NY City Opera to Feature Rotating Cast in AS ONE

New York City Opera has announced that Blythe Gaissert & Michael Kelly and Briana Elyse Hunter & Jorell Williams will comprise the rotating casts of its upcoming production of AS ONE. The opera, a co-production with American Opera Projects and Kaufman Music Center, has music and was conceived by Laura Kaminsky, a libretto by Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed, original film by Kimberly Reed, direction by Matt Gray, and opens on Thursday, May 30 for five performances only through Saturday, June 8 at the Merkin Hall (129 West 67 Street).

In AS ONE two voices share the role of the sole transgender protagonist Hannah in this moving and often funny story that follows her journey to self-truth. With empathy and humor, AS ONE traces Hannah's experiences from her youth in a small town to her college years on the West Coast, and finally to Norway where she is surprised at what she learns about herself. The role of Hannah will be performed in rotation by Blythe Gaissert & Michael Kelly and Briana Elyse Hunter & Jorell Williams.

Since its 2014 Brooklyn premiere by American Opera Projects, AS ONE has become the most produced opera in the U.S. and Canada written in the 21st century (Opera America Magazine). This New York City Opera co-production of AS ONE continues the company's annual Pride Series, following past seasons' productions of Péter Eötvös's Angels in America and Charles Wuorinen's Brokeback Mountain. It will be followed in June with the world premiere of Iain Bell's Stonewall, commissioned by New York City Opera which is producing it in commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall uprising.

AS ONE will feature set design by Ron Kadri, costume design by Barney Fitzgerald, and lighting design by Michael Baumgarten.

Performance schedule and casting for AS ONE:

  • Thursday, May 30 at 8pm - Gaissert/Kelly
  • Saturday, June 1 at 9pm - Hunter/Williams
  • Tuesday, June 4 at 8pm - Gaissert/Kelly
  • Thursday, June 6 at 8pm - Gaissert/Kelly
  • Saturday, June 8 at 9pm - Hunter/Williams

Tickets to AS ONE, priced from $30 - $95, are available at the Merkin Hall box office and at www.nycopera.com.

BIOS:

LAURA KAMINSKY is a composer with "an ear for the new and interesting" (New York Times). Recently cited in The Washington Post as "one of the top 35 female composers in classical music," her scores often address issues such as sustainability, war, and human rights. Her music is "full of fire as well as ice, written in an idiom that contrasts dissonance and violence with tonal beauty and meditative reflection" (American Record Guide). Recent collaborations with Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed since As One (2014): Some Light Emerges (Houston Grand Opera) and Today It Rains (Opera Parallèle/American Opera Projects). Also, a new opera with Reed inspired by the Postville, Iowa, immigration raid for a consortium led by Santa Fe and San Francisco Operas. She is the head of Composition at Purchase College Conservatory of Music/SUNY.

MARK CAMPBELL's work as a librettist is at the forefront of the current contemporary opera scene in this country. He has written 28 commissioned operas produced by more than 50 companies around the world. His best-known work is Silent Night, which received the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in Music. Other successful operas include Elizabeth Cree, The Shining, The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, The Nefarious, Immoral But Highly Profitable Enterprise of Mr. Burke & Mr. Hare, Dinner At Eight, Later the Same Evening, Volpone, The Manchurian Candidate, and Bastianello/ Lucrezia. Awards include: a Grammy nomination, the first Kleban Foundation Award, two Richard Rodgers Awards, a Larson Foundation Award, and a NYFA Playwriting Fellowship. Upcoming premieres include: Edward Tulane for Minnesota Opera; Today It Rains for Opera Parallèle/American Opera Projects, and Stonewall for New York City Opera.

KIMBERLY REED. In addition to As One collaborated with Kaminsky and Campbell on Some Light Emerges (Houston Grand Opera) and the forthcoming Today It Rains (Opera Parallèle). Santa Fe and San Francisco Operas have commissioned her to write the libretto for Postville, again with Kaminsky. Her written work is collected in The Moth, a New York Times best-seller. She has held fellowships at NYFA, Yaddo, Squaw Valley Writers Workshop, and the Hermitage. Her documentary film Prodigal Sons premiered at the Telluride Film Festival and garnered 14 international awards. Her documentary Dark Money premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2018. One of Filmmaker Magazine's "25 New Faces of Independent Film," she has been featured on CNN, NPR, MSNBC, Moth Radio Hour, and The Oprah Winfrey Show.

MATT GRAY is a Brooklyn-based director and writer and is the Producing Director at American Opera Projects (AOP), an opera development and production organization that commissioned and premiered As One in 2014. He previously directed As One at Chautauqua Opera in 2018 with Sasha Cooke and Kelly Markgraf who created the roles of Hannah and its European premiere in Berlin (2016). He began at AOP in 2003 never having seen an opera, but quickly relied on his background in film and theatre to develop AOP projects from the point of view of an audience member unfamiliar with opera, but well-versed in popular entertainment and modern storytelling. Outside of his opera producing, he has continued to work as a writer and director for numerous concerts, cabarets, and plays around NYC. He was the co-writer and co-director of the 12-part serialized play Penny Dreadful which ran at the Brick Theater in Brooklyn for two years and was also one of five directors on the award-winning indie horror anthology film The Moose Head Over the Mantel, which is currently on Blu-Ray and streaming. Gray has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film Directing from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. Gray also serves as AOP's resident dramaturg and director and the Head of Drama in its Composers & the Voice artist training program and will assume the role of AOP's General Director in July 2019.

