Baseball Opera “The Summer King” Scores NEA Grant

December 19, 2013

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has announced that the University of Southern Maine has received an NEA Art Works grant for its upcoming May 2014 premiere of the baseball opera The Summer King, created by former C&V composer Daniel Sonenberg and developed by AOP.

"Broadway" Connie Rector (Franklin Westbrooks) looks in amazement at Josh Gibson's (Kenneth Overton) homer out of Yankee Stadium in an early AOP workshop of THE SUMMER KING.

“Broadway” Connie Rector (Franklin Westbrooks) looks in amazement at Josh Gibson’s (Kenneth Overton) homer out of Yankee Stadium in an early AOP workshop of THE SUMMER KING.

The Summer King follows the life and untimely death of “the Black Babe Ruth”, Negro League home run king Josh Gibson, in this new opera from composer/librettist Daniel Sonenberg and co-librettist Daniel Nestor. AOP will present a rare insight into the evolution of an opera with a full day of libretto readings, musical workshops, and an evening concert of scenes at OPERA America New Works Forum on January 15, 2014. 

From USM Newsletters:

Sonenberg, a University of Southern Maine (USM) associate professor of music at USM’s School of Music, has been notified that he is the recipient of a $15,000 National Endowment for the Arts grant in opera. His opera, titled “The Summer King,” will be performed in concert on May 8, 2014, at the Merrill Auditorium in Portland, Maine, in collaboration with Portland Ovations.

Scenes and excerpts from “The Summer King” already have been performed at Fort Worth Opera, the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music, the Manhattan School of Music and USM to excellent reviews.

In January 2014, the Opera America New Works Forum in New York City, in collaboration with the Brooklyn-based company American Opera Projects, will present a preview of “The Summer King” in a daylong series of events, including a libretto reading by actors, a piano-vocal performance of three scenes and then an orchestral performance of the same three scenes. Each of these events will be followed by discussion with the audience, which will consist of opera professionals from throughout the country….

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Read full article at the website of University of Southern Maine


Heart of Darkness Nominated for SBSA Award

April 5, 2012

Heart of Darkness world premiere logo

The World Premiere of Tarik O’Regan’s one-act opera Heart of Darkness (with libretto by Tom Phillips, based on the novella by Joseph Conrad) was nominated for a South Bank Sky Arts Award* this past week, “one of the world’s most coveted arts awards…celebrating the best of British culture and achievement.”  The ceremony will be held at The Dorchester (London) on May 1, 2012, hosted by English broadcaster and author Melvyn Bragg.

Heart of Darkness was first developed by AOP from 2006-08, before beginning preparations for its World Premiere at the Royal Opera House’s Linbury Studio Theatre in November 2011, co-produced by Opera East and the Royal Opera House.

For additional information, read the press articles from Chester Novello, Genesis Foundation, and The Bookseller.

*(Can’t find it on the nominee list?  Scroll down to the “Literature” heading and look at the last line; the “Opera” heading was accidentally listed in the middle.)


The Enticement of Hollows & Shadows: MODEL LOVE Gets Up on Its Feet

September 17, 2011
Rosalie Sullivan

"wildirishrose99"

Greetings from the front lines! The premiere of David Jackson‘s song-cycle MODEL LOVE is a mere two weeks away. As you can imagine, we Model Lovers have been hard at work for some time preparing this piece for its debut at the Kaplan Penthouse on October 2nd. Much of that preparation was done in isolation: days and nights spent learning vocal lines, pulling apart texts, counting complex rhythms (insert this mezzo’s gratitude for the creators of the visual metronome who helped restore my ability to learn polyrhythms), and (in one instance earlier this week) memorizing a trio while on the elliptical machine at the gym! Last night was therefore a particularly gratifying moment, as the cast gathered for our first staging rehearsal.

“There is miracle in personality” sings our tenor, Jeremy Little, in the cycle’s opening number. It is a song about the mystery of attraction, an attempt to explain that unmistakable spark that arises in a moment and draws us inexorably to another person. Getting these songs up on their feet last night, I felt something of that magic: how satisfying it was to finally begin physicalizing together what had previously only existed as a collection of notes and words in my mind! Questions I’ve had for weeks began to be answered, as we three fumbled and found our way, putting flesh on Henry Normal’s heady texts and creating emotional connections for ourselves under the expert guidance of our director, Crystal Manich.

There was something of this sensation when we came together for our first musical run-through a few weeks ago: we all remarked how much easier the music became when we could hear and play off of each other. What pleasure there was in feeling the sound gel and savoring those delicious moments of dissonance that pepper David’s vocal writing! With each successive rehearsal, we add a new layer, the piece makes more sense, and I am increasingly excited to see where we will wind up.

