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American Lyric Theater (ALT) presents InsightALT: Opera in Eden
American Lyric Theater (ALT) announced today InsightALT: Opera in Eden, a performance featuring three new one-act operas on themes of temptation developed by Resident Artists in the company’s nationally acclaimed Composer Librettist Development Program. ALT’s current Resident Artists (Composers Jasmine Barnes, Johanny Navarro, and Alex Weiser; and Librettists Joshua Banbury, Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton, and Marcus Yi) were selected from over 200 applicants to join the CLDP this season. Opera in Eden, which is the culminating event of the first year of these artists’ residency, will take place at National Sawdust in Brooklyn on Tuesday, May 17th, 2022 at 7:00pm. Tickets are $30 in advance; and $35 at the door. For more information, and to purchase tickets to InsightALT: Opera in Eden, please visit https://www.altnyc.org/public-events
The three one-act operas to be featured on the program have been developed through a workshop taught by composer/librettist Mark Adamo. “For this project, the three writing teams are all provided with the same structural outline that serves as a thematic scaffold upon which the writers develop their operas – but the stories for each opera are completely up to the artists,” explained ALT’s Artistic & General Director, Lawrence Edelson. “The structural outline is designed to encourage architectural and motivic thinking by librettists and composers alike. This project has been a core element of the CLDP since the program’s inception and has proven invaluable in fostering collaboration throughout the writing process – from a work’s early outline – through the development of the libretto – to the composition of the score. Over the past fifteen years, this project has not only strengthened composers and librettists’ dramaturgical skills, but has also yielded a wide array of exciting one-act operas, many of which have gone on to full production.”
The three operas to be featured in concert as part of Opera in Eden are:
I WILL FOLLOW YOU INTO THE DARK
Composer: Jasmine Barnes; Librettist: Marcus Yi
Featuring: Brittany Logan, Cierra Byrd and Vladyslav Buialskyi
THE MAGIC CABBAGE
Composer: Johanny Navarro; Librettist: Joshua Banbury
Featuring: Cierra Byrd, Jonah Hoskins, and Samson Setu
THE FOREST OF SECRETS
Composer: Alex Weiser; Librettist: Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton
Featuring: Sylvia D’Eramo, Siphokazi Molteno, and Jonah Hoskins
This year marks the first season during which ALT is collaborating with the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Development Artist Program on this project. “We are thrilled to be able to partner with the Lindemann Young Artist Program, and to have such an extraordinary group of singers join us to collaborate with our Resident Artists this season,” said Kelly Kuo, ALT’s Associate Artistic Director, who will conduct the performance. “Experiencing what outstanding creative interpreters can contribute to bringing an opera to life is a vital part of the learning process for our Resident Artists as they continue to hone their craft.”
Launched in 2007, ALT’s Composer Librettist Development Program (CLDP) is the most intensive mentorship initiative for opera composers and librettists in the country, with a highly-credentialed faculty and proven track record for developing the skills of gifted artists, incubating successful operas, and fostering lasting collaborations. The CLDP has served as a model of innovation for other training and new works initiatives around the country, but remains the only full-time training program for both opera composers and librettists in the country. At the center of the CLDP is ALT’s core-curriculum, which consists of classroom training and hands-on workshops with some of the country’s leading working artists. This season, artist mentors have included composer/librettist Mark Adamo; librettist Mark Campbell; director and ALT’s founder Lawrence Edelson; dramaturg Cori Ellison; composer Ricky Ian Gordon; librettist Michael Korie; conductor and ALT’s Associate Artistic Director Kelly Kuo; composer Scott Davenport Richards; and mezzo soprano Adriana Zabala.
American Lyric Theater’s mentorship programs for composers, librettists and dramaturgs are made possible by generous lead funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, with additional support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, the New York State Council on the Arts, the Howard Gilman Foundation, the Howard & Sarah D. Solomon Foundation, The Dubose and Dorothy Heyward Memorial Fund, OPERA America’s Innovation Grants / The Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation, the Amphion Foundation, the Aaron Copland Fund for Music, and the Alice M. Ditson Fund of Columbia University.
