Gotham Chamber Opera, Music-Theatre Group and the Opera Company of Philadelphia announce the commission of a new American opera, DARK SISTERS, composed by Nico Muhly with libretto by Stephen Karam, conducted by Neal Goren, and directed by Rebecca Taichman. The three organizations have co-commissioned and will co-produce the opera, which will have its World Premiere in November 2011 at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College, 899 Tenth Avenue, NYC, one of the first works to be presented at the Theater following the creation of a new lobby at the space. The cast will be headed by Caitlin Lynch and Kevin Burdette, with Kristina Bachrach, Jennifer Check, Eve Gigliotti, Brenda Harris, and Jennifer Zetlan. Dark Sisters will also be presented in June 2012 as part of the Opera Company of Philadelphia's chamber opera series at the Perelman Theater.
Muhly shares his inspiration for Dark Sisters, which will represent his American operatic debut. It also marks the first libretto written by Stephen Karam, a celebrated playwright whose work Speech and Debate debuted at the Roundabout Theater and has received over 80 subsequent productions.Dark Sisters follows one woman's dangerous attempt to escape her life as a member of the FLDS Church (Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints), a sect that split from mainstream Mormonism in the early 20th Century largely because of the LDS Church's renunciation of polygamy. The male founders of the Mormon faith (Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, chief among them) have traditionally loomed large in American history; Dark Sisters puts the women of the FLDS sect front and center. The narrative draws inspiration from the flurry of media attention surrounding the two most infamous raids on FLDS compounds (the 1953 raid at Short Creek, AZ and the 2008 raid at the Yearning For Zion Ranch in Eldorado, TX) as well as the stories of the over 80 wives of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. Set against a red-earthed landscape filled with revelations, dark prophets and white temples stretching towards heaven, Dark Sisters charts one woman's quest for self-discovery in a world where personal identity is forbidden. DARK SISTERSA New American OperaMusic by Nico MuhlyLibretto by Stephen KaramEliza: Caitlyn Lynch Conductor: Neal GorenProphet/King: Kevin Burdette Director: Rebecca TaichmanAlmera: Jennifer CheckRuth: Eve Gigliotti Presendia: Brenda HarrisZina: Jennifer Zetlan Lucinda: Kristina BachrachFor news and information on this project as it develops, please visit DarkSistersOpera.org.CREATIVE TEAM BIOS_________________________________________________________Composer Nico Muhly was born in Vermont in 1981 and raised in Providence, Rhode Island, and is a 2003 graduate of Columbia University with a degree in English Literature. In 2004 he received a Masters in Music from the Juilliard School, where he studied composition under Christopher Rouse and John Corigliano. Muhly's orchestral works have been premiered by the American Symphony Orchestra, the Juilliard Orchestra, the Boston University Tanglewood Institute Orchestra (It Remains to Be Seen, a commission celebrating their 40th anniversary in 2006), and the Boston Pops (Wish You Were Here, 2007); and Step Music for the Chicago Symphony MusicNOW program. In 2005, the Clare College Choir broadcast Muhly's evensong canticles live on BBC3, and New York's Saint Thomas Church commissioned and performed his Bright Mass with Canons, a work that has entered their regular repertoire. With designer/illustrator Maira Kalman, he created the "finely wrought" (New York Times) cantata on Strunk & White's The Elements of Style that premiered in the New York Public Library, landing him on 2005 year's-best list of New York Magazine. Film credits include his scores for The Reader (2009), Choking Man (2006) and Joshua (2007), and he has worked extensively with Philip Glass as editor, keyboardist, and conductor for numerous film and stage projects. In October 2007, American Ballet Theater premiered Muhly and Millepied's collaboration From Here On Out, and One Thing Leads to Another, the latest collaboration with Benjamin Millepied, will be premiered by the Dutch National Ballet on October 15, 2010. The world premiere of Detailed Instructions, a work for chamber orchestra, was performed in April 2010 by the New York Philharmonic in New York.Librettist Stephen Karam is the author of Speech & Debate which was produced by Roundabout Theatre Company as the inaugural production of Roundabout Underground. Following an extended run in New York, Speech & Debate has received over 80 productions across the U.S. and Canada. Other plays include columbinus at New York Theatre Workshop and Girl on Girl (Brown/Trinity Playwrights Rep). His work is published by Dramatists Play Service and Dramatic Publishing Company. His new play, Sons of the Prophet, will receive a co-world premiere in 2011 by Huntington/Roundabout Theater Companies. Current projects include the film version of Speech & Debate and Darks Sisters. A MacDowell Colony Fellow, Stephen grew up in Scranton, PA, and received his B.A. from Brown University.Rebecca Taichman (Director) Off-Broadway: Sarah Ruhl's Orlando (Classic Stage Company); Theresa Rebeck's The Scene, starring Tony Shalhoub and Patricia Heaton (Second Stage); Menopausal Gentleman (Obie Award). Regional: Twelfth Night, The Taming of the Shrew (The Shakespeare Theatre); premiere of David Adjmi's The Evildoers (Yale Rep; Sundance Theater Lab); premiere of Sarah Ruhl's Dead Man's Cell Phone (Woolly Mammoth, Helen Hayes nomination); premiere of Theresa Rebeck's Mauritius (The Huntington, IRNE and Elliot Norton Awards); premiere of The Scene (Humana); Sarah Ruhl's The Clean House (Woolly Mammoth, 2006 Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Resident Play); Elise Thoron's Green Violin, starring Raul Esparza (2003 Barrymore for Outstanding Direction), among others. Yale