Beth Morrison Projects (BMP) and HERE announce programming for the inaugural PROTOTYPE: Opera/Theatre/Now, running today, January 9-19, 2013, in New York City.
This two-week festival, distilling the curatorial visions of artistic directors Kristin Marting (of HERE), Beth Morrison (of BMP), and Kim Whitener (of HERE), features visionary music-theatre and opera-theatre works by pioneering artists from NYC and around the world. PROTOTYPE is unique in providing a permanent theatrical home for the presentation of such quality productions, spotlighting the high-caliber creations of an exciting new generation of composers and collaborators, with a focus on chamber-sized works.
The Festival debuts with works from notable rising stars: a BMP and HERE co-production world premiere of Mohammed Fairouz's Sumeida's Song, the first opera by an Arab- American composer to be fully staged in America, directed by David Herskovits; a presentation of David T. Little's Soldier Songs, based on recorded interviews with veterans of five wars, directed by Yuval Sharon; a multimedia cabaret concert performed by Los Angeles's "audacious" dark-glam opera band Timur and the Dime Museum; a concert reading of Paolo Prestini's The Aging Magician, in collaboration with stage director/designer Julian Crouch, with text by Rinde Eckert. Except for Soldier Songs, all above performances will take place at HERE, exact dates TBA. Also to be announced, a visionary international presentation, along with panels to coincide with Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP) and International Society for the Performing Arts (ISPA).
The Festival gives voice to serious young composers whose work would generally be categorized as 'contemporary classical' or 'post- classical' rather than the more commercial musical theatre idiom that is being explored by other musical theatre entities in New York and elsewhere. A new body of work is beginning to explode out of New York and onto the national scene, and as this cohort of composers claims the opera-theatre and music-theatre genre in a new and unique way, PROTOTYPE will be integral in importing and exporting quality productions on an international platform. Leadership funding for PROTOTYPE has been provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Watch this space for the new PROTOTYPE website, now in Beta: http://prototypefestival.org.
CO-PRODUCTION, WORLD PREMIERE
Created and composed by Mohammed Fairouz
Directed by David Herskovits
Based on Tawfiq El-Hakim's Song of Death, adapted by Mohammed Fairouz
Sumeida's Song is Mohammed Fairouz's first opera, and the first Arab-American opera to be fully staged in America. Based on the classic Tawfiq El-Hakim play, Song of Death, the opera follows the return of a young man, Alwan, from Cairo to his Upper Egyptian peasant village. He defies his family's expectations to fulfill an age-old blood feud, instead revealing the true purpose of his return: to end the cycle of violence. For his attempts to bring light and modernity to his village, and for challenging the structure of his society, he pays the ultimate price.
Tawfiq El-Hakim's story is well known in the Arab world, and Fairouz's operatic adaptation captures the underlying aspirations of young people, like Alwan, who stand up for their ideals and for aspirations of a better life. Alwan's resonant proclamation - "I won't kill" - embodies the noble mission of justice and progress in this timeless, timely, and universal story. This world-premiere production will feature a chamber orchestration with Arabic and western instruments. Mezzo-soprano Rachel Calloway leads the cast of four singers.
MOHAMMED FAIROUZ, born in 1985, has been recognized as an "expert in vocal writing" by the New Yorker magazine and as a "post-millennial Schubert" by Gramophone Magazine. Hailed by The New York Times as "an important new artistic voice," the Arab- American composer melds Middle-Eastern modes and Western structures to deeply expressive effect. His large-scale works, including four symphonies and an opera, engage major geopolitical and philosophical themes with persuasive craft and a marked seriousness of purpose.
He is the subject of a BBC TV documentary, has been featured on NPR's All Things Considered and BBC/PRI's The World, and has been profiled in Symphony, Strings, New Music Box, and the Houston Chronicle, among others. His works are published by Peermusic Classical. He lives in New York City. For more, visit www.mohammedfairouz.com.
David Herskovits is the Founding Artistic Director of OBIE Award-winning Target Margin Theater. David has directed a broad range of new opera, including works by Pascal Dusapin, Nick Brooke, Thomas Cabaniss, David Soldier, Julia Greenberg, and Robin Goldwasser, for The Lincoln Center Festival, The Bonn Biennale, Spoleto Festival USA, The Kitchen and others. Recently, David directed Uncle Vanya and The Tempest (HERE), and created Second Language (The Chocolate Factory) and The Really Big Once (St. Marks Incubator, and Georgetown Performing Arts Center). He was a 2011 Fellow of the American Academy in Jerusalem and on the 2012 Faculty of the Mellon School of Theater and Performance Research at Harvard. He has taught and lectured at Yale, NYU, the Institut Internationale de la Marionnette in France, and many other institutions, and published essays in The New York Times, American Theatre, Theatre Magazine, and Performing Arts Journal, among others. For more, visit http://www.targetmargin.org.
Created and composed by David T. Little
Libretto adapted by the composer, from recorded interviews with veterans of five wars
Directed by Yuval Sharon
Conducted by Todd Reynolds
Soldier Songs is an evening-length multimedia event from composer David T. Little that combines elements of theater, opera, rock-infused- concert music, and animation to explore the perceptions versus the realities of the Soldier, the exploration of loss and exploitation of innocence, and the difficulty of expressing the truth of war. Though music can be easily co- opted to serve a political or ideological message, it can equally be a vehicle for reflection, engagement, and emotional connection, as is seen in this gripping opera-theatre work.
