American Opera Projects to Debut New Works at COMPOSERS & THE VOICE: SIX SCENES 2014, 9/12 & 14

A Stonewall-era drag queen and the cop entranced by her. A princess manipulates her captor during the Crusades. A man's literal vacation from Hell. On­­­­ Friday, September 12 and Sunday, September 14 at 7:30 PM, AOP (American Opera Projects) will present these and other excerpts of new operas at COMPOSERS & THE VOICE: SIX SCENES 2014, the culmination of this season's Composers & the Voice (C&V) opera training program. Audiences will see scenes by five emerging composers - Guy Barash, Avner Finberg, Jeremy Gill, Andreia Pinto-Correia, Gity Razaz - and one composer/librettist team, Joseph Rubinstein and Jason Kim, who were chosen by AOP to spend a year creating new works focusing on the operatic voice. The performances will be held at South Oxford Space in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, home of AOP. Tickets are $15 general admission, $10 for students/seniors and are available at www.operaprojects.org.

AOP Resident Ensemble of Singers performing: sopranos Deborah Lifton (Center for Contemporary Opera, Encompass New Opera Theatre) and Kristin Sampson (Dicapo Opera Theatre, Santa Fe Opera), mezzo Blythe Gaissert (Los Angeles Opera, Aspen Music Festival), tenor Dominic Armstrong (New York City Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago), baritone Jorell Williams (Caramoor International Music Festival, Opera Theatre of St. Louis), and bass-baritone Matthew Burns (Boston Lyric Opera, New York City Opera). Supporting on piano will be Composers & the Voice Music Directors Mila Henry, Kelly Horsted, and Charity Wicks.

The performances will be hosted by C&V Artistic Director Steven Osgood (conductor, Chautauqua Opera, New York City Opera) and feature discussions with the artists about the creative process.

This year's C&V fellows have benefitted from one-on-one mentoring from esteemed composers Daron Hagen, Jake Heggie, Libby Larsen, John Musto, Tobias Picker, and Stephen Schwartz, as well as librettist Mark Campbell. Each of these distinguished artists reviews their fellows' work, offers feedback, and participates in C&V discussions.

Previous Six Scenes by C&V alumni produced in the Brooklyn-based bi-annual series featured the first performances of Jack Perla's Love/Hate (World Premiere 2012, San Francisco) and Gregory Spears's Paul's Case (World Premiere Spring 2013, in Washington, DC and New York).

Created and led by Artistic Director Steven Osgood, Composers & the Voice began in 2002 and is currently in its seventh season. In Composers & the Voice, fellows establish an understanding of how the operatic voice works and how to write optimally for each voice type, and have hands-on experiences that allow them to explore in their own musical and textual language. Participants meet in closed sessions from September to April to present and discuss new works composed specifically for the individual voices of the Resident Ensemble.

With each new group of fellows, sponsorships are named in honor of mentors and their support of Composers & the Voice. During the workshop session these "Composer Chairs" make themselves available to our fellows for one-on-one discussions and feedback. Past "Composer Chairs" have included composers Mark Adamo, John Corigliano, Tan Dun, Daron Hagen, Lee Hoiby, John Musto, Richard Peaslee, Tobias Picker, Kaija Saariaho, and Stephen Schwartz.

Composers & the Voice holds a long-established partnership with The Manhattan School of Music, and a new affiliation with the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, as a way of introducing contemporary opera to students. Two of the scenes featured in September's Six Scenes concert will be selected for study and performance in 2015 at the two conservatories.

Composers & the Voice is made possible in part by a generous multi-year award from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Fellows in the C&V program are supported by funding from The New York Community Trust Edward and Sally Van Lier Fund and Musical Arts Fund. In the 2013-2014 season, The Victor Herbert Foundation has announced the sponsorship of one fellowship as The Victor Herbert Foundation Composers & The Voice Chair. The Chair is created in memory of longtime opera supporter Lois C. Schwartz.

Photo by Ted Gorodetzky

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