Dell'Arte Opera Festival Returns To La MaMa August 11-25
Dell'Arte Opera Ensemble today announced its 17th annual summer festival: Voices from the Tower, exclusively featuring works composed by women. The season will include the commissioned world premiere of Princess Maleine, by Whitney George with a libretto (based on the play by Maurice Maeterlinck) by Bea Goodman, and the first opera ever composed by a woman, La liberazione di Ruggiero by Francesca Caccini (1625), with a libretto by Ferdinando Saracinelli. A scenes program entitled "Scenes from the Tower" will feature Cendrillon by Pauline Viardot and other operatic scenes by Thea Musgrave and Victoria Bond, and a recital of songs called "Les Boulangers" will feature the works of Lili and Nadia Boulanger, their contemporaries and students.
The 2019 Voices from the Tower festival will be performed as part of the Summer Shares at La MaMa Experimental Theater, 66 East Fourth Street, New York City, with 14 performances from August 10-25, 2019. La liberazione di Ruggiero will be performed on August 10, 11m, 15, 17, 23, and 25m; Princess Maleine (dell'Arte's first commissioned work) will be performed August 16, 18m, 20, 22, and 24. "Scenes from the Tower" will be performed August 21 and 24m and will include Pauline Viardot's Cendrillon and excerpts from operas by Thea Musgrave and Victoria Bond. A program of song repertoire entitled "Les Boulangers" is to be performed August 17m, and will feature works by Lili and Nadia Boulanger and other female composers such as Val Saalbach and Ellen Mandel. dell'Arte Opera Ensemble is happy to welcome The Curiosity Cabinet, a NYC-based new music ensemble, as collaborators for performances of Princess Maleine.
"dell'Arte Opera is excited not only about our first commission, but to honor the hugely important contributions of women in opera throughout history," said Chris Fecteau, Artistic Director of dell'Arte Opera Ensemble. "The juxtaposition of Ruggiero (the first opera written by a woman) with the Whitney George/Bea Goodwin Maleine commission is an exciting and fanciful way to bookend the history of opera. In between, we have programs featuring works by the immensely influential Boulanger sisters Lili and Nadia, and their contemporary Pauline Viardot. Incidentally, Lili Boulanger nearly completed a five-act opera on La Princesse Maleine, but sadly it was lost after her premature death at 24. We are not looking to resurrect or exhume that work, but there is a sense of homage to Lili's almost mythic status as a composer gone-too-soon."
Conducting duties for Princess Maleine will be shared by the composer, Whitney George, and the company's Artistic Director, Chris Fecteau; the librettist, Bea Goodwin, will serve as stage director, in which capacity she has served dell'Arte Opera Ensemble for the past three seasons. The production will feature a number of dell'Arte alumni in principal roles: Elyse Kakacek in the title role of Maleine, Jeremy Brauner as Prince Hjalmar, Liz Bouk as Queen Anne, and Nichole Bittlingmeyer as Aleta, Maleine's lady-maid. Artistic leadership for La liberazione di Ruggiero includes Charles Weaver as music director and Sarah Young as Stage Director. Returning to dell'Arte for their third seasons are Costume Designer Claire Townsend and Lighting Designer Dante Olivia Smith, and Joo Kim will provide the scenic designs.
The gap between academic training and a flourishing career is wide, and few singers can bridge it without the kind of assistance that dell'Arte Opera Ensemble has been providing in New York City at no cost to singers for nearly twenty. The company's mission is to foster the development of emerging opera artists through rigorous training and to attract new audiences by offering high-quality, accessible productions featuring exciting young artists making role debuts. Our emphasis is on 'learning by doing,' backed by the philosophy that superior craft creates great art. dell'Arte is committed to the essential components of opera performance: great singing, great music, and great acting. Singers working with dell'Arte range from those who have just exited school to those pursuing regional careers and even to those performing on the roster of The Metropolitan Opera. Participating singers attend master classes, receive private coaching, collaborate with professional instrumentalists and make lasting professional connections as they collaborate to create highly enriching performance experiences. Audiences enjoy the fresh excitement of experiencing role debuts and witnessing important landmarks in each singer's artistic process. www.dellarteopera.org
Specializing in interdisciplinary, collaborative works, Whitney George's staged and theatrical compositions have been recognized with numerous awards. She was named as a John Duffy Composers Institute Fellow for two years running in 2010 and 2011 for her staged works The Yellow Wallpaper and And Thus the Whirligig of Time Brings in His Revenges. The Robert Starer Award commemorated her multi-movement orchestral work "The Anatomy of the Curiosity Cabinet" in 2011, and she received the 2017 Elebash Award for her orchestration of Miriam Gideon's opera Fortunato. In 2012 a collection of her chamber works was released in the UK by Blue Tapes on a series of cassettes titled "Blue Nine: Whitney George." Movements from her 2013 work "Night, like velvet: in twelve letters" have been selected for performance on various new music festivals since its completion, including the New Music Conflagration series, Hartford Women Composers Festival, AME 10th Annual Awards Night, Dixon Place's Works in Progress Series, the ShoutHouse Ensemble call for works, and more.
