MasterVoices to Present New York Premiere of 27 at New York City Center
MasterVoices (formerly The Collegiate Chorale) will celebrate its 75th anniversary during the 2016-2017 season, beginning with the New York premiere of Ricky Ian Gordon and Royce Vavrek's 27, specially adapted for MasterVoices, on October 20 and 21, 2016 at 8pm at New York City Center, 131 W. 55th Street, New York City.
MasterVoices' production of 27 will be semi-staged, and will feature the direction of James Robinson, conducting by MasterVoices' Artistic Director Ted Sperling, the 150 singers of MasterVoices, and Orchestra of St. Luke's. The cast features Metropolitan Opera mezzo Stephanie Blythe as Gertrude Stein, and up-and-coming soprano Heidi Stober as Alice B. Toklas,Theo Lebow, Tobias Greenhalgh, and Daniel Brevik. The production will include scenic design by Allen Moyer, costume design by James Schuette, and lighting design by James F. Ingalls.
27 explores the relationship between Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, who hosted regular salon evenings at their Paris home at 27 Rue de Fleurus, with such guests as Pablo Picasso, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Man Ray, Henri Matisse and Ernest Hemingway. Commissioned by Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, 27 received its world premiere in June 2014. For the New York Premiere, Ricky Ian Gordon has specially added new sections for the MasterVoices chorus.
"MasterVoices is delighted to provide New York audiences with the opportunity to hear the singular Stephanie Blythe recreate the role of Gertrude Stein and to be working with the radiant Heidi Stober (Alice B. Toklas) for the first time. 27 is not only a celebration of the influence that Gertrude Stein had on her contemporary artist friends; it's also an expression of the love and devotion Alice B. Toklas felt towards Gertrude, and her desire to be recognized as her wife in an era where that was not possible. It could not be a better time to remind ourselves of the timelessness of this struggle and what it means for us today," said Ted Sperling, Artistic Director.
"When I pitched the piece to Ted Sperling and MasterVoices," said Ricky Ian Gordon, 27's composer, "it was because I heard in my head a way of expanding the texture of the three-man chorus to full chorus, in a way that I felt beautiful and exciting, and in no way robbed from the integrity of the piece. I ended up creating a new version, wherein I did nothing to what the actual cast does, but added the chorus to both augment and enhance some moments, and invent others. Now it feels like an entirely new opera to me, more epic, less intimate, but fresh and independent. I am very happy to premiere this new version with MasterVoices and Ted Sperling."
Tickets are $30-$150 and are available online at NYCityCenter.org, by calling CityTix at 212-581-1212, or at the Box Office at 131 W. 55th Street (btwn 6th and 7th).
MasterVoices'Annual Fall Galais on October 20, 2016. Gala tickets include pre-concert cocktails and dinner at a private club, preferred seating for 27, and a post-concert dessert reception at City Center. For more information, call 646-202-9623.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Ted Sperling has maintained an active and successful career in the theater and concert worlds for over thirty years. A multi-faceted artist, he is a director, music director, conductor, orchestrator, singer, pianist, violinist and violist. He is the Artistic Director of MasterVoices (formerly The Collegiate Chorale) and Principal Conductor of the Westchester Philharmonic. Mr. Sperling won the 2005 Tony and Drama Desk Awards for his orchestrations of The Light in the Piazza, for which he was also music director. Other Broadway credits as music director/conductor/pianist include the rapturously received revivals of Fiddler on the Roof, The King and I and South Pacific; Guys and Dolls, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, The Full Monty, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Kiss of the Spider Woman, Angels in America, My Favorite Year, Falsettos, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, LES MISERABLES, Roza, and Sunday in the Park with George. Mr. Sperling was also an original cast member of the Broadway musical Titanic. Mr. Sperling has an active concert career, working with many major symphony orchestras, and singers Audra McDonald, Victoria Clark, Patti LuPone, Kelli O'Hara, Nathan Gunn, Idina Menzel, Paulo Szot and Deborah Voigt. For more, visit tedsperling.net.
