New York City Opera: VOX 2010

Highlights from NYC Opera's Adventurous Series of Contemporary American Opera

« previous episode | next episode »

Sunday, July 25, 2010

This week on Cued Up on Q2: New York City Opera's VOX 2010. On April 30 and May 1, 2010, New York City Opera premiered ten diverse and experimental pieces that push the boundaries of American opera, from composers ranging from Michael Gordon to Dafnis Prieto, Du Yun to David T. Little. Q2 presents an exclusive webcast of some of these genre-stretching and game-changing works and is also happy to offer for a limited time high-quality streaming audio of each opera.

New York City Opera’s VOX is an exciting opera lab that offers American composers and librettists the opportunity to hear their new works with a full orchestra and excellent artists. Every year, VOX presents previously un-produced works from both emerging and established composers.

For the last half century, New York City Opera has been a leader in the development of American opera. City Opera has an unmatched repertory of American works including those of more than 50 American composers and has shaped an American aesthetic for opera through the world premieres of more than 25 American operas. To date, the festival has presented excerpts from over 100 new operas with more than 40 going on to full productions.

Acquanetta by Michael Gordon

Michael Gordon's Acquanetta is set in the heyday of Hollywood B-movie glitz. Acquanetta, a famous pin-up model, shocked Universal Pictures by walking away from a blossoming career as an actress in order to marry a car salesman. Mr. Gordon's opera captures the complex drama of this event and serves as a deconstruction of Acquanetta's most famous film, the 1943 cult classic Captive Wild Woman. The cast includes soprano Amelia Watkins, soprano Katherine Jolly, mezzo-soprano Heather Johnson, and tenor Jon-Michael Ball. The libretto is by Deborah Artman.


Dog Days by David T. Little

David T. Little's Dog Days, taken from a short story by Judy Budnitz, tells the story of a family hiding in their suburban home as war rages in the United States. As their neighbors disappear around them, a strange man, who dresses and acts like a dog, appears at the family's door and befriends the youngest daughter, Lisa. The family comes to accept the man/dog, Prince, and treat him as a pet dog even though it is clear to them that he is a man. Many months pass and the family is starving. To the horror of Lisa and her mother, the desperate father and brothers descend upon Prince to kill and eat him. The cast includes lyric soprano Lauren Warsham, soprano Lisa Vroman, mezzo-soprano Ariana Chris and tenor Andrew Drost. The librettist is Royce Vavrek.


Evangline Revisited by Julian Wachner

Julian Wachner's Evangeline Revisited retells the story of Evangeline, a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. In 1755, the English seized the farms of the Acadians in Nova Scotia who were then exiled to the United States. The character Evangeline is separated from her lover, Gabriel, and she desperately searches the country for him. Decades later, she finally finds him as he lays on his deathbed. Wachner's score is composed in a post-Bernstein style, and the French libretto is by Alexis Nouss. The cast includes soprano Kerri Marcniko, soprano Amanda Pabyan, countertenor Daniel Bubeck and mezzo-soprano Krysty Swann.


Inventory by Brian Current

Brian Current's Inventory is a whimsical work in which a young woman daydreams during her shift at a shoe store. In a stream of consciousness, the woman recalls and lists various shoe names and sizes. Mr. Current's capricious score employs many tremelandi and trills, creating a fantastical and light-hearted sound world. The cast includes lyric soprano Lisa Vroman, and the libretto is by Anton Piatigorsky.


Oceanic Verses by Paola Prestini

Paola Prestini's Oceanic Verses is a series of tableaux, each of which depicts a different cultural ritual from small towns on the Adriatic shore. Each tableau explores different and contrasting roles of women, such as the martyr, courtesan, nurturer and ruler. Ms. Prestini collected field recordings of Italian folk music and her score interweaves these collected folk melodies with folksongs she herself composed. Ms. Prestini's collected recordings serve as electronic resonances throughout the prodcution. The cast includes soprano Hila Plitmann, dramatic vocalist Helga Davis, Italian folk singer Claudio Prima and baritone Christopher Burchett.


