FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
American Lyric Theater
Three New Opera Commissions
La Reina, a story of revenge and corruption in the drug trade on both sides of the Mexican/American border;
The Turing Project, a historical fantasia based on the life of English scientist Alan Turing;
The Long Walk, based on the critically acclaimed memoir of war and homecoming by American veteran and author Brian Castner.
InsightALT, A New Festival Exploring the Process of Creating Original Operas
Introducing a festival of readings and symposia providing insight into American Lyric Theater’s process of creating new operas at all stages of their development.
and the Release of ALT’s First CD on Albany Records This December
Live Recording of The Golden Ticket, a comic opera by Peter Ash and Donald Sturrock based on Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
New York, NY – American Lyric Theater (ALT) today announced several exciting initiatives including newly commissioned operas, a new festival, and the upcoming release of the company’s first recording.
Three new commissions were announced – all operas in development this season under the auspices of ALT’s Composer Librettist Development Program – with themes ranging from the war on drugs in Mexico, to the national disavowal of a scientific genius because of his sexuality, to the true story of the effects of war and homecoming on an American soldier who served as an officer in an Explosive Ordinance Disposal Unit.
Lawrence Edelson, ALT’s Founder and Producing Artistic Director, said of the new commissions, “I am very proud to announce these three new operas. Many opera companies commission new works from established composers. Here at ALT, we are deeply committed to identifying gifted emerging operatic writers and providing them with both mentorship and financial support as they develop new works. The three operas being commissioned by ALT this season are also part of our initiative to develop works that expand the traditional audience base for opera while confronting critical contemporary issues.
La Reina, by composer Jorge Sosa and librettist Laura Sosa Pedroza, sheds light on real life events, interweaving complex layers of Mexican and American government involvement in the ongoing war against drugs, narco-terrorists, and the innocent victims of the increasingly violent confrontations that occur all too frequently. Jorge’s collaboration with Laura is particularly exciting because of her vibrant work as a story producer and head writer for HBO Latino’s hit series, Capadocia, which has been praised for its harsh, gritty realism.
Composer Justine F. Chen and librettist David Simpatico are developing a new opera (title TBA) that dives into the heroic and tragic life Alan Turing, one of the great geniuses of the 20th century. Perhaps best known for cracking the Nazi U-Boat code that proved crucial to the success of the allied forces in World War II, Turing was charged with Gross Indecency for the crime of being homosexual by the British government, and was punished with chemical castration. At 41, one year after his sentence was carried out, Turing committed suicide by eating an apple laced with cyanide – according to the official coroner’s report. Many have speculated that Turing’s apparent suicide was inspired by his life-long love of the movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. By looking at specific memories of Turing’s life, the opera reveals this iconoclastic genius as someone trapped within a system that fosters heroes only to decimate them if they go out of step with the view of ‘normal’ society.
For our third commission, we are deeply grateful that American veteran and author Brian Castner has entrusted us with his critically acclaimed book, The Long Walk. Composer Jeremy Howard Beck and librettist Stephanie Fleischmann were deeply moved and inspired by Castner’s haunting memoir, which makes the paradox of coming home from war and the near impossibility of a smooth reintegration come alive. Over twenty percent of those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan will carry with them the marks of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Deeply meditative, the opera of the same name is a story of a man besieged by memory.”
All three commissions will be featured at InsightALT, a new festival of readings and symposia that offers an intimate, inside look into ALT’s process of creating new operas at all stages of their development. The inaugural InsightALT festival will take place between May 29th and June 3rd, 2013, at the Goldman-Sonnenfeldt Family Auditorium, The JCC in Manhattan’s state–of–the–art, 250-seat theater (334 Amsterdam Avenue at West 76th Street, New York, NY 10023). Public readings of the three new commissions at different stages of their development will be at the center of the 2013 festival. InsightALT will also offer the opportunity for the public to attend open rehearsals, participate in a libretto workshop of a fourth new commission (to be announced in early 2013), and join together for symposia curated by dramaturg and ALT principal faculty member Cori Ellison, on topics including “Faith and Religion in Contemporary American Opera,” and “Fantasizing History: How operatic writers balance fact and fiction in works based on real life events.” The full schedule of events for InsightALT will be announced in January 2013.
Mr. Edelson described the new festival, saying, “A showcase or reading is only one part of the new works development process, and really doesn’t provide insight into the how and why of what we do. We created InsightALT specifically to address this. The festival includes readings of operas we are developing, alongside open working rehearsals and symposia that explore themes related to the works currently being written at ALT. During this intensive week of events, opera lovers in New York City will have the opportunity to meet some of the most gifted emerging operatic writers in the country, get to know the operas they are writing, and gain insight into the process of developing new works. For audiences who don’t live in New York City, we will be live-streaming many of the events as well.”
American Lyric Theater’s popular series of public libretto readings, The Living Libretto, continues and will take place at the National Opera Center between December 2012 and February 2013. These events are the culminating readings of extensive libretto workshops conducted for the new operas currently being written by ALT resident artists, featuring guest actors from Broadway and off-Broadway. Following each reading, there will be a discussion with the artists moderated by Mr. Edelson. (See below for dates, times and ticket information.)
The December 1, 2012 release of ALT’s first CD on Albany Records was also announced. The Golden Ticket, a comic opera by Peter Ash and Donald Sturrock based on Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, was commissioned by American Lyric Theater and Felicity Dahl in 2006. The Golden Ticket received its world premiere in partnership with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis in June 2010, and its European debut in partnership with the Wexford Festival in October 2010. A live recording, conducted by composer Peter Ash, was produced by ALT in partnership with The Atlanta Opera during performances in Atlanta in March 2012.
