Prototype: Opera I Theatre I Now Announces Eighth Annual Festival
With its eighth innovative season in 2020, PROTOTYPE: Opera | Theatre | Now continues its rigorous exploration of the work, producing and presenting an abundance of provocative shows in the interstitial realms between music, operatic tradition, and theatre. This season, Beth Morrison Projects and HERE's meteoric annual festival lands on stages across New York from January 9-18, presenting 6 works by 23 composers and librettists along with hundreds of collaborators - productions ranging from black-box chamber opera to multi-media rock concerts.
PROTOTYPE not only keeps its finger on the pulse of transformative creative practice, but also does what the best opera-and the best theatre-has always sought to do: bring into stark relief the relevant human questions of our time. Curated by Festival Directors Jecca Barry, Kristin Marting, Beth Morrison, and Kim Whitener, this year's programming considers the aftermath of a political coup, grapples with kinship, identity, mental illness, eating disorders, sexuality and ethics, and intergenerational narratives surrounding concentration camps (now an allegory for the parallels in our own country). There has never been a more important time to ask our questions on the stage, in ever new and challenging ways, and this is one more reason to agree with The Washington Post that the festival represents "the best news in opera in New York."
This year's program leads with a NYC premiere of the "riveting one act opera" (Wall Street Journal) Ellen West, co-produced by Beth Morrison Projects and Opera Saratoga. Drawn from one of the earliest cases of existential psychoanalysis, with a score from composer Ricky Ian Gordon and text from poet Frank Bidart, the work juxtaposes fictitious journals of the eponymous West (played by Kiera Duffy) with clinical notes from her psychiatrist Ludwig Binswanger (played by superstar baritone Nathan Gunn). Emma Griffin directs, with music direction by Lidiya Yankovskaya.
A world premiere of Blood Moon (co-presented with Baruch Performing Arts Center and in partnership with Japan Society) combines elements of opera, choreography, puppetry, and a taiko-infused score in a meditative exploration of life and the possibility of atonement. Featuring a poetic score by Garrett Fisher, a libretto by Ellen McLaughlin, direction by Rachel Dickstein, and music direction by Steven Osgood, Blood Moon is produced and commissioned by Beth Morrison Projects.
Magdalene, a Chamber Opera in 13 Movements, will also have its world premiere in 2020. A "wild meditation on transformation and desire" the piece is set to Marie Howe's Magdalene poems. The work is collectively scored by 13 women: Leila Adu, Ruby Kato Attwood, Danielle Birrittella, Christina Courtin, Gabrielle Herbst, Molly Joyce, Emma O'Halloran, Gemma Peacocke, Kamala Sankaram, Bergrun Snæbjörnsdóttir, Annika Socolofsky, Gyda Valtýsdóttir, and Sheena Wenger, with additional music by Ellen Reid. Co-created by Danielle Birrittella (the featured performer) and Zoe Aja Moore, who directs, Magdalene is produced by PROTOTYPE on the HERE Mainstage.
The searing rock-opera Iron & Coal, called "gloriously spectacular and overwhelmingly beautiful" by DC Metro Theater Arts, has its NYC Premiere at co-presenter Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, bringing to this personal and transformative opus the talents of Contemporaneous, MasterVoices, and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus (produced by Beth Morrison Projects). Composed and created by Jeremy Schonfeld and performed by him along with Lincoln Clauss and Rinde Eckert, Iron & Coal draws on Schonfeld's father's memoir about surviving internment at Auschwitz, Absence of Closure. This NYC Premiere is directed by Kevin Newbury with music direction and arrangements by David Bloom.
The U.S. Premiere of Cion: Requiem of Ravel's 'Boléro' brings this "breathtaking", "intimate and heartfelt" work from South African choreographer Gregory Vuyani Maqoma to co-presenter's Joyce Theatre, conceived of by Maqoma in response to Zakes Mda's novel, Cion, and Ravel's Boléro, with music direction and arrangements by Nhlanhla Mahlangu. Described by Maqoma as "a lament, a requiem required to awaken a part of us, the connection to departed souls," this powerful journey is a production of Vuyani Dance Theater.
Lauded as an "an endlessly unfolding chain of highly controlled polystylism" (Boston Musical Intelligencer) Julian Wachner's REV. 23 is an exploration of an "unpublished" new chapter of the Book of Revelation. With an audacious libretto by Cerise Lim Jacobs, this new striking production by director James Darrah takes us on a fantastical journey through the myths of our collective unconscious. REV. 23 brings Persephone, Lucifer, and others to life through an "endlessly creative score" (Classical Voice North America) featuring soprano Colleen Daly and baritone Alexander Elliott. Produced by Trinity Church Wall Street in a new production, REV. 23 plays at co-presenter Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and is conducted by Daniela Candillari.
Individual tickets for PROTOTYPE members go on sale October 1; ticket sales are open to the public October 15. Prices: $35-$75 | $30 with PROTO Pack | $60 with Premium PROTO Pack.
For ease of planning, select preferred schedule via PROTOTYPE's interactive calendar: www.prototypefestival.org/shows.