During these difficult times when most performance venues are dark, virtual performances are trying to bridge the gap in our need for culture and connection. Minnesota Opera’s wonderful chorus has done a video performance of the “Sleep Chorus” from Puts’ and Cambell’s Silent Night.
Opera America has posted a list of the top 25 operas performed in North America. Number 14 on the list is As One, (Kaminsky, Campbell, Reed) making it the top opera performed in 2016/17 by living writers. Dead Man Walking (Heggie, McNally) comes in as number 23.
Congratulations to Laura Kaminsky, Mark Campbell, Kimberly Reed, Jake Heggie and Terrence McNally! You can see the full list here.
The team that created the stunning new opera As One has reunited to create Some Light Emerges for Houston Grand Opera’s HGOCo. Premiering in March 2017, the opera celebrates the unique and enduring impact of Houston’s Rothko Chapel, which was created by painter Mark Rothko. A stunning octagonal structure that serves as a non-denominational chapel, the structure is filled with 14 paintings by Rothko, and was completed in 1971.
Houston Grand Opera shines “Light” on Rothko Chapel
A review from the Houston Chronicle, following the premiere of the new Kaminsky-Campbell-Reed opera, writes:
“Some Light Emerges, the new opera commissioned by Houston Grand Opera through its community collaborative initiative, dives right into Rothko and de Menil’s shared spiritual vision with plaintive, purposefully meandering music by Laura Kaminsky and an audacious libretto by Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed. The 75-minute chamber piece–written for seven singers and seven instruments–just might be the best articulation of the Rothko Chapel’s purpose in modern times … it’s nothing short of a pronunciation of American ideals. The piece remained sublime, a testament to both the performers and the writing.”
View excerpts from the premiere production.
In this highly charged election season, Austin Opera performs Kevin Puts’ and Mark Campbell’s The Manchurian Candidate. Originally premiered by the Minnesota Opera, the opera is part thriller, part satire, and is based on Richard Condon’s novel. Don’t miss the chance to see this second opera by the team that created the Pulitzer-winning opera, Silent Night.
The Whole Truth, a new one-act opera by composer Robert Paterson and librettist Mark Campbell, was premiered in January as part of the exciting wave of new operas that overwhelmed New York City. A sold-out success that garnered uniform praise, it was paired with Stewart Copeland’s one-act opera, The Cask of Amontillado.
The Whole Truth is a short comic opera for three singers—soprano, mezzo-soprano and baritone—that uses very limited production elements in its storytelling and has been written to be performed in intimate to medium-sized venues. In the opera, a young married woman named Megan (a role shared by the soprano and mezzo-soprano) carries on an affair with a fellow dentist and a dalliance with young carpenter that lead her to momentarily confront the web of lies she has created to other…and to herself. Using a single bed positioned vertically onstage and a couple of chairs, the settings include a psychiatrist’s office, Megan’s dental office, the bed of her lover, the dining table and the bed she shares with her husband, and another psychiatrist’s office. The Man (played by the baritone) employs six cardboard cutouts to help represent the roles he plays: Psychiatrist 1, The Lover, The Husband, The Carpenter and Psychiatrist 2.
Instrumentation: piano/vocal version—three singers (soprano, mezzo-soprano, baritone) and piano. Chamber version (10 instrumentalists): flute, oboe, bassoon, percussion, piano, 2 violins, viola, cello, bass.
Libretto by Mark Campbell • Based on the short story of the same name by Stephen McCauley
Commissioned by UrbanArias, Robert Wood, Executive and Artistic Director
Premiere of Chamber Version: American Modern Ensemble, Tyson Deaton, conductor, Walker Lewis, director, Dixon Place, New York, NY, January 16, 17, 18 and 19, 2016.
Premiere of Piano/Vocal Version: UrbanArias, Robert Wood, conductor, Atlas Performing Arts Center, Washington, DC, February 21, 27 and 28, 2015.
