ALT Commissioned THE GOLDEN TICKET, Opera Based on Dahl's 'Chocolate Factory', Holds Special NYC Reading 4/4

ALT Commissioned THE GOLDEN TICKET, Opera Based on Dahl's 'Chocolate Factory', Holds Special NYC Reading 4/4Lawrence Edelson, Producing Artistic Director of ALT, has announced that the company has commissioned The Golden Ticket, a new opera based on Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

In his announcement, Edelson explained that all of Dahl's beloved characters find a unique voice in this exciting new opera. "If thoughts of Augustus Gloop being swept away in the Chocolate River, Violet Beauregarde inflating like a giant blueberry, Mike Teavee being demagnified into the tele-dimension, and Veruca Salt being thrown down the rubbish shoot by a gang of nut-inspecting squirrels sound like your idea of a fun night at the opera - or better yet, unlike any night at the opera or theater you've ever experienced - The Golden Ticket is....just the ticket!"

The opera is already developing many fans around the globe, including Felicity Dahl, widow of Roald Dahl, who has co-commissioned its completion with ALT. "At last after years of listening to mediocre attempts by other composers, I was thrilled to hear not only a stunning piece of music, but a well thought-out treatment for an opera version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I was beginning to think no one was capable of capturing the spirit and magic of Roald's original... It is extremely exciting... I can sense something very special is being created here!"

The Golden Ticket is being written by American composer Peter Ash and British librettist Donald Sturrock. The final developmental workshop of the opera will take place between March 25th and April 4th, 2009, culminating with a public reading of the complete opera on Saturday April 4th at 7:00 PM at The Irene Diamond Education Center in Frederick P. Rose Hall, home of Jazz at Lincoln Center on Broadway at 60th Street, New York City. A limited number of tickets to the reading are available for sale to the public on ALT's website ( ) for $30.

"Golden Tickets" are also available for $100, which include premium seating for the reading and a reception with the composer, librettist and participating singers at Bouchon Bakery following the opera. Bouchon's acclaimed pastry chefs will be offering up unique deserts and beverages inspired by Wonka's fantastic creations.

The Golden Ticket is scheduled to receive its world premiere in June 2010 at Opera Theatre of St. Louis, in a production directed by James Robinson, with Scenic Design by Bruno Schwengl and Costumes by Martin Pakledinaz. Additional production details and full casting for the World Premiere will be announced this spring. Additional presentations of the opera will also be announced later this year, including engagements at opera company partners across the United States, Canada and Europe.

Timothy Redmond (Conductor): Birthplace: Ashbourne, UK. Career Highlights: Powder Her Face (Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Mariinsky Theatre) The Cricket Recovers (Bregenz), Gianni Schicchi, Carmen (Tenerife). Concerts with London Symphony, Royal Philharmonic, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and BBC Philharmonic Orchestras. Recordings with Manchester Camerata and Northern Sinfonia. Principal Conductor Cambridge Philharmonic. Upcoming: concerts in Monaco, London, Finland; opera at Covent Garden.

Christopher Burchett (Baritone) WILLY WONKA: Birthplace: Lexington, KY. Career Highlights: M. Carré-Lamadon in The Greater Good (Glimmerglass Opera), Jake Wallace in La Fanciulla (New York City Opera), Baritone in Blizzard Voices (Opera Omaha), Dr. Falke in Die Fledermaus (Piedmont Opera), Masetto in Don Giovanni (Estates Theater, Prague), Fantasia on Christmas Carols (New York Choral Society/ Carnegie Hall). Upcoming: Rodgers & Hammerstein Concerts in TN and KY; Lancelot in Camelot (Ash-Lawn Opera Festival).