The libretto, created by the composer, was adapted from recorded interviews with veterans of five wars. Soldier Songs traces the shift in perception of war from the age of 6 to the age of 66. We follow the abstract character through the three phases of life: Youth (playing war games) Warrior (time served in the military) and Elder (aged, wise, reflective). It is a chilling and realistic view of our media-crazed, war machine culture, and of the nature of power in war. Each of the eleven songs explores a different aspect of the experience, ranging from rage, to fear, to joy, to grief. Multi-media is employed less as a collection of recorded evidence and more as a critique of the media's ability to both glamorize and falsify the truth of combat. Soldier Songs asks the tough questions and tells the tough stories through its poignant libretto, driving music, and surprising visual counterpoint. The tension between the visual and aural experience of our production works to dispel the numbness felt by those lucky enough to only experience war through the comfort of our living rooms.
Soldier Songs is presented in partnership with Pace University's Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts, featuring Newspeak ensemble and baritone Christopher Burchett as the Soldier.
David T. Little's potently dramatic music draws upon his experience as a rock drummer, and fuses classical and popular idioms to powerful effect. Often undertaking political and existential themes, his music has been described by The New York Times as "dramatically wild...rustling, raunchy and eclectic," showing "real imagination." New Yorker critic Alex Ross declared himself "completely gripped," noting that "every badass new-music ensemble in the city will want to play him."
Little's first full-length opera, Dog Days, premieres this fall. Upcoming projects include new works for the London Sinfonietta, Kronos Quartet, Maya Beiser, Nadia Sirota, and others. His music has been performed internationally, heard at the Tanglewood, Aspen, and Cabrillo Festivals, and the Bang on a Can Marathon. Advocates include eighth blackbird, the London Sinfonietta, the Brooklyn Philharmonic, Alarm Will Sound, and Marin Alsop, with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. He recently received his doctorate from Princeton University, and is a member of the HERE Artist Residency Program (HARP). His music is published by Project Schott New York. For more, visit http://davidtlittle.com.
YUVAL SHARON, named a "Face to Watch in 2012" by the Los Angeles Times, has been creating an unconventional body of work that explores the boundaries of music, visual art, and concert theater. His productions have been described as "dizzyingly spectacular" (New York Magazine) and "ingenious" (San Francisco Chronicle). Yuval directed a landmark production of John Cage Song Books with San Francisco Symphony and Carnegie Hall with Joan La Barbara, Meredith Monk, and Jessye Norman. He also founded and serves as Artistic Director of The Industry in Los Angeles, where his inaugural production of Anne LeBaron's hyperopera, Crescent City, was hailed by the Los Angeles Times as "reshaping LA opera."
Yuval was Project Director for four years of New York City Opera's VOX, and has worked with international houses such as San Francisco Opera, the Mariinsky Theater, the Bregenzer Festspiele, and the Komische Oper. He was assistant director to Achim Freyer on the Los Angeles Ring Cycle and Associate Director of the world premiere of Stockhausen's Mittwoch aus Licht with Graham Vick. For more, visit www.YuvalSharon.com.
An INTERNATIONAL PRESENTATION, Festival panels, and dates for all events will be announced later in the season.
TIMUR AND THE DIME MUSEUM
The dark-glam opera band TIMUR AND THE DIME MUSEUM fuses indie, opera, pop & vaudeville sounds, creating a rich amalgam of sensibilities with Bjork fierceness, and Screamin' Jay Hawkins theatricality. Led by the acclaimed young Kazakhstani opera singer, Timur Bekbosunov, and profiled in LA Weekly's Best of L.A. People Issue 2011, the band's stunning intensity brings songs to cure the new depression with a bohemian attitude. Timur and the Dime Museum will be presented in a cabaret setting, including late-night performances.
Immediately following their successful debut at the ALOUD series at the Mark Taper Auditiorium, they established a strong following of fans, and received endorsements from artists such as Amanda Palmer, DeVotchKa, and Sondre Lerche. The band has performed in numerous venues around LA and beyond, including Portland, San Francisco, and Seattle. The band creates unconventional and fascinating sounds, combining Timur's "charismatic tenor" (Los Angeles Times) with electric guitar, upright bass, accordion, bass clarinet, viola, and drums.
Embracing the notion of multi-disciplinary contemporary projects, T&DM has begun a series of collaborations, directly working with composers on their music. Timur, a noted interpreter of contemporary and cross-cultural music, and the members of the band, all are graduates of California Institute of the Arts, and individually, have performed in countless major projects, productions, festivals and venues around the world. For more, visit http://timurandthedimemuseum.com.
THE AGING MAGICIAN
Created and composed by Paola Prestini
In collaboration with stage director & designer Julian Crouch
Text written and performed by Rinde Eckert
The Aging Magician is a composite of sonic and visual elements used to paint the fading world of the title character. In this collaboration between composer Paola Prestini and stage director/designer Julian Crouch, a narrator and gondolier shepherd the aging magician through a symbolic last ride through Venice, where he falls in love with a young beautiful boy in his last grasps at life. A sculpture/ instrument designed by Mark Stewart engulfs the stage and slowly illuminates throughout the work, calling the magician to another world.