Gregory Spears‘ opera Paul’s Case received high praise for its recent sold-out NYC premiere at PROTOtype Festival. Press called it a “masterpiece…tempting to call it ‘the best new opera I’ve heard in years'” (NY Observer) and “a taut, splendid operatic adaptation” (NY Times). Spears’ vocal writing was lauded as “ravishing” and “especially admirable” and librettist Kathryn Walat’s adaptation of the original Willa Cather short story “finely made” (New York Classical Review). Jonathan Blalock, who reprised his role from the opera’s premiere at UrbanArias last April, had “even more theatrical and vocal authority as Paul” (Wall Street Journal). AOP began development of the opera during the 2008-09 season of Composers & the Voice. A new production of the opera will appear at Pittsburgh Opera in February.
Hot off its premiere with UrbanArias in April, Paul’s Case will be presented as part of PROTOTYPE Festival’s 2014 series. With music by Gregory Spears and a libretto by the composer and Kathryn Walat, Paul’s Case is based on a Willa Cather short story from 1905. The opera follows Paul, a student in turn-of-the-century Pittsburgh who tries navigate his journey to adulthood and find an outlet for his artistic energies. Reacting to his middle-class surroundings, Paul cultivates the image of a dandy and steals money from his father’s business. He runs away to New York City to experience true freedom for the first time. Paul’s Case was developed by AOP and the original cast and production from its UrbanArias premiere will be brought to the festival. Tenor Jonathan Blalock sings the lead role. Performances will take place Jan 8, 9, 11, 12 & 13 at 145 Sixth Avenue. To buy tickets, click here.
PROTOTYPE Festival was launched in January 2013 as an annual festival for visionary opera and music theater works by artists from New York and around the world.
April has been busy and gratifying for AOP and we are just about a third of the way through our 25th year (stay tuned for announcements about anniversary events). Just as we finished up workshops for our upcoming July premiere of The Blind at Lincoln Center Festival, two AOP-developed works received their world premieres at regional opera companies. Even better, they are resounding successes. AOP develops new work and partners with companies across the country because of leadership support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, and many generous individuals.
Present Music and Milwaukee Opera Theater co-produced Judgment of Midas on April 12 & 13. The extravagant, Turkish influenced music by composer Kamran Ince supplies “an orgiastic climax as crazed and hair-raising as anything I’ve heard in all of opera” (ThirdCoastDaily.com). It is a large scale comedy with six principles and a small chorus.
UrbanArias began two week premiere run of a chamber opera, Paul’s Case, at Artisphere in Arlington, VA (Washington, DC) on April 20. Based on a story by Willa Cather, Paul’s Case is
“…an arresting little piece that communicates its haunting story with clarity and a sense of inevitability.” (The Washington Post)
“Composer Gregory Spears combines minimalism, baroque gestures, and extended vocal techniques into a distinctive and pungent musical language . . . the overall pacing is taut, the nine-piece orchestration vivid and the denouement appropriately wrenching.” (The Wall Street Journal)
“The words ‘world premiere’ don’t always translate to ‘Must-See,’ but in the case of Paul’s Case… they’re synonymous.” (DC Metro Theater Arts)
“…the piece is nearly ready to claim a place in the chamber opera repertoire – thanks to a long-haul development process for which American Opera Projects deserves much credit.” (Arts Journal)
Visit AOP First Chance to follow the next round of operas on their way to premiere productions!
David Patrick Stearns at the Philadelphia Inquirer selected the first full workshop of the opera Paul’s Case for his classical music ten best list for 2009. Stearns praised its “solid dramatic timing, compassionate characterizations, and huge potential.” The opera by Gregory Spears based on a story by Willa Cather was presented in September as part of the Philadelphia Fringe Festival by Center City Opera. The work is currently in development at American Opera Projects, having originated during the 2007-08 season of Composers & the Voice.
The first piano-vocal workshop of Greg Spears‘s opera-in-development Paul’s Case made a great impression on Jeffrey Edelstein over at Music Web International who asserted it to be “a beautiful, heartrending work.”
The opera currently being developed by AOP and based on a short story by Willa Cather, was presented by Center City Opera Theater (conNEXTions 2009: The Next Generation of Opera in conjunction with the Philadelphia Fringe Festival) at the St. Stephen’s Theater in Philadelphia on Sep 11, 13, and 15.