Kiera Duffy (Soprano) VIOLET BEAUREGARDE: Birthplace: Darby, PA. Career Highlights: Boulez's Pli selon pli: Improvisation II sur Mallarmé (New York Philharmonic); Ligeti's seminal works, Aventures and Nouvelles Aventures (Los Angeles Philharmonic); Queen Tye in Glass's Akhnaten (Atlanta Opera); Elvira in L'Italiana in Algeri (Opera Company of Philadelphia); Despina in Cosi fan Tutte, Tebaldo in Don Carlo (Tanglewood); 2007 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, Finalist. Upcoming: Carmina Burana (Milwaukee Symphony).

Abigail Nims (Mezzo Soprano) VERUCA SALT: Birthplace: Delaware, OH. Career highlights: Zefka in Janácek's The Diary of One Who Disappeared (Gotham Chamber Opera); Meg in Little Women (Opera Delaware); Dido in Dido and Aeneas (Connecticut Chamber Orchestra); Beatrice in Béatrice et Bénédict, Hänsel in Hänsel und Gretel (Westminster Opera Theatre). Upcoming: Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro (Opera Delaware); Hermia in A Midsummer Night's Dream (Princeton Festival); Night of the Four Moons (Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra).

Jason Abrams (Countertenor) MIKE TEAVEE: Birthplace: Auburn, NY. Career highlights: Athamas in Semele (Florentine Opera); Messiah (Charlotte Symphony); Nireno in Giulio Cesare (Florida Grand Opera/Boston Baroque); Pisandro in Il ritorno d'Ulisse (Greenwich Music Festival); Purcell's King Arthur (New York City Opera); Arnalta in L'incoronazione di Poppea (Central City Opera); Oberon in A Midsummer Night's Dream (Tanglewood Music Center). Upcoming: Eustazio and Gofreddo in Rinaldo (Central City Opera).

Andrew Drost (Tenor) AUGUSTUS GLOOP: Birthplace: Detroit, MI. Career Highlights: Rodrigo in La Donna del Lago, Belfiore in Viaggio a Reims, Pirelli in Sweeney Todd, Victorin in Die Tote Stadt (NYCO); Count Liebenskof in Viaggio a Reims (Rossini Festival, Pesaro, Italy) Lensky in Eugene Onegin (CT Lyric Opera); Prunier in La Rondine (Sarasota Opera); Bernstein on Broadway Concert at Caramoor International Music Festival, Singing our National Anthem and God Bless America at Shea Stadium and being featured as the voice of Murray on the HBO show Flight of the Conchords Season 2 premiere.

Adrienne Danrich (Soprano) MRS. GLOOP / GRANDMA GEORGINA: Birthplace: St. Louis, MO. Career Highlights: Micaela in Carmen (San Francisco Opera); Contessa in Le Nozze di Figaro (Opera Pacific, Sarasota Opera, Dayton Opera); Donna Anna in Don Giovanni (Dayton Opera); Liu in Turandot (San Francisco Opera-cover); Pamina in The Magic Flute (Kentucky Opera); Elisabeth in Don Carlos (San Francisco Opera-cover) Upcoming: Sister Rose in Dead Man Walking (Fort Worth Opera); Tosca (Capitol Opera); This Little Light of Mine (Next Act Theater, Laredo Philharmonic, Tennessee Tech).

Katherine Pracht (Mezzo Soprano) MRS. TEAVEE / GRANDMA JOSEPHINE: Birthplace: Davenport,IA. Career Highlights: Jo in Little Women (Oberlin Opera Theatre conducted by Christopher Larkin); the title role in The Midnight Angel by David Carlson (Skylight Opera); Melanto in Il ritorno d'Ulisse (Greenwich Music Festival); Constance in The Sorcerer (Bard SummerScape Festival). Upcoming: Beethoven Missa Solemnis (The Choral Society, NYC); Der Trommler in Der Kaiser von Atlantis (Greenwich Music Festival); Guenevere in Camelot (Ash Lawn Opera).

