Eastman Opera Theatre Presents: Postcard from Morocco On-Demand Streaming Starting August 13

June 14, 2021

More Information:
For Media Inquiries: Eastman Public Relations and Social Media Coordinator: Katey Padden (585-274-1052, kpadden@esm.rochester.edu)

posterEastman Opera Theatre (EOT) is thrilled to premiere Postcard from Morocco, released for on-demand streaming starting August 13. Postcard from Morocco is by Eastman alumnus Dominick Argento ‘58E (PhD) and John Donahue. This production will be directed by Steven Daigle and music directed by Timothy Long.

This innovative production will be designed, produced, and presented as a pre-recorded or live stream originating from Eastman Opera Theatre’s Scene Shop. As Eastman Opera Theatre plans productions during this unusual time and celebrates the 2021 Eastman School of Music Centennial, Postcard from Morocco works particularly well for a non-traditional production, because of the small number of singers and instrumentalists required, and the surreal plot about a group of strangers in a train station. Although they are together, each character lives in a separate reality as they protect and guard their possessions. Therefore, an element of social distancing is found in the story.

Postcard from Morocco “has no clearly discernible plot but makes its effects through a powerful series of images and inferences,” says Steven Daigle. “The opera highlights human cruelty, and the resulting armor we all put up. Questioning others’ motivations, these characters spend the entire opera suspicious of one another, guarding their possessions because their possessions define them and their existence.”

Produced in EOT’s scene shop, the production was conceptualized, filmed with ‘green screen’ techniques that combined the live performers recorded separately, then superimposed the video and audio tracks together to make an ensemble through film editing. With real furniture, props, and period costumes, the Integrated Media Designer Charles Murdock Lucas created a one-of-a-kind virtual world that allowed a 1930s Moroccan train station to morph into the fantasies in the minds of the seven characters.

Composer and librettist Dominick Argento ‘58E (1927-2019) was one of America’s leading composers and among the most frequently performed 20th century composers of opera. He composed more than a dozen operas, including The Boor (1957), The Masque of Angels (1963), Postcard From Morocco (1970), The Voyage of Edgar Allan Poe (1975), A Water Bird Talk (1981), Casanova’s Homecoming (1985), and The Aspen Papers (1988), which have been performed by the Dallas Opera (whose premiere performance of The Aspern Papers was telecast nationally in PBS’ series Great Performances), and others.

Several of Argento’s song cycles are contemporary classics, especially From the Diary of Virginia Woolf, which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1975. Argento’s symphonic works have been performed by many of America’s leading orchestras, and he wrote frequently for choruses, most notably the Te Deum, which was recorded for Virgin Classics and subsequently nominated for a Grammy Award. 

Among Dominick Argento;s  many honors were the OPERA America Award for Achievement, Chorus America’s Founder’s Award, the Peabody Medal, and several honorary doctorates. Since 1958, Argento taught at the University of Minnesota, and after his retirement was a Professor Emeritus of Composition. The Eastman School of Music honored Dominick Argento with its Alumni Achievement Award in 1979.

As so many schools struggle with the challenges of vocal and operatic practicing and interacting due to COVID-19 social distancing guidelines, EOT is choosing to turn unusual and difficult circumstances into positive and unique experiences for Eastman students, focusing on the creative process.

Visit here for more information on all three of EOT’s Summer Season shows.

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About Eastman Opera Theatre:

Eastman Opera Theatre offers a comprehensive program of training and performance opportunities.  Many Eastman graduates, like distinguished alumni Renée Fleming, Anthony Dean Griffey, Julia Bullock, Erin Morley, and Nicole Cabell, enter the operatic profession as a natural extension of this experience.

A minimum of three productions are mounted yearly, each within a different-sized performance venue at the Eastman School, including the recently renovated 2300 seat Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, the 450-seat Kilbourn Hall, and the 75-seat Opera Studio. Productions feature a wide range of musical styles, most are performed in the original language, and depending on the venue, many use full orchestral accompaniment. Studio productions, scenes programs, and outreach events are also presented to further enhance the variety of performance experience. Eastman Opera Theatre utilizes a “class and degree blind” approach to casting, meaning that roles go to the singer with the best audition, starting their Junior year in school and with the approval of their studio voice teacher. Most of our productions feature a mix of upper-class undergraduates (juniors and seniors), masters, and doctoral students.

Recent and past productions include Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi; Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte, Le nozze di Figaro, and Don Giovanni; Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore; Puccini’s La Rondine and La Bohème; Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Albert Herring; Kander and Ebb’s Cabaret; Sondheim’s A Little Night Music, Sweeney Todd, and Assassins; Floyd’s Susannah; Handel’s Xerxes and Orlando; Rossini’s Il Turco in Italia; Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortilèges; Bock’s She Loves Me; Poulenc’s Dialogues of the Carmelites; Lehár’s The Merry Widow; Weill’s Street Scene; Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea; Glass’s Hydrogen Jukebox and Les Enfants Terribles; Guettel’s The Light in the Piazza; and Gordon’s Tibetan Book of the Dead. In December 2020, Eastman Opera Theatre represented its first full online presentation, Our Voices, six separate videos featuring the vocal music of six contemporary composers: Anthony Davis, Ricky Ian Gordon, Lori Laitman, Missy Mazzoli, Ben Moore, and Errollyn Wallen. 

 

About Eastman School of Music: 

The Eastman School of Music was founded in 1921 by industrialist and philanthropist George Eastman (1854-1932), founder of Eastman Kodak Company. It was the first professional school of the University of Rochester. Mr. Eastman’s dream was that his school would provide a broad education in the liberal arts as well as superb musical training.

More than 900 students are enrolled in the Collegiate Division of the Eastman School of Music—about 500 undergraduates and 400 graduate students. They come from almost every state, and approximately 23 percent are from other countries. They are taught by a faculty comprised of more than 130 highly regarded performers, composers, conductors, scholars, and educators. They are Pulitzer Prize winners, Grammy winners, Emmy winners, Guggenheim fellows, ASCAP Award recipients, published authors, recording artists, and acclaimed musicians who have performed in the world’s greatest concert halls. Each year, Eastman’s students, faculty members, and guest artists present more than 900 concerts to the Rochester community. Additionally, more than 1,500 members of the Rochester community, from young children through senior citizens, are enrolled in the Eastman Community Music School.