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Press Released: 03 Aug 2009

OPERA America Salon Series: Exploring American Voices

Season Closes with Excerpts from Ching's A Midsummer Night's Dream — An A Cappella Opera

OPERA America, the national service organization for opera, presented the fourth and final installment of the inaugural Salon Series: Exploring American Voices season to a full house on Wednesday, July 15.

Held in OPERA America's New York City headquarters from December 2008 through July 2009, the Salon Series featured recitals of American operas and songs in an intimate performance space. The Salon Series, presented in collaboration with the organization's publisher, company and artist members, showcased the diverse and unique voices of today's most distinguished North American composers. Attendees had the opportunity to meet the composers, librettists and performers at a reception after each performance.

The July Salon Series event featured excerpts from Michael Ching's work, A Midsummer Night's Dream — an A Cappella Opera, with a libretto adapted by Ching from William Shakespeare's play. Opera New Jersey provided the performers for the evening. Following the concert, OPERA America's president and CEO Marc A. Scorca led a discussion between Mr. Ching and the audience about his career and A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Among the audience members at the Salon Series evening were industry professionals, fellow performing artists, patrons and special guests.

"We are delighted to provide our community with the rare opportunity to hear contemporary music of this caliber in such an intimate setting," stated Marc A. Scorca. "Through these Salon Series events, OPERA America demonstrates its continued commitment to fostering the work of contemporary North American composers."

Michael Ching is a composer, songwriter, conductor and arts administrator based in Memphis, TN. Since 1992, he has been associated with Opera Memphis where he is currently artistic and general director. Ching's operas include Corps of Discovery, commissioned and premiered by the University of Missouri in commemoration of the bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, King of the Clouds (Dayton Opera), Out of the Rain (Lyric Opera of Kansas City, OperaDelaware, Opera Memphis) and Buoso's Ghost (Pittsburgh Opera Center at Duquesne). Mr. Ching studied composition at Duke University with Robert Ward and at the Houston Opera Studio with Carlisle Floyd. He has also served on the staff of the Florida Grand Opera, Chautauqua Opera and Virginia Opera and has been guest conductor at Hawaii Opera Theatre, Nashville Opera and Opera New Jersey where he is currently conducting a production of Lucia di Lammermoor.

The Salon Series presentation of A Midsummer Night's Dream was underwritten in part by Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans.

2008-2009 Previous Performances

May 27, 2009
The spring Salon Series performance included excerpts from The Tempest, composed by Lee Hoiby, with a libretto by Mark Shulgasser, adapted from the play by William Shakespeare. The evening's performers included Jonathan Boyd, Elizabeth Mulhall and artists from Purchase College. The composer and librettist were both in attendance and spoke to the audience about their careers and the creative process behind the The Tempest. The evening was presented in collaboration with G. Schirmer/AMP and celebrated the release of The Tempest on CD by Albany Records.

Lee Hoiby gave up his intentions to be a concert pianist when he received an invitation to study composition with Gian Carlo Menotti at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia. Menotti led Hoiby to opera, presenting Hoiby's one-act The Scarf at the first Spoleto (Italy) Festival in 1957. New York City Opera presented his A Month in the Country in 1964 and Summer and Smoke (based on the Tennessee Williams play) in 1972. Hoiby has just completed work on an operatic setting of Romeo and Juliet, with a libretto adapted from Shakespeare by Mark Shulgasser. Mr. Shulgasser has been Lee Hoiby's literary collaborator on numerous projects and has produced and directed Hoiby's works at venues throughout the United States.

March 18, 2009
This Salon Series evening showcased baritone Robert Orth performing excerpts from composer Daron Hagen and librettist Paul Muldoon's opera, Shining Brow, about the architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Between excerpts, Mr. Hagen, who also accompanied Mr. Orth on the piano, spoke to the audience about his initial concept for composing the work. The evening was presented in collaboration with the E.C. Schirmer Music Company and coincided with the release of the Naxos recording of Shining Brow.

Robert Orth is a leading baritone with major opera companies and symphonies throughout the United States and has been named "Artist of the Year" by both New York City Opera and Seattle Opera. A steady stream of commissions from major orchestras, ensembles and soloists over the past quarter century have cemented Daron Hagen's reputation as one of America's most respected and sought-after composers. Active as a conductor and pianist, he also made his debut as a stage director with the Buffalo Philharmonic in 2006 and has since staged three of his operas in major venues.

December 3, 2008
The inaugural Salon Series event featured soprano Lauren Flanigan performing Thomas Pasatieri's Lady Macbeth (text from Shakespeare, selected by the composer) and Before Breakfast, with a libretto by Frank Corsaro. Ms. Flanigan has won awards from ASCAP and the Center for Contemporary Opera for her commitment to performing the works of living composers and has performed at many of the world's leading opera houses, including La Scala, Bayerische Staatsoper, Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera and the Metropolitan Opera. Mr. Pasatieri, prolific composer of 20 operas and hundreds of songs, was in attendance at the Salon Series evening and provided a brief background of each work.

This evening was sponsored in part by the Theodore Presser Company.

Information about the 2009-2010 Salon Series season will be announced in August 2009.


For more information on OPERA America, visit About Us.

For press inquiries, contact Press@operaamerica.org or 212.796.8628.