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NYC Opera Celebrates 10th Anniversary of VOX 5/1, 5/2

New York City Opera's acclaimed VOX: Showcasing American Opera series marks its 10th anniversary on Friday, May 1, and Saturday, May 2, at the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts (566 LaGuardia Place, at Washington Square South) at New York University. New York City Opera's annual VOX series demonstrates the company's commitment to the development of American opera, giving a free-of-charge platform to new or previously unperformed American operas. The final excerpt presented on Saturday, May 2, will mark the 100th opera presented by VOX.

From animation films to politics and musical theater, VOX 2009 brings together composers and librettists from highly diverse musical and cultural backgrounds. Eight new operas were chosen from a pool of some eighty submissions. These include: the first opera from the highly-acclaimed musical theater and film composer Stephen Schwartz, Séance on a Wet Afternoon; Armide, a passionate political tale of Iraq in 2019, by Jonathan Dawe, the youngest composer ever to be commissioned by James Levine and the Boston Symphony Orchestra; and A Bird in Your Ear by David Bruce, originally commissioned by Dawn Upshaw for the Graduate Vocal Arts program at Bard College.

Also to be featured this year, for the first time, is VOX: SECOND LOOK, a new initiative designed to revisit operas previously performed at VOX. VOX 2009 will present fresh excerpts from Gordon Beeferman's The Rat Land (VOX 2007) and Anne LeBaron's Crescent City (VOX 2006), charting their progress since they were first presented at the festival.

"It is my pleasure to be a part of the growing success of New York City Opera's VOX: Showcasing American Opera. The role the festival has taken nationally in creating a platform for discovering new American opera has been incomparable. The 10th Anniversary brings a festival with amazing works that show the tremendous potential and diversity of our composers and point to a bright future for new opera", says George Steel, New York City Opera General Manager and Artistic Director.

In nine seasons of presenting VOX, New York City Opera has showcased excerpts from over 90 new operas, more than 30 of which have gone on to full productions at companies across the country. The last four contemporary operas produced by City Opera-Mark Adamo's Little Women, Charles Wuorinen's Haroun and the Sea of Stories, Adamo's Lysistrata, and last season's production of Richard Danielpour's Margaret Garner-had all been showcased at VOX. Other operas featured in VOX have enjoyed world premieres at companies including Nashville Opera (Elmer Gantry by Robert Aldridge and Herschel Garfein), Houston Grand Opera (Little Women), Los Angeles Opera (Deborah Drattell's Nicholas and Alexandra), Washington National Opera (Scott Wheeler's Democracy), Santa Fe Opera (Bright Sheng's Madame Mao) and Michigan Opera Theater (Margaret Garner).

All selections will be performed by New York City Opera soloists and accompanied by the City Opera Orchestra, led by Music Director George Manahan and other conductors. For the first time, the New York City Opera Chorus will also participate in several VOX selections.

Tickets

FREE

Limited availability. Reservations begin Friday, April 3 online at: www.vox-nyco.com

Schedule for VOX 2009

Friday, May 1

5:00pm

Roundtable Discussion: All 11 of the composers featured in VOX 2009

Moderator: Yuval Sharon, VOX Project Director

7:00-8:10pm

Katrina Ballads

Music and Libretto by Ted Hearne

Using primary-source texts from politicians including George Bush and celebrities like Kanye West, Katrina Ballads explores the aftermath of the hurricane in a stylistically diverse musical setting.

Ted Hearne is an active composer, conductor and performer of new music in the New York and Chicago areas. He is the Artistic Director of the nonprofit organization Yes is a World and was named composer-in-residence of the Chicago Children's Choir in 2003. He recently received a master's degree from the Yale School of Music.

"A sophisticated composer with a songwriter's instincts."

- Charleston Post and Courier

No Easy Walk to Freedom

Music and Libretto by Chandler Carter

A chamber opera based on The Life of Nelson Mandela, focusing on his 27-year imprisonment and his subsequent election as President of South Africa. Scenes from his life alternate with music and dance indigenous to South Africa.