BLYTHE GAISSERT has established herself as a fresh and exciting artist with "a voice that is pure, powerful, and appealing, with a stage presence to match." (Denver Post). Recent operatic engagements include Hannah in As One with the San Diego Opera, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Opera Colorado and BAM, the role of Walker Loats in Mikael Karlsson's The Echo Drift at the Prototype Festival in NYC, Sadie in Ricky Ian Gordon's Morning Star with On Site Opera, Robert Paterson's CAPTCHA with the American Modern Ensemble at Carnegie's Weill Hall and covering both the title-role and Martha in the new Peter Sellars staging of John Adams' dramatic oratorio The Gospel According to the Other Mary with The Los Angeles Philharmonic both in the US and on tour to London, Paris and Lucerne. Other recent credits include Siegrune in Die Walküre and the Berio Folk Songs, both with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Ravel's Trois Poemes de Stefan Mallarme and Copland American Songs with the Sarasota Orchestra, and the title role in The Rape of Lucretia with the Aldeburgh Festival. Upcoming performances include As One for Opera Memphis and Opera Columbus and Hansel in Hänsel und Gretel for San Diego Opera.

BRIANA ELYSE HUNTER, known for her stage craft and savvy artistry, has been seen on numerous stages in both standard and contemporary works. Upcoming engagements include a return to the Glimmerglass Festival in the role of the Mother in the Jeanine Tesori's world première of Blue; and, Prince Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. Her other roles include Deedee Reyes in The Last American Hammer; Pvt. Stanton (An American Soldier), Gertrude Stein (27), Arsemenes (Xerxes), Flora (La traviata), Jo (Little Women), Carmen (title role), Ruggiero (Alcina), Giulietta (Les contes d'Hoffmann), Wolke (La fanciulla del West), Lucinda (Cold Mountain), Ottavia (L'incoronazion di Poppea), Rachel (Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed that Line to Freedom) and Carmen (La tragédie de Carmen). She has worked with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Michigan Opera Theater, Glimmerglass Festival, Santa Fe Opera, El Paso Opera, Knoxville Opera, Sarasota Opera, and American Opera Projects and has worked under the baton of Joseph Colaneri, John DeMain, Stephen Lord, Paul Nadler, Steven Osgood and Robert Tweten. Ms Hunter has been honored by the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, the Lotte Lenya Competition and holds degrees from Davidson College and Manhattan School of Music.


MICHAEL KELLY. Praised as "expressive and dynamic" and "vocally splendid," the American baritone has performed with opera and orchestral companies in wide-ranging repertoire of many styles and periods. He is equally at home in opera, concert, recital, cabaret and musical theater. Recently, Michael was heard as Fred in Kiss Me, Kate (St. Petersburg Opera); in Bernstein's Mass (Mostly Mozart Festival) and Messiah (Seattle Symphony); The Last Rose by David Del Tredici (Symphony Space); Songs, Drones and Refrains of Death by George Crumb (New World Symphony); Zabur by Mohammed Fairouz (Carnegie Hall, Stern Auditorium); Die Schöne Müllerin (Symphony Space); and recitals in Carnegie Hall with the Mimesis Ensemble, Ganz Hall, the Neue Galerie, the Kennedy Center. Michael has collaborated in recital with celebrated pianists Kathleen Kelly, Malcolm Martineau, Spencer Myer, Jonathan Ware and Brian Zeger. Mr. Kelly has also won prizes in several prominent competitions, including first prizes in the Poulenc Competition and Joy in Singing. He can be heard on recordings for Naxos and eOne of world premieres by composers Mohammed Fairouz and David Del Tredici, and seen in the documentary Secret Music about the life and compositions of Del Tredici. A frequent collaborator with living composers, Michael is also the curator for the newly released baritone volume of art songs for NewMusicShelf's "Anthology of New Music." A graduate of the Eastman School and Juilliard, Michael is the founder of SongFusion, a NY based art song ensemble. Michael previously performed in As One at Opera Idaho.

JORELL WILLIAMS is an American operatic baritone with a wide variety of experience from standard repertoire to contemporary works. Praised for his "magnificent, rich-toned" baritone (The New York Times), highlights of Mr. Williams 2018-19 season include the American premiere of Frank London's Cuban-Yiddish Opera Hatuey: Memory of Fire (produced by Music-Theatre Group and Peak Performances), with returns to Victory Hall Opera in Menotti's The Medium, and Finger Lakes Opera in La Boheme. Jorell has performed as a young artist with the Santa Fe Opera, Chautauqua Opera, Caramoor Bel Canto Program, Opera North, the Steans Institute of Music at the Ravinia Festival, Songfest-Los Angeles, Des Moines Metro Opera, and the Westchester Vocal Institute. Concert engagements for Mr. Williams include Faure's Requiem with Juneau Symphony Orchestra, Ginastera's Estancia with the Eugene Symphony Orchestra, Dvorak in America with South Dakota Symphony, Jennifer Higdon's Dooryard Bloom with the Philharmonic of Southern New Jersey, and Brahms' Ein Deutsches Requiem with the Omaha Symphony Orchestra. Jorell is a recipient of the 2018 Rochester Classical Idol XII Top Prize and Audience Choice awards, and garners top awards from the Gerda Lissner International Competition, Schuyler Foundation for Career Bridges, Licia Albanese Puccini Foundation, The American Prize, Serge Koussevitzky Foundation, David Adams Art Song Competition, The American Traditions Competition, Civic Morning Musicals Foundation, the National Association of Negro Musicians, and the Liberace Foundation.



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