American Opera Projects headquarters to get an early glimpse of an unlikely addition to the cultural canon: an opera based on Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. The librettist, London artist Tom Phillips (whose portrait of Iris Murdoch hangs in Britain’s National PortraitGallery), introduced the performance by offering interpretative outtakes from his umpteen readings of the classic novella, published in 1902.

Read full article: The Walrus Magazine » Joseph Conrad Heart of Darkness Musical » By Siobhan Roberts » Tom Phillips


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