Miller Theatre and Opera Omaha Join Forces to Present PROVING UP

By: Apr. 20, 2017
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Launching Miller Theatre's new Chamber Opera Commissioning Initiative Miller Theatre at Columbia University and Nebraska's Opera Omaha announced today their plans for the New York premiere of Proving Up, a new opera from the Brooklyn-based creative team of composer Missy Mazzoli and librettist Royce Vavrek, two of the most important new talents in American music. Miller Theatre will present Opera Omaha's production of this highly anticipated work in September 2018, as the opening of Miller's 30th Anniversary 2018-19 season.

Proving Up is co-commissioned by Washington National Opera, Opera Omaha, and Miller Theatre at Columbia University. It will premiere in January 2018 at Washington D.C.'s Kennedy Center, then in April 2018 at Opera Omaha as part of their newly launched ONE Festival, followed by the New York premiere at Miller Theatre at Columbia University in September 2018.

Proving Up launches Miller Theatre's new Chamber Opera Commissioning Initiative, which will contribute meaningfully to the American opera landscape, provide composers with an opportunity to create significant new work, and increase audience engagement with contemporary opera. This initiative builds upon the success of Miller Theatre's past acclaimed productions, including the New York stage premiere of Elliott Carter's What Next? and the U.S. premieres of Olga Neuwirth's Lost Highway and Iannis Xenakis's Oresteia. As part of its famed Opera Workshop in the 1940s, Columbia presented many important new opera works and rediscoveries, most notably the world premieres of Britten and Auden's Paul Bunyan, and Virgil Thomson and Gertrude Stein's The Mother of Us All. Miller Theatre is proud to celebrate its rededication to this pioneering legacy.

From Miller Theatre Executive Director Melissa Smey: "Chamber opera has a long and storied history at Miller Theatre and Columbia University. With our new Chamber Opera Commissioning Initiative, we'll honor this legacy and contribute meaningfully to the American opera landscape. We're thrilled to partner with Roger Weitz and Opera Omaha for the New York premiere of Proving Up."

From Opera Omaha General Director Roger Weitz: "We're looking forward to expanding our programming to New York audiences, bringing compelling work that is recognized nationally and celebrated locally. We share with Melissa Smey and Miller Theatre a commitment to supporting innovative artists and reinvigorating opera for today's audiences."

Information on Miller Theatre's 30th Anniversary 2018-19 season will be announced in Spring 2018.

About Proving Up

Set in 1877 on a homestead in Nebraska, Proving Up depicts the perilous early days on the prairie and the hellish heartaches and conditions endured by settlers to own a piece of land-a piece of the American dream. The opera is based on a short story by Karen Russell. Created by one of the opera world's leading creative teams, Missy Mazzoli and Royce Vavrek, Proving Up is co-commissioned by Washington National Opera, Opera Omaha, and Miller Theatre at Columbia University.

About Missy Mazzoli

An established composer on the contemporary music scene, Missy Mazzoli's talent draws audiences equally into concert halls and rock clubs. Her unique music reflects a trend among composers of her generation who combine styles, writing music for the omnivorous audiences of the 21st century. She inhabits a gorgeous and mysterious sound-world that melds indie-rock sensibilities with formal training from Louis Andriessen, David Lang, and others. Practically speaking, she amasses music in layers not normally found together but in ways that create matchless vertical harmonies. Mazzoli was recently deemed "one of the more consistently inventive, surprising composers now working in New York" (The New York Times), "Brooklyn's post-millennial Mozart" (Time Out New York) and "one of the new wave of scarily smart young composers" (

About Royce Vavrek

Royce Vavrek is an Alberta-born, Brooklyn-based librettist and lyricist known as "an exemplary creator of operatic prose" (The New York Times). With composer Missy Mazzoli, he wrote Song from the Uproar, which was premiered by Beth Morrison Projects at The Kitchen (NYC) in February of 2012. The opera was subsequently produced by LA Opera, Milwaukee Opera Theater, Chicago Fringe Opera, and in concert at Da Camara, Chautauqua Opera Company, and Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Vavrek has also written the libretto for Mazzoli's opera Breaking the Waves, which received its world premiere at Opera Philadelphia in September, 2016. Other recent opera collaborations include Dog Days and JFK with composer David T. Little, Stoned Prince with composer Hannah Lash, and Angel's Bone with composer Du Yun. His writing has been called "sharp, crisp, witty" (See Magazine), "meticulous" (Operavore, WQXR Radio), "full-throated" (CulturePOP), "taut" (The New Yorker), "dramatically wild" and "exhilarating" (The New York Times).

About Miller Theatre

Miller Theatre at Columbia University is the leading presenter of new music in New York City and one of the most vital forces nationwide for innovative programming. In partnership with Columbia University School of the Arts, Miller is dedicated to producing and presenting unique events, with a focus on contemporary and early music, jazz, opera, and multimedia performances. Founded in 1988, Miller Theatre has helped launch the careers of myriad composers and ensembles over the years, serving as an incubator for emerging artists and a champion of those not yet well known in the United States. A four-time recipient of the ASCAP/Chamber Music America Award for Adventurous Programming, Miller Theatre continues to meet the high expectations set forth by its founders-to present innovative programs, support the development of new work, and connect creative artists with adventurous audiences.

About Opera Omaha

Opera Omaha, the only professional opera company in Nebraska, began in 1958 as the Omaha Civic Opera Society, a volunteer association, and with tremendous community support became fully professional by 1970. Opera Omaha produces a season of original mainstage productions, presented at the historic Orpheum Theater, and smaller productions and musical events throughout the community. Opera Omaha is internationally known for its productions of eight world premieres and four American premieres of classical masterpieces, and is highly regarded regionally for an extensive community engagement and education program that annually reaches as many as 15,000 people from elementary school through adulthood.

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