NYU Tisch, the Brooklyn Museum, and American Opera Projects to Present Feminist Mini-Operas
The Dinner Party Operas, a showcase of eleven original mini-operas inspired by Judy Chicago's iconic feminist installation The Dinner Party, a multi-media work housed in the Brooklyn Museum, will be presented this May in New York City by the NYU Tisch Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program (GMTWP), the Brooklyn Museum, the NYU Tisch Department of Design for Stage & Film and American Opera Projects (AOP). Six of the operas will be performed on Wednesday, May 23 at 7:30 p.m. at NYU Tisch's GMTWP Black Box Theatre, located in Manhattan at 715 Broadway, between Washington and Waverly places, on the second floor.
The remaining five operas will be performed on Sunday, May 27 at 2:00 p.m. at the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Auditorium at the Brooklyn Museum, 200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, NY 11238. Each under 15-minutes long, the operas were written and composed by students in the NYU Tisch GMTWP Opera Lab and will be performed by professional opera singers with piano accompaniment. The Dinner Party Operas is free with advance registration (May 23) or museum admission (May 27) and open to the public. To reserve tickets for the May 23 performance at NYU, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Complete info at www.aopopera.org.
The Dinner Party Operas is the most recent production of Tisch GMTWP's Opera Lab program, through which students write, compose, develop, and design original operas performed by professional opera singers. Opera Lab was started in 2015 by GMTWP professor Randall Eng with Design Dept. professor Sam Helfrich, and is open to both students and alumni. In previous years, the program's mini-operas were created on the subjects of Brooklyn's historic Fort Greene Park and New York City's International House, which houses and supports international students and entrepreneurs from around the world.
The Dinner Party, an important icon of 1970s feminist art and a milestone in twentieth-century art, is presented as the centerpiece around which the Brooklyn Museum's Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art is organized. The Dinner Party comprises a massive ceremonial banquet, arranged on a triangular table with a total of thirty-nine place settings, each commemorating an important woman from history. The settings consist of embroidered runners, gold chalices and utensils, and china-painted porcelain plates with raised central motifs that are based on vulvar and butterfly forms and rendered in styles appropriate to the individual women being honored. The names of another 999 women are inscribed in gold on the white tile floor below the triangular table. This permanent installation is enhanced by rotating Herstory Gallery exhibitions relating to the 1,038 women honored at the table. The pharaoh Hatshepsut; the medieval nun, composer, scientist, and prophetess Hildegard von Bingen; and writer Emily Dickinson are just three of the famous women from Judy Chicago's art installation who serve as muses for this year's operas.
"The Dinner Party contains a multitude of stories, and was created in part to encourage viewers to investigate those stories," said Eng. "In these operas, the students have done exactly that, as they transform the visual and historic into music and theatre. Some of the operas celebrate moments in the lives of specific women, while others confront the work as a whole, and it's been a joy to see the range of operatic responses-from comic farce to meditative reflection to heightened tragedy to impassioned critique."
In addition to Profs. Eng and Helfrich, NYU Tisch's GMTWP Opera Lab is led by Music Directors Mila Henry and James Lowe, who will provide piano accompaniment for the performances. Stage directors and designers from the NYU Tisch Graduate Department of Design for Stage and Film will stage the works in Program A under the guidance of Prof. Helfrich. Luke Leonard will direct the Program B operas.
The Dinner Party Operas includes the following works:
Singers: Kathryn Krasovec, Yoojin Lee, Jordan Rutter, and Nathaniel Sullivan
Piano / Music Director: Mila Henry
Stage Directors: Diane Machin, Pauls Macs, and India Marie Paul
Set Designers: Ethan Brown and Zoe Hurwitz
Lighting Designers: Michael Cunnningham, Bailey Rosa, and Rachel Fae Szymanski
Petronilla: A usual day in the home of Lady Alice and Petronilla is perfectly normal... aside from the magic and mayhem that strolls through the door. Music by Kent Jeong-Eun Kim and libretto by Zach Childers.
