World Premiere of Contemporary Opera White Witch Set for This October
White Witch, a new contemporary American opera, will have its world premiere in October 2014 in New York City. The work, with music by Brian Schober and libretto by Joan Ross Sorkin, is a one-act monodrama for voice and percussion, directed and choreographed by Lynn Neuman. Renowned contralto Christina Ascher plays the title role, accompanied by percussionist Jared Soldiviero. White Witch will be performed on Thursday, October 23, Friday, October 24 and Saturday, October 25 at 8:00 pm at Leonard Nimoy Thalia at Peter Norton Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway at 95th Street, Manhattan. There will be a Q&A after the performance with the artists and members of the creative team.
Set in Jamaica in 1831, the opera - a tale of voodoo, murder and revenge - is based on the 19th century legend of Annie Palmer, a white English plantation owner notoriously known as The White Witch of Rose Hall. Annie had an overblown ego, an insatiable sexual appetite and a knowledge of voodoo gleaned from her childhood Haitian nanny. With extreme hubris, she used the black arts to kill three husbands and a series of lovers and rivals - including plantation slaves - in cold blood. Her remorse came too little, too late. Ultimately, one of her former slave lovers used the same voodoo power to seal her fate.
The score, a perfect symbiosis of Sorkin's libretto and Schober's music, is suggestively evocative and exotic, at different times delicately ethereal, dramatically angular, deeply psychological - always captivating.
The design team includes Gail Scott White (video and projection design) and Malinda Crump (costume designer).
Brian Schober has had an active career as a composer and performer in the US and abroad. His music spans all instrumental and vocal media. Schober studied at the Eastman School of Music and the Paris Conservatory under Samuel Adler, Joseph Schwantner, Sue Seid, Russell Saunders, Olivier Messiaen, Betsy Jolas, Jean Guillou and André Isoir. Schober is the recipient of many prizes and awards from BMI, Editions Salabert, the French Cultural Ministry, the National Endowment of the Arts, The American Music Center and Aaron Copland Fund for Music (twice).
Joan Ross Sorkin is an opera librettist, playwright, musical theatre bookwriter and lyricist. Her opera credits include Strange Fruit (Premiere: Long Leaf Opera; Concert: Harlem School of the Arts/New York City Opera; New York City Opera VOX); The Reef (Center for Contemporary Opera, Prima le Parole, Libretto Slam!). Her plays include (mis)Understanding Mammy: The Hattie McDaniel Story (Drama Desk nomination for Capathia Jenkins as Hattie). Recent musicals include Monet, In the Theatre and Go Green! Sorkin is a member of the Dramatists Guild, BMI Musical Theatre Workshop, ASCAP and New Victory LabWorks.