ABOUT AMERICAN LYRIC THEATER’S NEW RESIDENT ARTISTS
JASMINE ARIELLE BARNES (she/her)
Jasmine Barnes is a composer and vocalist whose music is performed all over the world. Barnes most recently has held residencies as a composer fellow at Chautauqua Opera and at All Classical Portland. She has been commissioned by numerous organizations including the Kennedy Center / Washington National Opera (in celebration of the Kennedy Center’s 50th year anniversary), Bare Opera, Resonance Ensemble, Tapestry Choir, City Works Cleveland, LyricFest Philadelphia, Baltimore Choral Arts, Burleigh Music Festival, Symphony Number One, Baltimore Musicales, The Voic(ed) Project, among others. Her 10-minute opera entitled The Late Walk, commissioned by Bare Opera as part of the Decameron Opera Coalition, has been archived in the Library of Congress. She was named a winner of the Black Brilliance award by The Pleiades Project, recognized as the Gwendolyn J Brinkley Fine Arts First Place Award Winner of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. South Central Region 2021, and named a finalist of All Classical Portland’s Recording Inclusivity Initiative. Beyond her commissions, her work has been performed by Fresno Philharmonic Orchestra, Portland Opera, Tulsa Opera, Hampsong Foundation (at the Elbphilharmonie), Tennessee State University Meistersingers, University of North Iowa, University of Memphis, Indiana University (graduate song literature class), and championed by singers including Karen Slack, Leah Hawkins, Leona Mitchell, Marquita Lister, Gabrielle Gilliam, Alexandria Crichlow, Christian Simmons. Jasmine has also held the position of Head of Compositional Studies and Jazz Voice Studies at Booker T Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas, TX, and holds her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in Music from Morgan State University.
JOHANNY NAVARRO (she/her)
Johanny Navarro’s exciting catalog of works is rich in variety and deeply rooted in Caribbean musical aesthetics and Puerto Rican musical culture. Her work has been presented in Puerto Rico, Cuba, Mexico, United States, Spain, and France. She has been commissioned by celebrated soloists Elisa Torres, Luis Miguel Rojas, and Andrea González Caballero; various ensembles including The Catholic University of America Symphony Orchestra, the American Harp Society Inc., Coralia from the University of Puerto Rico, the Victory Players, the Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts, and the New World Symphony, America’s Orchestral Academy. Chosen by The Arts Club of Washington D.C. for its centennial celebration, her piece Celebration for Piano Trio (2016) was presented as a commemorative musical piece. Videntes Stellam for Choir and Orchestra (2016) premiered at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington D.C. and was televised by the Catholic Television Network, EWTN. With this majestic and colorful work, the composer also made her debut with the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra, conducted by maestro Roselín Pabón at the José Miguel Agrelot Coliseum. Produced by the composer, her first chamber opera Frenesí (2017) premiered in Washington D.C. and later in Puerto Rico. Navarro was chosen to participate in the Puccini International Opera Composition Course in Luca, Italia, mentored by composer and director Giralomo Deraco. Her chamber opera Redención (2019) was premiered at the Puccini Chamber Opera Festival 2021 in Italy. Currently, Navarro is composing her opera ¿Y los Pasteles? Ópera Jíbara in two acts which was awarded a 2020 Discovery Grant for Female Composers by OPERA America.
ALEX WEISER (he/him)
Broad gestures and rich textures are hallmarks of the “compelling” (The New York Times), “deliciously wistful” (San Francisco Classical Voice), “personal, expressive, and bold,” (I Care If You Listen) music of composer Alex Weiser. Born and raised in New York City, Weiser creates acutely cosmopolitan music combining a deeply felt historical perspective with a vibrant forward-looking creativity. Weiser’s debut album, and all the days were purple, was named a 2020 Pulitzer Prize Finalist for Music. Released by Cantaloupe Music in April 2019, the album includes songs in Yiddish and English and has been praised as “ravishing” (The New Yorker) and “utterly original and exquisitely unsettling… pitch-perfect.” (In Geveb). Weiser recently completed an opera with librettist Ben Kaplan called State of the Jews. Hailed as “stunning, heavenly, marvelous” by Israeli National Public Radio, the opera is based on the life of Theodor Herzl and juxtaposes a historical narrative with the story of Theodor’s conflicted relationship with his wife, Julie Herzl, and the toll his political views and activities took on their family life. Developed as a part of fellowships and residencies with The American Opera Project, LABA, Roulette, and Exploring the Metropolis, the opera received a series of preview performances at the 14th Street Y in December 2019 and awaits a premiere production. An energetic advocate for contemporary classical music, Weiser co-founded and directs Kettle Corn New Music, and was a director of the MATA Festival for nearly 5 years. Weiser is now the Director of Public Programs at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research where he curates programs that explore Jewish history and culture with an eye toward influential Jewish contributions to contemporary culture.