Watch the video here:
San Francisco’s Opera Parallele (OP) has announced its first main stage opera commission, the creation of a new opera by American composer Laura Kaminsky inspired by the life of Georgia O’Keeffe at the time she left New York to embark on her iconic and influential experiences in New Mexico. The company has been awarded a prestigious Repertoire Development Grant from Opera America in the amount of $35,000 to support the work’s initial stages of creation and workshopping, and is set for an April 2019 premiere. The opera will feature a libretto by Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed, with a film by Reed as part of the production. The production team will be led by Opera Parallele Creative Director Brian Staufenbiel, will be conducted by OP Artistic Director and founder Nicole Paiement and will feature a cast of ten, details will be announced. The production is being undertaken by Opera Parallele in consortium with American Opera Projects and Cornish College of the Arts, and all three co-commissioners will present performances and other activities to be announced.
About The Opera
Today It Rains is set in May 1929, when Georgia O’Keeffe takes a train from New York to Santa Fe with her friend Rebecca Strand, propelling herself away from her tumultuous relationship with Alfred Stieglitz and his circle in search of a more fulfilled life as an artist. The libretto will segue seamlessly between O’Keeffe and Strand, charging forward through the American landscape, and O’Keeffe looking back on her love for Stieglitz. The opera will culminate in a moving finale as O’Keeffe arrives in Santa Fe to begin her new life. The opera’s title comes from one of O’Keeffe’s letters.
About The Composer
Laura Kaminsky is an award-winning, internationally recognized composer of opera, orchestra, chamber, vocal and choral music who is known to Bay Area audiences most recently for the Festival Opera production of As One, an opera about gender identity . As One (co-librettists Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed), premiered in 2014 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) to unanimously positive reviews, and was mounted in 2015 by Festival Opera in Oakland. Subsequently, the As One team has since been commissioned by Houston Grand Opera for a new work, Some Light Emerges, that will premiere in 2017, and by San Francisco’s Opera Parallèle for Today It Rains. Other upcoming commissions include a Piano Quintet for Ursula Oppens and the Cassatt String Quartet and a new work for Flute and Piano for the University of Minnesota/Duluth.
Kaminsky has received grants, awards and fellowships from, among others, the National Endowment for the Arts, Koussevitzky Music Foundation, Opera America, Chamber Music America, BAM/The Kennedy Center De Vos Institute, Aaron Copland Fund, Virgil Thomson Foundation, Roger Shapiro Fund for New Music, American Music Center, USArtists International, CEC ArtsLink International Partnerships, Likhachev-Russkiy Mir Foundation Cultural Fellowship, Kenan Institute for the Arts, Artist Trust, New York State Council on the Arts, Bronx Arts Council, Arts Westchester, North Carolina Arts Council, Seattle Arts Commission, and Meet the Composer. She has received six ASCAP-Chamber Music America Awards for Adventuresome Programming, a citation from the Office of the President of the Borough of Manhattan, the 2015 Polish Gold Cross of Merit, a decoration awarded by the President of Poland for exemplary public service or humanitarian work, as well as the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage 2010 Chopin Award. She has been a fellow at the Hermitage Artist Retreat Center, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Centrum Foundation, Dorland Mountain Arts Colony, and Millay Colony for the Arts, and, in 2016, the Camargo Foundation in Cassis, France.
Currently composer-in-residence at American Opera Projects, Kaminsky is a member of the faculty in the School of the Arts/Conservatory of Music at Purchase College/SUNY, where she served as dean from 2004-2008; she was also Artistic Director of Symphony Space in New York City until 2014. Previously she was chair of the music department at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, Artistic Director of the European Mozart Academy in Poland, and visiting faculty at the National Academy of Music in Ghana. In New York she held the positions of Director of Music and Theatre Programs at The New School, Artistic Director of Town Hall, and Associate Director of Humanities at the 92nd Street Y.
The Washington Post lists contemporary operas that audiences responded to favorably (“Readers’ Guide to Lovable New Operas“), and several BHM operas were included:
Dead Man Walking
The Manchurian Candidate
There are also 10 operas on this list that we’ve engraved in our production department.
Congrats to Jake Heggie, Kevin Puts, Terrence McNally, Laura Kaminsky, Kimberly Reed, and the indefatigable Mark Campbell who wrote 3 of these librettos.
