POWDER HER FACE, THE TURN OF THE SCREW, et al. Set for New York City Opera's 2012-2013 Season
New York City Opera remains true to its roots with today's 2012-13 season announcement, presenting New York City audiences with new artists and productions, ranging from rarely heard opéra bouffe and bel canto opera to edgier contemporary fare. Through three-year alliances with two theaters – BAM in Brooklyn and New York City Center in midtown Manhattan – the company offers four brand new productions from leading directors Jay Scheib, Sam Buntrock, Michael Counts, and Christopher Alden, plus a fall showcase of the celebrated VOX program in conjunction with OPERA America's New Works Forum.
New productions of two envelope-pushing British chamber operas – Thomas Adès's Powder Her Face from Jay Scheib (Feb 15-23) and Benjamin Britten's The Turn of the Screw from Sam Buntrock (Feb 24 – March 2) – will debut at BAM. And the company dubbed "the People's Opera" will finally be reunited with the venue known as "the People's Theater," when – for the first time since 1965 – New York City Opera returns to New York City Center, its original home. The residency opens with Gioachino Rossini's Moses in Egypt from Michael Counts (April 14–20), followed by Jacques Offenbach's La Périchole from Christopher Alden (April 21–27).
Inspired by a sex scandal that rocked Britain in the early 60s, Powder Her Face (1995) is a chamber opera composed by England's Thomas Adès (b.1971) to a libretto by Philip Hensher. The new NYC Opera production marks the work's return to BAM 15 years after its New York premiere at the venue, when it was presented at the BAM Majestic (now Harvey) Theater during the 1998 Next Wave Festival. There will be four performances at the Howard Gilman Opera House (Feb 15, 21, & 23 at 7:30pm; Feb 17 at 1:30pm). Playing off the cultural obsession with political scandal and tabloid journalism, the opera's centerpiece is a series of Polaroid photos featuring Margaret Campbell, Duchess of Argyll, dubbed the "Dirty Duchess." Through the prism of Campbell's life story, Powder Her Face explores the intersection of gender, politics, and power.
With sets designed by Marsha Ginsberg, costumes by Alba Clemente, lighting by Thomas Dunn, and projection design by Josh Higgason, Scheib brings his genre-defying vision, deep integration of new technologies, and daring physicality to this modern opera. According to Time Out New York, which recently named him "Best New York Theater Director," "mixing multimedia with deadpan-cool (and very sexy) actors, Scheib is forging new ways of seeing drama."
NYC Opera closes its BAM residency with another contemporary British chamber opera, The Turn of the Screw (1954), marking the centennial of composer Benjamin Britten. Based on a 20th-century ghost story by Henry James, the opera's libretto is by Myfanwy Piper, while the new production is created by Sam Buntrock, best-known for his multi-award-winning staging of Sunday in the Park with George in the West End and on Broadway. With set and costume design by David Farley and lighting by David Weiner, Buntrock directs the opera as a contemporary horror story in which, he explains, "chilling events unravel a mysterious building's terrifying past, pushing the boundaries between sanity and the supernatural." According to conductor Jayce Ogren, a NYC Opera mainstay (A Quiet Place, Prima Donna) who will lead the company in this production, "Britten's The Turn of the Screw is nightmarish, thrilling, and unbearably sweet all at once, and I've been dying to conduct it since the moment I first heard the music. It's a 20th-century masterpiece and one of the greatest operas ever written in the English language."
The new production opens for four performances at the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House on February 24 at 1:30pm (further performances are on Feb 26, 28, & March 2 at 7:30pm).
NYC Opera celebrates its return to its birthplace, New York City Center, with Gioachino Rossini's Moses in Egypt. Opening with the Plague of Darkness and closing with the parting of the Red Sea, this rarely heard, large-scale bel canto opera tells the familiar Bible story through a libretto by Andrea Leone Tottola and music that places Rossini directly in the lineage of Mozart. Although the Italian composer revised Moses in Egypt several times, NYC Opera's new production presents his original version, which remains perhaps musically the best. With costumes by Jessica Jahn and projections by Ada Whitney, the new production – arguably the opera's first full NYC staging of the original version in more than 180 years – will be directed and designed by NYC Opera favorite Michael Counts, last seen directing 2011's Monodramas.
Conductor Jayce Ogren returns to lead the orchestra and chorus for Moses in Egypt's four performances, which take place shortly after the Passover and Easter holidays (April 14 at 1:30pm; April 16, 18, & 20 at 7:30pm). Ogren remarks on his continued work with the company: "New York City Opera is my closest musical family. I love the timeliness, intimacy, and artistic urgency this company brings to each production. I'm so looking forward to next season's work with Sam Buntrock and Michael Counts, the wonderful NYCO Orchestra and Chorus, and some of the most exciting and talented young singers in America."
Closing the 2012-13 season is a new production of Jacques Offenbach's operetta La Périchole. With a libretto by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy, this lyrical satire verges on all-out farce. It is loosely based on the life of one of the 18th century's most famous Peruvians, Micaela Villegas, a wildly popular entertainer who was mistress to the head of state. In the opera, Villegas becomes La Périchole, a Peruvian street-singer who maintains a love triangle between the Spanish viceroy and Piquillo, her true love and fellow street-singer, to save herself from destitution. This final production of the season will be directed in four performances by Christopher Alden, who previously helmed some of the most critically lauded stagings in NYC Opera's recent history, including Don Giovanni, A Quiet Place, and this season's Così fan tutte (April 21 at 1:30pm; April 23, 25, & 27 at 7:30pm).
New York City Opera has been a pioneer in the field of arts education for more than 40 years. Drawing upon the company's adventurous and contemporary approach to opera, NYC Opera Education provides students with a three-dimensional introduction to the art form – from page, to stage, to backstage. Students meet with NYC Opera Teaching Artists and other theater professionals in their classrooms, go behind the scenes to see how productions come together, and watch world-class performances of NYC Opera performances at NY City Center and BAM.