MasterVoices (formerly The Collegiate Chorale) was founded in 1941 by the legendary American choral conductor Robert Shaw, and is currently under the artistic direction of Ted Sperling. For 75 years, the company has presented varied programming, with emphasis in three areas: choral masterpieces, operas in concert, and musical theater. Choral classics performed by MasterVoices have included Bach's St. Matthew Passion and St. John Passion, Brahms' Requiem, Britten's War Requiem, Fauré's Requiem, Handel's Messiah, Haydn's The Creation, Mozart's Requiem, Orff's Carmina Burana, and Verdi's Requiem. The company has presented several important premieres, including the U.S. premieres of Dvorak's Dmitri and Handel's Jupiter in Argos, and the NY premieres of Respighi's La Fiamma, Glass's The Juniper Tree, and Gordon's The Grapes of Wrath. Other rarely heard operas presented in concert have included Bellini's Beatrice di Tenda, Tchaikovsky's Maid of Orleans, Rossini's Moïse et Pharaon, and Joplin's Treemonisha.Throughout its history, MasterVoices has specialized in presenting rarely heard works of musical theater and standard works with a fresh approach, including Bernstein's A White House Cantata,Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado and The Pirates of Penzance, Purcell's Dido and Aeneas, and Weill's The Firebrand of Florence, Knickerbocker Holiday,and the world premiere of a concert version of The Road of Promise.
MasterVoices has performed in prominent NYC concert halls, including Carnegie Hall, New York City Center, and Geffen Hall, under the batons of many esteemed conductors, including Serge Koussevitzky, Arturo Toscanini, Leonard Bernstein, James Levine, Lorin Maazel, Zubin Mehta, Riccardo Muti, and Alan Gilbert. The company has also attracted many world-class soloists, including Bryn Terfel, René Pape, Stephanie Blythe, Deborah Voigt, Eric Owens, Thomas Hampson, Kelli O'Hara, Paulo Szot and Victoria Clark. Because of its reputation of excellence, MasterVoices has been hired to perform with many top orchestras over the years, including the NBC Symphony, The New York Philharmonic and The Israel Philharmonic, and has been invited to appear abroad in Israel and at the Verbier and Salzburg festivals.
MasterVoices considers education and outreach to be important aspects of its work. Its Side-by-Side program offers gifted high school students the opportunity to rehearse and perform with guidance from singing members and professional artists in New York and abroad. Additionally, MasterVoices gives complimentary tickets to hundreds of high school students and seniors from New York each season, and invites young soloists to perform at top venues as a part of the Faith Geier Artist Initiative. In June 2016, MasterVoices launched "Bridges: Connecting Communities Through Music", a new outreach program that provides people in a New York community with the opportunity to come together to make music with MasterVoices, regardless of their abilities or backgrounds.
In August 2015, the company transitioned from The Collegiate Chorale to MasterVoices, a name that better represents the current mission of the company as a performing arts organization that celebrates storytelling through the masterful voices of its chorus and world-class soloists, and the creative voices of composers, librettists, designers and directors. For more information, visit mastervoices.org. Connect with MasterVoices on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (@mastervoicesny).
