Chicago Opera Theater Presents THE SCARLET IBIS AND THE LIFE AND DEATH(S) OF ALAN TURING
Chicago Opera Theater (COT) continues its 2018/2019 season with the Chicago premiere of the contemporary opera "The Scarlet Ibis." Composed by Stefan Weisman with libretto by David Cote, "The Scarlet Ibis" was declared an "outstanding new chamber opera" by David Allen of The New York Times upon its debut at the 2015 Prototype Festival. Chicago Opera Theater presents the first full production of this operatic adaptation of James Hurst's 1960 short story (apart from its festival debut), featuring the artistry of stage director Elizabeth Margolius and conductor David Hanlon. The opera stars Annie Rosen (who also performed in COT's season-opening production of "Iolanta") as Brother and Jordan Rutter as Doodle.
The opening night and press performance takes place Saturday, February 16 at 7:30 p.m. at the Studebaker Theater (410 S. Michigan Ave.)Additional performances will take place Thursday, February 21 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, February 24 at 3 p.m.
That same week, COT will present a week-long workshop culminating in the first full concert performance of "The Life and Death(s) of Alan Turing" by composer Justine F. Chen and librettist David Simpatico as part of Chicago Opera Theater's Vanguard Initiative to promote the creation of new opera.
"COT's mission to support the creation of new operatic work is exemplified in our February programming, with the first production of 'The Scarlet Ibis' since its debut at the 2015 Prototype Festival, and the first concert performance of 'The Life and Death(s) of Alan Turing' as part of our Vanguard Initiative," said Stefan Edlis and Gael Neeson General Director Douglas R. Clayton. "COT is proud to provide an opportunity for Chicago to see such new and exquisite operas for the first time."
Based on James Hurst's classic American short story, "The Scarlet Ibis" is a moving tale about brotherhood, nature and family, set in North Carolina against the backdrop of World War I. It tells the story of a young boy named Doodle and his relationship with his brother, exploring the ways people 'other' those who are different and questioning what it means to be 'normal.' The piece was commissioned and developed through the HERE Artist Residency Program (HARP) and Dream Music Puppetry Program and co-produced by Beth Morrison Projects, premiering at the Prototype Festival in January 2015 in New York City.
"It's thrilling to see 'The Scarlet Ibis' picked up for a second production following its premiere at our Prototype Festival," said co-producer Beth Morrison. "Chicago Opera Theater is a forward thinking opera company, truly embodying what a 21st century opera company should be."
Composer Stefan Weisman spoke to the development process of the opera stating, "One element of creating this opera that felt really unique was that the two leads are a countertenor and mezzo-soprano, both high voices for male characters. And they are played by two different genders. We are playing around with traditional notions of gender and power-the weaker of the two is the male singer, and the stronger is the female singer."
Librettist David Cote continued, "The story is very much in the tradition of Flannery O'Connor, Tennessee Williams, even William Faulkner. The language is lush and flowery, the emotions run high and the ending is both beautiful and tragic. I'm not a Southerner, I grew up in small-town New Hampshire, but I drew on memories of living near a lake and playing in the woods to create the sense of nature and wonder in the opera."
In addition to Rosen and Rutter, "The Scarlet Ibis" cast includes Quinn Middleman as Mother, Sharmay Musacchio as Aunt Nicey, Bill McMurray as Father and dancer Ginny Ngo.
For more information on the Chicago Opera Theater and its programs please visit chicagooperatheater.org.