Past Creative Development Projects
Danse Russe (premiere April 2011)
music by Paul Moravec, libretto by Terry Teachout
Danse Russe made its world premiere at the Kimmel Center in April 2011, alongside the Philadelphia premieres of dance pieces "Ragtime" and "Renard" by Igor Stravinsky, in an event titled "Rites, Rhythm... Riot!"
Danse Russe is a one-act, vaudeville-style chamber opera that depicts the events leading to the creation, premiere, and infamous riot of Igor Stravinsky's ballet "Rite of Spring"
Principal cast included Chris Lorge (Stravinsky), Paul Corujo (Monteux), Matthew Maness (Nijinsky), and Jason Switzer (Diaghilev). "Ragtime" and "Renard" performed by Kun Yang Lin Dancers, accompaniment by Orchestra2001.
Moravec/Teachout interview with Soundcheck’s John Schaefer on WNYC:
Video of January 2011 workshop:
THE ALWAYS PRESENT PRESENTBased on the true story of Renée and Ted Weiss, this chamber opera follows the love and courtship between a young musician and future-renowned poet. Conceived for two singers, two dancers and piano-trio this opera is sung in English. Join us as we explore and celebrate the couple who changed the face of poetry in the modern era.
Peter Westergaard, Composer
Renée Weiss, Librettist
Based on the book of poetry and letters The Always Present Present by Ted & Renée Weiss.
World Premiere Cast:
Jason Switzer, Darlene Kelsey, Jesse Jones, Nicole LaBonde, Jennifer K. Lee (violin),Glenn Fischbach (cello), Jody Schum (piano), Farin R. Loeb (stage director), Andrew M. Kurtz (conductor) PERFORMANCE DATES:August 29 @ 7:30pm Princeton University, NJ This performance includes a viewing of the film documentary The Making of a Poet & Poem: A Year in the Life of Ted Weiss Matthew’s Acting Studio
September 8-12, 2009Lantern Theater Center City, Philadelphia All performances at The Lantern Theater were double billed with Stefan Weisman’s Darkling.
Text: Darkling: A Poem by Anna Rabinowitz Music by Stefan Weisman “The Darkling Thrush” song by Lee Hoiby
Commissioned by American Opera Projects (AOP) DARKLING explores the outer edges of the operatic form with an experimental opera-theatre work conceived by Michael Comlish, with original music composed by Stefan Weisman and Lee Hoiby. Darkling was created for four singers (soprano / mezzo / tenor / baritone), seven actors, and string quartet with optional piano. This touring version of Darkling reduces the number of actors to one and is adaptable to multiple venues.
Spanning the decades from the 1930’s to the post-World War period, DARKLING is a remarkable story – both poignant and humorous – of love, loss, calamity and hope. Past and present blur, characters are swept along by the great forces of history and lives are bowed and buffeted in this uniquely moving and captivating work. “Brave and sensitive” (The New York Times), DARKLING uses opera, avant-garde theatre, vaudeville and cutting edge technology to create “an unlikely collaboration of Wagner, Sally Bowles and Steven Spielberg” (Time Out/New York). Performed in English, American Opera Projects’ dramatic tour-de-force views history not from a grand geo-political perspective but from the insightful, intimate outlook of a poet whose ordinary Polish-Jewish family is unexpectedly affected by extraordinary events of the Holocaust.
About the Creators
ANNA RABINOWITZ (text: Darkling: A Poem )
Anna Rabinowitz was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship for 2001. She won the Juniper Prize for her first volume of poetry, At the Site of Inside Out, which was published by the University of Massachusetts in 1997. Her work has appeared widely in such journals as Atlantic Monthly, Boston Review, The Paris Review, Colorado Review, Southwest Review, Denver Quarterly, Sulfur, LIT, VOLT, and Doubletake. Her work has also appeared in the anthologies, The Best American Poetry 1989, edited by Donald Hall, Life on the Line: Selections on Words and Healing, and in The KGB Bar Reader. She edits and publishes the nationally distributed literary journal, American Letters & Commentary, and is a vice-president of the Poetry Society of America. Her most recent book, The Wanton Sublime, appeared in March 2006. For more information, visit www.annarabinowitz.com.
STEFAN WEISMAN (composer for Darkling)
Stefan Weisman opera FADE was premiered during Center City Opera Theater’s 2008 ConNEXTions presentations. Mr. Weisman first worked with American Opera Projects as a member of its annual Composers & the Voice program. His music has been heard at places such as Symphony Space, the June in Buffalo festival, the Flea Theater, and Guggenheim Museum’s “Works & Process” series. His compositions include chamber, orchestral and choral pieces, as well as music for theater, video and dance. Among his commissions are works for Sequitur, the Minimum Security Composers Collective, the Gay Gotham Choir, and the Oregon Bach Festival, which commissioned a piece in honor of George Crumb on the occasion of his 75th birthday. His orchestral work “The Bird Happens” was selected to be included in the American Composers Orchestra’s 2005 Underwood New Music Readings, and was conducted by Steven Sloane. His piece “From Frankenstein” won the Chicago Ensemble’s 2005 Discover America Competition and was presented by male-soprano Anthony Costanzo with the ensemble Newspeak, conducted by James Lowe in Merkin Hall’s “Ear Department: Emerging Composers” concert series, moderated by composer Michael Gordon. His piece “Skin Nails Hair” was performed in New York City by the Lost Dog New Musik Ensemble. Stefan participated in AOP’s Composers & the Voice during the 2003-04 season. For more information, visit his website.
