American Opera to Present BLESSED ART THOU AMONGST WOMEN, 7/21

On Saturday, July 21 at 2:00pm, and Sunday, July 22 at 7:30pm, American Opera Projects, in association with Opera New Jersey, will premiere Blessed Art Thou Amongst Women, an operatic meditation in three parts on the religious and feminine icon Mary with music by Tarik O'Regan, Gregory Spears, and Antonio Vivaldi and performed by countertenor Ryland Angel and mezzo-soprano Hai-Ting Chinn. The Sebastian Chamber Players and keyboardist Mila Henry perform under the musical direction of Steven Osgood, with stage direction by Crystal Manich. Performances will be held at the Berlind Theatre at Princeton's McCarter Theatre Center and feature an artist panel discussion. Tickets are $15 and available at or (609) 799-7700.

Blessed Art Thou Amongst Women consists of two contrasting contemporary monodramas - Gregory Spears' Our Lady (from medieval Provençal texts) and Tarik O'Regan's The Wanton Sublime (with a libretto by Anna Rabinowitz). The new works will be paired with a unique staged performance of Vivaldi's Stabat Mater. The performances will mark the second partnership between AOP and Opera NJ, following last season's exciting workshop premiere of The Family Room by Thomas Pasatieri.

TARIK O'REGAN (composer, The Wanton Sublime)
Born in London in 1978, Tarik O'Regan was educated at the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. He now lives and works in New York City and Cambridge, England. His compositions are performed internationally by opera and ballet companies, symphony orchestras, choruses, chamber ensembles and soloists. Available on over 25 recordings, mostly on the Harmonia Mundi label, his music has garnered two GRAMMY® nominations (including Best Classical Album) and two British Composer Awards. His opera Heart of Darkness, based on the novella by Joseph Conrad (Tom Phillips, libretto) was developed by American Opera Projects and premiered to rave reviews at the Royal Opera House in a co-production with Opera East and ROH2. Tarik O'Regan is published exclusively by Novello & Company.

GREGORY SPEARS (composer, Our Lady)
Gregory Spears writes instrumental and vocal music that blends together stylistic aspects of romanticism, minimalism, and early music. His music has been performed by Houston Grand Opera (HGOco), the American Composers Orchestra, Center City Opera Theater, Opera Index, and the NOW Ensemble (MATA), among many others. Current projects include a new collaborative dance opera (Wolf-in-Skins) with choreographer Christopher Williams and an evening-length opera based on the novel Fellow Travelers written in collaboration with playwright Greg Pierce and director Kevin Newbury. Spears' first opera, Paul's Case, was developed by American Opera Projects' Composers & the Voice Program and was noted for its "solid dramatic timing, compassionate characterizations, and huge potential" (Philadelphia Inquirer - David PatRick Stearns' Best in Classical Music for 2009).

ANNA RABINOWITZ (librettist, The Wanton Sublime)
Anna Rabinowitz's fourth volume of poetry, Present Tense, was published by Omnidawn Books in fall 2010. Her previous volume of poetry is The Wanton Sublime: A Florilegium of Whethers and Wonders, published by Tupelo Press, 2006. Her book-length acrostic poem, Darkling: A Poem (Tupelo Press, 2001) was transformed into an experimental, multi-media opera theater work by AOP. It had its world premiere and ran for three weeks off-Broadway in 2006 and was performed in a concert version in Berlin and Poland in 2007. Center City Opera of Philadelphia performed a concert version at the Philadelphia Fringe Festival in 2009. Other awards include a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and nominations for a Pushcart Prize and Foreward Magazine's Best Poetry Book of the Year for Darkling. Rabinowitz is Editor Emerita of American Letters & Commentary, a vice-president of the Poetry Society of America, and a member of the Board of Directors of AOP. For more information, visit

RYLAND ANGEL (Counter-tenor)
Born on St Cecilia's day, Ryland Angel has received a Grammy nomination. Recordings include music of Charpentier, Scarlatti, Stradella, Lorenzani, Peri, Handel, Monteverdi, Beaujoyeux, Purcell, Bach and Spears (EMI, Universal, K317, Koch, Virgin Classics etc). New and upcoming recordings include "Sacred Seven - Chant"(Cosmos), "Freud und Lust" - Buxtehude/Bach solo cantatas (Deux-Elles), Rosenmuller solo cantatas with Artek and Vespers by Colonna (Houston Chamber choir).