Composer Mason Bates and librettist Mark Campbell collaborate on an original opera based on the life of one of the greatest innovators of our time in a new production
SANTA FE, NM – General Director Charles MacKay announced today Santa Fe Opera’s next commission, The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, which will have its world premiere in 2017 as a part of the company’s 61st season. The opera will be composed by Mason Bates, one of America’s most acclaimed and popular composers, with an original libretto by Mark Campbell, who was the librettist for the Pulitzer Prize-winning opera, Silent Night. This will be Bates’ first produced opera. Stage Director Kevin Newbury, who brought both Theodore Morrison’s Oscar (2013) and Lewis Spratlan’s Life is a Dream (2010) to the stage in Santa Fe, will be joined by Michael Christie, Music Director for Minnesota Opera, who makes his company debut leading the Santa Fe Opera Orchestra.
“Riding on the heels of Jennifer Higdon and Gene Scheer’s Cold Mountain, which received both audience and critical acclaim at its world premiere on Saturday, it is a thrill to announce Santa Fe Opera’s next major commission, “ said General Director Charles MacKay. “The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs will mark the Company’s 15th world premiere, continuing the tradition of producing work that pushes the boundaries of the art form. We are delighted to take this journey into the life and legacy of a distinctly American figure through the creative genius of Mason Bates and Mark Campbell.”
MORE ABOUT THE (R)EVOLUTION OF STEVE JOBS
The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs is a new opera that examines the life of one of the most fascinating figures of our time; an innovator who simplified communication with sleek devices, but who paradoxically learned that complex human relationships require more than one button to work. The opera starts at a moment in Jobs’ life when he must face his own mortality and circles back to the events and people in his past that shaped and inspired him: his father Paul, Zen Buddhism, his relationship with a woman whose child he initially disowned, his quick rise and fall as mogul, and – most importantly – his wife Laurene, who showed him the power of love and connection. The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs seeks to capture the buzzing creative realm of Silicon Valley with a kinetic electro-acoustic score, lush vocal writing, a compelling non-linear narrative, and a production as innovative as the man himself.
“Santa Fe Opera’s impact on the creation and dissemination of new opera is simply astonishing, and I’ve been so thankful to visit several times over the past ten years,” said composer Mason Bates. “The superb productions of works new and old, combined with the stunning setting, have made it an essential pilgrimage for me. I’m honored to bring the story of Steve Jobs to this wonderful house and look forward to many more visits in the course of its creation.”
The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs is librettist Mark Campbell’s first collaboration with composer Mason Bates: “Mason’s brilliance at infusing the orchestra with electronica makes him uniquely poised to create a score for this opera that will evoke the innovative and mercurial nature of its subject,” said Campbell. “Audiences at Santa Fe Opera will be treated to a new kind of energy coming from the stage and the pit.” This production also signifies Campbell’s tertiary collaborations with both director Kevin Newbury and conductor Michael Christie, who with composer Kevin Puts, most recently collaborated on The Manchurian Candidate for Minnesota Opera.
This commission will receive its first workshop in San Francisco (September 2015) in collaboration with Cal Performances at UC Berkeley, and with additional support from San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
Workshops play a key role in the commissioning process of Santa Fe Opera, illuminating what works well dramatically and musically, and allowing both composer and librettist to test their ideas before the work reaches the stage.
As One illuminates the brave and painful growth of a transgender person, whose identity is still deemed “abnormal” and, more shamefully for our world, is barely recognized. The deeply normal need to unite body and soul within the boundaries of accepted human interactions has much to reveal to all of us.
As One premiered at The Brooklyn Academy of Music just this past September. It is based on the life experience of noted filmmaker Kimberly Reed.
Two singers, a baritone and a mezzo-soprano, together portray the character Hannah. The two singers embody a young boy who knows he is different but can’t understand how or why. The 70-minute opera traces the life of young Hannah through her eventual gender reassignment. It examines the life of a transgender person through poetry, movement, beautiful music and film in a new and especially touching way.
New York Classical Review called its premiere this past September a “rich addition to the repertoire … formidable on all fronts … As One is everything that we hope for in contemporary opera: topical, poignant, daring, and beautifully written.”
The New York Times wrote: “As One forces you to think, simultaneously challenging preconceptions and inspiring empathy…[with] winning humor and a satisfying emotional arc.”
As One co-librettist and transgender filmmaker Kimberly Reed has created a video for the Op Ed page of The New York Times showing a day in her life – specifically April 7, when As One opened at Utah State University. In the video, Reed shows glimpses of the various ways she has attempted “to dispel misunderstanding and increase empathy” by introducing the quotidian stories of transgender individuals – through documentaries, news interviews, spoken word performances, and most recently through her work on As One.