FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Soprano Catherine Malfitano, author Brian Castner,
and dramaturg Cori Ellison to participate in
a festival of new operas commissioned by
American Lyric Theater
May 28 – June 3, 2013
Week-long Festival includes a master class by world-renown soprano Catherine Malfitano,
two symposia curated by dramaturg Cori Ellison,
and concert readings of three new operas in development at ALT,
performed by internationally acclaimed artists
New York City, NY – American Lyric Theater (ALT) today announced details of InsightALT, the company’s first festival dedicated to providing an intimate, up-close look at its process of creating new operas. Taking place between May 28 and June 3, 2013 at the Goldman-Sonnenfeldt Family Auditorium of the The JCC in Manhattan, a state-of-the-art theater on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, the festival kicks-off with a special public master class by world-renown soprano Catherine Malfitano. At the center of the festival are concert readings of three new operas in different stages of their development at ALT: The Turing Project by composer Justine F. Chen and librettist David Simpatico; The Long Walk by composer Jeremy Howard Beck and librettist Stephanie Fleischmann (based on the book “The Long Walk: A Story of War and the Life that Follows” by Brian Castner); and La Reina by composer Jorge Sosa and librettist Laura Sosa Pedroza. All three operas will feature leading singers and rising-stars from the country’s preeminent opera houses. Themes behind these works will be explored in two symposia led by ALT and Glyndebourne dramaturg Cori Ellison, one of the leading creative figures in the opera world today.
On Tuesday, May 28th, internationally acclaimed soprano Catherine Malfitano, who has collaborated with the greatest composers and librettists of her generation to bring an extraordinary variety of new operas to life on stage, opens InsightALT with a master class that focuses on role creation and collaboration, exploring the unique challenges of being the first singer to create a role in a new opera. Ms. Malfitano will coach singers in excerpts from the three new works being presented at the Festival -The Turing Project, The Long Walk, and La Reina – as well as work with the composers and librettists who are writing them.
Wednesday, May 29th, international dramaturg Cori Ellison leads a symposium entitled “Fantasizing History,” examining the extent to which historical accuracy matters when adapting real events for the stage. All three operas presented during InsightALT are inspired by real people and actual events, but the balance between fact and fiction differs in every piece. (Guests to be announced.)
Thursday, May 30th, features the first of three concert readings of new operas in development at ALT. Commissioned in 2012 in honor of the Turing Centennial, composer Justine F. Chen and librettist David Simpatico are writing The Turing Project, a historical fantasia based on the life of the English scientist Alan Turing. A simple man of extraordinary abilities, Turing’s achievements include creating the first universal computer; breaking the Nazi U-Boat code, which proved crucial to the success of the allied forces in WWII; and creating the field of Artificial Intelligence. Yet, despite the many benefits Turing’s ideas bestowed upon humanity, the British government charged him with Gross Indecency for the crime of being homosexual, and punished him with chemical castration. A year after his sentence was carried out, Turing committed suicide at the age of 41, eating an apple laced with cyanide – according to the official coroner’s report. Many speculate that his apparent suicide was inspired by his life-long love of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, but others don’t believe his death was suicide at all. The opera explores Turing’s extraordinary contributions to mankind, his county’s disavowal of him because he was gay, and the mysterious circumstances surrounding his death. Featuring baritone Jonathan Estabrooks, soprano Kathryn Guthrie, mezzo-soprano Elise Quagliata, tenor Kyle Bielfield, tenor Benjamin Robinson, bass baritone Joseph Beutel, bass baritone Justin Hopkins, and conducted by Keith Chambers.
