Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

New Camerata Opera Presents NY Premiere Of BARNUM'S BIRD At (Le) Poisson Rouge

Article Pixel

New Camerata Opera Presents NY Premiere Of BARNUM'S BIRD At (Le) Poisson Rouge

New Camerata Opera will present the New York fully-staged premiere of Barnum's Bird at (Le) Poisson Rouge, a live music venue located in Greenwich Village. This opera, composed by Libby Larsen with a libretto by Bridget Carpenter, debuted in 2001. It tells the story of famed operatic soprano, Jenny Lind, and her American tour with P.T. Barnum in 1850. Barnum's Bird is also an extraordinary vehicle through which to gain insight into one's own experiences as a lover of art and a consumer of entertainment. Performances will be held on May 7th, 8th, 14th and 15th at 7:00pm (doors open at 6:00pm).

Grammy Award-winning composer Libby Larsen has amassed a catalog of over 500 varied works ranging from art songs to orchestral pieces. Barnum's Bird, which was commissioned by the Library of Congress and the Plymouth Music Series, is one of eleven operas in her arsenal. At the time she wrote it, Larsen reflects, "...the internet was relatively new, and I was thinking about how art would be affected and the intersection of art and commerce in America. Big thoughts, which led to me thinking about P.T. Barnum's role in setting the paradigm for arts merchandising and art as a commodity." Barnum employed aggressive marketing and advertising strategies to acquaint American audiences with Jenny Lind in advance of her arrival in the States, and this is highlighted in the opera.

In her compositional approach, Larsen both infused and directly quoted many recognizable melodies in an effort to create soundscapes for two distinct geographical settings. "I thought it would be interesting to incorporate authentic European and American music of the mid-1800's directly into the score. From America, I incorporated minstrel songs: 'The Banja Song',...'Sweet Home', as well as 'The Jenny Lind Polka', which was composed for Jenny Lind's visit. From Europe, I incorporated 'Hear Ye Israel', music from The Barber of Seville,...and 'Casta Diva.'" These musical references make for a unique score, appealing to a variety of listeners.

Critically-acclaimed director Jennifer Williams (Washington National Opera, Aspen Music Festival, Pittsburgh Opera) will direct this exciting new production. "My team and I are building the world of P.T. Barnum and Jenny Lind that brings immersive theater to the next level," says Williams. "We are reimagining every aspect of the audience's experience, from the moment they approach the theater.... Barnum's world was a sensory overload, and the production reimagines how opera and theater can engage the senses." The cast features Erik Bagger and Victor Khododad (P.T. Barnum), and Samina Aslam (Jenny Lind). A true ensemble production, there are two discrete choruses of singers, some of whom are talented circus performers from The Muse in Brooklyn. Music Director Nell Flanders (Princeton Symphony Orchestra, The Chelsea Symphony, The Secret Opera Company) will be at the helm. "What really sets this piece apart musically is the role of the choruses," Flanders explains. "These choruses serve various roles including master of ceremonies for the opera, providing narrative background, commenting on the action, and the audience for the show within a show. In this immersive production, the 'pit chorus' will be out in the theater participating in the action as well, adding both opportunities and complexities!" Under the guidance of Angela Buccinni Butch, Director of Circus and Choreography, they will lend their special talents to immerse the audience in Barnum's spectacular world.

New Camerata Opera is a New York City-based, cooperative company in its fourth season. Its mission is to engage, excite, and educate through immersive performances that break down barriers and inspire fans of the future. In addition to mainstage productions, NCO offers children's operas through Camerata Piccola, and produces short operatic films with CamerataWorks. For more information about the upcoming production of Barnum's Bird, and NCO, please contact info@newcamerataopera.org.

Tickets for Barnum's Bird are available at: https://www.newcamerataopera.org/events


Related Articles View More Opera Stories

More Hot Stories For You