|February 28, 2014|
|March 1, 2014|
New York, NY — Experiments in Opera announces their upcoming performances of six Radio Operas – short 10-15 minute long world premiere works that draw themes and inspirations ranging from a Samuel Beckett story, a skateboarding legend, founding father Thomas Paine, and stamp collecting, to a Martian colony, and more. This production, the second in Experiments in Opera’s 2013-14 Season at Abrons Arts Center, explores the questions: What does opera gain when it is presented without visuals? And, how do the different media of opera and radio play combine?
Radio Operas will be held on Friday February 28 and Saturday March 1, 8pm at in the Underground Theater at Abrons Arts Center, 466 Grand Street, New York. For tickets ($20 general, $15 student), patrons should call Theatermania at 212-352-3101 or visit www.AbronsArtsCenter.org. In subsequent weeks to these performances, Radio Operas will be featured online through a unique partnership with Q2 Music, WQXR’s online music station devoted to 20th and 21st century classical music. Additionally, in partnership with www.CultureBot.org, composers and collaborators featured on Radio Operas will take part in a free public discussion – Opera in Dialogue #2 on Saturday March 1, 5:00 PM, at the Underground Theater, Abrons Arts Center – exploring the ideas behind this innovative program.
THE SIX RADIO OPERAS:Scored for soprano, percussion, viola and electronics, ‘Ping’ by John King is an adaptation of a Samuel Beckett short story written in a stream of abstract imagery and thoughts. This performance uses musical substitutions to punctuate the flow of the spoken text and will feature soprano Joan La Barbara and electronics by John King.
‘The Mutt’ by Matthew Welch, takes as its subject freestyle skateboarder Rodney Mullen, who invented the vocabulary of modern skateboarding, endured family abuse in his youth, led a double life as a burgeoning biomedical engineer, and now is an established inventor. The music will feature James Moore and Taylor Levine, from the Dither electric guitar quartet, Matthew Welch on spoken word, and will involve electro-acoustically sequenced “Foley” skateboarding sounds by Steve Brush.
‘Thomas Paine in Violence’ by Paul Pinto is a mad psychedelic depiction of the final days of the American founding father’s life. Paine—portrayed by a soprano spurting speech, operatic vignettes and a number of extended vocal techniques—transports “herself” through space and time, including on “her” deathbed in 1809, the Stock Market of 2008, and the future. Scored for singer and electronics and featuring Joan La Barbara and Miguel Frasconi.
In ‘The Collector’ by Aaron Siegel, a character delivers a wild and delusional monologue detailing his dangerous obsession with stamp collecting. The natural rhythms of the spoken text are mimicked in increasing accuracy by the instruments in the ensemble. The Collector is scored for piano, soprano, vibraphone and actor and will feature pianist Karl Larson, percussionist Matt Evans, soprano Jamie Jordan and Aaron Siegel as the collector.
“I Need Space” by Jason Cady and Ann Heppermann tells the story of a couple moving to a Martian colony but breaking up on the way there. It is set in an alternate present: 2014 as it had been imagined by science fiction writers in the 1950s. I Need Space is scored for two voices, guitar, piano, synthesizer and Foley artist and features tenor Vince B. Vincent, soprano Erin Flannery, guitarist Mary Halvorson, pianist Karl Larson, Jason Cady on modular synthesizer and Foley artist Steve Brush.
“These Walls Can Talk (Working Title)” by Jonathan Mitchell tells the story of a guy who has figured out a way to extract sounds from objects. By inserting a needle into a wall (for example), he can measure the microscopic effects of variations of air pressure over time, and hear conversations that took place in that room. He can do the same thing with stones from Egypt, or the Great Wall of China.
The theme of ‘Radio Operas’ emerged from EiO’s interest in genre-oriented performance and innovative frames for short-form operatic works. Instead of prioritizing stage design and visual storytelling, these opera vignettes feature sound effects performed live by a foley artist, spoken text, music and singing and will rely on the imagination of the listener to create the image of the stories. This inversion of standard operatic presentation will be made complete when the six featured works are recorded at the studios of Q2 Music for world premiere webcasts and on-demand
streaming. Q2 Music will share one opera on consecutive nights Monday through Saturday at 8 pm during a special week in the month following the live performances.These are not nostalgic homages to the radio plays of yesteryear. EiO’s “Radio Operas” are daring new operatic works created by some of the premiere experimental composers of today and designed specifically with this program in mind. These are a collection of works exploring a wide range of stories highlighting the composers’ interests in Modern abstractionism, science fiction, melodrama, satire, hallucinatory experiences, scientific discoveries, and pop culture icons.
ABOUT EXPERIMENTS IN OPERA
Co-founded by composers Matthew Welch, Jason Cady, and Aaron Siegel, Experiments in Opera is a composer-driven initiative, featuring recent and new works with innovative answers to the traditional questions about how to connect words, story and music. Our activities respond to the pronounced need to nurture composers who are exploring musical work beyond a strictly concert setting, but furthermore into the hybrid genre of opera. Additionally Experiments in Opera builds supportive and informed audiences that are capable of contributing to its work.
In its first two programming seasons, Experiments in Opera has presented the work of more than 12 composers in three large-scale presentations aimed at expanding the collective understanding of experimental opera. Venues have included Le Poisson Rouge, Roulette, and Issue Project Room, and have featured works by composers Jason Cady, Aaron Siegel, Matthew Welch, Georges Aperghis, John Zorn, Robert Ashley, Joe Diebes, Ruby Fulton, Gabrielle Herbst, Mary Kouyoumdjian, Justin Tierney, Leaha Maria Villarreal and the Cough Button collective. Also featured were performances by pianist Emily Manzo, singer Erin Flannery, drummer Brian Chase, Hotel Elefant, and the performance collective Why Lie?
All of the work developed with Experiments in Opera is documented extensively in videos, images and writings that are available in an online catalogue at www.experimentsinopera.com. These insightful looks into the origins of artists’ ideas and their working habits help to support EIO’s mission of building a more robust conversation about how and why opera works the way it does.
EiO’s yearlong residency at Abrons began with Chorus of All Souls (November 1, 2013), and will culminate with the premiere of an evening length opera that has been in development with EiO for the past two seasons (Brother Brother, May 2-3, 2014).
The Abrons Arts Center, located at 466 Grand Street, New York, NY, is the performing and visual arts program of Henry Street Settlement. The Abrons supports the presentation of innovative, multi-disciplinary work; cultivates artists in all stages of their creative development through educational programs, commissions, and residencies; and serves as an intersection of cultural engagement for local, national, and international audiences and arts-workers. For more information, call (212) 598-0400 or visit www.AbronsArtsCenter.org.
Q2 Music is WQXR’s online music station dedicated to contemporary classical composers, innovative ensembles, and vibrant, live webcasts from New York City’s leading new-music venues. Q2 Music, a live 24/7 music stream available at www.wqxr.org/q2music, includes immersive festivals, insightful commentary from hosts and composers, full-length album streams, in-depth interviews with trend-setting artists, and special live events at The Greene Space at WQXR. Q2 Music is also available via the free WQXR app.