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Eastman Opera Theatre is thrilled to announce its 2021-2022 season – representing Mythos and Veritas, meaning myth and truth. The season is a remarkably diverse lineup including: a double bill of music theatre works by Kate Soper and Missy Mazzoli; the baroque opera La Calisto by Francesco Cavalli; Stephen Sondheim’s popular musical Into the Woods; and L’Amant Anonyme, an opera by a composer known in 18th-century Paris as “The Black Mozart” – Joseph Bologne, the Chavalier de Saint-Georges. This season also includes the postponed (virtual) production of Postcard from Morocco by Eastman alumnus Dominick Argento ‘58E (PhD) and John Donahue.
“As we return to live performances, Eastman Opera Theatre continues its charge to deliver thought-provoking and relevant lyric theater that prepares Eastman voice students for the professional world and engages audiences.” shares Steven Daigle, co-chair of the Voice and Opera Department, and Director of Eastman Opera Theatre (EOT). “The 2021 – 2022 EOT season contains an all-encompassing repertoire, ranging from the early baroque to contemporary opera and the Broadway musical. EOT has made a commitment to heighten awareness and the inclusion of BIPOC and women composer representation in our mainstage repertoire. Along with this, we are continuing discussions and dialogue with the voice students and faculty addressing the inherent biases in opera and the social responsibilities of a present-day lyric theater performer.”
“Eastman Opera Theatre’s 2021-2022 season is one of metamorphosis.” Says Timothy Long, Associate Professor of Opera. “Spanning 316 years, our repertoire presents stories of temptation, aspiration, destiny, love, and change. I am reminded of Ovid’s line, ‘I intend to speak of forms changed into new entities’ and I think our audiences will connect deeply with these great pieces.”
Launching the season, Here Be Sirens (Suite) and Proving Up will be presented as a double-bill in Kilbourn Hall (November 4-7), directed by Lindsay Baker, Instructor of Opera of Eastman Opera Theatre. Baker describes the double bill of works by contemporary American female composers as “some of the best of what’s new in opera today. In Kate Soper’s Here Be Sirens (Suite) (2014), three mythological Sirens lure sailors to their doom through song. Missy Mazzoli’s Proving Up (2018) tells of one family’s attempt to fulfill the American Dream by homesteading land in 1860s Nebraska.” Both works have haunting, unique sound worlds, Baker explains: “In the Sirens Suite, singers accompany themselves on a prepared piano, and the chamber orchestra of Proving Up features harmonicas and seven acoustic guitars.”
La Calisto will be the January production (January 29-30 and February 3-6), directed by Madeleine Snow, an Eastman Directing Master of Music Candidate.
“Full of mischief, irreverence, and outrageous flirtation, this Baroque opera is inspired by the myth of Callisto in Ovid’s Metamorphoses and explores themes of gender, sex, love, power, feminism, greed, mortality, and morality,” says Madeleine Snow. “Giove, king of the gods, is rebuffed by the naïve young nymph Calisto, an attendant to Diana, goddess of chastity, whom Calisto loves. With the help of his aide Mercurio, Giove disguises himself as Diana to seduce Calisto. Diana simultaneously falls in love with the peasant shepherd Endimione. Neither Calisto nor Endimione can tell the difference between the real and disguised Diana, so hilarity, confusion, and drama ensue.”
The spring 2021-2022 productions are remarkably contrasted: Stephen Sondheim’s Into The Woods, with a book by James Lapine (April 7-10, Kodak Hall); and L’Amant Anonyme (May Production), one of several operas with music by le Mozart noir (“The Black Mozart”), the remarkably talented violinist and composer Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges.
“Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s masterpiece weaves an original story around classic fairytale characters, twisting their own happy ending stories into a realistic fable of life’s challenges,” says director Steven Daigle. “Numerous themes in this musical are relevant to today’s social and political climate today,” he goes on. “There is an overall warning found within the story: Those who serve as teachers (parents, educators, etc.) have the responsibility to prepare the next generation to successfully navigate ‘the woods’. It’s a delicate balance of teaching self-determination, offering protection, and being honest.”
The illustrious 18th-century composer of color Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges was an accomplished composer, virtuoso violinist, conductor, and swordsman. L’amant Anonyme (The Anonymous Lover), to be presented in May, is his only surviving opera. According to director James Mitchell, a masters degree candidate, the opera, “presents a charming tale of love and hidden identity” within a romantic triangle. “Following Saint-Georges’s death,” Mitchell explains, “his impressive body of work fell largely into obscurity and his five other operas were lost. This production of L’amant Anonyme provides an opportunity to experience the beauty of Saint-Georges’s masterful writing and to work against the anonymity thrust upon his work by centuries of systemic racism.”
The three-semester-long Eastman Centennial celebration will begin in Fall 2021 and continues throughout 2022. Highlights include acclaimed guest artists performing alongside Eastman’s ensembles; national academic and music conferences; alumni events throughout the country; a documentary being produced in partnership with WXXI, and more. Pillar events include: “Opening of the Doors,” a community-driven celebration scheduled for March 3-6, 2022; “100 concerts to celebrate 100 years”; and a Meliora Weekend celebration in Fall 2022.
For up-to-date information on the Eastman Centennial, including feature stories, future events, videos, testimonials, ways to engage, and more, please visit our Centennial website at https://www.esm.rochester.edu/100.
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About Eastman Opera Theatre:
Eastman Opera Theatre offers a comprehensive program of training and performance opportunities for the modern singer-actor. Each year, productions feature a wide range of musical styles, unusual lyric forms and both traditional and contemporary repertoire that prepare the motivated student for the professional lyric theater world of tomorrow.
Most productions have two complete principal casts (given equal performances), are fully designed, performed in the original language, and depending on the venue, 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 both undergraduate and graduate students in all roles for all productions.
Recent and past productions include Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea; Glass’s Hydrogen Jukebox and Les Enfants Terribles; Guettel’s The Light in the Piazza; Gordon’s The Tibetan Book of the Dead; Mozart’s Don Giovanni; Puts’ Elizabeth Cree. EOT is committed to working with living composers and librettists. Recent production collaborations have included Adam Guettel, Jake Heggie, Gene Scheer, Ricky Ian Gordon Kevin Puts and Mark Campbell. In December 2020 during the pandemic, Eastman Opera Theatre represented a unique collaborative production, Our Voices, featuring the vocal music of six contemporary composers: Anthony Davis, Ricky Ian Gordon, Lori Laitman, Missy Mazzoli, Ben Moore, and Errollyn Wallen. These six renowned composers programmed their own music, collaborated with our students and artistic team to create six unique lyric theatrical programs.
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 1,700 members of the Rochester community, from young children through senior citizens, are enrolled in the Eastman Community Music School.
About the University of Rochester:
The University of Rochester is one of the nation’s leading private research universities, one of only 62-member institutions in the Association of American Universities. Located in Rochester, N.Y., the University gives undergraduates exceptional opportunities for interdisciplinary study and close collaboration with faculty through its unique cluster-based curriculum. Its College, School of Arts and Sciences, and Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences are complemented by the Eastman School of Music, Simon School of Business, Warner School of Education, Laboratory for Laser Energetics, School of Medicine and Dentistry, School of Nursing, Eastman Institute for Oral Health, and the Memorial Art Gallery.