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Works & Process at the Guggenheim presents Opera Theatre of Saint Louis: Awakenings

April 5, 2020 @ 7:30 PM - 9:00 PM

Works & Process, the performing arts series at the Guggenheim, presents Opera Theatre of Saint Louis: Awakenings by Tobias Picker and Aryeh Lev Stollman on Sunday, April 5, 2020 at 7:30pm.

This opera recounts the fate of the thousands who in the 1920s succumbed to a mysterious sleeping sickness, rendering them immobile and voiceless for more than forty years. Through this time, daughters grew up without their mothers, husbands remarried, and mothers wasted away from grief. Decades later, a brilliant, young doctor, Dr. Oliver Sacks, discovered a revolutionary treatment to bring his patients back to life, though to a world they no longer recognized.

Based on Dr. Sacks’s book Awakenings, the opera is a moving tale of memories, loss, and life rediscovered. Prior to its world premiere, composer Tobias Picker, librettist Aryeh Lev Stollman, conductor Roberto Kalb, and Artistic Director of Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and Awakenings stage director, James Robinson, participate in a moderated discussion with performances from original cast members Joyce El-Khoury, Paul Groves, Jarrett Logan Porter, and David Portillo.

$45, $40 members (unless otherwise noted)
$10 TodayTix Lottery and student rush tickets one hour before performance, based on availability (student tickets for those under 30 with valid ID)
Priority ticket access and preferred seat selection starts Dec 10 for $500+ Friends of Works & Process and Guggenheim members at the Associate level and above.
For more information, call 212 758 0024 or 212 423 3587, Mon-Fri, 1-5 pm, or visit worksandprocess.org.
Peter B. Lewis Theater
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
1071 Fifth Avenue at 89th Street
Subway: 4, 5, 6, or Q train to 86th Street
Bus: M1, M2, M3, or M4 bus on Madison or Fifth Avenue

Lead funding for Works & Process is provided by the Ford Foundation,
Florence Gould Foundation, the Christian Humann Foundation, Mertz Gilmore Foundation, Stavros Niarchos Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and Evelyn Sharp Foundation, with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Tobias Picker, whose music has been described as “displaying a distinctively soulful style that is one of the glories of the current musical scene” by
BBC Music Magazine and “a genuine creator with a fertile unforced vein of invention” by The New Yorker, has drawn performances and commissions by the world’s leading musicians, orchestras, and opera houses.

Picker’s operas have been commissioned by the Santa Fe Opera (Emmeline), the LA Opera (Fantastic Mr. Fox), the Dallas Opera (Thérèse Raquin), San Francisco Opera (Dolores Claiborne), and the Metropolitan Opera (An American Tragedy). His operas have gone on to be produced by New York City Opera, San Diego Opera, L’Opera de Montreal, Chicago Opera Theater, Covent Garden, Opera Holland Park, English Touring Opera, the Glimmerglass Festival, and many other distinguished companies. In 2015, Opera Theatre of St. Louis mounted a major new production of Picker’s
Emmeline, that garnered universal acclaim as “a work of gripping emotional intensity and extraordinary musical expressivity” (Dallas Morning News); “one of the best operas written in the past 25 years” (Wall Street Journal); and “the greatest American opera of the 20th century” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch).  In 2020, Opera Theater of St. Louis will premiere Picker’s sixth opera,
Awakenings, based on the novel by Oliver Sacks.

In addition, Picker has composed numerous symphonic works, commissioned and performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Helsinki Philharmonic, L’Orchestre de Paris, Munich Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Opéra de Montréal, Philadelphia Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Vienna RSO, and Zurich Tonhalle among others. In addition to three symphonies, he has composed concertos for violin, viola, cello, oboe, and four piano concertos and a ballet, Awakenings commissioned by the Rambert Dance Company.

Tobias Picker’s discography includes the 2020 Grammy Award-winning “Best Opera Recording” of Fantastic Mr. Fox (BMOP Sound), as well as numerous recordings for such labels as Sony Classics, Virgin Classics, Angel, Chandos, Ondine, Albany, and Wergo. His upcoming releases include a debut recording of Dolores Claiborne and a recording of his melodrama The Encantadasperformed by the Nashville Symphony and narrated by Mr. Picker himself, both for Naxos.

Mr. Picker has received numerous awards and prizes and was elected to lifetime membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2012. He served as composer-in-residence of the Houston Symphony (1985-1990) and subsequently for the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival and the Pacific Music Festival.

Picker was born in New York City in 1954. He studied composition with Charles Wuorinen and received his BM degree from Manhattan School of Music in 1976. He has served as Artistic Director or Tulsa Opera since 2016. His music is published exclusively by Schott Music.

Aryeh Lev Stollman’s is the author of three highly praised novels and numerous short stories. His first novel, The Far Euphrates (Riverhead) is a winner of a Lambda Award, an American Library Association Notable Book, a Los Angeles Times Book Review Recommended Book of the Year, and a National Book Critics Circle Notable Book. The Far Euphrates has been translated into five languages. His second novel, The Illuminated Soul (Riverhead), is a winner of Hadassah Magazine’s Harold U. Ribalow Prize.

Mr. Stollman’s short fiction has appeared in Story, American Short Fiction, The Yale Review, The Southwest Review, and is upcoming in LitMag. His story collection The Dialogues of Time and Entropy was also published by Riverhead, and his story “Lotte Returns!” was commissioned and broadcast by National Public Radio.

His third novel, Queen of Jerusalem, will be published in spring 2020 by Aryeh Nir/Modan in Hebrew translation under the title Divrei y’mei Naamah.

Mr. Stollman has written the libretto for Awakenings, an opera composed by Tobias Picker, based on the book by Oliver Sacks, and commissioned by Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, to be premiered June 2020.

He is a neuroradiologist at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.

About Opera Theatre of Saint Louis
Opera Theatre of Saint Louis is a spring festival featuring casts of the opera world’s most exciting singers accompanied by members of the Grammy Award-winning St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. Each season, OTSL presents four inventive new productions in English during the months of May and June. In addition to presenting innovative interpretations of classics, OTSL is also committed to premiering new and relevant operas by prominent composers; since its inaugural season in 1976, 28 operas have received their world premieres at Opera Theatre. The company’s competitive young artist programs foster the next generation of emerging American singers; these programs have been a springboard for countless artists to launch international careers. OTSL is led by General Director Andrew Jorgensen and Artistic Director James Robinson.

Works & Process at the Guggenheim
Described by The New York Times as “an exceptional opportunity to understand something of the creative process,” for 35 years, New Yorkers have been able to see, hear, and meet the most acclaimed artists in the world, in an intimate setting unlike any other. Works & Process, the performing arts series at the Guggenheim, has championed new works and offered audiences unprecedented access to generations of leading creators and performers. Most performances take place in the Guggenheim’s intimate Frank Lloyd Wright-designed 273-seat Peter B. Lewis Theater. In 2017, