Four Short Operas Based On The Stonewall Riots Come to Shubert Theatre at NYU
Four half-hour long mini-operas inspired by the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, a watershed moment in LGBTQ civil rights, will have their world premiere at NYU's Shubert Theatre on May 18, 2019 and within the modern-day Stonewall Inn itself on May 19 and 20. The mini-opera performances will conclude NYU's Stonewall at 50 Series, a collection of panels, performances, events, and discussions commemorating the riots and their legacy.
Some of the works are set on the night of the Stonewall uprising; others focus on Stonewall's impact on societies as disparate as contemporary Ukraine and a post-apocalyptic 2418. The mini-operas are the fourth entry in the collaboration between Brooklyn contemporary opera producer American Opera Projects and The NYU Tisch Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program's "Advanced Opera Lab" in which emerging opera writers compose works based on an historic New York City location.
Tickets for the May 19 and 20 performances at The Stonewall Inn are $35, plus a two-drink minimum, and are available to guests 21 years of age and older. Tickets and more information are available at AOP's website, www.aopopera.org/events. Tickets to the May 18 performances at NYU are free with reservation, but are only open to students and faculty of NYU.
The operas will be performed by professional opera singers Errin Duane Brooks, Brandon Coleman, Sara Couden, Amy Justman, Kathryn Krasovec, Jordan Rutter, Hans Tashjian, and Clayton Williams, each of whom helped the creators develop the operas over the past four months along with music directors Kelly Horsted, Daniel Schlosberg, and Jillian Zack. Horsted and Zack will provide piano accompaniment at the performances.
The four 30-minute operas were written and composed by alums of the NYU Tisch School of the Arts' Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program, as part of the Advanced Opera Lab led by GMTWP professor Randall Eng with Design Dept. professor Sam Helfrich. The operas are designed by Tisch students from the Design Department and choreographed by students from the Dance Department, directed by students from The New School's College of Performing Arts, and performed by the professional opera singers from American Opera Projects.
The Opera Lab was started in 2015 by Eng and Helfrich, and is open to both students and alumni. In previous years, the program's mini-operas were created on the subjects of Brooklyn's historic Fort Greene Park, Judy Chicago's iconic feminist artwork "The Dinner Party" that is on permanent display at The Brooklyn Museum, and New York City's International House, which houses and supports international students and entrepreneurs from around the world.
The Stonewall Riots took place in the early hours of June 28, 1969, when New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club located in Greenwich Village in New York City. The raid sparked a riot among bar patrons and neighborhood residents as police roughly hauled employees and patrons out of the bar, leading to six days of protests and violent clashes with law enforcement outside the bar on Christopher Street, in neighboring streets and in nearby Christopher Park. The Stonewall Riots served as a catalyst for the gay rights movement in the United States and around the world.
"The Stonewall Riots provide a powerful inspiration for our students in the Opera Lab-both the drama of the moment itself, as well as the extraordinary reverberations that continue to be felt in its wake," said Eng. "The Stonewall Operas are fantastic examples of the power and versatility of contemporary opera; by looking at this signal historic event 50 years in the past, the composers and librettists are wrestling with issues, characters, and situations that speak deeply to them as artists living in the world today. These 30-minute operas imagine what it was like to be at the Stonewall Inn on June 28, 1969; how the legacy of Stonewall impacts people fighting for their rights today; and what it could lead to in the distant future. And to present these works at the Stonewall Inn itself-the air is going to be electric."
The Stonewall Operas mark the final live performance of NYU Stonewall at 50, four-month series of events including panel discussions, performances, exhibitions, and films examining the Stonewall Riots and their impact on NYU, Greenwich Village, and society at large. Select exhibitions will run through June.