JOSHUA BANBURY (he/him)
Joshua Banbury enjoys a career as a classically trained singer and librettist. Originally from Austin, Texas, Joshua graduated with honors from The New School, receiving an interdisciplinary education in opera performance, vocal jazz, creative writing, and arts administration. Most recently, Joshua recorded a jazz song cycle entitled Children of Bronzeville, based on the book by Gwendolyn Brooks, composed by Patrick Zimmerli, in collaboration with Aaron Diehl, Helen Sung, Vanisha Gould, and Samara Joy. He has sung at venues including The George Washington Carver Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, National Sawdust, Glimmerglass Opera, The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and Minton’s Playhouse. Joshua has received commissions from The New School, The National YoungArts Foundation, Google NYC, Havre de Grace Jazz Festival, The George Washington Carver Museum, and the Coalition for African Americans in the Performing Arts. In 2020 his first opera, The Illustrator was selected for Fort Worth Opera’s Librettist Workshop. Most recently, he was commissioned by The Kennedy Center and the Washington National Opera to write an original ten-minute libretto for the company’s 50th anniversary season. Joshua, twenty-six years old, resides in Austin and NYC and continues to perform across the country. In December 2021, he will make his Kennedy Center Millennium Stage debut with his trio.
DEBORAH D.E.E.P MOUTON (she/her)
Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton is an internationally known writer, educator, activist, performer, and the first Black Poet Laureate of Houston, Texas. Formerly ranked the #2 Best Female Performance Poet in the World, her recent poetry collection, Newsworthy, garnered her a Pushcart nomination, was named a finalist for the 2019 Writer’s League of Texas Book Award, and received honorable mention for the Summerlee Book Prize. Its German translation, under the title “Berichtenswert,” is set to be released in Summer 2021 by Elif Verlag. The opera, Marian’s Song, for which she wrote the libretto for HGOCo, debuted in 2020 to roaring reviews. Honored by Houston Business Journal as a part of their 2021 40 Under 40 class, D.E.E.P. has been a finalist for Texas State Poet Laureate, a Kennedy Center Citizen fellowship, and the prestigious Breadloaf Retreat. Her work has been highlighted and studied in Canada, England, New Zealand, and Germany. She recently performed as a part of the Kennedy Center’s Arts Across America virtual performance and was named a Houston Artist Commissioning Project award winner by the Society for the Performing Arts Houston. Her second book, Black Chameleon is set to release in 2023 by Henry Holt & Co. A storybook opera, entitled Lula, the Mighty Griot, which reinterprets one of the stories from Black Chameleon is set to debut in Fall 2021 with Houston Grand Opera’s HGOCo educational touring division. She lives and creates in Houston, TX.
MARCUS YI (he/him)
Marcus Yi is an award-winning theater writer/composer/director and performer based in New York. He has created work in Singapore, Atlanta and New York and is the artistic director of Morbid Dumpling Productions. He has worked on over 100 productions and his recently created work include Micro Shrimp The Musical (Winner of 11th Annual NJ Playwrights Contest), 29x/y (WIld Project, Paradise Factory), Pretty Little Mouth (Roy Arias), The Procedure (Gene Frankel Theater), The Ephemeral Lightness of Dreams: the dream plays (Lynn Redgrave Theatre), Thicker Than Water: the blood plays and Baby Baby!. His work has been produced by the National Asian Artists Project, Yangtze Rep, Prospect Theater, Pan Asian Rep, Asian American Film Lab, The Secret Theatre, New Jersey Playwrights Contest, Ingenue Theater, Modern Griot Theatre, Ticket2eternity Productions, Queens Players, Rising Solo, POPLAB, URNetworkAlliance, NYC Actors and Playwrights Collective, All Out Arts, Short Play Lab, Angry Head Productions and Living Room Theater. His work has been seen at the New York Times Center, Green Room 42, The Duplex, National Opera Center, Midtown International Theater Festival, Planet Connections Theater Festivity, Fresh Fruit Festival and the Midwinter Madness Theater Festival. Marcus was named one of Indie Theater Now’s 2014 People of the Year, is an Indie Theater Now Playwright, and an inaugural member of the 92nd Street Y Musical Theater Development Lab Collective.