Tomorrow we’re in for another treat as we sit in on the first orchestra rehearsal: so many new colors and textures to enjoy!  “The enticement of hollows and shadows” indeed … how lucky we are to go exploring in their depths!

More to come soon…

Rose


Funny, sexy MODEL LOVE to premiere at Lincoln Center w NORA by its side

September 16, 2011

J. David Jackson's MODEL LOVE premieres October 2. IMAGE: Erik and Julie, NYC, 2006, Photograph by Skye Parrott

On Sunday, October 2, 4pm and 7:30pm, American Opera Projects will present the world premiere of Model Love, a humorous staged song-cycle about contemporary relationships with jazz and rock elements by composer J. David Jackson based on texts by British comedian Henry Normal, and the one-act opera monodrama Nora, In the Great Outdoors, music by Daniel Felsenfeld and libretto by Will Eno, that continues the final scene of Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House moments after Nora abandons her family. The event will be held at Lincoln Center’s Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse. Tickets are $25, $50 for VIP reserve seating, available at www.operaprojects.org.

“Fun, energetic and curious song cycle interested in M-M-W threesome. R U what I M looking 4?” Model Love is a 30-minute song cycle fusing contemporary art song with blues, jazz ,and rock set for three singers (mezzo-soprano Rosalie Sullivan, baritone Gregory Gerbrandt, and tenor Jeremy Little) chamber orchestra and rock band. Based on texts from Nude Modelling for the Afterlife by BAFTA award winning poet/comedian Henry Normal with music by J. David Jackson, Model Love mixes musical styles and genres in a way that humorously (and accurately) represents the variegated emotions and situations of contemporary love affairs. J. David Jackson conducts.

Nora, In the Great Outdoors

Kirsten Chambers will sing the title role in the Felsenfeld/Eno monodrama

Using an icy climate crossed with a fragile-yet-eruptive emotional state of mind as musical grist, Nora, In the Great Outdoors is a take on the ending of Ibsen’s seminal “A Doll’s House,” especially its famous final stage direction, the first collaboration between composer Daniel Felsenfeld and playwright Will Eno. The monodrama takes over immediately where Ibsen leaves off, when the heroine abandons her family, her marriage her security, and perhaps the most famous slammed door in the history of drama. Commissioned by American Opera Projects, Nora, In the Great Outdoors, is a monodrama for soprano and piano trio and will star Kirsten Chambers in the title role. Keith Chambers conducts.


Martín’s Before Night Falls Released on Amazon

September 24, 2010

Fort Worth Opera announced yesterday that their recording of Jorge Martín’s opera Before Night Falls, which was given its world premiere at FWO this past spring, will be released on Amazon.com on October 1st.  American Opera Projects was lucky enough to have given the opera its first concert reading of scenes from Act I back in 2004, when they were presented as part of the Dance Theater Workshop here in New York, and again in 2005, at the Clark Studio Theatre at Lincoln Center (during the Third Annual Cuban Arts Festival).

Before Night Falls traces the life of Cuban poet Reinaldo Arenas, beginning with his early years growing up in poverty in Cuba, to his emigration to the US in 1980, to his last decade suffering from AIDS.  Based on his famous memoir, the opera follows his trials and tribulations as a political prisoner forced to smuggle his manuscripts abroad for publication.

Joshua Rosenblum of Opera News raved in his May 2010 article,

“Martín’s opera…bursts with restless passion and sustains a dark undertone of anxiety throughout. The composer skillfully draws on numerous influences, including suave Cuban dance rhythms, which are sometimes overt but more often dextrously embedded within the colorful orchestral texture. In addition, one is reminded variously of Mahler, Shostakovich, Ravel, Villa-Lobos and even Varèse…but Martín has the skill and individuality to synthesize these strands into a coherent and dramatically potent tapestry. Best of all, his melodies almost always blossom and sing, even in the extended recitative-style dialogue.” To continue reading, click here.

Interested in pre-ordering?  Purchase Before Night Falls on Amazon.


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.


Before Night Falls is a “must-see” event of 2010

March 9, 2010

Travel & LeisureDo you enjoy travel? How about leisure? Then why not hop on a plane for Fort Worth in May and kick back to a world premiere of the AOP-developed opera Before Night Falls which was just chosen by Travel and Leisure magazine as a “must-see” event in 2010? (yeesh, that was corny. sorry.)

The Fort Worth Opera (fwopera.org) presents Cuban American composer Jorge Martín’s Before Night Falls (May 29–June 6), which features young baritone Wes Mason as the gay dissident and poet Reinaldo Arenas in Fidel Castro’s Cuba.

Check out the rest of Travel and Leisure‘s list of 2010 events not to be missed events…


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