The Empress Arias Come to Feinstein's/54 Below
FEINSTEIN'S/54 BELOW, Broadway's Supper Club, presents The Empress Arias: songs from the ICONS/IDOLS plays, on February 8. ICONS/IDOLS is a tetralogy of choral plays for over a dozen women+ singers. Mixing music, movement and text, the four plays recover the secret history of Byzantine Purple Empresses as they ascend in a society with deep animosity towards female rule. Deeply committed to religious icons, these powerful empresses sacrifice personal relationships in an attempt to gain enough power to re-introduce them into an empire that fiercely and violently opposes iconography. The Empress Arias pair powerful multi-part harmonies with glittering ballads, commanding chants and soaring operatic solos to form a unique and beautiful evening of song. The development of ICONS/IDOLS received funding from OPERA America's Opera Grants for Female Composers program, supported by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation, and has been developed in The Jam, New Georges' performance lab for early career female artists, as well as The Tank, a home for emerging artists. The project is currently supported by the IRT/New Ohio Archive Residency for its 2018-2020 cycle.
The Byzantine Choral Project is a dynamic collaboration between playwright Helen Banner, composer Grace Oberhofer and director Colette Robert to make theater using women's voices. Inspired by the Byzantine Empresses Irene, Maria, Euphrosyne and Theodora they are creating work that showcases the radical power of strong, diverse women+ singing on stage and explores the importance of imagery, representation and iconoclasm in classical and contemporary life. They are privileged to collaborate with music director Robert Frost, and have previously worked with stellar performers such as broadway veteran Julie Benko (Les Mis, Fiddler), Rachael Duddy (vocalist for Esperanza Spalding), Iris Beaumier (featured on Blindspot, last seen at Feinstein's/54 Below with 54 Sings Memphis), Isabella Dawis, and Joell Weil, among others.
The Empress Arias plays Feinstein's/54 Below (254 West 54th Street) on February 8th at 9:30pm. There is a $35 cover charge and $25 food and beverage minimum. Tickets and information are available at www.54Below.com. Tickets on the day of performance after 4:00 are only available by calling (646) 476-3551.
Colette Robert (director) is a Los Angeles native currently based in New York. Recent directing credits include: MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM (NYU Grad Acting), MARY'S WEDDING (Chester Theatre Company), BIG LOVE (Sarah Lawrence College), HOW MY GRANDPARENTS FELL IN LOVE (EST, NYT Critic's Pick), HOTTENTOTTED (The Tank), THE MOUNTAINTOP (Chester Theatre Company), ICONS/IDOLS (Ice Factory), and WHEN LAST WE FLEW (Diversionary Theatre and FringeNYC, GLAAD Media Award). As a playwright, her play THE HARRIET HOLLAND SOCIAL CLUB PRESENTS THE 84TH ANNUAL STAR-BURST COTILLION IN THE GRAND BALLROOM OF THE RENAISSANCE HOTEL was developed with Fuller Road, New Georges, Mabou Mines, and The Drama League. Colette is a member of EST, a co-facilitator of the New Georges Jam, and The Drama League's 2018 Beatrice Terry Director in Residence. Alumnus of the Mabou Mines Resident Artist Program, Lincoln Center Directors Lab and The Civilians R&D Group. Colette was previously an Audrey Resident at New Georges and a Van Lier Directing Fellow at The Public. www.coletterobert.com
Grace Oberhofer (composer) is a Tacoma, WA native and a Tufts graduate (B.A. Music, s.c.l.) who works as a composer, performer, sound designer, and music director. Since moving to Brooklyn, she has worked in various capacities with the Adirondack Theater Festival, Two-By-For Productions, Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater, Gloucester Stage Company, Everyday Inferno Theater Company, Fresh Ground Pepper, and HERE, among others. Current compositional projects include the musical After I Was Free (with author Caroline Angell), previewed at Dixon's Place in NYC, the musical Hot Cross Buns (with playwright Julia Izumi), presented at Corkscrew Theater Festival 2017, and A Doll's House: A New Opera (with director Allison Benko), showcased in concert at both The Tank in NYC and Central Square Theater in Boston. Grace is also a current member of the BMI Musical Theater Workshop. Her choral play trilogy ICONS/IDOLS (with playwright Helen Banner and director Colette Robert), was presented at the 2016 New Ohio Ice Factory Festival, and recently received the 2017 Opera America Discovery Grant. www.graceoberhofer.com
Helen Banner (librettist) is a playwright, librettist and songwriter and a member of The Jam at New Georges. She grew up in the British Channel Islands and studied at Cambridge and the Tisch School of the Arts, NYU, where she completed her MFA in Dramatic Writing and was awarded the John Golden Playwriting Award. Her work has been developed at New Georges, the Drama League, the O'Neill Theater Center, Fresh Ground Pepper, the Wild Project, Dixon Place, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, The Lark, the Great Plains Theatre Conference and the Last Frontier Theatre Conference and she was a participant in the Ingram New Works Lab 2015-16 at Nashville Repertory Theater. Her choral play ICONS/IDOLS, written in collaboration with the composer Grace Oberhofer for the Byzantine Choral Project, was the opening show at the New Ohio's Ice Factory 2016. Helen was a 2016-17 Special Resident at New Georges creating LA DEROUTE, a medieval water opera, with composer Catherine Brookman for inclusion in their Water City take-over of 3LD Arts and Technology Centre in June 2017. You can find out more about her work at www.helenbanner.com and https://newplayexchange.org/users/9372/helen-banner