NY Composer David Shenton's New Opera Honoring Healthcare Workers Premieres Mid-April Online

The opera premier features the Bellissima Opera Cast, seven professionals drawn from around the country.   

By: Mar. 30, 2021
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Chicago-based Working In Concert premieres the world's first full-length virtual opera, On Call: COVID-19, streaming on April 17th & 18th. Created by composer DAVID SHENTON of Queens NY, librettist CHRISTINE STEYER of Oak Park IL, and director CARL RATNER of Kalamazoo MI, On Call is drawn from 200 articles about global healthcare workers facing the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Call: COVID-19 was produced and commissioned by Working in Concert's Bellissima Opera Initiative. The opera premier features the Bellissima Opera Cast, seven professionals drawn from around the country.

On Call provided a meaningful project for opera singers who have been hard-pressed to find work during the pandemic. Each singer safety recorded their parts at home and the segments were then assembled to create the look of a live "Zoom" meeting. The opera's three scenes look in on a series of "Zoom" calls by six characters: medics from Chicago, Seoul, Rio de Janeiro, Lombardy, New York City, and a Syrian refugee camp near Beirut as they each struggle with the pandemic unfolding in their unique geographical location. During these calls, they provide a lifeline to each other, and ultimately discover kindness and compassion can be as powerful as a tool as a vaccine and a ventilator. Each cast member has chosen their own character's name to honor either a healthcare worker or someone who has died from COVID.

Gwendolyn Brown, contralto (Nashville, TN) Emanuel-Cristian Caraman, tenor (South Bend, IN) Russell Hoke, baritone (Elgin, IL) Jeong Eun Joo, soprano (Chicago, IL) Carl Ratner, baritone (Kalamazoo, MI) David Shenton, piano (Queens, NY) Christine Steyer, soprano (Oak Park, IL)

Detailed information and Ticketing for the livestream link is posted at WorkingInConcert.org/CovidOpera Audience members are invited to join the post-opera artist meet-and-greet by making an additional donation.

Librettist and soprano Christine Steyer says, "No one is left untouched by the daily images of healthcare workers risking their lives in service as events of the pandemic unfold. Composer David Shenton and I were in the midst of creating operas for Bellissima Opera's Tales of Transcendence Series-celebrating those transcending the human divide-when we turned our focus to those self-sacrificing workers to create On Call."

Western Michigan University's student opera cast will stream the first collegiate performance two weeks later.

This opera is funded in part by the Unity Temple Unitarian Universalist Congregation, Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, Illinois Arts Council, Allscheid Family of Oak Park and individual donors.



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