Eastman Opera Theatre is thrilled to launch its season with a double-bill of contemporary operas by American composers, Here Be Sirens (Suite) and Proving Up, in Kilbourn Hall November 4-7. This double-bill will be directed by Lindsay Baker, Instructor of Opera of Eastman Opera Theatre, with musical direction by Timothy Long, Music Director of Eastman Opera Theatre.
Lindsay Baker describes the double-bill of works by Kate Soper and Missy Mazzoli as “some of the best of what’s new in opera today. In Soper’s Here Be Sirens (Suite) (2014), three mythological Sirens lure sailors to their doom through song. Mazzoli’s Proving Up (2018) tells of one family’s attempt to fulfill the American Dream by homesteading land in 1870s Nebraska.”
Baker continues, “By putting these two pieces together in one evening of opera, we highlight a motif of acute longing and humans’ need to attach meaning to the unexplainable. What happens when we heed the call of an inherent yearning or drive? What does it cost to pursue a dream? What turns dreams into obsessions? Do obsessions always result in catastrophe? We are excited to welcome audiences into this dramatic landscape for an evening of surreal magic and intense passion.”
“Kate Soper’s evocative use of the voice and prepared piano creates a sonic soundscape that gives the Sirens a unique musical language that will be new to Eastman audiences. Helping to create this language has been one of the most fascinating rehearsal periods in my time at Eastman,” says Music Director Tim Long.
Long continues, “Proving Up is one of the newest hits of Missy Mazzoli and Royce Vavrek. They tell the story of the Nebraska farm family with such direct simplicity. The harmonies and dramatic flow easily invite the audience into their inner world of storytelling.” (Mazzoli describes her score as “music unmoored from time … imagined fiddle tones, Baroque gestures, scrap metal percussion, seven acoustic guitars, eight harmonicas, and harpsichord in addition to the chamber ensemble.”).
“Our students are excelling in both pieces,” says Long, “and we cannot wait to share them with our audiences. “
Kate Soper visited Eastman in 2019 as a guest composer and vocalist for the world premiere of her work Missing Scenes: The Winter’s Tale performed by Eastman Musica Nova. Soper is a composer, performer, and writer whose work explores the integration of drama and rhetoric into musical structure, and the wonderfully treacherous landscape of the human voice. She has been hailed by The Boston Globe as “a composer of trenchant, sometimes discomforting, power” and by The New Yorker for her “limpid., exacting vocalism, impetuous theatricality, and mastery of the modernist style.” A Pulitzer Prize finalist, Soper has received awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Koussevitzky Foundation, Chamber Music America, the Lili Boulanger Memorial Fund, the Music Theory Society of New York State, and ASCAP.
Recently deemed Musical America’s 2022 Composer of the Year, Missy Mazzoli has had her music performed by the Kronos Quartet, LA Opera, eighth blackbird, the BBC Symphony, Scottish Opera, and many others. Mazzoli is considered “one of the more consistently inventive, surprising composers now working in New York” (New York Times) and “Brooklyn’s post-millennial Mozart” (Time Out NY). In 2018 she became one of the first two women to receive a mainstage commission from the Metropolitan Opera and was also nominated for a Grammy award.
Tickets for Eastman Opera Theatre’s Double Bill of Here Be Sirens (Suite) and Proving Up are $20 for the general public and free to UR ID holders. Tickets can be purchased at the Eastman Theatre Box Office, 433 East Main St. or online at https://www.esm.rochester.edu/theatre/
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.