Showcase Of New Operas By AOP Emerging Composers And Librettists Announced
This fall, contemporary opera producer AMERICAN OPERA PROJECTS (AOP) will present COMPOSERS & THE VOICE: SIX SCENES 2018, a showcase concert of opera scenes from nine artists emerging in the world of contemporary opera. Audiences will get a first look at six wildly different new works invoking diverse settings such as the Arab Spring in Tunisia, a post-apocalyptic future, and a modern college campus and exploring a multitude of themes and concepts, including the emotional minefield of solar flares, the dissonance of fundamentalism in urban and regional communities, and the nature and validity of Opera itself. The composers Matt Browne, Scott Ordway, Frances Pollock, Pamela Stein Lynde, Amber Vistein and Alex Weiser, and librettists Laura Barati, Kim Davies, andSokunthary Svay, were chosen by AOP to spend a year creating new works in its bi-annual fellowship program Composers & the Voice (C&V). The evening will be hosted by C&V Artistic Director Steven Osgood.
The performances will be held on Friday, September 28, and Saturday, September 29 at 7:30pm at South Oxford Space (138 S. Oxford St.) in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, the home of AOP. Tickets range from $10-$20 general admission and are available at https://6scenes2018.eventbrite.com.
Six Scenes 2018 will be performed by the AOP Resident Ensemble of Singers: lyric soprano Jennifer Goode Cooper (NYCO, Glimmerglass), tenor Blake Friedman (BAM, Dallas Opera), coloratura soprano Tookah Sapper (Chautauqua Opera), mezzo-soprano Blythe Gaissert (Metropolitan Opera, LA Opera), baritone Mario Diaz-Moresco (Central City Opera, Glimmerglass), and bass-baritone Adrian Rosas (Seattle Opera, Opera Theatre of St. Louis).Each of the scenes were composed specifically for the singers' voices, after months of study and experimentation during the C&V program. Supporting on piano will be C&V Music Directors Mila Henry, and Kelly Horsted.
Previous Six Scenes concerts have given audiences their first look at operas that went on to fully-produced world premieres including Gregory Spears' Paul's Case (UrbanArias and Prototype Festival), The Summer King by Daniel Sonenberg's (Pittsburgh Opera, Michigan Opera Theatre), Jack Perla's Love/Hate (ODC/San Francisco Opera), and Three Way by Robert Paterson (Nashville Opera).
Six Scenes includes the following works:
Dark Exhalation (By Amber Vistein)
"Dark Exhalation" is a meditative, experimental piece exploring our very human tendency to attach cosmic significance to the personal connections we forge. A woman in a nameless city conflates the turmoil of an impending Summer storm with the emotional unrest of her departed lover in this resonant contemporary opera.
Spring (Score by Scott Ordway; Libretto by Meryem Belkaid)
"Spring" takes a frank, empathic close-up view of the moments, mentalities and malaise immediately before and after a revolution overthrows a dictatorial regime. Four personified winds leave politics to the background as they paint intimate portraits of the people who endure these volatile times.
Better Than It Sounds (By Matt Browne)
A comedic assessment of the value of opera as an artform, "Better Than It Sounds" is an absurd, yet articulate debate on the importance of song. When Samuel Clemens is outraged by an operatic interpretation of "Tom Sawyer"; composers and actors, William and Emma must go to the heart of the artform to convince him that he should allow them to produce their show.
The Interaction Effect (Score by Pamela Stein Lynde; Libretto by Laura Barati)
Mikaela, a statistics major at a liberal arts college, just wants to forget the night her friend Adam raped her-instead, she is forced to contend with the aftermath of her community and school administration's painful mishandling of her assault. "The Interaction Effect" boldly exposes the weaknesses in a justice system governed by institutionalized misogyny.
Salt (Score by Frances Pollock; Libretto by Emily Roller & Frances Pollock)
A contemporary adaptation of the tale of Sodom and Gamora, "Salt" explores the escalating tension between urban and rural communities. When Lot and his two daughters flee their home after a terrorist attack, they must contend with the notion that their flight could lead to further persecution at the hands of a different kind of fundamentalism.
State of the Jews (Score by Alex Weiser; Libretto by Ben Kaplan)
How much must one sacrifice to change the world? "State of the Jews" is a non-linear historical drama chronicling the struggle of Austro-Hungarian writer Theodore Herzl to campaign for the establishment of a Jewish homeland, and the breakdown of his marriage as a result of his slavish dedication to his cause.
About Composers & The Voice
Created and led by StevenOsgood (General and Artistic Director of Chautauqua Opera and former Artistic Director of AOP), Composers & the Voice gives composers and librettists experience working collaboratively with singers on writing for the voice and contemporary opera stage. American Opera Projects selects composers and librettists bi-annually for the fellowships, made possible in part by generous awards from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and The Victor Herbert Foundation. Participants meet in closed sessions from September to April to present and discuss new works composed specifically for the individual voices of the Resident Ensemble with additional training in acting, improv, and libretto study.
In addition to the workshop sessions, C&V fellows receive training from industry professionals Mark Campbell (libretto writing), Mary Birnbaum (acting), and Terry Greiss (improv technique), guest lecturers, and one-on-one mentoring from Ricky Ian Gordon, Gregory Spears, David T. Little, Missy Mazzoli, Tobias Picker, Gene Scheer, Stephen Schwartz, and Royce Vavrek. Each of these distinguished artists review their C&V fellow's work, offer feedback, and participate in C&V discussions.
Since launching in 2002, C&V has fostered the development of 54 composers & librettists including composers Stefan Weisman (The Scarlet Ibis, PROTOTYPE Festival, Chicago Opera Theatre), Hannah Lash (Aspen Music Festival), Aleksandra Vrebalov (Mileva, Serbian National Theater), Mikael Karlsson (The Echo Drift, PROTOTYPE Festival), Vivian Fung (2013 Juno Award "Classical Composition of the Year") and librettist Sara Cooper (The Memory Play, off-Broadway). A complete list of alumni can be found at www.aopopera.org/composers_voice.
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