Ricky Ian Gordon's work spans art song, opera, and musical theater, and has been performed and recorded by such internationally renowned singers as Renee Fleming, Dawn Upshaw, Nathan Gunn, Judy Collins, Kelli O'Hara, Audra MacDonald, Kristin Chenoweth, Nicole Cabell, the late Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, Frederica von Stade, Andrea Marcovicci, Harolyn Blackwell, and Betty Buckley, among many others. His most recent productions include Morning Star - libretto by William Hoffman, directed by Ron Daniels, conducted by Christopher Allen; 27 (world premiere) - libretto by Royce Vavrek, directed by James Robinson, conducted by Michael Christie; A Coffin In Egypt - libretto by Leonard Foglia based on Horton Foote's play, directed by Leonard Foglia, conducted by Timothy Myers; Rappahannock County - libretto by Mark Campbell, directed by Kevin Newbury, conducted by Rob Fisher; the musical Sycamore Trees - directed by Tina Landau, book by Ricky Ian Gordon and Nina Mankin; and The Grapes of Wrath - A Two Act Concert Version of the Opera with a libretto by Michael Korie, with MasterVoices (formerly The Collegiate Chorale) at Carnegie Hall, directed by Eric Simonson, conducted by Ted Sperling, narrated by Jane Fonda. Gordon recently completed an opera based on Giorgio Bassani's novel, "The Garden of the Finzi Continis" with librettist Michael Korie, and is currently working on commissions from New York's Metropolitan Opera and Lincoln Center Theatre. Mr. Gordon studied at Carnegie Mellon, and now teaches Master Classes and Composition Classes in Colleges and Universities throughout the country including Yale, NYU, Northwestern, Juilliard, Manhattan School of Music, Catholic, Bennington, Vassar, and his alma mater. He has been the featured Composer-in-Residence at countless music festivals and among his honors are an OBIE Award, the 2003 Alumni Merit Award for exceptional achievement and leadership from Carnegie-Mellon University, A Shen Family Foundation Award, the Stephen Sondheim Award, The Gilman and Gonzalez-Falla Theater Foundation Award, The Constance Klinsky Award, and awards from ASCAP, of which he is a member, The National Endowment of the Arts, and The American Music Center. Mr. Gordon's works are published by Williamson Music, Carl Fischer Music, and Presser Music and are available everywhere and widely recorded on various labels. For more, visit www.rickyiangordon.com/bio.php.
Royce Vavrek is a Brooklyn-based librettist and lyricist known for his standing as "a favorite collaborator of the postclassical set" (Time Out New York), his name "virtually synonymous with contemporary opera in New York" (I Care If You Listen). His work has been called "sharp, crisp, witty" (See Magazine), "taut" (The New Yorker), "meticulous" (Operavore, WQXR Radio), "full-throated" (CulturePOP), "dramatically wild" and "exhilarating" (The New York Times). Royce is co-Artistic Director of The Coterie, an opera-theater company founded with soprano Lauren Worsham. He holds a BFA in Filmmaking and Creative Writing from Concordia University in Montreal and an MFA in Musical Theater Writing from NYU. He is an alum of ALT's Composer Librettist Development Program. For more, visit www.bretadamsltd.net/content/client/lyricists/royce-vavrek.
Orchestra of St. Luke's (OSL) is one of America's most versatile and distinguished orchestras, collaborating with the world's greatest artists and performing approximately 80 concerts each year-including its Carnegie Hall Orchestra Series, Chamber Music Series at The Morgan Library & Museum and Brooklyn Museum, and summer residency at Caramoor Music Festival. In its 41-year history, OSL has commissioned more than 50 new works, has given more than 175 world, U.S., and New York City premieres; and has appeared on more than 100 recordings, including four Grammy Award winners and seven releases on its own label, St. Luke's Collection. Pablo Heras-Casado is OSL's principal conductor. OSL grew out of a chamber ensemble that began giving concerts at the Church of St. Luke in the Fields in Greenwich Village in 1974. Today, the 21 virtuoso artists of St. Luke's Chamber Ensemble make up OSL's artistic core. OSL owns and operates The DiMenna Center for Classical Music in Midtown Manhattan, where it shares a building with the Baryshnikov Arts Center. The DiMenna Center is New York City's premier venue for rehearsal, recording, and learning, having quickly gained a reputation for its superb acoustics, state-of-the-art facilities, and affordability. Since opening in 2011, The DiMenna Center has welcomed more than 100,000 visitors, including more than 400 ensembles and artists such as Renée Fleming, Susan Graham, Itzhak Perlman, Emanuel Ax, Joshua Bell, Valery Gergiev, James Levine, James Taylor, and Sting. OSL hosts hundreds of neighbors, families, and school children at its home each year for free community events. Through its Education & Community programs, OSL has introduced audiences across New York City to live classical music. OSL brings free chamber concerts to the five boroughs; offers free interactive music programs at The DiMenna Center; provides chamber music coaching for adult amateurs; and engages 10,000 public school students each year through its Free School Concerts. In 2013, OSL launched Youth Orchestra of St. Luke's (YOSL), an intensive in- and after-school instrumental coaching program emphasizing musical excellence and social development, in partnership with community organizations and public schools in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood.
