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The Kennedy Center to Present ...(IPHIGENIA)


The production is directed by Obie Award winner Lileana Blain-Cruz, and conducted by Clark Rundell.

The Kennedy Center to Present ...(IPHIGENIA)

In celebration of the Kennedy Center's 50th anniversary, the Center will present the co-commissioned opera, ...(Iphigenia), the collaborative work of 12-time Grammy Award-winning composer, saxophonist, and Kennedy Center Honoree Wayne Shorter, and four-time Grammy Award®-winning bassist, composer, and vocalist Esperanza Spalding, December 10-11 in the Eisenhower Theater, following its premiere, in Boston.

"Wayne Shorter is a composer and improviser that always fuses ideas anew. When he teamed up with the astoundingly adventurous Esperanza Spalding, their collaboration would mark a new opera, ...(Iphigenia)," said Jason Moran, Kennedy Center Artistic Director for Jazz. "We at the Kennedy Center are honored to co-commission this piece. I was thrilled to sit in on a workshop at the REACH and I've continued following the progress of the work. It fills me with great joy and anticipation for our opening night, continuing to mark that the work of great artists always needs support and TIME."

Developed in part at the REACH in 2019, ...(Iphigenia) was one of the first new works to be workshopped at the Kennedy Center's new campus. During the opening festival of the Center's first-ever expansion, Shorter, spalding, and more than 10 artists spent a week developing the opera in the new building, purpose-built for collaboration and innovation.

The production is directed by Obie Award winner Lileana Blain-Cruz, and conducted by Clark Rundell with scenic design by Frank Gehry, costume design by Montana Levi-Blanco, lighting design by Jen Schriever, and sound design by Mark Grey. Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Caroline Shaw contributed a cappella vocal arrangements, and additional text is provided by US Poet Laureate Joy Harjo, Safiya Sinclair, and Ganavya Doraiswamy. ...(Iphigenia) is produced by Jeff Tang (Executive Creative Producer), Cath Brittan (Producer), and Mara Isaacs (Octopus Theatricals, Tour Producer). The opera is made possible by Real Magic, a company created by spalding and Tang, to develop ...(Iphigenia) in an environment of radical experimentation and open collaboration.

Shorter and spalding's ...(Iphigenia), unlike its forebears, is not an adaptation of the Greek myth as much as it is an intervention into myth-making itself, and an intervention into music and opera as we know it. Classical and jazz forms collide in a full orchestral score that features Shorter's groundbreaking method of symphonic improvisation. spalding's libretto is deeply poetic and then suddenly radical-...(Iphigenia) is multiplied, her identity is fractured and shared until the stage is occupied by a chorus of her. ...(Iphigenia) stares down the history of opera and makes some demands on its future: No more tragic women singing through suicide and going mad in perfect pitch. In the end Shorter and spalding turn their gaze outward beyond the stage: What will we make, they ask, at this precise moment in our collective present when we are so desperately in need of new visions for the world.

"Our ...(Iphigenia) has, at its core, a sense of autonomy," says spalding. "In this adventure of life, you have freedom of choice. All cards are on the table and ...(Iphigenia) gets to choose, free of everything. Through her example, we can learn how to take a creative approach to everything, using the power of spontaneous engagement. The overarching sentiment is one of humanistic love, of wanting to re-awaken the dreams of youth free of the pressures of adulthood."

Unlike traditional operas which open in a different city once a season ...(Iphigenia) will debut as a traveling operatic performance with other stops in Berkeley (Cal Performances at the University of California, Berkeley, February 12) and Los Angeles (The Broad Stage, February 18, 19, 20). spalding will lead a cast of 15and a chamber orchestra local to each venue. They will be accompanied by stars of the jazz world including Brian Blade, and John Patitucci, and Danilo Pérez from the Wayne Shorter Quartet.

...(Iphigenia) is commissioned by Cal Performances at the University of California, Berkeley; The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts; The Broad Stage, Santa Monica, CA; ArtsEmerson Boston, MA; Carolina Performing Arts; and Mass MoCA.

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