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Article Published: 01 Apr 2017

New and Noteworthy

Rated R for Rat at the New Opera Showcase
Rated R for Rat at the New Opera Showcase (photo: Jeff Reeder)

New York City became a nexus for new-opera activity in January, when OPERA America hosted its seventh annual New Works Forum. Supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the forum brings together opera creators, producers and publishers, giving them an opportunity to share viewpoints and to experience readings and staged performances of new works.

More than 130 forum participants gathered from January 11 to 14 for discussions of topics ranging from the programming of socially resonant works to the confluence of technology and art to methods of bringing multiculturalism to opera. Through several case-study sessions, the group also considered the components of a successful commission, as viewed from the perspectives of opera companies, publishers and creators.

In conjunction with the forum, OPERA America presented the New Opera Showcase, featuring orchestral readings of operas in development. An audience of 650 — forum participants and the opera-going public alike — converged on The Town Hall in Times Square to hear selections from five works in progress: Michelle DiBucci’s Charlotte Salomon: Der Tod und die Malerin, Randall Eng and Donna Di Novelli’s Before the Night Sky, Julian Grant and Mark Campbell’s The Nefarious, Immoral but Highly Profitable Enterprise of Mr. Burke & Mr. Hare, Wang Jie’s Rated R for Rat, and Rene Orth and Jason Kim’s Machine. Erik Ochsner led the SONOS Chamber Orchestra and Choral Chameleon. The New Opera Showcase received support from the Mellon Foundation, the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation and The Fan Fox & Leslie R. Samuels Foundation.

Forum attendees also took in a workshop of opera mission’s When Adonis Calls, a chamber work by Clint Borzoni and John de los Santos describing homoerotic exchanges between a poet and his muse; and a concert performance from American Lyric Theater of Justine F. Chen and David Simpatico’s The Life and Death(s) of Alan Turing, about the famed WWII code breaker and early computer scientist. Coinciding with the forum was the annual PROTOTYPE Festival, a co-production of Beth Morrison Projects and HERE, which offered works such as David Lang and Mark Dion’s Anatomy Theater and Missy Mazzoli and Royce Vavrek’s Breaking the Waves.

This article was published in the Spring 2017 issue of Opera America Magazine.