Cosimo as Orpheus (working title)
Music by Eliza Brown; Libretto by Royce Vavrek
Inspired by Bronzino's Portrait of Cosimo I de' Medici as Orfeus on display in the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
The year is 1539. An 18-year-old Spanish noblewoman is engaged to be married to an Italian Duke she has never met. While she prepares to leave her childhood home forever, a gift arrives from the Duke: a portrait of himself as Orpheus. As she attempts to decode the identity of her future husband through the imagery of the painting, the young noblewoman's fantasies - both hopes and fears - about who this man might be come to life, interacting with her and with each other. This scene presents one of those imaginary interactions.
About the Creators
ELIZA BROWN, composerComposer Eliza Brown writes music that explores the interaction between natural acoustic properties of sound, the physical construction of instruments, and culturally defined elements of musical meaning and syntax. Eliza’s music, described as “delicate, haunting, [and] introspective” by Symphony Magazine, has been performed and/or commissioned by Ensemble Dal Niente, Network for New Music, Spektral Quartet, Wet Ink Ensemble, members of the PRISM and Anubis saxophone quartets, and others.
Eliza’s recent projects include Wax Figure, a solo guitar piece written for Ensemble Dal Niente’s Jesse Langen, and Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen (after Mahler) for soprano, cello and electronic sound, which was commissioned by Network for New Music and awarded a Metlife Creative Connections grant by New Music USA. Upcoming projects include a piece for clarinet and soprano duo Noise-Bridge and a solo work for Atlanta-based percussionist Caleb Herron. As a winner of Center City Opera Theater’s 2012 Art Song Competition, Eliza is currently collaborating with the company on an opera scene with librettist Royce Vavrek.
A native of Philadelphia, Eliza is a doctoral student in composition at Northwestern University. She received her bachelor’s degree in composition summa cum laude from the University of Michigan, where she also studied cello and viola da gamba performance. Deeply committed to teaching, Eliza is currently a lecturer at Northwestern University and has served on the faculty of the Walden School Young Musicians Program. In 2012, she helped develop and deliver a pre-concert talk introducing audiences to one of San Francisco Symphony’s American Mavericks programs in a participatory, activity-based format.www.elizabrown.net
ROYCE VAVREK, librettistRoyce Vavrek is a Brooklyn-based librettist and lyricist known for his standing as “a favorite collaborator of the postclassical set” (Time Out New York). His writing has been called “sharp, crisp, witty” (See Magazine), “meticulous” (Operavore, WQXR Radio), “full-throated” (CulturePOP), “dramatically wild” and “exhilarating” (The New York Times).
His opera “Dog Days”, with composer David T. Little, premiered to acclaim in September of 2012 at Peak Performances, Montclair, in a production co-produced by Beth Morrison Projects and directed by legendary American maverick Robert Woodruff. The work was celebrated as the Classical Music Event of the year by Time Out New York, and was named one of the year’s best by The New York Times and the New Jersey Star Ledger. In her review for the Wall Street Journal, Heidi Waleson wrote that "this gripping two-hour opera [...] wastes no time: A taut libretto and varied, original music deliver its grim story like a punch in the stomach," and called it “one of the most exciting new operas of recent years.”
Royce has collaborated with David T. Little on a number of operatic and concert works in addition to “Dog Days” including “Am I Born”, a thirty-minute piece for the Brooklyn Philharmonic and Brooklyn Youth Chorus featuring soprano Mellissa Hughes; “Vinkensport, or The Finch Opera”, a one-act comedic opera commissioned by Dawn Upshaw for Bard Conservatory; “archaeology”, commissioned and recorded by Opera America for The Opera America Songbook; and “Last Nightfall”, premiered as part of the 21c Liederabend at The Kitchen. They are currently working on a grand opera that explores John F. Kennedy’s final morning for Fort Worth Opera Festival (to be premiered in 2016) with the working title “JFK”.
His collaboration with composer Missy Mazzoli yielded the opera “Song from the Uproar” which was presented at the famed New York venue The Kitchen in February of 2012, in a production that the New York Times said “you felt the joy, risk and limitless potential of free spirits unbound.” An original cast recording of the opera was released in the fall of 2012 on the New Amsterdam record label. They are collaborating on a new three-act opera to be developed through Mazzoli’s post as Composer in Residence at the Opera Company of Philadelphia, Music-Theater Group, and Gotham Chamber Opera.
As a musical theater bookwriter and lyricist, Royce is currently commissioned by the Signature Theater in Virginia to write an original musical entitled “The Crocus Field” with composer Joshua Schmidt under the auspices of the theater’s American Musical Voices Project.
Other upcoming productions include “Stoned Prince” with composer Hannah Lash for the ensemble Loadbang to be premiered at Symphony Space, “Strip Mall” with composer Matt Marks for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, “Maren of Vardø” with composer Jeff Myers for Center City Opera in Philadelphia, and “No Shoes, No Skirt, No Service” with composer Marie Incontrera for the 21c Liederabend.
Royce holds the distinction of being the only librettist to be featured on New York City Opera’s VOX Contemporary Opera Lab program with four different operas (“Dog Days”, “Vinkensport, or The Finch Opera”, “Maren of Vardø” and “The Beach” (with composer Andrew Gerle)). A graduate of Concordia University’s Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema in Montreal (BFA) and New York University’s Graduate Musical Theater Writing Program (MFA), Royce is a resident librettist with American Lyric Theater, having participated in the inaugural cycle of ALT’s Composer Librettist Developmental Program. He serves alongside soprano Lauren Worsham as co-Artistic Director of The Coterie, a New York-based opera-theater company that has commissioned and premiered over 40 works of music theater and classical music since its inception in 2009.