A Drop in the Ocean: Christine de Pizan, the first women to earn a living wage as a writer, interviews for her first job after the death of her husband. Music by Bryan Blaskie and libretto by Christine Claudel Filimonova.
Ár n-Athair: A pirate and an accused witch become unexpected allies when they are both imprisoned by the powerful Cotton Mather. Music by Benedict Braxton-Smith and libretto by Nick Stephens.
An Unbroken Line: Egypt, 1458 BC: the pharaoh Hatshepsut, in the twilight of her reign, is beset by palace intrigue orchestrated by her sister and carried out by her heir. Music by Spencer Robelen and libretto by Seth Christenfeld.
Avery and Ainsley: Avery and Ainsley communicate or not in the junkyard. Music by Jonathan Fadner and libretto by Scott R. Ritter.
Singers: Keith Browning, Alexa Jarvis, Nicole Mitchell, and Amelia Watkins
Piano / Music Director: James Lowe
Stage Director: Luke Leonard
Waiting for the Rain: Built from the legacy of Hildegard von Bingen, a medieval nun, composer, scientist, and prophetess, "Waiting For the Rain" delves into the crucial interior conflict of choice: God, or Man? Music by Kevin Cummines and libretto by Clara Luthas.
President Joan (Or the Unexpected Virtue of Sandwiches): A retelling of the myth of Pope Joan, set in the farce that is modern U.S. politics. Music by Boram Han and libretto by Cal Silberstein.
Theodora: Alanna is a young professional stuck in a dead-end job surrounded by misogynistic co-workers. Will a birthday present from her roommate Justin and a mysterious 6th century apparition help her discover a way out? Music by Minhui Lee and libretto by Benji Goldsmith.
Judith and Holofernes: Biblical heroine, Judith, has a great responsibility on her shoulders; slaughter the infamous General Holofernes. Music by Mehmet Salih Yildirim and libretto by Lily Dwoskin.
Women's Work: An artist is forced to reckon with her white privilege after a black friend confronts her over her work - which proceeds to come to life. Music by Benji Goldsmith and libretto by Seth Christenfeld.
The Dinner Party Operas is produced with support from NYU Tisch Institute of Performing Arts. AOP's participation is made possible through a multi-year award from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, an OPERA America Innovation Grant, funded by the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation, and by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in Partnership with the City Council and NY State Assemblymember Walter T. Mosley; District 57.
About the NYU Tisch School of the Arts
For over 50 years, the NYU Tisch School of the Arts has drawn on the vast artistic and cultural resources of New York City and New York University to create an extraordinary training ground for the individual artist and scholar of the arts. Today, students learn their craft in a spirited, risk-taking environment that combines the professional training of a conservatory with the liberal arts education of a premier global university with campuses in New York, Abu Dhabi, Shanghai, and 11 academic centers around the world. Learn more at www.tisch.nyu.edu.
About American Opera Projects
Currently celebrating its 30th anniversary, American Opera Projects (AOP) is at the forefront of the contemporary opera movement through its commissioning, developing, and producing of opera and music theatre projects, community engagement, and training programs for student and emerging composers and librettists including partnerships with NYU Tisch and Hunter College and its in-house, two-year fellowship program, Composers & the Voice, currently in its ninth season. www.aopopera.org
About the Brooklyn Museum
The Brooklyn Museum presents important art in eye-opening ways, and has long been at the forefront of engagement with underserved and younger audiences, from its widely popular Target First Saturdays program and creative reinstallations of its permanent collection, to its pioneering online presence and inventive use of technology in reimagining the visitor experience. A driving force behind the massive growth and energy of the Borough of Brooklyn and of its diverse cultural community, the Brooklyn Museum annually welcomes more than half a million visitors who represent one of New York's most diverse museum-going audiences.
With roots dating back to 1823, the Brooklyn Museum is one of the oldest and largest museums in the United States, with a collection representing nearly every culture, ranging from some of the most important ancient Egyptian works in the nation; to the arts of the Pacific Islands, Asia, Africa, and the Islamic world; to American and European art; to international contemporary work. The Brooklyn Museum is home to the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, the only facility of its kind in the country. For more information, visitwww.brooklynmuseum.org