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The Constitution: A Secular Oratorio Back by Popular Demand

September 17, 2019 @ 8:00 PM - September 28, 2019 @ 10:00 PM

Four more performances at Behind the Door
beginning on Constitution Day, September 17, 2019.
By Benjamin Yarmolinsky

Four Performances Only
Tuesday, September 17 (Constitution Day), 2019, 8:00 pm
Tuesday, September 24, 2019, 8:00 pm
Thursday, September 26, 2019, 8:00 pm
Saturday, September 28, 2019, 8:00 pm

Behind the Door
219 Court Street
Brooklyn NY 11201

F and G trains to Bergen Street and 2, 3, 4, and 5 trains to Borough Hall

General Admission $35 / Premium Front Row Seating $60

Vertical Player Repertory premiered The Constitution, A Secular Oratorio, by American composer Benjamin Yarmolinsky in June 2019 for two sold-out performances. A setting for chorus and soloists of substantial portions of the United States Constitution, including highlights of Articles 1-7, the Bill of Rights, and subsequent amendments, the premiere of this timely new work will be extended for four more performances in September, in VPR’s original staging and with the original cast of 24 singers accompanied by piano.

The U.S. Constitution and the structure of the U.S. government have been much in the forefront of recent news. We invite you to revisit our democracy’s rule book in a new way, and reflect on the rights it guarantees. Yarmolinsky, a composer called “wildly eclectic” by The New York Times, specializes in tackling legal texts, for example, the Miranda Rights, the IRS 1040, and the transcripts of the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas hearings set as an opera (Clarence & Anita). In this oratorio, he draws from the history of American and European music, combining jazzy rhythms, blues, folk, gospel, and Handelian flourishes, to give voice to the Constitution’s iconic words in a clear, vigorous, unexpectedly humorous, and highly singable style.

OperaWire called The Constitution “one of the most unique and fascinating works in New York” and included it on the national list of “5 Operas to See.” Parterre Box praised VPR’s “lively, impassioned performances,” and “nuanced, vibrant interpretation of the composer’s score.” We’re excited to have the original cast back together for these performances. Join us for an immersion into the words and meaning of our essential social contract, through the vehicle of music and glorious singing.
Producer and co-director Judith Barnes says “Given the disturbing state of affairs in our country, I’ve been going over and over in my mind the importance of performing this piece right now, of engaging artistically with this crucial document that defines our rights and freedoms as citizens, aspiring citizens, and residents of this country. Singing and embodying these carefully crafted legal phrases at rehearsal has heightened our desire to create a communal listening experience for our audience, to collectively invite these concepts to enter us in the way that only music can. Words set to music linger in the memory-and Ben’s music is very catchy. People might walk away from this performance humming an amendment or two! Besides being enjoyable, I hope the experience will spark our resolve to uphold the constitutional ideals of justice, freedom, human dignity, and participation in government, ideals which are in constant need of our awareness and protection.”

Peter Szep, conductor
Judith Barnes, producer and co-director
James Rutherford, co-director
Matthew Lobaugh, piano
Karni Dorell, scenic design
Sarah Krauss, assistant director
Christopher Denver, stage manager
Lydia Barnes, scenic artist
Steve Witting, director of productions

Liz Lang, soprano
Michelle Trovato, soprano
Linda Collazo, mezzo soprano
Andrew Egbuchiem, countertenor
Anthony P. McGlaun, tenor
Byron Singleton, tenor
Blake Burroughs, bass-baritone
Roland Burks, bass-baritone

Sarah Arena, Frances Burgos-Linares, Sarah Downs, JoAnne Hoffman, Jeanne Marie Holcomb, Aley Kent, Laura Kolb-Araujo, Susan Kommel, Robert Lewis, James Maduakor, Isaac Mann, Richard Mann, Chitra Raghavan, Ittai Ratzersdorfer, Gordon Reynolds, Lena Wu

About Vertical Player Repertory
A pioneer of the alternative opera movement in New York City, Vertical Player Repertory (VPR) creates ensemble-driven opera theatre in extraordinary venues. Founded by Judith Barnes in 1998 in a Brooklyn storefront, VPR’s unconventional spirit has informed an eclectic mix of repertoire from the 17th to the 21st centuries, including Puccini’s Il Tabarro on an oil tanker in the last active shipping port in Brooklyn, Cavalli’s La Calistoin a factory courtyard on the Gowanus Canal, and Yoav Gal’s comic opera The Dwarf in a maze-like raw space in midtown Manhattan. The ongoing performance series miniatures behind the door offers vocal recitals, instrumental concerts and theater in VPR’s storefront, Behind the Door, described by The New York Times as “one of the most intimate spaces for opera in all New York.” Vertical Player Repertory’s work has been called “exhilarating” (Opera News), “intense” (The New York Times), “thrilling theater” (Opera Today), “wonderfully smart and simple” (Seen and Heard International), and “consistently innovative” (TimeOut NY). Vertical Player Repertory is a founding member of the New York Opera Alliance.

“miniatures Behind the Door 2019 series” is sponsored, in part, by the Greater New York Arts Development Fund of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, administered by the Brooklyn Arts Council (BAC), and with generous support from the Tiger Baron Foundation and the Masterworks Foundation.


September 17, 2019 @ 8:00 PM
September 28, 2019 @ 10:00 PM


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