Eastman Opera Theatre Presents Sondheim’s ‘Assassins’

October 14, 2011

More Information:
For Media Only: Helene Snihur (585-274-1057, hsnihur@esm.rochester.edu)
For The Public: Eastman Concert Office (585-274-1110)

John Wilkes Booth (Garrett Rubin) is surrounded by other presidential assassins after he's killed President Lincoln.

Assassins, Stephen Sondheim’s provocative and disturbing take on the American Dream, will be presented by Eastman Opera Theatre November 3 through 6 in Kilbourn Hall at the Eastman School of Music.

In depicting the thoughts of nine individuals who killed or tried to kill U.S. Presidents, the musical contrasts the assassins’ claims of righting wrongs with their own shortcomings and motivations of fame, love, and revenge.  The work subverts the musical theatre genre by using different styles of American music – from ballads and love songs to Sousa marches and Broadway show tunes – out of context during executions, introspections, a suicide, and assassination attempts. While painting a dark portrait of the American Dream, Assassins also underlines public fascination with criminal acts and media attention.

“Part of Eastman Opera Theatre’s mission is exploring works ‘on the edge,’ that will challenge the singers in ways they don’t get from other lyric theater genres,” said Steven Daigle, dramatic director of Eastman Opera Theatre and chair of the Voice and Opera Department.  “Assassins may be controversial, but it is certainly relevant to our times, and we have a wonderful group of students who can inhabit the characters of Assassins.”

Assassins opens in a carnival shooting gallery, with the gallery’s Proprietor telling a collection of misfits that “Everybody’s Got the Right” and that their problems will be solved by killing a President. In the ensuing surreal and at times alarmingly funny scenes, the killers commiserate with and encourage each other. A Balladeer serves as commentator, noting the ineffectuality of the assassins, from John Wilkes Booth to John Hinkley Jr., at solving their own or any national problems. At the end, the assassins force the Balladeer off the stage and egg Lee Harvey Oswald into killing John F. Kennedy before turning their weapons on the audience.

Assassins features two alternating casts of Eastman School voice students, accompanied by an ensemble of Eastman orchestra musicians. Daigle is stage director for the production, and the conductor is Eastman doctoral student Kristin Ditlow.

The opera will be presented at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 3; Friday, Nov. 4, and on Saturday, Nov. 5, (NOTE: SATURDAY NIGHT PERFORMANCE IS SOLD OUT); with a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday, Nov. 6. Pre-performance lectures will be given on Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday one hour before the start of each performance in Room 120 in the Eastman School’s Main Hall.

Tickets are $10 to $20 (discounts with UR ID), available at the Eastman Theatre Box Office in the Eastman East Wing, 433 East Main St.;  by phone at 585-454-2100, or online at https://www.esm.rochester.edu/concerts/tickets.php

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Thursday, November 3

Eastman Opera Theatre: Sondheim’s Assassins. Steven Daigle, stage director; Kristin Ditlow, conductor.

7:30 PM

Kilbourn Hall, 26 Gibbs St.

Pre-performance lecture at 6:30 p.m. in Room 120

Tickets: $10 to $20 (discounts with UR ID), available at the Eastman Theatre Box Office in the Eastman East Wing, 433 East Main St.;  by phone at 585-454-2100, or online at https://www.esm.rochester.edu/concerts/tickets.php

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Friday, November 4

Eastman Opera Theatre: Sondheim’s Assassins. Steven Daigle, stage director; Kristin Ditlow, conductor.

7:30 PM

Kilbourn Hall, 26 Gibbs St.

Tickets: $10 to $20 (discounts with UR ID), available at the Eastman Theatre Box Office in the Eastman East Wing, 433 East Main St.;  by phone at 585-454-2100, or online at https://www.esm.rochester.edu/concerts/tickets.php

 

Saturday, November 5 — THIS PERFORMANCE IS SOLD OUT

Eastman Opera Theatre: Sondheim’s Assassins. Steven Daigle, stage director; Kristin Ditlow, conductor.

7:30 PM

Kilbourn Hall, 26 Gibbs St.

Pre-performance lecture at 6:30 p.m. in Room 120

Tickets: $10 to $20 (discounts with UR ID), available at the Eastman Theatre Box Office in the Eastman East Wing, 433 East Main St.;  by phone at 585-454-2100, or online at https://www.esm.rochester.edu/concerts/tickets.php

 

Sunday, November 6           

Eastman Opera Theatre: Sondheim’s Assassins. Steven Daigle, stage director; Kristin Ditlow, conductor.

2 PM

Kilbourn Hall, 26 Gibbs St.

Pre-performance lecture at 1 p.m. in Room 120

Tickets: $10 to $20 (discounts with UR ID), available at the Eastman Theatre Box Office in the Eastman East Wing, 433 East Main St.;  by phone at 585-454-2100, or online at https://www.esm.rochester.edu/concerts/tickets.php