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Virginia Arts Festival Announces World Premiere Performances Of Two New Operas

Virginia Arts Festival will present the world premiere performances of two new one-act operas at Norfolk's Attucks Theatre. Both will be presented on Friday, June 12 at 7:30pm and Saturday, June 13 at 7:30pm. The operas were developed through the Festival's John Duffy Institute for New Opera, which seeks out and supports the work of opera composer/librettist teams by providing professional mentorship and a professional process for the development of their new work. The Institute is named for the late composer and founder of Meet The Composer, John Duffy. Duffy himself was a prolific composer of more than 300 works, including Emmy Award-winning television scores and music for opera, film, and theater. The Duffy Institute is funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Friedrich Ludwig Diehn Fund of the Hampton Roads Community Foundation and the Aaron Copland Fund for Music, and receives the support of Old Dominion University's F. Ludwig Diehn Composers Room.

Bre'r Rabbit (from Tales From the Briar Patch) was composed by Nkeiru Okoye, with libretto by Carman Moore, and reboots the familiar folk tale of Bre'r Rabbit while paying tribute to the African tradition of storytelling. In a production sure to delight all ages, Sister Sparrow, Sister Robin and Madame Partridge retell the antics of Bre'r Rabbit and his nemesis Bre'r Fox. The opera is scored for five singers and an ensemble of ten instruments, including a washboard. The world-premiere performance will be directed by Anthony Stockard, Producing Artistic Director of the Norfolk State University Theatre Company.

Companionship, by composer/librettist Rachel Peters, tells the story of an aspiring baker whose obsessive quest to bake the perfect baguette spirals into madness when her 207,345th loaf suddenly comes to life. Adapted from the short story by Arthur Phillips, Companionship mirrors our contemporary world, where what we consume becomes all-consuming. The opera features seven soloists, a children's chorus and an ensemble of eleven instruments, with stage direction by Bob McGrath, Co-Founder and Director of Ridge Theater in New York.

The double-bill of opera performances will be conducted by the Duffy Institute's long-time Music Director Alan Johnson, Program/Music Director of the University of Miami's Frost Opera Theater.

Tickets for these performances will go on sale February 19, 2020 and may be purchased at, by phone at 757-282-2822, or at the Virginia Arts Festival Ticket Office, 440 Bank St., Norfolk (Monday-Friday, 10am-5pm).

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