Chandler Carter's works have been performed throughout the United States and in Canada and Europe. He has received several awards, including two grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. He holds a PhD in Composition from the City University of New York.

"A compelling musical recounting of a story with its own inherent dramatic power."

- Newsday

8:30-9:30pm

Mosheh

Music and Libretto by Yoav Gal

A multi-media recreation of the Moses story as an ancient-futuristic ritual, to be premiered at HERE in Fall 2010.
Yoav Gal is a multi-disciplinary artist whose work has been described as "indie opera" by The New York Times. He is a recipient of grants from the NEA, American Music Center, and Harvestworks, among other organizations. He holds a BA in composition from the Manhattan School of Music and an MA from Queens College.

"Music that is drawn to what's next, not what has been."

- The New York Times

VOX: SECOND LOOK

The Rat Land

Music by Gordon Beeferman, Libretto by Charlotte Jackson

VOX performs Scene 2 of this audience favorite first heard in 2007. This darkly comic and acid-tongued work depicts a dysfunctional family and its youngest member, who hides in a fantasy world she calls the Rat Land.

Gordon Beeferman is a composer, pianist, and improviser whose work has been heard in concert halls and

experimental music venues across America and Europe. He has received three BMI awards, an ASCAP Young

Composer Award, and has been a Tanglewood fellow.

"Daringly modern, gritty and intriguing."

- The New York Times

9:50-10:30pm

Séance on a Wet Afternoon

Music and Libretto by Stephen Schwartz, based on the novel by Mark McShane and screenplay by Bryan Forbes

A psychic and her husband plan an elaborate kidnapping scheme to legitimize her powers. Commissioned by Opera Santa Barbara for a world premiere in Fall 2009.

Stephen Schwartz is the highly acclaimed composer of the musicals Godspell and Pippin and the film The Prince of Egypt, among other works. His most recent musical, Wicked, is currently running on Broadway and touring both nationally and internationally.

Saturday, May 2

12:00-1:30pm

Panel Discussion: American Opera: Past, Present, Future

Moderator: George Steel, City Opera General Manager and Artistic Director

2:00-3:10pm

Invisible Cities

Music and Libretto by Christopher Cerrone

In this adaptation of Italo Calvino's visionary novel, Marco Polo describes his travels through the fantastical cities in Kubla Khan's empire.

Christopher Cerrone is a composer of orchestral, chamber, vocal, and electronic music residing in New Haven, and currently pursuing graduate studies at the Yale School of Music. He received his undergraduate degree in 2007 from the Manhattan School of Music.

"A lush, hushed beauty with graceful complexity."

- Ezra Laderman, President of the American Academy of Arts and Letters

Armide

Music by Jonathan Dawe, Libretto by Heather Raffo

A passionate political tale of Iraq in 2019, still torn apart by the clash of Iraqi and American forces, and the beautiful celebrity Armide who could quell the surging violence.

Jonathan Dawe, the youngest composer ever to be commissioned by James Levine and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, is on the faculty of the Juilliard School. He has received awards from the Koussevitsky Foundation, Fromm Foundation, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

"Envelope-pushing."

- The Boston Globe

3:30-4:30pm

Car Crash Opera

Music by Michaela Eremiásová and Jairo Duarte-López, Libretto and Animation by Skip Battaglia

A graphically beautiful and kinetically terrifying 8-minute opera set to animation about a fatal car crash.
Czech composer Michaela Eremiásová holds a degree in jazz composition from Berklee College of Music and a Master's Degree in Musicology from Charles' University in Prague, and is pursuing a PhD in composition at the Eastman School of Music.

Jairo Duarte-López was born in Bogotá, Colombia, and holds a degree in Film Scoring from Berklee College of Music, as well as a Master's degree in Composition from the Eastman School of Music, where he is currently pursuing his PhD. Skip Battaglia is an experimental animator and filmmaker whose work has been shown at the Telluride Film Festival, the AnimaMundi in Sao Paolo, and the International Festival of Animated Film in Stuttgart.