School of Drama graduate.Neal Goren (Conductor) has conducted throughout the U. S. and in Europe. For Gotham Chamber Opera, he conducted critically acclaimed productions of Mozart's Il sogno di Scipione, Milhaud's Les Malheurs d'Orphée, Purcell's Dido and Aeneas (with period instruments), Martinu's Hlas lesa and Les Larmes du couteau, Sutermeister's Die schwarze Spinne, Handel's Arianna in Creta (with period instruments), Britten's Albert Herring, Rossini's Il Signor Bruschino, Haydn's L'isola disabitata, Piazzolla's Maria de Buenos Aires, Haydn's Il mondo della luna, and Montsalvatge's El gato con botas. He led Gotham Chamber Opera's co-production of Respighi's La bella dormente nel bosco for Spoleto Festival USA and the Lincoln Center Festival in the summer of 2005, and conducted Britten's The Turn of the Screw for Angers Opera (France) and Opéra de Nantes for the reopening of Théâtre Graslin in February 2004. He made his New York City Opera debut conducting The Magic Flute in November 2003. He has participated in numerous PBS telecasts including Pavarotti Plus! and the Richard Tucker Memorial Concerts. As a recital accompanist, Goren has performed with Leontyne Price (as her exclusive musical collaborator), Kathleen Battle, Harolyn Blackwell, Håken Hagegård, Thomas Hampson, Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, Aprile Millo, Hermann Prey and others. He has been a member of the faculty of the graduate opera department of the Mannes College of Music since 1992 and served on the Board of Directors of the Richard Tucker Music Foundation from 1991-2003. In addition, he has served as a panelist for Opera America symposiums, is a regular guest on the Metropolitan Opera Quiz, a juror for numerous vocal competitions, and has given master classes in colleges and universities throughout the United States.Gotham Chamber Opera is the nation's foremost opera company dedicated to producing rarely-performed chamber operas from the Baroque era to the present. The company's mission is to present innovative, fully-staged productions of the highest quality in intimate venues. Founded by conductor and Artistic Director Neal Goren in 2000, in its short history, Gotham Chamber Opera has presented seven U.S. premieres of 18th- and 20th-century operas, including such masterpieces as Mozart's Il Sogno di Scipione; Darius Milhaud's Les Malheurs d'Orphée; Czech composer Bohuslav Martinu's Dada opera, Les Larmes du Couteau; and Swiss composer Heinrich Sutermeister's Die schwarze Spinne. In February 2005, Gotham presented the U.S. stage premiere of Handel's Arianna in Creta. Also in 2005, Lincoln Center Festival and Spoleto Festival USA presented Gotham Chamber Opera's U.S. premiere of Ottorino Respighi's fantastical puppet opera, La bella dormente nel bosco, featuring the puppetry of Basil Twist. In the spring of 2006, Benjamin Britten's Albert Herring received its first professional staging in New York in more than 30 years, and in winter 2007, Rossini's Il signor Bruschino received its first major professional New York staging in over a half century. In the 2007/2008 season, Gotham Chamber Opera celebrated dance with productions of Astor Piazzolla's tango opera María de Buenos Aires, directed by David Parsons and featuring Parsons Dance, and with a new work entitled Ariadne Unhinged, directed by Karole Armitage and featuring members of Armitage Gone! Dance. And in 2009, Mark Morris directed the U.S. stage premiere of Haydn's L'isola disabitata. Most recently, Gotham made news world-wide in 2010 for its high-tech production of Haydn's Il mondo della Luna Staged in the Hayden Planetarium of the American Museum of Natural History and for Montsalvatge's El gato con botas (Puss in Boots), at The New Victory Theater, staged by Tony Award-nominated director Moisés Kaufman with puppet design by Blind Summit Theatre. For more information, visit www.gothamchamberopera.org.For nearly 40 years, The Music-Theatre Group has held a singular place in the lives of culture-driven New Yorkers. Founded by Lyn Austin and currently led by Producing Director Diane Wondisford, M-TG blurs the lines between music, theatre and opera. Internationally renowned for its commitment to the creation of work that embraces new art forms, M-TG has produced a stunning roster of seminal works including Dr. Selavy's Magic Theatre (1972) by Stanley Silverman and Richard Foreman; The Mother of Us All by Virgil Thomson and Gertrude Stein, directed by Roland Gagnon (1972) and Stanley Silverman (1983); Nightclub Cantata (1977) by Elizabeth Swados; The Garden of Earthly Delights (1984) by Martha Clarke and Richard Peaslee; The Making of Americans (1985) by Al Carmines and Gertrude Stein, directed by Anne Bogart; Vienna: Lusthaus (1986) by Martha Clarke, Richard Peaslee, and Charles Mee; Juan Darien (1988) by Julie Taymor and Elliot Goldenthal; Cinderella/Cendrillon (1988) by Jules Massenet, with additional lyrics by Eve Ensler, directed by Anne Bogart; Extraordinary Measures (1995) by Eve Ensler and William Harper, with James Lecesne; Marco Polo (1996) by Tan Dun and Paul Griffiths, directed by Martha Clarke; Running Man (1999) by Diedre Murray and Cornelius Eady, directed by Diane Paulus; and Arjuna's Dilemma (2008) by Douglas J. Cuomo, directed by Robin Guarino. For more information, visit www.musictheatregroup.org.This year, Diane Wondisford celebrates her 28th anniversary with Music-Theatre Group. During her tenure, she has produced more then 80 new works either on her own or with M-TG's founder, Lyn Austin. Highlights of this extraordinary body of work include Diedre Murray and Cornelius Eady's Running Man, directed by Diane Paulus, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; Julie Taymor and Elliot Goldenthal's Juan Darien, nominated for five Tony Awards including Best Musical; and Tan Dun and Paul Griffith's Marco Polo, directed by Martha Clarke, and winner of the Grawemeyer Award.
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