ALT presents two events on Sunday, June 2nd, both tied to the theme of war. In the afternoon, the second symposium by Ms. Ellison, “Of Arms and the Man I Sing,” takes a look at how some operas have glorified war while others have laid bare its horrors. Guest speakers include Brian Castner, author of the critically acclaimed book, “The Long Walk: A Story of War and the Life that Follows.” Mr. Castner’s book is the inspiration for ALT’s new opera of the same name by composer Jeremy Howard Beck and librettist Stephanie Fleishmann, which receives its concert reading that evening. The Long Walk dives deep into the mind of an American soldier who has returned from Iraq after serving as an officer in an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit. Castner’s battle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which he calls “the Crazy with a capital C,” is at the center of this moving personal story of a man struggling to reintegrate himself into his family life upon his return from the war. Featuring baritone Daniel Belcher, mezzo-soprano Heather Johnson, tenor Glenn Seven Allen, tenor Kyle Bielfield, bass baritone Justin Hopkins, soprano Caroline Worra, soprano Donita Volkwijn, and conducted by Steven Osgood. Developmental support for The Long Walk has been generously provided by The Opera Fund/OPERA America.
La Reina, by composer Jorge Sosa and librettist Laura Sosa Pedroza, the third and final concert reading of the inaugural InsightALT, closes the festival on Monday, June 3rd. The story of one of the most powerful drug “queenpins” in history, La Reina explores the symbiotic relationship between the US and Mexico and their shared responsibilities in the increasingly violent drug wars, fueled by revenge and corruption on both sides of the border. The action of La Reina centers around Regina. As events from her past invade her present reality in an American prison cell, she interacts with the ghosts of the men who have shaped her life. A shrine of La Santa Muerte (a skull and bones incarnation of the Virgin Mary and the patron saint of drug dealers) comes to life and acts as Regina’s guide in her journey through her past. La Santa Muerte forces Regina to relive the tragic sequences of death and treason that led to her crowning as the queen of organized crime, and to her eventual downfall and imprisonment. In English and Spanish, with English supertitles. Featuring mezzo-soprano Audrey Babcock, soprano Audrey Luna, soprano Rosa Betancourt, baritone Christopher Burchett, tenor Dominic Armstrong, tenor Javier Abreu, and conducted by Andrew Bisantz. Support for La Reina has been generously provided by The Opera Fund/OPERA America.
After each opera, there will be an open discussion exploring the creative process with the composers and librettists, moderated by ALT’s Producing Artistic Director, Lawrence Edelson. Following these discussions, audience members are invited to join the writers and performers at meet-the-artist receptions, with the artists, generously sponsored by Dalton Winery and Teperberg Winery, and provided by Gotham Wines & Liquors.
Tickets for each event may be purchased individually, with pricing ranging from $10 to $25 per event. An InsightPASS is also available, providing admission to all six events for $75, a savings of up to 40%. For further information, or to purchase tickets, please visit www.jccmanhattan.org/opera or call (646) 505-5708.
InsightALT Festival Schedule
Goldman-Sonnenfeldt Family Auditorium
The JCC in Manhattan
334 Amsterdam Avenue (at West 76th Street), NYC
Tuesday, May 28, 2013
7:00 PM: Master Class with soprano Catherine Malfitano
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
7:00 PM: Symposium: “Fantasizing History”
With dramaturg Cori Ellison and guests TBA.
Thursday, May 30, 2013
7:00 PM: Concert Reading of The Turing Project
By composer Justine F. Chen and librettist David Simpatico.
Artists: baritone Jonathan Estabrooks, soprano Kathryn Guthrie, mezzo-soprano Elise Quagliata, tenor Kyle Bielfield, tenor Benjamin Robinson, bass baritone Joseph Beutel and bass baritone Justin Hopkins; conducted by Keith Chambers.
Sunday, June 2, 2013
3:00 PM: Symposium: “Of Arms and the Man I Sing”
With dramaturg Cori Ellison and guests, including critically acclaimed author Brian Castner.
7:00 PM: Concert Reading of The Long Walk (Based on the book by Brian Castner)
By composer Jeremy Howard Beck and librettist Stephanie Fleishmann.