LEE HOIBY (song composer – “The Darkling Thrush”)
Lee Hoiby is beloved by performers as diverse as Leontyne Price and Jean Stapleton, for his numerous settings of texts from Emily Dickinson to Julia Child. Mr. Hoiby was introduced to opera by his teacher at the Curtis Institute of Music, Gian Carlo Menotti, who involved him closely in the famed Broadway productions of The Consul and The Saint of Bleecker Street in the early 1950s. His works have been recognized by awards and grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Institute of Arts and Letters, the Ford Foundation, the Fulbright Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts. In 1989 his work was the subject of a retrospective concert at the Kennedy Center on the American Composer Series, and a two-week festival of his work was presented by the music department of the University of California at Long Beach. His principal works include the operas The Scarf (1958 ), A Month in the Country (1964), Summer and Smoke (1971) and The Tempest (1986). He is also the composer of nearly 100 songs, as well as music for orchestra, solo instruments, chorus and the theater. He lives in upstate New York. For more information, visit www.leehoiby.com
Presented by CCOT September 8-12, 2009 as part of the Philadelphia Live Arts & Fringe FestivalMatt Gray, Stage Director Maeve Hoglund, soprano Hai-Ting Chinn, mezzo-soprano Jon Garrison, tenor Martin Hargrove, bass-baritone Jason Switzer, baritone Sharon Sigal, speaker All performances at The Lantern Theater are double billed with The Always Present Present.
PAUL’S CASEMusic by Gregory Spears Libretto by Gregory Spears and Kathryn Walat Based on the story by Willa Cather ------ About Paul’s Case
Based on Willa Cather’s story of the same name, Paul’s Case chronicles the dissolution of a high school dandy living in sooty turn-of-the-century Pittsburgh. Paul, fleeing the “petty economies” of life, eventually escapes to New York City’s Waldorf Astoria to experience a world of “shiny surfaces” and “cool luxury.” Unable to avoid a world that demands payment, Paul martyrs himself in a final act of shocking audacity that has troubled critics and readers alike.
Equal parts angry teenager, anti-capitalist, decadent aesthete and cold realist, Paul is also an American symbol of passive dissent in the tradition of Henry David Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience, Melville’s Bartleby the Scrivener, and Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye.
Paul’s Case is being developed in part with generous grants from the BMI Foundation, the Virgil Thomson Foundation and the “Composers & the Voice Circle of Friends”.
About the Creators
GREGORY SPEARS (composer / co-librettist)
Gregory Spears has written music for the American Composers Orchestra, the New York Youth Symphony, the NOW Ensemble, So Percussion and Eighth Blackbird. His music has won prizes from ASCAP and BMI as well as grants and honors from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Fulbright Foundation and Yaddo. Recent commissions have come from the Present Music Ensemble, the Bard Summer Music Festival and choreographer Christopher Williams. In 2007 Spears worked with musicologist Simon Morrison to reconstruct the original score for Prokofiev’s ballet Romeo and Juliet for premiere by the Mark Morris Dance Group. For the 2007-2008 season, Spears was a participant in American Opera Project’s Composers and the Voice Residency Program. In addition to composing, Gregory teaches a Writing Seminar at Princeton University called Music and Madness. He lives in Brooklyn. (www.gregoryspears.com)
KATHRYN WALAT (co-librettist)
Kathryn Walat’s play Victoria Martin: Math Team Queen premiered Off-Broadway at the Women’s Project, and was published in New Playwrights: The Best Plays of 2007 (Smith & Kraus) and in Dramatics magazine. Her play Bleeding Kansas premiered at the Hangar Theatre (Ithaca), and was also produced at Moxie Theater (San Diego). Her work has been also been performed at Actors Theatre of Louisville, La Jolla Playhouse, Salvage Vanguard Theater (Austin), and Perishable Theatre (Providence); and developed at Manhattan Theatre Club, Playwrights Horizons, The Public Theater, Sundance Institute Theatre Program, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, Boston Theatre Works, Ars Nova, MCC, and New Georges. She received her BA from Brown University and her MFA from Yale Drama School, and is currently working on a commission for Yale Repertory Theatre entitled Creation, a play about music, obsession, and the creative process.
Fully staged workshop of the opera presented by CCOT September 9-13, 2009 as part of the Philadelphia Live Arts & Fringe Festival. This production was named one of Philadelphia 10 Best classical presentations by Inquirer critic David Patrick Stearns.Albert Innaurato, Stage Director Siddhartha Misra, Paul Branch Fields, Principa Chloe Moore, History Teacher & Maid 1 Toni Marie Palmertree, Drawing Teacher & Maid 2 Hai-Ting, Chinn, English Teacher & Maid 3 Jean Bernard Cerin, Father Kyle Bielfield, Yale Freshman Lantern Theater, Center City, Philadelphia All performances at The Lantern Theater are double billed with The Great Blondin