Ms. George's previous commissions include Lost Without You for Fresh Squeezed Opera (2018), "These Hands Hold Nothing" for the NakedEyed Ensemble (2018), "Out of Darkness" by oboist Kristen Leitterman (2018), "Sleight of Hand" for duo Pieces of Eight (2017), "A Night in Brooklyn" for the 5 Boroughs Song Project (2016), "To Hold My Head High Above the Water" for the Fiati Five Woodwind Quintet (2016), "Push|Pull" for the University of Tennessee New Music Ensemble (2016), "The Petite Symphony" for Face the Music (2016), "Cooking for One" for Soundmark Project (2016), "Carelessly Open..." for the Low Brass Connection (2014), and "The Arc of Samsara" for the CSU Chico Wind Ensemble (2006).
George's music, performance art, and installations have had both international and domestic premieres in England, Hong Kong, Austria, the Netherlands, and both coasts of the US. Her works have been performed and premiered by The American Modern Ensemble, Parhelion Trio, Contemporaneous, ShoutHouse, Ensemble Mise-en, The Concrete Timbre Collective, Mivos String Quartet, Cygnus Ensemble, Transit Ensemble, Fulcrum Point String Quartet, CME (Contemporary Music Ensemble), Fiati Five, Pieces of Eight, SoundMind Ensemble, Face the Music, The Curiosity Cabinet, Cadillac Moon, the Low Brass Connection, New York Trombone Consort, CSU Chico Wind Ensemble, UNT Contemporary Ensemble, and Vigil Ensemble.
Whitney George is Artistic Director and Conductor of the new music ensemble, The Curiosity Cabinet (est. 2010), and has also conducted for New Camerata Opera, String Orchestra of Brooklyn, Blackhouse Ensemble, The Green Monster Big Band, the Noveau Classical Project (NCP), and Contemporary Music Ensemble (CME), and Fresh Squeezed Opera, Ursula Oppens's conTEMPO ensemble at Brooklyn College Conservator, and the Face the Music Youth Orchestra at the Kaufman Center. Since 2015, she has served as conductor for multiple iterations of Eric Lemmon's ambitious project "The Impossible will take a While."
George holds an undergraduate degree from the California Institute of the Arts, a Masters degree from Brooklyn College Conservatory, and is currently continuing her studies as a PhD candidate at the CUNY Graduate Center, where she studied with David Del Tredici, David Olan, Bruce Saylor, and Tania Leon. In addition to her composing and conducting, George teaches at the Brooklyn College Conservatory, works at the Hitchcock Institute of American Studies and is the Managing Director for New York's American Modern Ensemble (AME). www.whitneygeorge.com
Bea Goodwin (librettist, Princess Maleine) has penned four classic adaptations and three original works. Metamorphosis, an adaptation of Kafka's most famous surrealist story, was musically set by Christopher Poovey and workshopped at North Texas University. With Poovey, she also created a VR piece titled "Winter 1994," inspired by famed artist Louise Bourgeois' insomnia drawings. Gramercy Opera commissioned two adaptations from Goodwin for their inaugural season: a libretto for Purcell's The Fairy Queen and a collaboration with composer Felix Jarrar on an adaptation of Charles Dickens's "A Christmas Carol."
Additional projects with Jarrar include their award-winning song cycle "Songs of the Soul Beams," premiered at BAM and later presented at (le) Poisson Rouge. Their immersive jazz opera Tabula Rasa (the story of Kiki de Montparnasse) played to four sold out performances at the Blue Building, as part of the 2018 New York Opera Fest. Ms. Goodwin's play, "The Wonders of Alice," was accepted into the prestigious Edinburgh Fringe Festival after a full production in 2016. Bea is currently writing a libretto for Daniel Felsenfeld: together with Transient Canvas of Boston, they will adapt Thomas Hardy's "The Pursuit of the Well-Beloved," a startling look into the industry of media and how it defines a woman's perfection.
An accomplished stage director, Goodwin led the American Premiere of Salieri's La Cifra in 2018 with dell'Arte Opera Ensemble. Previous assignments with the company included Cavalli's La Calisto, and the first act if Puccini's La Rondine. She is also slated this spring to direct Britten's Rape of Lucretia at the Flea Theatre with New Camerata Opera; the innovative production will employ a deaf actress to play the victim, using ASL choreography and the strength of the body to augment the story-telling. Goodwin divides her time between Los Angeles and New York. www.begoodwin.com
The Curiosity Cabinet (Whitney George, Artistic Director and conductor) is a chamber orchestra formed in 2009 whose members were culled from a network of close collaborators within New York's diverse new music scene. The Cabinet's live performances often engage playfully with the prototype of the classical concert, imbuing even non-theatrical compositions with elements of drama. The ensemble has participated in the inaugural CUNY New Music Festival and was invited as the ensemble-in-residence at the Hartford Women Composers Festival in 2012, and has since performed regularly in New York City and Brooklyn including venues such as Dixon Place, National Sawdust, South Oxford Space, the Standard Toykraft, Elebash Hall, and more. www.the-curiosity-cabinet.com