Keith Jameson (Tenor) GRANDPA JOE: Birthplace: Greenwood, SC. Career Highlights: Nanki-Poo in The Mikado (English National Opera); Candide (title role), Tobias in Sweeney Todd (NYCO); Quint in The Turn of the Screw (ORW, Belgium); Beppe in Pagliacci and Triquet in Eugene Onegin (Lyric Opera of Chicago); Novice in Billy Budd, Bob Boles in Peter Grimes, Pong in Turandot, Bardolfo in Falstaff (Santa Fe Opera), Goro in Madama Butterfly (LA Opera); Upcoming: Vasek in The Bartered Bride (Opera Boston), Gastone in La traviata and Mr. Withers in The Letter (Santa Fe); Gherardo in Gianni Schicchi and Remendado in Carmen (Metropolitan Opera).

Matthew Treviño (Bass) MR. BEAUREGARDE / GRANDPA GEORGE: Birthplace: Harlingen, TX. Career Highlights: Basilio in Barbiere di Siviglia (Caramoor); Colline in La bohème (Lyric Opera KC, Fresno Grand); 2nd Soldier in Salome (Dallas Opera); Ramfis in Aida (Nevada Opera); Don Alfonso in Cosí fan tutte (Merola, WOT Tour); Bass Soloist in Dybbuk (San Francisco Ballet). Upcoming: Colline in La bohème (Sacramento Opera); Angelotti in Tosca (Nashville); Commendatore in Don Giovanni (Fort Worth Opera); Sparafucile in Rigoletto (San Antonio Opera).

David Kravitz (Baritone) LORD SALT: Birthplace: Boston, MA. Career Highlights: Ko-Ko in The Mikado (Opera Theatre of St. Louis); Handel's Messiah (Philadelphia Orchestra); Les Troyens, Bach's St. Matthew Passion (Boston Symphony Orchestra); Thomas Putnam in The Crucible, Prince Ottokar in Der Freischütz, Cadmus/Somnus in Semele (Opera Boston); title role in Wozzeck (N.E. Philharmonic). Upcoming: Krusina in The Bartered Bride (Opera Boston); Mr. Kofner in The Consul, Dr. Grenvil in La traviata (Glimmerglass Opera).

Elise Quagliata (Mezzo Soprano) CANDY MALLOW / SQUIRREL MISTRESS: Birthplace: Trenton, NJ. Career highlights: Carmen in Carmen (Pensacola Opera), Cornelia in Guilio Cesare in Egitto (Florida Grand Opera), Nicklausse in Les contes d'Hoffmann (Des Moines Metro Opera), Carmen in La Tragedie de Carmen (Opera Omaha), Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia (National Philharmonic), Cinco Canciones Negras (Pensacola Symphony), Alto Rhapsody (Buffalo Philharmonic), El Amor Brujo (New Hampshire Symphony Orchestra), The Deepest Desire with Jake Heggie (University of Connecticut). Upcoming: Sombrero Tres Picos (Virginia Symphony Orchestra), Verdi's Requiem (Westfield Symphony), Guest Artist recitals (Pensacola Opera and University of Connecticut).

Casting for the role of Charlie will be announced in March.

Composer: Peter Ash
Peter Ash was born in Iowa in 1961 and studied at the Interlochen Arts Academy, Michigan, before moving to London to study at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Although working as a conductor, he continued his academic career and was awarded a British Research Studentship for 3 years PhD work on a comparative study of the librettos of Da Ponte. He has held positions with St. Petersburg Camerata and is currently Artistic Director of the London Schools Symphony Orchestra. Ash has a wide and eclectic operatic repertoire, which ranges from Purcell, and Haydn to contemporary operas by Berio, and Henze. As a symphonic conductor, Ash has worked with orchestras including Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, City of London Sinfonia, London Mozart Players, London Sinfonietta, Bournemouth Sinfonietta, and Scottish Chamber Orchestra. He has made recordings for the BBC, RTE, Spanish National Radio, and SFB German Radio. Ash is committed to broadening the boundaries of classical music for young people. He teaches at London's Centre for Young Musicians (CYM), and is Music Advisor to the Roald Dahl Foundation, for whom he has conducted many important stage premieres. These include Georgs Pelecis' Jack and the Beanstalk in 1996 with Danny DeVito, Simon Callow, Joanna Lumley and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; and Tobias Picker's Fantastic Mr. Fox, with Gerald Finley in a production at the Los Angeles Opera, directed by Donald Sturrock and designed by Gerald Scarfe. He has recorded Eleanor Alberga's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, also with DeVito and Lumley. As composer and arranger, Ash has also written for television and theatre, including The Art of Singing (1997); and An Awfully Big Adventure (1998). His theatre work includes incidental music for a new production of Caryl Churchill's Cloud Nine in Magdeburg (1999), and the Children's Opera Keepers of the Night for Los AngeLes Children's Chorus (2007).