Renowned opera singer and recitalist, mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe is considered one of the most highly respected and critically acclaimed artists of her generation. Her repertoire ranges from Handel to Wagner, German lieder to contemporary and classic American song. She has sung in many of the renowned opera houses in the US and Europe including the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Seattle Opera, Royal Opera House Covent Garden, and the Opera National de Paris. Her many roles include the title roles in Carmen, Samson et Dalila , Orfeo ed Euridice, La Grande Duchesse de Gerolstein, Tancredi, Mignon, and Giulio Cesare; Frugola, Principessa, and Zita in Il Trittico, Fricka in both Das Rheingold and Die Walküre, Waltraute in Götterdämmerung, Azucena in Il Trovatore, Ulrica in Un ballo in maschera, Baba the Turk in The Rake's Progress, Jezibaba in Rusalka, Jocasta in Oedipus Rex, Mere Marie in Dialogues des Carmélites;Mistress Quickly in Falstaff, andIno/Juno in Semele. She also created the role of Gertrude Stein in Ricky Ian Gordon's 27 at the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. Next season she returns to Opera Philadelphia for the title role in Tancredi, brings her acclaimed performance of Gertrude Stein in Ricky Ian Gordon's 27 to New York's City Center, and returns to Palm Beach as Ruth in performances of The Pirates of Penzance. Ms. Blythe was named Musical America's Vocalist of the Year for 2009. Her other awards include the 2007 Opera News Award and the 1999 Richard Tucker Award. Her recordings include her solo album, as long as there are songs (Innova), and works by Mahler, Brahms, Wagner, Handel and Bach (Virgin Classics). She is also the Artistic Director of the Fall Island Vocal Arts Seminar at the Crane School of Music. For more, visit www.stephanieblythemezzo.com.
Stunning audiences with her sterling lyric soprano voice and incisive stage personality, American soprano Heidi Stober has established herself as a house favorite with leading companies on both sides of the Atlantic. Since her critically acclaimed debut at Deutsche Oper Berlin in the fall of 2008, Ms. Stober has cultivated a long standing relationship with the company, going on to appear in a variety of leading roles including Pamina in Die Zauberflöte, Micaëla in Carmen, Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro, Adina in a new production of L'elisir d'amore, Gretel in Hänsel und Gretel, Oscar in Un ballo in maschera, Nannetta in Falstaff, Zerlina in Don Giovanni and Princess Ninette in Robert Carsen's new production of Prokofiev's L'Amour des Trois Oranges. Heidi's professional training took place at the Houston Grand Opera Studio, and she holds degrees from Lawrence University and the New England Conservatory. For more, visit www.heidistober.com.
Tenor Theo Lebow began 2015 with a very successful return to Seattle Opera as Jupiter and Apollo in Handel's Semele. The Seattle Times praised him for his "Tonal beauty, alacrity, and commendable passagework." In the spring of 2015, Mr. Lebow sang a wide variety of concert and recital engagements, including a debut with The German Forum, and a return to The New York Festival of Song for concerts at both Merkin Hall, New York City, and Washington DC's Kennedy Center Terrace Theater. He also sang Schubert's Die Winterreise at the Gretna Music Festival with the Henschel String Quartet, a performance later broadcast on NPR. A notable success was Mr. Lebow's debut in May 2014 with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis in the roles of Picasso and F. Scott Fitzgerald in the World Premiere of Ricky Ian Gordon's opera 27. The opera has since been recorded on Albany Records. For more, visit www.kenbensonartists.com/roster/artist/theo-lebow.
