20th-Century Opera Takes Center Stage in New York City Opera's 2010-2011 Season
New York City Opera General Manager and Artistic Director George Steel today announced the company's 2010-2011 season, which spotlights American composers and 20th-century works within a mix of world premieres, New York premieres and new productions. Offering audiences the opportunity to experience new and rarely performed operas as well as modern interpretations of traditional repertoire, the 2010-2011 season will also feature the launch of a concert series showcasing the non-operatic works of several of the composers of this season's operas. Taking advantage of the possibilities offered by the recent renovation of the company's home, the David H. Koch Theater, the concert series expands the repertoire and programming of City Opera and casts new light on the season's productions.
Among the artists to be featured during the season are soprano Lauren Flanigan as Myra Foster (a role created for her) in Stephen Schwartz's Séance on a Wet Afternoon, soprano Stefania Dovhan (who debuted as Donna Anna in City Opera's 2009 production of Don Giovanni) as Adina in Donizetti's The Elixir of Love, soprano Mary Dunleavy as Christine in Strauss's Intermezzo, baritone Louis Otey as Sam in Bernstein's A Quiet Place, and soprano Cyndia Sieden in Morton Feldman's "Neither." Joining them will be a host of debut artists, continuing City Opera's mission of nurturing young singers, while the concert series will bring talents including Christine Brewer, Kristin Chenoweth, Raúl Esparza, Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson to the City Opera stage.
"With this season, we take another step forward on an exciting journey for New York City Opera," stated George Steel. "I'm thrilled that we have three new productions, that we're presenting four premieres of works by American composers-all of them New Yorkers-and that we're exploring new programming possibilities, both with our triple bill of mini-operas and with the new concert series. Most of all, I love the incredible range of compositional styles this season: from the transparent simplicity of Donizetti to the opulent middle-period Richard Strauss to the blend of the popular and classical worlds in Bernstein and Stephen Schwartz-all this topped off by the delicious trio of Schoenberg, Feldman and Zorn. This is what City Opera was made to do, and what makes City Opera unique."
The fall season will feature two operas that present contrasting takes on dysfunctional domesticity: Leonard Bernstein's A Quiet Place - a work never before performed in New York, in a new production directed by Christopher Alden - and Richard Strauss's Intermezzo. Adding to the excitement of the fall season will be a concert program, performed twice, that will illuminate A Quiet Place by celebrating the range of Leonard Bernstein, including music from the Kaddish Symphony and Mass to On the Town and West Side Story.
The new capabilities of the renovated David H. Koch Theater, including an enlarged and adjustable orchestra pit coupled with a new fire curtain that provides an acoustically reflective surface, transform the theater into an ideal concert hall for special programming. City Opera's Fall Gala, An Evening with Christine Brewer, on Thursday, October 28, stars one of the world's most sought-after sopranos and takes advantage of this increased flexibility of the renovated theater. The evening will include selections from Wagner's Tristan und Isolde, Puccini's Turandot and Richard Strauss's lieder, with Ms. Brewer joined by the New York City Opera Orchestra and Music Director George Manahan.
The spring season will open with a revival of Jonathan Miller's production of Donizetti's The Elixir of Love. This is followed by an audacious triple bill called Monodramas: Arnold Schoenberg's "Erwartung" (Expectation), Morton Feldman's "Neither" (with a libretto by Samuel Beckett) and John Zorn's "La Machine de l'être", a program that epitomizes City Opera's mission through both its innovative format and progressive repertoire. As its final production of 2010-2011, City Opera will present the New York premiere of Stephen Schwartz's first opera, the psychological thriller Séance on a Wet Afternoon.
This season's new concert series continues through the spring with John Zorn & Friends, featuring the experimental music master with avant-garde innovators Laurie Anderson, Lou Reed, Mike Patton, Marc Ribot, Dave Douglas, Uri Caine and Zorn himself; and Defying Gravity: The Music of Stephen Schwartz, a program of the composer's songs from his acclaimed Broadway shows and film scores. Scheduled to appear are two major stars of screen and stage, Kristin Chenoweth and Raúl Esparza.
For the whole family, City Opera presents a special matinee concert, a benefit performance of Where the Wild Things Are, based on the beloved children's book by Maurice Sendak, with a score by Oliver Knussen set to a libretto by Sendak himself.