VOX: SECOND LOOK

Crescent City

Music by Anne LeBaron, Libretto by Douglas Kearney

An eclectic, electronically enhanced score tells a Brechtian tale of Marie Laveau and her voodoo gods, mobilized to save a fictional city after a Katrina-like disaster. First heard in VOX 2006.
Anne LeBaron is an internationally noted composer, harpist, educator, and author. Her awards and prizes include a Fulbright Fellowship and a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship. She currently teaches at the California Institute of the Arts.

"An ambitious and alarming new opera."

- The Los Angeles Times

4:50-5:30pm

A Bird in Your Ear - VOX's 100th opera

Music by David Bruce, Libretto by Alasdair Middleton

A colorful, large-scale adaptation of a Russian folktale about a merchant's son who learns the language of birds. Originally commissioned by Dawn Upshaw for the Graduate Vocal Arts program at Bard College.

David Bruce received the Lili Boulanger Memorial Award in 2008. Recent commissions include two from Carnegie Hall, as well as a forthcoming one for the Chamber Music Society of the Lincoln Center. He received his PhD in Composition from King's College, London.

"A real operatic talent to watch."

- Opera Magazine

Since its founding in 1943, New York City Opera has been recognized as one of America's preeminent cultural institutions, celebrated for its adventurous programming and innovative, risk-taking production style. The company's wide-ranging repertory of 274 works spans five centuries of music and includes 29 world premieres and 61 American and/or New York premieres of such notable works as Bartók's Bluebeard's Castle, Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream, Shostakovich's Katerina Ismailova, Busoni's Doktor Faust, Prokofiev's The Love for Three Oranges and The Flaming Angel, Zimmermann's Die Soldaten, Schoenberg's Moses und Aron, and Glass' Akhnaten. The company has been a leading showcase for emerging artists, having helped launch the careers of more than 3,000 singers including José Carreras, Phyllis Curtin, David Daniels, Plácido Domingo, Lauren Flanigan, Renée Fleming, Elizabeth Futral, Jerry Hadley, Catherine Malfitano, Bejun Mehta, Sherrill Milnes, Samuel Ramey, Gianna Rolandi, Beverly Sills, Norman Treigle, Tatiana Troyanos, and Carol Vaness. In 1983 City Opera made operatic history when it became the first American opera company to use supertitles, an innovation that has revolutionized the way opera is produced and appreciated worldwide.

New York City Opera and New York City Ballet have undertaken a $200 million capital campaign-the first such joint venture in the companies' histories-to enhance audience amenities and provide a state-of-the-art environment for productions at their shared home, the David H. Koch Theater, recently renamed in honor of Mr. David H. Koch's $100 million lead gift to the joint capital campaign.

During the renovations, City Opera has taken to the road, bringing live music and provocative cultural conversation to more than fourteen different venues across New York City. In addition to concert presentations of Samuel Barber's Antony and Cleopatra at Carnegie Hall, highlights of the year include a concert of 20th-century vocal and orchestral music led by Music Director George Manahan, which is being performed citywide. The year also features continuation of the company's acclaimed education programs, which will introduce opera to more than 4,000 students with special performances of an abridged English-language version of Mozart's The Magic Flute.

In February 2009, George Steel, former Executive Director of the Miller Theatre at Columbia University, began his tenure as the company's new General Manager and Artistic Director. Building on the company's core mission of artistic excellence and accessibility, Mr. Steel's plans include broadening the company's adventurous approach to repertory, supporting the careers of promising new talent, and the continued development of the company's acclaimed education and outreach programs.

New York University's Jack H. Skirball Center for the Performing Arts is the premier venue for the presentation of cultural and performing arts events for NYU and lower Manhattan. The programs of the Skirball Center reflect NYU's mission as an international center of scholarship, defined by excellence and innovation and shaped by an intellectually rich and diverse environment. Since 2003, the 860-seat Center has provided a unique site for enhancing a sense of community while continuing the Greenwich Village traditions of creativity and artistic discovery with a broad range of compelling performance events at affordable ticket prices. Led by Executive Producer Jay Oliva (President Emeritus of New York University) and Director Michael Harrington, a natural and vital aspect of the Center's mission is to build young adult audiences for the future of live performance. www.skirballcenter.nyu.edu

 


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