Revolution of Forms by Anthony Davis and Dafnis Prieto

Anthony Davis and Dafnis Prieto's Revolution of Forms is loosely bassed on John Loomis' book Revolution of Forms, which examines the Escueleas Nacionales de Arte near Havana, Cuba. The production, a metaphor for the Cuban revolution, depicts Castro and Guevara commissioning architect Ricardo Porro to build art schools on the site of the Havana Country Club. The community builds the schools together, but the architecture proves too controversial. As a result, the schools are not finished and Porro is exiled. The vibrant score fuses Cuban dance forms with European classical music and American jazz. The cast includes tenor John Rodger, soprano Michelle Areyzaga, mezzo-soprano Gabriela Garcia, and baritone Ross Benoliel. The libretto is by Charles Koppelman and Alma Guillermoprieto.


Song from the Uproar by Missy Mazzoli

Missy Mazzoli's Song from the Uproar is a work based on the fascinating journals of Isabelle Eberhardt, a young Swiss woman who left her home for a nomadic life of adventure in north Africa. From 1900-1904, Eberhardt traveled the desert dressed as a man, converted to Islam and married Slimane Ahnni, an Algerian soldier. In 1904, at the age of 27, Eberhardt perished in a flash flood in Algeria. Ms. Mazzoli's lush score is influenced by both romanticism and minimalism, with elements of rock and electronica as well. The cast includes mezzo-soprano Ariana Chris, mezzo-soprano Nina Yoshida Nelsen, and baritone Christopher Burchett, and the libretto is by the composer.


With Blood, With Ink by Daniel Crozier

Daniel Crozier's With Blood, With Ink recounts the story of Sor Juana de la Cruz, a 17th Century Mexican nun who was an intellectual, poet and champion of women's rights. The Inquisition forced her to sign a blood oath renouncing her life's work. Mr. Crozier's production depicts Sor Juana on her deathbed, confronting a visage of her younger self. The cast includes soprano Michelle Areyzaga, soprano Kerri Marcinko, soprano Jennifer Tiller, mezzo-soprano Krysty Swann, tenor Andrew Drost, bass-baritone Stephen Bryant and soprano Amelia Watkins. The librettist is Peter M. Krask.


A Star Across the Ocean by Scott Davenport Richards

Scott Davenport Richards' Star Across the Ocean addresses the political and familial problems that interracial families faced in the mid-1960's. The story chronicles the struggles a black American theater director and his wife, a white dancer, encounter when they take their 4-year-old son to Paris for a touring production. This autobiographical music theater piece interweaves the family's experience in Paris with those of legendary expatriates such as Josephine Baker and Quincy Jones. The cast includes soprano Katherine Jolly, mezzo-soprano Rebecca Ringle, Joaquin Delmar, baritone Sidney Outlaw, tenor Darius de Haas and lyric baritone Chuck Cooper. The libretto is by the composer.


Zolle by Du Yun

Du Yun's Zolle depicts a dead woman land-watcher, Zolle, who wanders through the space between memory and reality, between life and the afterlife. She must choose between living and dying, but she is unable to. In the end, she decides to let go of both life and death, and turns into a mound of earth. Du Yun's score employs spoken text as well as lyrical and dramatic vocal lines, and evokes the psychology of being an immigrant adapting to a new culture and land. Dangerous landscapes are depicted by dark timbres and ghostly trills. The cast includes soprano Hila Plitmann, mezzo-soprano Hai-Ting Chinn and tenor Brian Anderson. The libretto is by the composer.


Comments [3]

Hi June, thanks for your enthusiasm and though we do not have full recordings of previous years available for on-demand streaming, we're looking forward to spotlighting more contemporary American operas as part of VOX 2011.

Jul. 27 2010 11:40 AM
June from NYC

FANTASTIC -- thank you for making full recordings available. Please do it in future years. (Do you have them for the past years?)

Jul. 26 2010 03:44 AM
Chris from CT

Does anyone know if i can record the Vox program this sunday on to am MP3 player?

Jul. 22 2010 10:34 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

The WQXR e-newsletter. Show highlights, links to music news, on-demand concerts, events from The Greene Space and more.