VOX Contemporary American Opera Lab, City Opera's annual showcase of new American operas, will continue in the 2010-11 season in its 11th edition.
Underscoring its commitment to make opera affordable for all New Yorkers, New York City Opera will continue its popular Opera For All initiative in 2010-2011. A total of 625 seats - all under $25 - will be sold in advance for most performances through subscription (and through single ticket sales starting September 7, 2010).
About the Productions
A Quiet Place
The final stage work of Leonard Bernstein makes its long-awaited New York premiere, in its first performance on any stage in 22 years. The work portrays the estranged members of an American family-mother, father, daughter and gay son-as they reunite at a funeral after twenty years. This story of people adrift in their search for serenity carries forward the characters from Bernstein's short youthful satire "Trouble in Tahiti" (which he conducted at City Opera in 1958). Perfectly capturing the jazzy heartbeat of 20th century America, "Trouble in Tahiti" is incorporated into the second act of A Quiet Place as flashbacks.
Acclaimed director Christopher Alden, who created last season's Don Giovanni at City Opera, will return to direct the new production. Soprano Sara Jakubiak makes her City Opera debut as Dede, mezzo-soprano Patricia Risley debuts as Dinah, tenor Dominic Armstrong makes his company debut as François, baritone Joshua Hopkins debuts as Junior, baritone Louis Otey is Sam, and baritone Christopher Feigum makes his City Opera debut as Young Sam. The production features costumes by Kaye Voyce, lighting design by Aaron Black, and will be conducted by Jayce Ogren, all making their City Opera debuts, with sets by Andrew Lieberman. A Quiet Place will be performed in English with supertitles.
Performance dates: October 27 at 8pm, October 30 at 8pm, November 4 at 8pm, November 6 at 1:30pm, November 12 at 8pm, November 14 at 1:30pm, November 16 at 7:30pm, November 21 at 1:30pm
Richard Strauss's lighthearted opera creates domestic comedy out of an incident from the composer's own marriage. While a renowned conductor is away on tour, his hot-headed wife jumps to conclusions after intercepting a misdirected love note that she believes was meant for her husband. In crafting the libretto for this rarely-performed work, Strauss championed a new genre of opera in which everyday events become the subject matter. Episodes are set on the ski slopes, at a ball, in a city park, and at a card party, as well as in the intimacy of the couple's home. This fast-paced series of short vignettes with orchestral interludes is presented in a witty production by director Leon Major.
Soprano Mary Dunleavy is Christine, baritone Nicholas Pallesen is Robert Storch, and tenor Andrew Bidlack makes his company debut as Baron Lummer. City Opera music director George Manahan conducts, sets are by Andrew Jackness, costumes by Martha Mann, and lighting design by Mark McCullough. The production had its premiere at City Opera in 1999. Intermezzo will be performed in English with supertitles.
Performance dates: October 31 at 1:30pm, November 5 at 8pm, November 9 at 7:30pm, November 13 at 8pm, November 18 at 8pm, November 20 at 1:30pm
The Elixir of Love
In his reimagining of Donizetti's beloved classic, Jonathan Miller's production relocates the story to the American Southwest during the 1950s, complete with soda jerks, pompadours, a Ford Fairlane and a dusty roadside diner. A poor country boy, Nemorino, falls in love with Adina, the most eligible bachelorette in town. He knows he needs to improve his chances with her-and he does it by downing an "Elixir of Love" that a fast-talking salesman assures him will make him irresistible. The potion may or may not be real, but Nemorino ultimately gets his girl.
Soprano Stefania Dovhan, who debuted as Donna Anna in last season's Don Giovanni, returns to City Opera as Adina, tenor David Lomeli makes his company debut as Nemorino, and baritone Marco Nisticò sings Dulcamara. Brad Cohen makes his City Opera debut conducting, and A. Scott Parry will direct the Jonathan Miller production, which premiered in 2003 at the Royal Swedish Opera in Stockholm and was last presented at City Opera in 2006. Sets and costume designs are by Isabella Bywater. The Elixir of Love will be performed in Italian with English supertitles.
