Dallas Opera Announces New Holiday Commission by Composer/Librettist, Mark Adamo
The Dallas Opera thrilled audience members at this evening's "Composing Conversation" at the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas, when Dallas Opera General Director and CEO Keith Cerny made the surprise announcement that Mark Adamo, one of America's most successful and accomplished composer-librettists has agreed to create a new holiday opera for the 2015-2016 Season.
Mr. Adamo is the artist behind a host of orchestral, chamber and choral works, in addition to several compelling operas including Little Women, one of the most frequently performed American operas of our time. His most recent composition, The Gospel of Mary Magdalene, successfully premiered earlier this season at San Francisco Opera and was described by The Huffington Post as a "feast for the ears, eyes and mind." His 2005 opera Lysistrata, based on the comedy by Aristophenes, prompted Alex Ross of The New Yorker to write, "I relaxed a minute after the music began, knowing that I was in the hands of a brilliant theatre composer."
Mr. Adamo expressed his pleasure with the new commission, stating, "I couldn't be happier to be making my debut with the Dallas Opera: this has long been one of the most distinguished companies in this country, and I am honored to join its roster of artists."
Adamo's commission is the latest in a series of recently commissioned world premieres, beginning withJake Heggie and Gene Scheer's Moby-Dick (2010) and their song cycle "A Question of Light" (the latter presented in partnership with the Dallas Museum of Art).
Under the guidance of Keith Cerny, the list has grown to include Great Scott, reuniting Heggie with librettist Terrence McNally (Dead Man Walking) to create a star vehicle for mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato(premiere date: October 2015); and Everest, scheduled to be unveiled in February 2015, marking the first opera by British composer Joby Talbot (A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy) working with librettist Gene Scheer.
"I've been keenly interested in Mark Adamo's work for some time," explains Mr. Cerny. "As a composer-librettist, Mark has shown profound insights into the workings of the human heart and psyche coupled with an ability to create operas and orchestral works that are carefully thought out, meticulously crafted and complex.
"I find Mark's music as intellectually and emotionally satisfying as it is beautiful."
The new opera will be conducted by Dallas Opera Music Director Emmanuel Villaume.
Mr. Adamo is a Philadelphia native who served as Composer-in-Residence at New York City Opera from 2001 through 2006. Adamo began his education in the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, where, as a freshman in the Dramatic Writing Program, he received the Paulette Goddard Remarque Scholarship for outstanding undergraduate achievement in playwriting. He went on to earn a Bachelor of Music Degree cum laude in composition in 1990 from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
A brief-yet-highly successful career as a music journalist and scholar was eventually overtaken by Adamo's desire to compose his own works. He was catapulted to the top ranks of American composers by the critically acclaimed 1998 world premiere of Little Women (based on the novel by Louisa May Alcott) at Houston Grand Opera and he continues to compose outstanding orchestral, choral and ballet music-in addition to full-scale operas-for leading arts organizations in the U.S. and throughout the world.
American composer-librettist Mark Adamo recently premiered his third full-length opera, the "densely rhapsodic" (Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle) The Gospel of Mary Magdalene, at San Francisco Opera-following a busy season of opera and chamber premières. In May 2012, Fort Worth Opera opened its first production of his second opera, Lysistrata; that September, the Constella Festival in Cincinnati opened their season with August Music, for flute duo and string quartet, commissioned by Sir James and Lady Jeanne Galway: in December, Sasha Cooke and the New York Festival of Song introduced The Racer's Widow, a cycle of five American poems for mezzo-soprano, cello, and piano; and, in April 2013, baritone Thomas Hampson and the Jupiter String Quartet introduced Aristotle, after the poem by Billy Collins, in concerts at the Mondavi Center in Davis, California before continuing to Boston and New York under the auspices of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.
Adamo first attracted national attention with his uniquely celebrated début opera, Little Women, after the Alcott novel. Introduced by Houston Grand Opera in 1998 and revived there in 2000, Little Women is one of the most frequently performed American operas of the last fifteen years, with more than 80 national and international engagements in cities ranging from New York to Minneapolis, Toronto, Chicago, San Francisco, Adelaide, Perth, Mexico City, Bruges, Banff, Calgary, and Tokyo, where it served as the official U.S. cultural entrant to the 2005 World Expo. The Houston Grand Opera revival (2000) was telecast by PBS/WNET on Great Performances in 2001 and released on CD by Ondine that same year; in fall 2010, Naxos released this performance on DVD and on Blu-ray. (Little Women was the first American opera recorded in high-definition television.) Comparable enthusiasm greeted the début of the larger-scaled Lysistrata, Adamo's second opera, adapted from Aristophanes' comedy but also including elements from Sophocles' Antigone. Lysistrata was commissioned by Houston Grand Opera for its 50th anniversary and introduced in March 2005: its New York City Opera debut in March 2006 led to concert performances by Washington National Opera (May 2006) and Music at the Modern by the Van Cliburn Foundation (May 2007) before the new staging of the work at Fort Worth Opera in spring 2012, which was included on the best-of-2012 lists of both D Magazine and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.