The CD will be available on the AlbanyRecords.com, Amazon.com, Arkivmusic.com, hbdirect.com, and at other classical music retailers. Digital downloads will be available from iTunes and other similar services shortly thereafter.
“When I commissioned The Golden Ticket, I hoped there would be a point in the future when we would be able to record the opera,” said Mr. Edelson. “When The Atlanta Opera approached us about producing The Golden Ticket, I was thrilled that they were also excited by our interest in recording the performances for commercial release. We worked together on casting the production to not only ensure that Atlanta audiences would see truly world-class performances, but to also provide a group of singers who we were both immensely proud to be able to record. We are also deeply grateful to Albany Records for working with us to make the recording available to the public.”
The recording cast includes bass baritone Daniel Okultich (Willy Wonka), tenor Benjamin P. Wenzelberg (Charlie), tenor Keith Jameson (Grandpa Joe), soprano Kristin Clayton (Grandma Georgina and Mrs. Gloop), mezzo soprano Jamie Barton (Grandma Josephine and Mrs. Teavee), bass baritone Jason Hardy (Grandpa George and Mr. Beauregard), countertenor Gerald Thompson (Mike Teavee), soprano Ashley Emerson (Violet Beauregard), tenor Andrew Drost (Augustus Gloop), mezzo soprano Abigail Nims (Veruca Salt), baritone David Kravitz (Lord Salt), and soprano Krista Costin (Candy Mallow and the Squirrel Mistress). Peter Ash, conductor; Walter Huff, Chorus Master. The Chorus and Orchestra of The Atlanta Opera. Lead funding for the recording of The Golden Ticket was provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Additional major funding was provided by The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Inc.
2012-2013 Opera Commissions
Composer: Jorge Sosa; Librettist: Laura Sosa Pedroza
Video Preview: http://www.altnyc.org/new-operas-for-new-audiences/la-reina/
La Reina draws its narrative from the drug trade in Mexico and the United States. The story of revenge and corruption on both sides of the border is inspired by some of the most vivid real life players in this increasingly violent war from the past and present, including Sandra Ávila Beltrán, El Guero Palma, El Pozolero, DEA agent Enrique Camarena, Mexican President Felipe Calderón, and US Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North. The opera is being written for classically trained singers and a chamber orchestra of acoustic and electronic forces. The libretto for La Reina is being written in both Spanish and English, reflecting the symbiotic relationship between Mexico and the United States, and the shared responsibility of the current drug conflicts.
THE LONG WALK
Based on the book, The Long Walk: A Story of War and the Life that Follows, by Brian Castner
Composer: Jeremy Howard Beck; Librettist: Stephanie Fleischmann
Video Preview: http://www.altnyc.org/new-operas-for-new-audiences/the-long-walk/
A solider comes home from war and must adapt to a world that is forever changed. This is a timeless story, though the context continues to change. Based on the critically acclaimed 2012 memoir by Brian Castner, The Long Walk dives deep into the mind of a American soldier who has returned from Iraq after serving as an officer in an Explosive Ordinance 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 back into his family life upon his return from the war.
THE TURING PROJECT (title to be announced)
Composer: Justine F. Chen; Librettist: David Simpatico
Video Preview: http://www.altnyc.org/new-operas-for-new-audiences/the-turing-project/
Commissioned in honor of the Turing Centennial, The Turing Project is a historical fantasia based on the life of the English scientist Alan Turing. 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. The opera imagines the man inside the legend, the unique perspective he had on the universe, the public and unashamed view he had of his own homosexuality, and the impact he had upon the future of civilization.
The Living Libretto
LA REINA: Libretto by Laura Pedroza Sosa, Music by Jorge Sosa
Sunday, November 11, 2012 at 1:00 PM
$20 Including Brunch and Artist Reception/Discussion
THE LONG WALK: Libretto by Stephanie Fleischmann, Music by Jeremy Howard Beck
Monday, January 14th, 2013 at 7:00 PM
$20 Including Wine and Cheese Artist Reception/Discussion
THE TURING PROJECT: Libretto by David Simpatico, Music by Justine Chen
Monday, February 4th, 2013 at 7:00 PM
$20 Including Wine and Cheese Artist Reception/Discussion
All readings take place at the National Opera Center, 330 7th Avenue, New York, NY 10001
For tickets, please visit http://www.altnyc.org/alt-live/the-living-libretto/
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. 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. The opera was given its world premiere in June 2010 in partnership with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, followed by its international premiere in partnership with Ireland’s Wexford Festival Opera in October 2010.
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, including composer-librettist Mark Adamo, composers Robert Beaser and Anthony Davis, librettists Michael Korie and Mark Campbell, dramaturg Cori Ellison and stage director Rhoda Levine. Recent guest teachers and lecturers have included composers Kaija Saariaho, Nico Muhly, Stewart Wallace, Christopher Theofanidis, Ricky Ian Gordon, John Musto, and Paul Moravec, and librettists Donna DiNovelli, Stephen Karam, and Gene Scheer. Notable alumni of the CLDP include librettists Royce Vavrek, Deborah Brevoort and Quincy Long, and composers Aleksandra Vrebalov, Patrick Soluri, Jeff Myers, and Christopher Cerrone. To date, the program has provided intensive, personalized mentorship to 30 gifted emerging artists; developed 11 short chamber operas; and 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.
In June 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.
Further details can be found at www.altnyc.org.
The Composer Librettist Development Program and American Lyric Theater’s public performance programs are made possible by generous support from 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.
Bios of composers and librettists can be found at: