Madison Opera Will Present FELLOW TRAVELERS
Madison Opera presents Gregory Spears' Fellow Travelers on Friday, February 7 at 8 PM and Sunday, February 9 at 2:30 PM in the Capitol Theater at Overture Center.
This acclaimed 2016 opera is set in 1950s Washington, D.C. The "Lavender Scare," in which suspected homosexuals saw their livelihoods and lives destroyed, has enveloped the U.S. Government. Against this backdrop, Timothy Laughlin, a recent college graduate and ardent supporter of Joseph McCarthy, meets Hawkins Fuller, a State Department official. The two men embark on a relationship, tangled in a web of fear and necessary deceit. Their friends and colleagues fill out a story of individuals grappling with their beliefs and emotions.
Based on Thomas Mallon's 2007 novel, Fellow Travelers was praised as "a near-perfect example of fast-flowing musical drama" by the New York Times and tells of the very human consequences of prejudice and fear, with compassion, nuance, and incredible beauty.
"When I saw Fellow Travelers, I knew before it was over that I would be producing it in Madison," says Kathryn Smith, Madison Opera's General Director. "I fell in love with the haunting music and the well-drawn characters, and the emotional impact at the end was even more powerful than I had anticipated. I am truly looking forward to sharing this modern masterpiece with our community."
Peter Rothstein directs this production in his Madison Opera debut. Rothstein, who received his MFA from the UW-Madison, directed Fellow Travelers for Minnesota Opera in 2018. The Twin City Arts Reader called his production "equal parts sweeping love affair and tragic circumstance. To some, the events will feel comfortably distant for this doomed period romance. For others, they will seem all too-real and possible in this day and age. It's a powerful combination."
Making his Madison Opera debut as Timothy Laughlin is Andres Acosta, who performed this role to acclaim at Minnesota Opera. Ben Edquist, who debuted at Opera in the Park this past summer, sings Hawkins Fuller. Adriana Zabala (Florencia en el Amazonas) returns as Mary Johnson, who works with Hawkins and is a friend and voice of conscience for him and Timothy.
Returning to Madison Opera are Sidney Outlaw (Romeo & Juliet) as Tommy McIntyre, a political insider, and Alan Dunbar (The Magic Flute) in multiple roles, including Senator Joseph McCarthy and a government interrogator who puts Hawkins through a lie detector test. Andrew Wilkowske debuts in several roles, including Senator Potter and General Arlie. Filling out the cast is Madison Opera Studio Artist Emily Secor as Miss Lightfoot, who works in Hawkins' office; soprano Cassandra Vasta as Lucy, who Hawkins marries; and Madison Opera Studio Artist Stephen Hobe in five different roles. John DeMain conducts, with the Madison Symphony Orchestra in the pit.
In addition to the performances, Madison Opera offers several events to allow deeper exploration of the opera and its historical background, including a free discussion of the "Wisconsin Dimension" of this period in history at the Madison Central Library and a free showing of The Lavender Scare documentary at PBS Wisconsin.