Performance dates: March 22 at 7:30pm, March 24 at 8pm, March 26 at 1:30pm, April 1 at 8pm, April 3 at 1:30pm, April 5 at 7:30pm, April 9 at 8pm
Monodramas: "La Machine de l'être", "Erwartung" and "Neither"
Three women sing at their outer limits, each of them alone on stage with her demons and her angels. None of them has a name; they have left all that behind. They exist in worlds apart, each of those worlds the creation of a major musical innovator. Soprano Cyndia Sieden returns to City Opera, with Kara Shay Thomson in her company debut in the new production, directed by Robin Guarino in her City Opera debut, with George Manahan conducting all three works.
"La Machine de l'être"
Carrying the pioneering spirit of Arnold Schoenberg and Morton Feldman into the present day, prolific New York composer John Zorn created "La Machine de l'être", in which the soprano's hair-raising trajectory is inspired by the drawings of the visionary theater artist Antonin Artaud. Heard in 2007 at City Opera's VOX, this wordless monodrama now receives its world stage premiere.
In Arnold Schoenberg's ground-breaking "Erwartung" (or Expectation), a terrified woman gropes through a dark forest searching for her lover, only to find that the darkness dwells within her. Written in Vienna in 1909 and premiered in 1924, the work now has its New York City Opera premiere. This quintessential Modernist opera uses fragmented text and atonal musical language to explore perception and the unconscious, registering the shockwaves of
fear and the great arcs of desire. The libretto was written by the young doctor Marie Pappenheim, who was likely related to Anna O., subject of one of Freud's famous case studies. "Erwartung" will be performed in German with English supertitles.
A 1976 meeting between American composer Morton Feldman and playwright Samuel Beckett yielded "Neither", a stream-of-consciousness monodrama that investigates altered states of mind and awareness. In Beckett's only libretto-just eighty-seven words, hovering in a troubled stillness-the protagonist is seeking not her lover but herself, as she moves with the ethereal music through landscapes of memory. Feldman's haunting, glacial composition challenges the highest extremes of the soprano range, evoking hypnotic visions and creating an unsettling sense of time and place. This unique work had its premiere in 1977 at the Rome Opera and will receive its first U.S. staging with orchestra at City Opera. "Neither" will be performed in English with supertitles.
Performance dates: March 25 at 8pm, March 27 at 1:30pm, March 29
at 7:30pm, March 31 at 8pm, April 2 at 1:30pm,
April 8 at 8pm
Séance on a Wet Afternoon
City Opera presents the New York premiere of the first opera by Oscar and Grammy-winning composer-lyricist Stephen Schwartz, whose previous credits run from Godspell to Wicked and Enchanted. Based on the novel by Mark McShane and its 1964 film noir adaptation, the opera focuses on Myra Foster, a trance medium who involves her passive husband in a plot to kidnap the daughter of a neighboring family. Myra intends to find the girl through psychic communication with her own dead son, and so gain the fame she craves-but the plot goes awry, as her fragile sanity begins to break down.
Soprano Lauren Flanigan is Myra Foster, and baritone Kim Josephson makes his company debut as Bill Foster. Excerpts from Séance on a Wet Afternoon were presented at City Opera's VOX showcase in 2009. The opera had its world premiere on September 26, 2009, at Opera Santa Barbara in California. City Opera music director George Mahanan conducts the production, directed by Scott Schwartz, with sets by Heidi Ettinger, costumes by Alejo Vietti and lighting by David Lander, all making their City Opera debuts. The work will be performed in English with supertitles.
Performance dates: April 19 at 7:30pm, April 20 at 8pm, April 22 at 8pm, April 23 at 1:30pm, April 24 at 1:30pm, April 26 at 7:30pm, April 28 at 8pm, April 29 at 8pm, April 30 at 8pm, May 1 at 1:30pm
About the Concerts
An Evening with Christine Brewer
Thursday, October 28, 2010, at 7:00 pm
Christine Brewer, one of the world's most sought-after sopranos, brings her consummate artistry to a special concert and gala, with the New York City Opera Orchestra and Music Director George Manahan. Ms. Brewer will sing selections from Wagner's Tristan und Isolde, Puccini's Turandot, and Richard Strauss's lieder.
Lucky to Be Me: The Music of Leonard Bernstein
Saturday, November 6, 2010, at 8:00 pm
& Sunday, November 7, 2010, at 1:30 pm
This exciting concert evening examines the work of one of America's most influential composers, including music from the Kaddish Symphony, Mass, Songfest, Wonderful Town, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, On the Town, West Side Story, and more.
