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Eastman Opera Theatre (EOT) is thrilled to announce its 2022-2023 season. The season offers a remarkably diverse lineup including: Lear on the Second Floor (2013), an opera by Anthony Davis inspired by Shakespeare’s King Lear; Alcina (1735) by Georg Friedrich Händel; and Florencia en el Amazonas (1996) by Daniel Catán, inspired by Nobel Prize-winning author Gabriel García Márquez’s novel Love in the Time of Cholera.
Launching the season on November 3-6, Lear on the Second Floor will be performed in Kilbourn Hall, directed by Steve Daigle, conducted by Timonthy Long. Aging, family dynamics, manipulation, suffering, madness, foolishness, order, vision, and loyalty: the themes and character relationships in Shakespeare’s epic tragedy King Lear haunt present-day reality in Davis and Havis’ opera Lear on the Second Floor. Dr. Nora Lear, a respected, successful neuroscientist, as well as a mother with high expecations and feuding children, is plagued by early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease, leading to betrayal by her family and her own loss of memory. She is grasping for control and eventually gives in to what she has become. Davis’ musical language allows the listener to inhabit Nora’s mind, with her feelings of confusion, fear, panic, and loneliness.
“Alzheimer’s Disease now finds itself generationally in almost every family throughout the world. Many involved in this production, and the audiences who will attend, have loved ones suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia,” says Daigle Artistic Director of Eastman Opera Theatre. “Lear on the Second Floor is a poignant, relevant, and personal story. We should all feel grateful to Anthony Davis and Allan Havis for bringing further awareness of this devastating disease through this compelling opera.”
Handel’s Alcina will be the winter production (January 28-29 and February 2-5), directed by James Kenon Mitchell (candidate for the MM in Opera Direction), conducted by Timothy Long. Alcina tells a tale that pits true love against desire, truth against deception, and honesty against disguise. Alcina is sung in Italian with supertitles.
The heroic Bradamante will create a new profile as “Ricciardo” to infiltrate the landscapes of Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, YouTube and TikTok and to enter a world of influencers, beauty gurus, and content creators determined to keep their cheekbones high and their subscribers higher. But who can be trusted once the selfie-stick comes out?
“On an island filled with snakes and vipers, sorcery creates beauty where there was none and seduces countless prisoners, punishing them not with death, but with transformation into animals or objects of stone,” says Mitchell. “Performed in Italian and in a one-act format, this production will take place on the islands of social media and explore a world where a filter, a ring light and the right angles can turn anyone into a sorcerer.”
The spring 2023 production, Florencia en el Amazonas, will take place in Kodak Hall (March 30-31 and April 1-2) directed by Octavio Cardenas and conducted by Wilson Southerland. The opera will be sung in Spanish with English supertitles.
Florencia en el Amazonas concerns what its Mexican-born composer described as “the journey to transcendent love…with all its intricacies, subtleties, wretchedness, and glorious happiness,” with a cast of sympathetic and generally believable characters. Garcia Marquez’s story employs magic realism, a narrative technique that is characterized by the matter-of-fact inclusion of fantastic or mythical elements into seemingly realistic fiction. Catán’s setting of this intriguing story paints the characters in richly varied music of ravishing beauty, particularly for the protagonist, Florencia, a legendary but intensely private opera singer harboring a burning desire to find her long-lost lover Cristóbal.
“The passengers of El Dorado find out that life and love, just like the waters of a river, wait for no one and always moves forward,” says Octavio Cardenas. “As they embark in a trip through the magical landscape of the Amazon, they discover the meaning of living in the moment and that happiness is made of fleeting moments of happiness and sadness. Sometimes what we yearn for may be closer than we think.”
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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 collaborators 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 programed 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.
The three-semester-long Eastman Centennial celebration began 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. 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.
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.