Librettist: Donald Sturrock
Donald Sturrock was born in 1961 and grew up in England and South America. After reading Modern History at Oxford University, he joined BBC Television's Music and Arts Department, where he worked as both producer and director between 1983 and 1992. After leaving the BBC, he wrote and directed The Graham Greene Trilogy for BBC2's ARENA series. Sturrock also directed a four-part series for the BBC, Plácido Domingo's Tales at the Opera and two award-winning television series for IMG Artists and Idéale Audience, The Art of Singing and the Grammy award nominated The Art of Piano, as well as, An Awfully Big Adventure and The Human Face (with John Cleese). In collaboration with an international team of composers, including Paul Patterson, Eleanor Alberga, Georgs Pelecis, Tobias Picker, Vladimir Tarnopolski, Peter Ash and Kurt Schwertsik, Sturrock has adapted and directed a series of musical versions of Roald Dahl's children's stories. In 1995, he wrote and directed a TV film version of Little Red Riding Hood with Danny DeVito, Ian Holm and Julie Walters with choreography by Matthew Bourne. It was broadcast to ecstatic reviews and a UK television audience of over six million viewers. Sturrock is also an accomplished stage director. In 1998, he directed the world premiere of Tobias Picker's opera Fantastic Mr. Fox. Presented by the Los Angeles Opera, with designs by Gerald Scarfe, the piece was hailed in the international press as "a landmark in musical history," and the production praised for its, "breathtaking beauty and imagination." In 2006, Sturrock was commissioned to write the official biography of Roald Dahl. Storyteller is scheduled for publication by Simon and Schuster and HarperCollins in the fall of 2010.

Author: Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl is one of the world's most popular children's authors. Born in Wales in 1916 of Norwegian parents, he had an unhappy childhood. His father died when he was four and he disliked his English school education intensely. He could not get away quickly enough, going to work for Shell in East Africa, before joining the Royal Air Force, where he served as a fighter pilot in Greece and Palestine. He began writing in 1942, when he was posted to Washington as an Assistant Air Attaché, after being invalided out of the RAF. There he first achieved fame as a writer of adult fiction. His early stories were often existential reflections on the experience of war and flying, but later he became known as a fabricator of elegant, subversive plot-driven tales, earning him the soubriquet 'Master of the Macabre'. In 1953, he married the American actress Patricia Neal, moving back to England in 1960 where he settled in Buckinghamshire at Gipsy House. It was here, in a small, dingy hut at the bottom of the garden, that he began to write children's fiction. A visitor recalled it thus: "A dirty plastic curtain covered the window. In the centre stood a faded wing-back armchair, inherited from his mother, and it was here that Dahl sat, his feet propped up on a chest, his legs covered by a tartan rug, supporting on his knees a thick roll of corrugated paper upon which was propped his writing board. Photographs, drawings and other mementoes were pinned to the walls, while a table on his right was covered with a collection of favourite curiosities such as one of his own arthritic hip bones, and a remarkably heavy ball made from the discarded silver paper of numerous chocolate bars consumed during his youth." This was the environment in which he created such extraordinary classics as James and the Giant Peach, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Witches, The BFG, Matilda and most popular of them all, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The Chinese edition of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was the biggest printing of any book ever - two million copies! Sales of Matilda, Dahl's penultimate book, broke all previous records for a work of children's fiction with UK sales of over half a million paperbacks in six months. Roald Dahl died in 1990 at the age of 74. He was working to the end. Since his death, his books have more than maintained their popularity. Total sales of the UK editions are around 37 million, with more than 1 million copies sold every year. Sales have grown particularly strongly in the United States where Dahl books are now achieving the bestselling status that curiously proved elusive during the author's lifetime. Dahl believed strongly in the importance of literacy. He once said: "I have a passion for teaching kids to become readers, to become comfortable with a book, not daunted. Books shouldn't be daunting, they should be funny, exciting and wonderful; and learning to be a reader gives a terrific advantage. If you are going to get anywhere in life you have to read a lot of books."