John Zorn & Friends
Wednesday, March 30, 2011, at 8:00 pm
Avant-garde innovators Laurie Anderson, Lou Reed, Mike Patton, Marc Ribot, Dave Douglas and Uri Caine perform with experimental music master John Zorn in a series of mind-bending sonic compositions and no-holds-barred improvisations.
Family Opera in Concert: Where the Wild Things Are
Saturday, April 9, 2011, at 1:30 pm
Bring the whole family to a special matinee concert and benefit, featuring the fantastical opera based on the beloved children's book by Maurice Sendak. Composed by Oliver Knussen to a libretto by Sendak himself, this enchanting work (last performed at City Opera in 1987) tells the tale of Max, a little boy with a wild imagination. City Opera is proud to affirm its mission of nurturing young American singers by presenting the Vocal Fellows of the Tanglewood Music Center in this performance of Where the Wild Things Are. Conductor Julian Kuerti makes his company debut leading Fellows from the renowned Tanglewood Music Center.
Defying Gravity: The Music of Stephen Schwartz
Thursday, April 21, 2011, at 8:00 pm
A salute to the composer of Séance on a Wet Afternoon with this program of songs from his acclaimed Broadway and film works, including Wicked, Godspell, Pippin and Enchanted. Kristin Chenoweth and Raúl Esparza are scheduled to appear. This concert will be followed by City Opera's Spring Gala.
Subscriptions and Tickets
Subscriptions for New York City Opera's 2010-2011 season will be on sale beginning March 9, 2010, and can be purchased online at nycOpera.com or by phone at (212) 496-0600. Subscriptions start at $36 ($12 per ticket).
Single tickets will be on sale beginning September 7, 2010. Ticket prices start at $12. New York City Opera stage productions will take place at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center (63rd St. & Columbus Ave). Weekday performances, with the exception of Tuesdays, begin at 8:00pm. Tuesday performances begin at 7:30pm. Friday and Saturday evening performances begin at 8:00pm; matinees begin at 1:30pm.
Sponsors and Supporters
New York City Opera gratefully acknowledges the following institutions for their leadership support of our 2010-2011 Season: The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, Estate of Ruth Klotz, Lincoln Center Corporate Fund, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and The Peter Jay Sharp Foundation.
Production support for A Quiet Place generously provided by Susan Baker and Michael Lynch, The Peter Jay Sharp Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Production support for The Elixir of Love generously provided by Emilie Roy Corey. Original production support generously provided by The Reed Foundation.
Production support for Monodramas: "La Machine de l'être", "Erwartung" and "Neither" generously provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
American Airlines is the Official Airline of New York City Opera.
The 2010-2011 Season is made possible, in part, with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the New York State Council on the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
About New York City Opera
Since its founding in 1943, New York City Opera has been recognized as one of America's preeminent cultural institutions, celebrated for its adventurous programming and innovative, risk-taking production style. The company's wide-ranging repertory of 275 works spans five centuries of music and includes 29 world premieres and 61 American and/or New York premieres of such notable works as Bartók's Bluebeard's Castle, Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream, Shostakovich's Katerina Ismailova, Busoni's Doktor Faust, Prokofiev's The Love for Three Oranges and The Flaming Angel, Zimmermann's Die Soldaten, Schoenberg's Moses und Aron, and Glass' Akhnaten. The company has been a leading showcase for young artists, helping to launch the careers of more than 3,000 singers, including José Carreras, Phyllis Curtin, David Daniels, Plácido Domingo, Lauren Flanigan, Elizabeth Futral, Jerry Hadley, Catherine Malfitano, Bejun Mehta, Sherrill Milnes, Samuel Ramey, Gianna Rolandi, Beverly Sills, Norman Treigle, Tatiana Troyanos, and Carol Vaness. In 1983, City Opera made operatic history when it became the first American Opera Company to use supertitles, an innovation that has revolutionized the way opera is produced and appreciated worldwide. In November 2009, under new General Manager and Artistic Director George Steel, the company inaugurated the newly renovated David H. Koch Theater, the shared home of New York City Opera and New York City Ballet, following a joint $107 million project to refurbish and modernize the theater and enhance both the artistic and visitor experience.