September 18, 2006
North American Opera Companies to Present Ten World Premieres During 2006-07 Season
New York , NY --Ten world premiere productions will be performed throughout the United States and Canada during the course of the 2006-07 opera season, announced OPERA America , the national service organization for opera. With sources ranging from Chinese literature to Cherokee Indian history to a classic American novel, works that will debut in the 2006-07 season offer enormous variety.
Companies presenting world premieres include The Metropolitan Opera, Central City Opera (Colorado), Florida Grand Opera/Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Tulsa Opera, Fort Worth Opera, The Minnesota Opera, Calgary Opera/The Banff Center, Music-Theatre Group (New York), American Opera Projects (New York), and Long Leaf Opera (Chapel Hill).
Five of the world premiere productions received grants from The Opera Fund , a growing endowed fund which allows OPERA America to make a direct impact on the ongoing creation and presentation of new opera and music-theater works. Previous recipients of The Opera Fund grants include several highly-acclaimed works including John Adams' Doctor Atomic which premiered in 2005 at San Francisco Opera; Richard Danielpour's Margaret Garner , which received its first fully-staged performance at Michigan Opera Theatre, also in 2005; Jake Heggie's The End of the Affair , which premiered at Houston Grand Opera in 2004; and Osvaldo Golijov's Ainadamar , which received its staged world premiere at The Santa Fe Opera in 2005.
“OPERA America is tremendously pleased to document this level of creativity across the country and Canada at companies large and small,” stated Marc A. Scorca, President and CEO of OPERA America . “We are also delighted to haven been able to support the development of a number of these pieces through our Opera Fund granting program.”
The Metropolitan Opera will present the world premiere of The First Emperor by composer Tan Dun. The libretto, based on Chinese historical events, was co-written by Mr. Tan and Ha Jin, winner of the National Book Award for his novel, Waiting . The First Emperor represents the fourth opera composed by the celebrated Chinese composer, whose works also include Marco Polo , Peony Pavilion , and Tea: A Mirror of the Soul . Mr. Tan is also well-known as the Academy Award-winning composer of the score for the movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon . Internationally-renowned Spanish tenor Plácido Domingo sings the title role, with the composer conducting. The First Emperor premieres on December 21.
Colorado 's Central City Opera will also present another world premiere of a Chinese opera on July 7. Composer Guo Wenjing's Poet Li Bai , with the Chinese version of the libretto translated by playwright Xu Ying from the original English version by Diana Liao, portrays the life story of the famous Tang poet with dramatic dialogue between his alter egos, Wine and Mon. It is presented in partnership with the Asian Performing Arts of Colorado.
Anna Karenina , with music by David Carlson and libretto by Colin Graham will receive its world premiere at Florida Grand Opera on April 28. Co-produced with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and performed in English with English and Spanish supertitles, the production will be conducted by FGO Music Director Stewart Robertson. Florida Grand Opera's 2006-07 season will also see the opening of the new Miami Performing Arts Center.
Also by composer David Carlson, Tulsa Opera will stage the world premiere of his Trail of Tears Oratorio on May 5. Sung in Cherokee, the work chronicles the plight of the Cherokee Indians as they were methodically driven west on the Trail of Tears. The piece is a co-production with the Tulsa Symphony Orchestra and Tulsa Oratorio Chorus and will be conducted by Carol Crawford, Tulsa Opera's General Director.
On June 2, Fort Worth Opera will present the first of three performances of Frau Margot by composer Thomas Pasatieri with libretto by acclaimed stage director Frank Corsaro. Conducted by Joe Illick, with direction by Mr. Corsaro, the production stars the well-known dramatic soprano Lauren Flanigan in the title role. The 2006-07 season also marks the company's first foray into a spring festival format with operas running in repertory.
The Minnesota Opera will premiere composer Ricky Ian Gordon and librettist Michael Korie's The Grapes of Wrath , based on the classic Steinbeck novel of 1939. Premiering on February 10 and directed by Academy Award-winning director, Eric Simonson, The Grapes of Wrath will be conducted by Grant Gershon, Music Director of the Los Angeles Master Chorale. Mr. Simonson is well-known to The Minnesota Opera audiences, having conducted the North American premiere of Paul Ruder's The Handmaid's Tale for the company in 2003.
January 27 marks the premiere of Frobisher at Calgary Opera. A co-production with the Banff Centre, Frobisher is the second opera from the composer/librettist team of John Estacio and John Murrell. Kelly Robinson, who directed the world premiere of the team's Filumena , returns to direct Frobisher with Jean-Marie Zeitouni conducting.
OPERA America 's important new works laboratories continue to lead the field in nurturing the creativity of artists and the artform itself. Music-Theatre Group, in New York City , will premiere Loving Family , with music by Derek Bermel and libretto by Wendy S. Walters. The work is set in Detroit during the 1980s, when industrial decline caused devastating economic and social hardships. In Loving Family , four characters fight for the happiness and security that life in Detroit seemed to promise them. Bermel's multifaceted score evokes the landscape of Motown, infusing rhythm and blues with contemporary musical forms.
American Opera Projects, also located in New York City , in association with the Guggenheim Museum 's Works & Process, will present the world premiere of Romulus by Louis Karchin on May 20. An opera in one act, based on the play be Alexander Dumas, with English translation by Barnett Shaw, Romulus will be conducted by the composer.
Long Leaf Opera, based in North Carolina , presents the world premiere of Strange Fruit with music by Chandler Carter; the opera will be included in LLO's inaugural summer festival in June 2007. Strange Fruit is based upon Lillian Smith's controversial 1944 novel of interracial love.
“The creation of new works is crucial if the art form is to grow and thrive,” said Diane Wondisford, Vice Chairman of OPERA America and Producing Director of Music-Theatre Group. “OPERA America 's support is an invaluable resource for opera and music-theater companies. It's a vote of confidence, encouraging others to contribute to the creation of new works.”
Additional information on these productions or other performances of these companies can be found at each company's Web site or by logging onto www.operaamerica.org and searching the Schedule of Performances from the drop-down menu “Quick Links.”