Director: James Robinson (Artistic Director, Opera Theatre of St. Louis)
James Robinson is regarded as one of America's most inventive and sought after stage directors. He has won wide acclaim for productions that range from the standard repertory to world premieres to seldom performed works, and he is considered the most widely performed director of opera in North America. The 2007/2008 season included productions of Abduction from the Seraglio, La Boheme for Houston Grand Opera, and The Elixir of Love for Boston Lyric Opera. For Opera Theatre of St. Louis, he has staged acclaimed productions of Miss Havisham's Fire, Radamisto, Street Scene, and La traviata, as well as the extraordinary 2004 Nixon in China production which has since been presented by seven other companies. James has directed numerous new productions for the New York City Opera including Il Trittico, Il Viaggio a Reims, Lucia, Hansel and Gretel (co-produced with Los Angeles Opera) and the widely acclaimed La Bohème (broadcast on Public Television as part of "Live from Lincoln Center" in 2001). In 2002, he made his Houston Grand Opera debut with a new production of Abduction from the Seraglio and followed up this production with La Bohème, Lucia and Giulio Cesare. He has directed new productions of Elektra and Norma for the Canadian Opera Company, The Rake's Progress and Cosi fan tutte for the Santa Fe Opera, Carmen for the Seattle Opera, Antheil's Transatlantic and Lucia for the Minnesota Opera, and Eugene Onegin for Boston Lyric Opera. In 2004 James Robinson directed the world premiere of Daniel Catan's Salsipuedes for the Houston Grand Opera. His production of Turandot, first produced for the Minnesota Opera in 1995 has been seen by more than twenty five companies in North America. James Robinson has also directed Katya Kabanova and Eugene Onegin for Opera Ireland, Norma for the Royal Swedish Opera, Handel's Rinaldo for Opera Australia, Handel's Radamisto, Dominick Argento's Miss Havisham's Fire, for Opera Theatre of St. Louis. His 2004 production of Nixon in China, first produced by St. Louis, has been seen throughout the United States. Future engagements include L'elisir d'amore and Il Trittico for San Francisco Opera, Nixon in China for The Canadian Opera Company and Abduction from the Seraglio for Welsh National Opera.

As of October 2008, James Robinson joined Opera Theatre of St. Louis as Artistic Director. His first production as Artistic Director will be directing the landmark new performing version of John Corigliano and William Hoffman's The Ghosts of Versailles (a co-production with Vancouver Opera and Ireland's Wexford Festival Opera). Prior to this appointment in St. Louis, James served as Artistic Director of Opera Colorado in Denver from 2000 to 2008. In this role he oversaw the company's successful move into its new home, the Ellie Caulkins Opera House in the fall of 2005. Under his leadership, the company gained wide recognition for its adventurous programming and artistic excellence.

