Teatro Grattacielo to Present The World Premiere Of BEYOND THE HORIZON

The performance will take place on September 15 at La MaMa.

By: Jun. 27, 2024
Teatro Grattacielo to Present The World Premiere Of BEYOND THE HORIZON
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Teatro Grattacielo will present the world premiere of Beyond the Horizon, based on Nobel laureate Eugene O'Neill's Pulitzer Prize-winning play. The premiere will take place on September 15, 2024 at 4pm at LA MAMA Shares, 66 E. 4th Street, New York NY, 10003.

For the first time in its history, Teatro Grattacielo will present an American neo-romantic masterpiece written by composer Nicolas Flagello, with libretto by Nicolas Flagello and Walter Simmons: the World Premiere of Beyond The Horizon. Exploring the themes of hope, disillusionment, missed life opportunities and the pursuit of dreams through the story of two brothers in conflict over love and destiny, this production promises an experimental and immersive experience. The cast showcases John Robert Green, John Bellemer, Sara Kennedy, Daniel Klein, Melina Jaharis, Seven Kirby, Carla Lopez Speziale, Henry Hyunsoon Kim, Kathleen Echols, Rick Agster, Hana Yiu, and the Teatro Grattacielo orchestra, conducted by Christian Capocaccia. The production is Directed by Ian Silverman with set design by Taylor Friel, lighting design by Dimitris Koutas, and costume design by Stefanos Koroneos. The opera will be sung in English.

Nobel laureate Eugene O'Neill's (1888-1953) seminal, Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Beyond the Horizon, was written in 1918 but not produced or published until 1920, when it made its debut in New York. It was his first published play. Beyond the Horizon was O'Neill's first successful full-length play, and it signaled a change in American drama. Critics and audiences responded favorably to O'Neill's dark, tragic vision, which contrasted sharply with the unrealistic, melodramatic plays of the day. The play drew heavily on O'Neill's own experiences, including his tuberculosis and his sea voyages.

Nicolas Flagello's last opera was Beyond the Horizon. O'Neill's play was brought to the composer's attention by Walter Simmons, a musicologist who had written extensively on American composers. Flagello worked on the opera for several years, finishing it in short score in 1983. Unfortunately, before he was able to complete the orchestration, he developed a degenerative neurological condition that ended his creative life prematurely. After Flagello's death at age 66, the composer Anthony Sbordoni undertook the orchestration of the work, leaving the work ready to perform.

Nicolas Flagello was born in New York City, into a family deeply immersed in music. His brother Ezio became one of the leading bassos of the Metropolitan Opera. Both his parents were avocational musicians, while his maternal grandfather was said to have studied with Verdi. For Nicolas music was a personal medium for emotional and spiritual expression, and this conviction underlay all his works. He began studying with the eminent composer of operas and songs, Vittorio Giannini (also the sibling of an operatic star, Dusolina Giannini), and the two remained close friends until the older man's death. In recent years Flagello's music has garnered enthusiastic advocacy, as many of his works have been performed and recorded.

Flagello's previous operas have been well-received. When The Sisters (1958) was presented in New York City, the Herald-Tribune commented, "Flagello has the gift of writing gratefully for the voice, and his music has melodic sumptuousness. His orchestral texture is crystal-clear, and he knows how to underline dramatic events...first rate." The following year he completed The Judgment of St. Francis, which was presented at the Cathedral of St. Francis, in Assisi. Musical America commented that the work's "robust emotionalism is unflinching in its conviction, and its intensity is sustained by a sure sense of pacing, a natural flow of expressive melody integrated throughout the musical texture, and an ability to use voices, chorus, and orchestra to their maximum effect." The critic for the New Yorker described it as "the most vigorous new opera I have come across in a long time.... [It displays] an unmistakable and totally unconfused talent for the operatic theatre."

​Walter Gustave Simmons (b. New York, NY, 19 November 1946) is a musicologist, critic, and record producer. He is best known as a champion of 20th-century composers-mostly American-who hewed to traditional musical values, rather than joining the avant-garde movements then in fashion. His writings appear in reference books, including the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, program notes for concerts and recordings, and in a variety of periodicals, most notably Fanfare, where he was a regular contributor for 35 years. He has been supervising editor of the Twentieth-Century Traditionalists series for Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, of which he wrote the first two volumes. He has produced first recordings of dozens of works by such composers as Vincent Persichetti, Peter Mennin, Vittorio Giannini, Paul Creston, Nicolas Flagello, and Arnold Rosner.

Tickets are $55 are on sale now and available for purchase at https://grattacielo.org/season/beyond-the-horizon-world-premiere.


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