Artists: baritone Daniel Belcher, mezzo-soprano Heather Johnson, tenor Glenn Seven Allen, tenor Kyle Bielfield, bass baritone Justin Hopkins, soprano Caroline Worra, and soprano Donita Volkwijn; conducted by Steven Osgood.
Monday, June 3, 2013
7:00 PM: Concert Reading of La Reina
By composer Jorge Sosa and librettist Laura Sosa Pedroza.
Artists: mezzo-soprano Audrey Babcock, soprano Audrey Luna, soprano Rosa Betancourt, baritone Christopher Burchett, tenor Dominic Armstrong, and tenor Javier Abreu; conducted by Andrew Bisantz. (In English and Spanish, with English supertitles.)
Master Class: $20/$25
Concert Readings: $20/$25
Save up to 40% by purchasing an InsightPASS. For $75, see all three operas in concert, attend the opening night master class and both symposia.
To purchase tickets please visit: http://www.jccmanhattan.org/opera or call the JCC Box Office at (646) 505-5708
About The JCC in Manhattan Performing Arts Program
The JCC in Manhattan Performing Arts program develops and showcases dynamic new work rooted in community, Jewish life, culture and society. We encourage audiences to take part in the exhilarating process of bringing new artistic works to life and creating community around the arts. Watch, listen, debate and create with leading contemporary artists from around the world.
About American Lyric Theater
American Lyric Theater (ALT) was founded in 2005 to build a new body of operatic repertoire for new audiences by nurturing composers and librettists, developing sustainable artistic collaborations, and contributing new works to the national canon. ALT is not an opera company by any traditional definition. Many opera companies commission and perform new works; but ALT is the only company in the United States that offers extensive, full-time mentorship for emerging operatic writers. While the traditional company model focuses on producing a season, ALT’s programs focus on serving the needs of composers and librettists, developing new works, and collaborating with larger producing companies to help usher those works into the repertoire.
In 2006, ALT commissioned The Golden Ticket, a new opera based on Roald Dahl’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, from American composer Peter Ash and librettist Donald Sturrock. ALT then developed a partnership with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis to present the world premiere of The Golden Ticket, which took place in June 2010 to tremendous critical and audience acclaim. The opera was subsequently presented in partnership with The Wexford Festival and The Atlanta Opera. A live recording of The Golden Ticket was produced by ALT in conjunction with the most recent performances in Atlanta, and released in December 2012 on Albany Records.
In 2007, ALT launched its core initiative, the Composer Librettist Development Program (CLDP), led by Producing Artistic Director Lawrence Edelson and a faculty including some of the country’s foremost artists. To date, the program has provided intensive, personalized mentorship to 30 gifted emerging artists; and 11 short chamber operas have been developed under the auspices of the program. In 2009, ALT commissioned The Poe Project, a trilogy of one-act operas inspired by the fiction of Edgar Allan Poe from six CLDP Resident Artists which will receive its world premiere in 2014. In 2012, ALT announced three new opera commissions being written by returning CLDP artists: La Reina, an opera in Spanish and English that explores the war on drugs between Mexico and the United States, by Jorge Sosa and Laura Sosa Pedroza; The Turing Project, a historical fantasia that explores the life of British scientist Alan Turing, by Justine F. Chen and David Simpatico; and The Long Walk, based on Brian Castner’s critically acclaimed memoir of the same name, by Jeremy Howard Beck and Stephanie Fleischmann.
In 2012, ALT was the first company dedicated to artist mentorship rather than operatic production to be recognized by OPERA America as a Professional Company Member – a testament to ALT’s service to the field.
American Lyric Theater’s programs are made possible by generous support from The Alice M. Ditson Fund of Columbia University, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The National Endowment for the Arts, The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, The New York State Council on the Arts, The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, The Esther B. Kahn Charitable Foundation, The Amphion Foundation, and The Dorothy Loudon Foundation. Developmental funding for The Long Walk and La Reina has been generously provided by The Opera Fund/OPERA America.
Press Contact: Laura Grant, Grant Communications