Executive Producer: Lawrence Edelson (Producing Artistic Director, American Lyric Theater)
Lawrence Edelson is the Founder and Producing Artistic Director of American Lyric Theater (ALT). Mr. Edelson completed his Masters in Performing Arts Administration at New York University, authoring the thesis Opera: The Irrelevant Art: Uniting Marketing and Organizational Strategy to Combat the Depopularization of Opera in the United States which served as a strategic plan for the new operational model being developed by ALT. As an arts administrator, he has consulted on projects for MCC Theater, Opera Orchestra of New York, New York City Opera, and on the cultural development of Lower Manhattan for New York City councilmember Alan Gerson. Lawrence oversees the diverse artistic programs of ALT, including the commissioning of new works, and an innovative new program for emerging opera composers and librettists.

As a stage director, Lawrence's work has been praised by Opera Now magazine as doing a "splendid job of making (opera) relevant and understandable." Lawrence studied Voice and Musicology at The University of Ottawa, Canada, and received his Bachelors Degree in Stage Direction from New York University. He has served as a staff director for Glimmerglass Opera, where he taught for the Young American Artists Program, and was the Assistant Director on multiple productions. He has been a guest member on the directing staff of New York City Opera, where he has restaged Little Women twice; for the work's Lincoln Center premiere, and most recently, for New York City Opera's tour to Japan. Other directing credits include original productions of La Voix Humaine at New York's Maison Française; the American Premiere of Telemann's Orpheus for Wolf Trap Opera, which the Washington Post called "a stunningly touching and entertaining production"; Carmen for Toledo Opera, which was hailed by the press as "one of, if not the, best production in the long history of the company."; and new production of Il Barbiere di Siviglia for Hawaii Opera Theater drawing strongly upon the opera's roots in Commedia dell'Arte that was praised by The Honolulu Advertiser as "creating an impact that was simultaneously old and new, European and American... a perfect introduction for opera first-timers of all ages."

Founded in 2005, American Lyric Theater's mission is to build a new body of operatic repertoire for new audiences by nurturing composers and librettists, developing sustainable artistic collaborations, and contributing new works to the national canon. While many opera companies actively commission and perform new works, ALT is the only company in the United States that also offers extensive, full time mentorship for emerging operatic writers. ALT's artistic staff, guest faculty, and mentorship team includes some of the country's leading operatic writers, directors and dramaturges, including Mark Adamo, Daniel Catán, Anthony Davis, Cori Ellison, William Hoffman, and Rhoda Levine.

ALT's model for developing new works has some important differences when compared with prevailing practices in the opera field. While the traditional company model in the United States focuses on producing a season, ALT's entire operations are structured to mentor artists, to develop new works, and to collaborate with larger producing companies to help usher those works into the repertoire. This model draws on best practices not only from the opera field, but also from successful practices of other industries; including the non-profit and commercial theater sectors, television, and motion picture development and production.

Commissioning new operas is admittedly a risky endeavor, and increasingly, opera companies are becoming more risk averse. ALT's ability to shift the developmental risk away from other opera companies is the critical benefit of the company's unique business model. When commissioning a new work, a company needs to acquire intellectual property rights, pay commission fees, hold developmental workshops, create spec recordings, and distribute information about the opera to appropriate potential producing partners. These developmental costs must be incurred without any guarantee that the new opera will ever be produced on stage. By taking on these responsibilities during the development stage, ALT absorbs an enormous portion of the risk opera companies face when producing new works. ALT's internal expertise, combined with the amount of time dedicated to each project, allows us to provide the most comprehensive development environment possible.

The goal of this new development model is to ensure that by the time an opera developed by ALT reaches the point where it is being considered for production by other companies, that work has been artistically vetted much more thoroughly than is often possible in other environments. In addition, companies that join with ALT to produce a new work acquire the rights to an opera that they have had no financial risk in developing. Artistically and financially, the risk for these companies is much less than commissioning a new work outright. Opera companies that join with ALT on a project do so at a stage where they can better judge the potential of each project. The Golden Ticket is ALT's first main stage commission and collaboration with Opera Theatre of St. Louis under this new model.

The 2009 Workshop of The Golden Ticket is supported, in part, by public funds from
the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

Additional support for The Golden Ticket provided by
Highgate Hotels and Hilton Garden Inn® New York/West 35th Street.