BWW Interviews: HOUSE OF USHER Falls, Andreas Mitisek Rises
Helping him accomplish his goals are grants to both his companies from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation website" href="http://www.mellon.org/">Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support works by American composers. Last year's $500,000 grant to COT provides part of the funding for "Usher" plus two more operas, in 2014 and 2015, one being a world premiere. (It will also help the company create its first cash reserve fund.)
Opera that "sings" to him
Of course, Mitisek doesn't need a grant to foster his interest in new works. Although he hails from one of the world's most famous musical cities, he found that the works being done at the Vienna State Opera didn't "sing" to him. Thus, he created his first company when he was still in his twenties, to present contemporary alternatives to Verdi, Mozart and the other stand-bearers of traditional repertoire. "I'm a very visual person and I found what I was seeing and hearing wasn't meaningful to me. So I decided to create a company that would get away from the kinds of clichés that opera conjures for many people."
Over the last 10 years in Long Beach, he has delved deeply into contemporary music, including such works as Glass's "Akhnaten" and John Adams's "Nixon in China." Dispensing with clichés has not only meant moving to new operas but productions that are site-specific; for example, Ricky Ian Gordon's "Orpheus and Euridice" was staged in a swimming pool. He's not yet doing this in Chicago, but the possibilities are already rumbling around in his head. While Verdi and Mozart have not been permanently banished from his companies-Verdi's fairly obscure "Giovanna d'Arco" ends the COT season-there will definitely be a good reason for one of their works to be in his future.
"The Fall of the House of Usher," an opera in two acts without intermission, by Philip Glass and Arthur Yorinks
Long Beach Opera, Warner Grand Theatre, San Pedro, January 27, February 2-3, 2013
Chicago Opera Theatre, Harris Theatre in Millennium Park, February 23, 24, 27, March 1, 2013
Roderick Usher ...Ryan MacPherson
William ...Lee Gregory
Servant ...Nick Shelton
The Creative Team
Set designer...Alan E. Muraoka
Costume designer...Jacqueline Saint Anne
Lighting designer...David Martin Jacques