Baritone Tobias Greenhalgh is a versatile singer on the rise, whom Opera News recently claimed was "so clearly headed for success." Most recent credits include the title role in Eugene Onegin, Argante in Rinaldo, Ceccoin Gli Uccelatori, Le Directeur/ Gendarmein Les Mamelles de Tiresias, and Ramiro in L'heure Espagnole at the Wiener Kammeroper in Vienna. Tobias also sang the role of Schaunard in La bohème with Palm Beach Opera and Argante in Rinaldo at the New Bolshoi Theater in Moscow. Upcoming engagements include Carmina Burana with the Noord Nederlands Orkest, a leading role in an upcoming production for the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Dr. Falke in Die Fledermaus at the Franz Lehàr Festival at Bad Ischl, Ned Keene in Peter Grimes and Littore/Tribune in L'incoronazione di Poppea at the Theater an der Wien, Escamillo in Carmen, The Father in Hansel and Gretel at the Wiener Kammeroper, and Morales in Carmen with Palm Beach Opera. As a Gerdine Young Artist at the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, he created the roles of Leo Stein and Man Ray in the world premiere of Ricky Ian Gordon's 27. He is a recent graduate of The Juilliard School, from which he earned both his Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees. For more, visit tobiasgreenhalgh.com.
Bass-baritone, Daniel Brevik, raised in the small town of Holliston, Massachusetts, grew up playing football, delivering newspapers and singing Sinatra tunes. During his studies at Plymouth State University, Brevik started singing with the Chamber Singers, and under the superb direction of Dr. Daniel Perkins, toured the U.S., Vietnam, and Italy. The New England Conservatory soon awarded him the Wendy Shattuck Presidential Scholarship for his studies in opera. Although his experience in opera was limited, his coaches and teachers, combined with hard work, helped him learn fast. After receiving his masters from NEC, Danny was hired as a member of the 2013 Gerdine Young Artist program at the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. There he proved a stand-out during his first engagement with the company and was rehired as the "Android" for OTSL's The Very Last Green Thing. OTSL later asked him to become a soloist in their artist-in-residence program where he showcased his skills in Opera, Musical Theater, Jazz, Country Music and R&Bat schools around St. Louis. In 2014, he premiered the roles of Henri Matisse and Ernest Hemmingwayin Ricky Ian Gordon's 27. Brevik brought his special blend of music, travel and song to Moldavia, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand in his quest to spread the joy of music to third world countries. For more, visit dannybrevik.wix.com.
American stage director James Robinson is Artistic Director at the Opera Theatre of St. Louis, where he has mounted productions including Chin's Alice in Wonderland (American premiere), Ash's The Golden Ticket (world premiere), Corigliano's The Ghosts of Versailles (also presented at the Wexford Festival), and Adams' The Death of Klinghoffer and Nixon in China (a production seen throughout the United States and Canada). Elsewhere, Robinson has directed new productions for Houston Grand Opera (Lucia di Lammermoor, Giulio Cesare and Abduction from the Seraglio), San Francisco Opera (Norma, Il trittico and L'elisir d'amore) and the Canadian Opera Company (Norma, Elektra and Nixon in China). For the Santa Fe Opera, he has directed new productions of Capriccio, Così fan tutte and The Rake's Progress, and numerous productions for the New York City Opera (La bohème, Hansel and Gretel and Il viaggio a Reims). His work has also been seen at the Australian Opera, Washington National Opera, the Los Angeles Opera, the Seattle Opera, the Royal Swedish Opera, the Dallas Opera, the Minnesota Opera and Chicago Opera Theater. Additionally, he has created productions for the London Symphony Orchestra (Bernstein's Mass and Honegger's Jeanne d'Arc au bûcher), the Hollywood Bowl (Amadeus), Carnegie Hall, and the Minnesota Orchestra. Future plans include a revival of Dr Sun Yat Sen and collaborations with Washington National Opera and Houston Grand Opera. For more, visit www.rayfieldallied.com/artists/james-robinson.