SIGN & SING Presents 2nd Annual Concert at Symphony Space for NY Opera Fest
Will the statue of Venus come alive? Can the vagabond find a travel companion? SIGN & SING's "EXPLORATIONS" examines three stories of love and travel, reimagining great works of classical music in sung English and American Sign Language (ASL). These works - Jake Heggie and Terrence McNally's "At the Statue of Venus," Ralph Vaughan Williams and Robert Louis Stevenson's "Songs of Travel," and Sir Edward Elgar's "Sea Pictures" - will be performed on Sunday, May 21, 2017 at 3pm at Symphony Space in Thalia Theater. Open captions and Jacoti-Lola assisted listening devices will be provided.
“I think there's something inherently beautiful about joining two unlike things in harmony," Ren, a Deaf performer and founding member of SIGN & SING, says. "ASL and music are of entirely different mediums, but they both contain a poetic quality that allows them to flow together, and there's nothing like it.”
SIGN & SING is a nonprofit performance program that integrates ASL and classical music in order to elevate storytelling in an operatic and recital environment. The company produces concerts annually at Symphony Space as well as commissions and creates new operatic experiences that discuss accessibility, communication, and human connection. SIGN & SING is a member of New York Opera Alliance, and this event is part of the 2nd annual New York Opera Fest.
"SIGN & SING is thrilled to join New York Opera Fest and to inspire other productions to reconsider how to serve today's audiences," Katherine Dubbs, SIGN & SING Founder and Executive Producer, says. "We hope to inspire other performing ensembles to reconsider the accessibility of all of their programming, including auditions, participation, and engagement, in order to elevate their artistic product and the stories they share. It is a fulfilling experience of continuous learning and listening."
Although simultaneous ASL performance with live music has become popular in rock music and in musical theatre, the combination of both languages - music and sign - is never before witnessed in the operatic world. "What I love about Sign & Sing is how unprecedented it is," Ren, who was also seen in Deaf West's Spring Awakening on Broadway and in NYCC Encores' Runaways, continues. "Incorporating ASL into a musical performance is challenging enough as it is, but merging ASL and operatic music is sort of uncharted territory--and it's an absolutely incredible experience to see and hear onstage."
Although relatively new in opera, developments in accessibility and in inclusion permeate all art forms, from New York-based ensembles to larger Broadway productions. As SIGN & SING stage director Jocelyn Brown says, "This project is important for accessibility to all types of theatre. Stories need to be told and shared. When mixing the beauty of opera, with its language, and ASL, with its rich use of body and facial language, the mixture of these worlds create an open space for a multiplicity of perspectives."
CAST & CREATIVE TEAM
Vagabonds: Suchan Kim (Baritone), James W. Guido (ASL), Treshelle Edmond (ASL) Seafarers: Tal Heller (Mezzo-Soprano), Ren (ASL)
Rose: Alexa Jarvis (Soprano)
Venus: Beth Applebaum (ASL)
Rose's Date: Christopher Tester (ASL)
Stage Directors: Katherine Dubbs, Stacey Lightman & Jocelyn Brown
Casting Advisor: Lisa Dennett
Executive Producer: Katherine Dubbs