Opera Maine to Present RAPPAHANNOCK COUNTY At Portland Stage

Performances will take place on Friday, June 28 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, June 30 at 2:30 p.m. at Portland Stage in Portland, Maine.

By: May. 28, 2024
Opera Maine to Present RAPPAHANNOCK COUNTY At Portland Stage
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Opera Maine's 2024 Studio Artist Program will present two performances of Rappahannock County by celebrated composer Ricky Ian Gordon and librettist Mark Campbell on Friday, June 28 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, June 30 at 2:30 p.m. at Portland Stage in Portland, Maine. Inspired by diaries, letters, personal accounts, and actual events between 1861 and 1865, Rappahannock County is a theatrical song cycle that dramatically explores the devastating impact of the Civil War on a small Virginia community. Featuring a new, two-piano score by composer Ricky Ian Gordon and performed by a cast of five singers who play over 30 diverse roles, Rappahannock County offers a moving and intimate exploration of one of the most divisive moments in American history.
 
Composer Ricky Ian Gordon is a leading writer of vocal music that spans art song, opera, and musical theater. Rappahannock County, commended by the Washington Post for its “effusiveness and accessibility,” deftly weaves together American musical idioms and opera to create unforgettable songs that capture the emotions of the characters and the conflict of the nation.
 
Mark Campbell is a Pulitzer Prize and Grammy Award-winning opera librettist and music-theatre lyricist who has written 40 opera librettos, lyrics for seven musicals, text for seven song cycles and four oratorios, and whose work is at the forefront of the opera scene in the United States.
 
Co-commissioned by the Virginia Arts Festival, Virginia Opera, the University of Richmond, and the University of Texas at Austin in 2011 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, Rappahannock County is set along the Rappahannock River in Virginia, the geographic border between the North and the South and a volatile battle site that serves as metaphor for a country divided. Although the story of the opera is centered in an area of Virginia, its themes are universal to the Civil War. As Wes Blomster of Opera Today noted, “The piece has the sense of a lens closing in on a spectrum of individuals and their feelings around slavery and morality in a profound and poignant way.”
 
The location played a significant role in Maine's involvement in the Civil War, especially for the 5th Maine Infantry Regiment, whose battles included Rappahannock Station as well as the first Bull Run, Antietam, and Gettysburg.
 
Rappahannock County is directed by Opera Maine Studio Artist Program Director Richard Gammon, who collaborated with Artistic Director Dona D. Vaughn to select the opera for this season. Gammon observed, “When working on historically-based pieces like Rappahannock County, a quote by Jose Rizal, an important figure in Filipino history, comes to mind: ‘Know history, know self. No history, no self.' I love the idea that we are able to perform this piece as a welcoming way for all to remember the past, examine and learn from it, and also provide an opportunity for discussion and reflection.”
 
Richard Gammon is joined on the  Rappahannock County creative team by music director and conductor, Jackson McKinnon. The cast features Opera Maine's 2024 Studio Artists:  Grace Heldridge, mezzo soprano; Grant Jackson, baritoneMarcus King, baritone; Goitsemang Lehobye, soprano; and Jonas Rimkunas, tenor. The talented singers are top emerging opera artists who were selected by Opera Maine through a competitive audition process. The singers attend master classes as well as performing in Rappahannock County and Opera Maine's July mainstage production of Verdi's Aida.
 
Each performance includes a pre-show talk by Opera Maine Dramaturg, Calien Lewis, and a post-show Q&A with Opera Maine Artistic Director Dona D. Vaughn, Studio Artist Program Director and Rappahannock County director Richard Gammon, Rappahannock County composer Ricky Ian Gordon and librettist Mark Campbell, acclaimed tenor, conductor, and founder and music director of the American Spiritual Ensemble, Dr. Everett McCorvey, and members of the cast.
 
Rappahannock County is performed in English with a run time of 85 minutes.
 
Rappahannock County by Ricky Ian Gordon, libretto by Mark Campbell
Friday, June 28 at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, June 30 at 2:30 p.m.
Pre-Curtain Presentation by Opera Maine dramaturg Calien Lewis one-hour before performances.
Post-show discussion with Opera Maine Artistic Director Dona D. Vaughn, Studio Artist Program Director and Rappahannock County director Richard Gammon, Rappahannock County composer Ricky Ian Gordon and librettist Mark Campbell, acclaimed tenor, conductor, and founder and music director of the American Spiritual Ensemble, Dr. Everett McCorvey, and members of the cast immediately following the performance.

Portland Stage tickets: $35 (plus service fees) Tickets are available at the Portland Stage Box Office: 207-774-0465 or https://portlandstage.my.salesforce-sites.com/ticket/
 
Free tickets are available for anyone age 25 and under. To reserve tickets, email operamaine@operamaine.org
 
For more details about the cast and production, visit OperaMaine.org.




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