Dreaming Ahead! ANGELS IN AMERICA Opera to Make New York Debut This June
In its 2016 - 2017 season, New York City Opera presented the New York staged premiere of Rachmaninoff's Aleko, the New York premiere of Tobin Stokes's Fallujah, 10 sold-out performances of Bernstein's Candide, the modern-day revival of Respighi's La Campana Sommersa, and the American premiere of Antonio Literes's Baroque rarity Los Elementos.
This June, New York City Opera concludes the season with the eagerly anticipated New York premiere of Péter Eötvös's Angels in America, based on the play by Tony Kushner.
Sam Helfrich will direct the new production featuring an exciting ensemble cast that includes Andrew Garland, Wayne Tigges, Sarah Beckham-Turner, Aaron Blake, Sarah Castle, Kirsten Chambers, Matthew Reese, and Michael Weyandt. City Opera's principal conductor Pacien Mazzagatti will lead the New York City Opera Orchestra.
Angels in America is the first production in a multi-season series celebrating LGBT Pride with four performances at the Rose Theater at Jazz at Lincoln Center on June 10 at 8:00 p.m. and June 12, 14, and 16 at 7:30 p.m.
Tony Kushner's Angels in America is a politically-charged, two-part drama that examines the AIDS epidemic and the internal and external battles of LGBT life in America in the 1980s, blurring the lines between reality and fantasy, history and the present. The first play, Millennium Approaches, received the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the 1993 Tony AwardÒ for Best Play, and the second play, Perestroika, won the 1994 Tony AwardÒ for Best Play. In 2003, Kushner adapted Angels in America into a critically acclaimed HBO miniseries, which won Golden Globe and Emmy Awards for Best Miniseries.
Hungarian composer Péter Eötvös is a prolific and versatile composer and conductor, whose output includes operas, orchestral music, chamber music, electronic music, and music for the stage and screen. Commissioned by the Théâtre du Châtelet, Eötvös's Angels in America, based on Kushner's play, focuses on the passionate relationships between the drama's characters. As in the great historical and political operas of the mid-nineteenth century, the characters' lives are entangled in and transformed by the social and political turmoil of their time. Hungarian librettist Mari Mezei's English-language libretto distills Kushner's two-night, seven-hour drama into a powerful, two-act opera lasting two-and-a-half hours.
Michael Capasso, New York City Opera General Director, said "From the beginning of the re-organization process, we endeavored to create an identity for the company that reflects the best of New York City's diverse community. For the nearly 50 years since Stonewall, New Yorkers have gathered every June to celebrate LGBT culture and pride, and City Opera is honored to participate in this important tradition. For centuries, members of this community have made indelible contributions both as creators and consumers of our beloved art form. Here, in the birthplace of the pride movement, City Opera commits to acknowledge and celebrate this vitally important part of our artistic family."
Eötvös's Angels in America had its world premiere at the Théâtre du Châtelet in November 2004. New York City Opera's production this June marks the long-awaited New York premiere of this powerful operatic adaptation of one of the groundbreaking masterpieces of 20th-century American drama.
For the New York premiere, City Opera has assembled an ensemble cast of some of the most exciting artists singing today. American baritone Andrew Garland, who recently sang in the world premiere of Bolcom's Dinner at Eight with Minnesota Opera, will sing the role of Prior Walter. Garland has appeared with Opera Philadelphia, Seattle Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, and Cincinnati Opera, among others, and has appeared in recital at Carnegie Hall, Ravinia, and Vocal Arts DC. Singing the role of Roy Cohn, based on the real-life attorney, is American bass-baritone Wayne Tigges, whom Opera Today called "the villain-you-love-to-hate" for his performances in the world premiere of Tobias Picker's Dolores Claiborne at San Francisco Opera. Tigges has been involved in 7 world premieres, and has sung with the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Santa Fe Opera, and Paris Opera, among many others.
Following her City Opera debut as Rosalba in the New York premiere of Catàn's Florencia en el Amazonas last June, soprano Sarah Beckham-Turner returns in the role of Harper Pitt. She has performed with Opera New Jersey, Opera in the Heights, Lyric Opera of Virginia, Sarasota Opera, and Amarillo Opera. Singing the role of Louis Ironson is American tenor AaRon Blake, who made his Metropolitan Opera debut this spring as Gastone in La traviata. Last summer, Blake created the role of Timothy Laughlin in the critically lauded world premiere of Gregory Spears's Fellow Travelers for Cincinnati Opera. Playing Hannah Pitt is New Zealand mezzo-soprano Sarah Castle, a noted Wagnerian singer whose past appearances include performances with the Bayreuth Festival, Bavarian State Opera, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, and Opera North.
American soprano Kirsten Chambers will make her New York City Opera debut as The Angel, having made her Metropolitan Opera debut this December when she filled in last-minute for Patricia Racette in the title role of Strauss's Salome. The emerging American countertenor Matthew Reese, a semifinalist in the Marcello Giordani International Vocal Competition, will sing the role of Belize. The role of Joe Pitt will be sung by emerging American baritone Michael Weyandt. Weyandt recently appeared with Opera Tampa, Fresno Grand Opera, and in the North American premiere of Handel's Almira with Operamission.