HERE and BMP Kick Off Inaugural PROTOTYPE Festival, Now thru 1/19


Beth Morrison Projects (BMP) and HERE announce programming for the inaugural PROTOTYPE: Opera/Theatre/Now, running today, January 9-19, 2013, in New York City.

This two-week festival, distilling the curatorial visions of artistic directors Kristin Marting (of HERE), Beth Morrison (of BMP), and Kim Whitener (of HERE), features visionary music-theatre and opera-theatre works by pioneering artists from NYC and around the world. PROTOTYPE is unique in providing a permanent theatrical home for the presentation of such quality productions, spotlighting the high-caliber creations of an exciting new generation of composers and collaborators, with a focus on chamber-sized works.

The Festival debuts with works from notable rising stars: a BMP and HERE co-production world premiere of Mohammed Fairouz's Sumeida's Song, the first opera by an Arab- American composer to be fully staged in America, directed by David Herskovits; a presentation of David T. Little's Soldier Songs, based on recorded interviews with veterans of five wars, directed by Yuval Sharon; a multimedia cabaret concert performed by Los Angeles's "audacious" dark-glam opera band Timur and the Dime Museum; a concert reading of Paolo Prestini's The Aging Magician, in collaboration with stage director/designer Julian Crouch, with text by Rinde Eckert. Except for Soldier Songs, all above performances will take place at HERE, exact dates TBA. Also to be announced, a visionary international presentation, along with panels to coincide with Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP) and International Society for the Performing Arts (ISPA).

The Festival gives voice to serious young composers whose work would generally be categorized as 'contemporary classical' or 'post- classical' rather than the more commercial musical theatre idiom that is being explored by other musical theatre entities in New York and elsewhere. A new body of work is beginning to explode out of New York and onto the national scene, and as this cohort of composers claims the opera-theatre and music-theatre genre in a new and unique way, PROTOTYPE will be integral in importing and exporting quality productions on an international platform. Leadership funding for PROTOTYPE has been provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Watch this space for the new PROTOTYPE website, now in Beta:



Created and composed by Mohammed Fairouz
Directed by David Herskovits
Based on Tawfiq El-Hakim's Song of Death, adapted by Mohammed Fairouz

Sumeida's Song is Mohammed Fairouz's first opera, and the first Arab-American opera to be fully staged in America. Based on the classic Tawfiq El-Hakim play, Song of Death, the opera follows the return of a young man, Alwan, from Cairo to his Upper Egyptian peasant village. He defies his family's expectations to fulfill an age-old blood feud, instead revealing the true purpose of his return: to end the cycle of violence. For his attempts to bring light and modernity to his village, and for challenging the structure of his society, he pays the ultimate price.

Tawfiq El-Hakim's story is well known in the Arab world, and Fairouz's operatic adaptation captures the underlying aspirations of young people, like Alwan, who stand up for their ideals and for aspirations of a better life. Alwan's resonant proclamation - "I won't kill" - embodies the noble mission of justice and progress in this timeless, timely, and universal story. This world-premiere production will feature a chamber orchestration with Arabic and western instruments. Mezzo-soprano Rachel Calloway leads the cast of four singers.

MOHAMMED FAIROUZ, born in 1985, has been recognized as an "expert in vocal writing" by the New Yorker magazine and as a "post-millennial Schubert" by Gramophone Magazine. Hailed by The New York Times as "an important new artistic voice," the Arab- American composer melds Middle-Eastern modes and Western structures to deeply expressive effect. His large-scale works, including four symphonies and an opera, engage major geopolitical and philosophical themes with persuasive craft and a marked seriousness of purpose.

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