The Life and Death(s) of Alan Turing (in development)
Music by JUSTINE F. CHEN
Libretto by DAVID SIMPATICO
The Life and Death(s) of Alan Turing is a two-act opera inspired by the life of the groundbreaking computer scientist, Alan Turing. After saving England in World War II by cracking the Nazi U-boat code, he was found guilty of gross indecency for a homosexual relationship and was chemically castrated. Two years later, Turing was found poisoned near a cyanide-laced apple with a bite taken from it. The apple is believed to be a reference to his obsession with Disney’s Snow White, and an image rumored to be the inspiration for Apple Computer’s logo. Turing’s mysterious death was labeled a suicide – but there are many other theories. The Life and Death(s) of Alan Turing is a historic-fantasia on Turing’s life.
Commissioned by American Lyric Theater
Lawrence Edelson, Producing Artistic Director
ROLES: ALAN TURING (Lyric Baritone) CHRISTOPHER MORCOM (Lyric Tenor) SARA TURING (Coloratura Soprano) FRED CLAYTON / WINSTON CHURCHILL (Bass Baritone) JOAN CLARK (Mezzo Soprano) STEVE TODD / ARNOLD MURRAY (High Lyric Tenor) DON BAYLEY / A BOBBY / PROSECUTOR (Bass Baritone)
CHORUS (SATB): Chatters, Wrens, Crypts, Carolers, Judge Harrison, School Boys
INSTRUMENTATION: 28-36 players (exact instrumentation to-be-determined)
DEVELOPMENT AT AMERICAN LYRIC THEATER:
Under the auspices of the Composer Librettist Development Program
Libretto Workshop & Reading: February 2013
Public reading part of the The Living Libretto series
Piano/Vocal Workshops & Concerts: -June 2013 (Scenes) -October 2015 (Chorus Scenes and Dramaturgy)
Public concerts part of the InsightALT series UP NEXT: P/V Workshop: January 2017 Public Concert: January 12, 2017 TICKETS & MORE INFO (click here)
MATERIALS: ONE-PAGE INFO SHEET (PDF)
LICENSING: The Life and Death(s) of Alan Turing is currently in development at American Lyric Theater. If you are interested to learn more about partnering for the world premiere, please click here to send an inquiry.
MUSICAL SAMPLES Two excerpts recorded during the public InsightALT concert on October 17, 2015. Featuring Jonathan Michie (ALAN TURING), Daniel Curran (CHRISTOPHER MORCOM), Elise Quagliata (JOAN CLARKE), MasterVoices (previously known as The Collegiate Chorale), Djordje Nesic (Piano), Lidiya Yankovskaya (Conductor).
Part I, Scene 1: Alan is socially awkward, and can’t figure out how to fit in at school. After several embarrassing mishaps, we see Alan in a secret cave with his childhood friend, Christopher Morcom. They imagine a sanctuary where they can be together, away from the constraints of Edwardian society.
Part I, Scene 4: Alan visits his mother, Sara Turing, for Christmas. They discuss love and marriage, and the expectations of society. Alan remembers cryptanalyst Joan Clarke’s plea for a marriage of convenience so that Alan could continue his work. Alan struggles with the idea of living a life that is untrue to himself.
“Our opera imagines the man inside the legend of Alan Turing: his unique perspective of the universe, his unabashed view of his homosexuality, and his impact on the future of civilization. This piece is relevant today not only for restoring Turing to our collective memory, but also because the institutionalized homophobic attitudes faced by Turing continue to threaten the lives of gay men and women across the globe. In fact, this opera is not merely about homophobia, it is about prejudice. This opera celebrates the power of memory, creativity, and the potential within us all to live fully and truly.”
- Justine F. Chen and David Simpatico
Composer and violinist JUSTINE F. CHEN has been the recipient of many prestigious awards and commissions. A native New Yorker, she has been commissioned and performed by New York City Opera, New York City Ballet, The Juilliard School, and New York Festival of Song. The New York Times described her dance score as “the kind of propulsive, emotionally resonant score that choreographers tend to dream of.” Her first opera was presented by Juilliard, NYCO’s VOX Showcase, and Chants Libres. When featured in VOX, her second opera, Jeanne, was described as “lyrical, atmospheric… striking… Throughout, Ms. Chen balances despair and humor.” (New York Times). Trilemma, her 2001 animated collaboration with digital artist Ye Won Cho, was screened at the Hiroshima Animation Festival, the New York Expo, and broadcast on PBS’s “Reel New York”. Justine’s studies of interactive computer music resulted in her computer-enhanced chamber opera, which premiered at Juilliard. Other projects include songs for soprano Jennifer Zetlan’s Marilyn Horne Foundation Recital, and for Elizabeth Futral’s Cleopatra-themed NYCO recital. She earned her DMA, MM, and BM from Juilliard in violin and composition, and specializes in contemporary music performance. In 2014, Justine was awarded a commission grant from the American Composers Forum through their Jerome Fund for New Music to continue work on The Life and Death(s) of Alan Turing. She joined American Lyric Theater’s Composer Librettist Development Program as a resident artist in 2010.
DAVID SIMPATICO joined American Lyric Theater’s Composer Librettist Development Program as a resident artist in 2010. His works have been presented at major theatres around the globe, including Lincoln Center, NYC Town Hall, the Hammersmith Apollo (London), Williamstown Theatre Festival, Ensemble Studio Theatre, the New York Shakespeare Festival, and the New York Theatre Workshop. Using the safety net of comedy to explore life-and-death issues, his work examines man’s struggle to claim his place in a chaotic universe. Recent credits include The Waiting Room (one act play, Half Moon Theatre); Diesal Jeans, three one-act plays, TimeWave Festival; Cruel Shoes (a dark musical comedy, Ross Patterson, composer); The Screams of Kitty Genovese (music drama, Will Todd, composer); High School Musical 1 and 2 (for the Disney national tour and international productions); and Garden of Light (choral symphony, Aaron J. Kernis, composer). He was recently an Artist in Residence at Pace University, where he taught and led a staged reading workshop of his play Bad Blood. David graduated Northwestern University with a BS in Theater. David also writes, directs, edits and stars in Zombie Hideaway, a webisodic series, as well as Rev. Jimmy’s Lake of Fire, both of which are featured on his new Youtube channel, Noise Ball.