ABOUT AMERICAN LYRIC THEATER (ALT)
Great Operas Don’t Just Happen. American Lyric Theater (ALT) was founded in 2005 by Lawrence Edelson to build a new body of operatic repertoire by nurturing composers and librettists, providing an incubator for their collaborations, and contributing new works to the national canon. Many opera companies commission and perform new works; but ALT is the only company in the United States that offers extensive, full-time mentorship for emerging operatic writers. While the traditional company model focuses on producing a season, ALT’s focus is on serving the needs of composers and librettists, developing new works, and collaborating with larger producing companies to help usher those works into the repertoire. In 2012, ALT was the first company dedicated to artist mentorship rather than operatic production to be recognized by OPERA America as a Professional Company Member – a testament to ALT’s service to the field. In 2020, ALT reinforced its commitment to racial justice and equity through the creation of the Opera Writers Diversity and Representation Initiative (OWDARI), the goal of which is to increase participation in the CLDP by BIPOC artists; and ultimately, increase BIPOC artists’ contributions to the national canon of new operas. Through discussions catalyzed by the OWDARI, ALT has transitioned to a shared leadership model through which ALT’s founder Lawrence Edelson now shares artistic and curatorial responsibilities with the company’s recently appointed Associate Artistic Director, conductor Kelly Kuo. Working together with ALT’s board of directors and artistic staff, Lawrence and Kelly are leading the company’s efforts to create more equitable opportunities for BIPOC artists through all of the company’s programs. ALT is home to the Composer Librettist Development Program, the only full-time, multi-year program in the country for emerging opera composers, librettists, and dramaturgs, with a proven track record for developing the skills of gifted artists, incubating successful operas, and fostering lasting collaborations. Prominent alumni of the CLDP include composers Clarice Assad, Jeremy Howard Beck, Christopher Cerrone, Justine F. Chen, Theo Popov, Kamala Sankaram, Jorge Sosa, and Aleksandra Vrebalov; and librettists Tony Asaro, Deborah Brevoort, Stephanie Fleischmann, David Johnston, E.M. Lewis, Lila Palmer, David Simpatico, and Royce Vavrek. Audiences around the country are enjoying operas developed through the CLDP and by CLDP alumni at a wide variety of venues, including Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, Washington National Opera, Fort Worth Opera, Opera Philadelphia, Opera Saratoga, Utah Opera, The PROTOTYPE Festival, and many more. For more information about American Lyric Theater, please visit www.altnyc.org
ABOUT THE LINDEMANN YOUNG ARTIST DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM
The Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program was created in 1980 to identify and develop extraordinarily talented young artists in the realm of opera. The program has trained a new generation of celebrated American and international opera singers, as well as coaches and pianists, who perform at the highest standards in productions at the Met and opera houses around the world. In recognition and gratitude for their leadership and generous support, the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program has been named after Mr. and Mrs. George Lindemann. While many opera companies across the country conduct young artist training programs, the Met’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program is unparalleled for the quality and scope of resources available to its participants. Throughout their instruction, young artists draw upon the vast pool of world–renowned talent available at the Met, including current and former Met artists, internationally recognized coaches, and master teachers. Program participants have access to daily rehearsals and practice sessions, where they can observe opera’s great singers preparing their roles for the current Met repertory. They are also presented with the opportunity to participate in Met productions, as many singers perform supporting roles and pianists serve as assistant conductors. For biographies of the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program singers, please visit: https://www.metopera.org/about/auditions/lindemann-young-artist-development-program/2021-22-roster/