World Premiere of Dark Sisters, a co-commission and co-production with Music-Theatre Group and Opera Company of Philadelphia, Mozart’s Il sogno di Scipione
Gotham Chamber Opera will celebrate its 10th anniversary by looking both to the future and to the past. Returning to a two-production schedule for the first time since 2008, the company will kick off the season with the world premiere of Dark Sisters, an opera by composer Nico Muhly and librettist Stephen Karam commissioned for the occasion. A co-commission and co-production of Gotham Chamber Opera, Music-Theatre Group, and the Opera Company of Philadelphia, Dark Sisters will premiere at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College in November 2011. Then, in April 2012, Gotham Chamber Opera will revive Mozart’s Il sogno di Scipione, which announced the company’s arrival on the New York cultural scene ten years ago. The original creative team of director Christopher Alden, set designer Andrew Cavanaugh Holland, costume designer Fabio Toblini, and lighting designer Allen Hahn will be reunited for the production, to be conducted by Gotham Chamber Opera’s Founding Artistic Director Neal Goren, at The Gerald W. Lynch Theater, John Jay College.
Gotham Chamber Opera – “where opera gets intimate” – is known for its cutting-edge productions of works intended for smaller venues. Haydn’s Il mondo della luna, presented in January 2010 at the Hayden Planetarium of the American Museum of Natural History, received worldwide attention for its celestial light show and use of laser technology. Other recent Gotham productions have been directed by such luminaries as Moisés Kaufman, Mark Morris, Diane Paulus, Karole Armitage, and David Parsons.
Music by Nico Muhly, Libretto by Stephen Karam, Directed by Rebecca Taichman, Conducted by Neal Goren,
Set and Video Design by Leo Warner and Mark Grimmer (for 59 Productions)
WORLD PREMIERE, a co-commission and co-production of Gotham Chamber Opera, Music-Theatre Group, and the Opera Company of Philadelphia
November 9-19, 2011, The Gerald W. Lynch Theater, John Jay College
In a world where personal identity is forbidden, Dark Sisters follows one woman’s dangerous attempt to escape her life as a member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), 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 famous 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 from the stories of the more than 80 wives of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. The cast will be headed by Caitlin Lynch and Kevin Burdette, with Kristina Bachrach, Jennifer Check, Eve Gigliotti, Margaret Lattimore, and Jennifer Zetlan. For more information, visit www.darksistersopera.org.
Il sogno di Scipione
Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Libretto by Pietro Metastasio, Directed by Christopher Alden, Conducted by Neal Goren
April 11-21, 2012, The Gerald W. Lynch Theater, John Jay College
Ten years ago, Gotham Chamber Opera burst onto New York’s opera scene with Mozart’s Il sogno di Scipione (Scipio’s Dream). To commemorate the anniversary of that debut production, Gotham Chamber Opera will revive Il sogno di Scipione in April 2012, reuniting its original design team. The highly-virtuosic one-act opera tells the story of the Roman Emperor Scipio Africanus, who, in a dream, awakens to find two goddesses before him: Fortune and Constancy. He must choose one or the other to guide him through life. Dazed by their enticements and threats, Scipio calls up his dead forebears for guidance in making this important and dangerous choice. Anthony Tommasini, classical music critic for The New York Times, wrote, “The company made a propitious debut with a delightful production.” Marion Lignana Rosenberg, in Opera News, asked, “How many opera companies have dared to offer as their debut production the American premiere of a work by a sixteen-year-old genius, its vocal writing of jaw-dropping difficulty, its allegorical ‘action’ virtually nonexistent, and yet managed to elicit whoops, stomps and whistles of approval from a captivated audience?” Charles Michener, in The New York Observer, added, “There is much to cheer about the arrival of this new company.” Beginning with its debut production of Il sogno di Scipione, Gotham Chamber Opera has launched the international careers of numerous singers, and continues to do so today. With its delivery of the highest musical and theatrical values and its success with audiences and critics alike, Gotham Chamber Opera continually reaffirms its place as what The New York Times called “the pre-eminent small opera company in New York.” The cast will include Michele Angelini, Marie-Eve Munger, Susannah Biller, Rachel Willis-Sorenson, Arthur Espiritu, and Chad Johnson.
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, Gotham Chamber Opera has, in its short history, 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 more than half a century. In the 2007/2008 season, Gotham Chamber Opera celebrated dance with 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. In 2009, Mark Morris directed the U.S. stage premiere of Haydn’s L’isola disabitata. Most recently, in 2010, Gotham made news world-wide 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.
Since opening its doors in 1988, the Gerald W. Lynch Theater has been an invaluable cultural resource for John Jay College and the larger New York City community. Under the new direction of Executive Director Shannon R. Mayers, the Theater is dedicated to the creation and presentation of performing arts programming of all disciplines with a special focus on how the artistic imagination can shed light on the many perceptions of justice in our society. The Theater has hosted prestigious events for Lincoln Center Festival, Great Performances, Juilliard, Alvin Ailey and numerous television specials for HBO and Comedy Central. For more information, visit www.jjay.cuny.edu/theater.php.