HAI-TING CHINN (Mezzo-soprano)
American Mezzo-soprano, Hai-Ting Chinn performs in a wide range of styles and venues, from Purcell to Pierrot Lunaire, Cherubino to The King & I, J.S. Bach to P.D.Q. Bach. She is currently featured in the revival and tour of Phillip Glass' Einstein on the Beach, which will be performed at venues around the world through March 2013. She has premiered new works by Du Yun, Conrad Cummings, Stefan Weisman, Yoav Gal, and Matt Schickele.

Steven Osgood has conducted for Fort Worth Opera, Wolf Trap Opera, New York City Opera, and for many American Opera Projects workshops and premieres. The current season included conducting appearances with Beth Morrison Projects for Songs from the Uproar, Long Beach Opera for Glass' Aidanamar, the Manhattan School of Music for The Ghosts of Versailles, and Opera Memphis for Die Fledermaus. Next season, he will debut with Hawaii Opera conducting Tosca, Sarasota Opera conducting Little Nemo, and return to Opera Memphis to conduct The Rape of Lucretia, This Is the Rill Speaking & Bon Appetite.

Crystal Manich has been praised for her "lively staging", "quirky touches" and "visual impacting pictures" by the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and other major publications. She has directed various main stage productions for Pittsburgh Opera, Utah Opera, Lyric Opera of Baltimore and Opera Omnia, a New York-based company that produces baroque works of which she is co-founder and co-Artistic Director. Other directing credits for American Opera Projects include world premiere semi-staged performances of Model Love and Brooklyn Bones. Upcoming productions: Don Giovanni for the Bay View Festival, The Flying Dutchman for Opera Roanoke and Madama Butterfly for Pittsburgh Opera. Crystal holds degrees from Carnegie Mellon University. For more information visit

Praised for their "well-thought-out articulation and phrasing" (Early Music Review) and "elegant string playing... immaculate in tuning and balance" (Early Music Today), the Sebastian Chamber Players ( specialize in music of the Baroque and Classical eras and newly commissioned works for period instruments.

Mila Henry is a New York-based pianist who specializes in contemporary opera, musical theater, and chamber music. She is currently Resident Music Director with American Opera Projects and a music director for their nationally recognized Composers & the Voice workshop series. She has worked with both emerging and established composers alike, including Libby Larsen, Conrad Cummings, Douglas Cuomo, Herschel Garfein, Gilda Lyons, and Daniel Felsenfeld.

American Opera Projects
For over 20 years, American Opera Projects (AOP) has been creating, developing and presenting exclusively new American opera and music Theatre Projects. AOP, based in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, has presented over 15 world premiere operas including Patience & Sarah (1998), Stefan Weisman's Darkling (2006), and Lee Hoiby's This is the Rill Speaking (2008). AOP-developed projects include Stephen Schwartz's Séance on a Wet Afternoon (Opera Santa Barbara, 2009; New York City Opera, 2011), Jorge Martín's Before Night Falls (Fort Worth Opera, 2010), Tarik O'Regan's Heart of Darkness (Royal Opera House (UK), 2011), and Jack Perla's Love/Hate (ODC Theater and SF Opera, 2012). Upcoming: Phil Kline's Out Cold (BAM, October 2012), and Gregory Spears's Paul's Case (Little Opera Theatre of NY/UrbanArias, 2013).

Opera New Jersey
Opera New Jersey is the Garden State's largest and busiest opera company, recently named New Jersey's favorite opera company by's People's Choice Awards. Celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2012, Opera New Jersey presents a summer season of fully staged opera in July at Princeton's McCarter Theatre, Morristown's Mayo Performing Arts Center and Asbury Park's Paramount Theatre, with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra as its official orchestra. In addition, the company performs one opera in February in collaboration with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra in Princeton and at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, in partnership with NJPAC. Three times awarded a Citation of Excellence by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, Opera New Jersey has become known for the highly artistic quality of its productions. Opera News has called Opera New Jersey one of the Garden State's most enticing summer offerings. For more information, visit

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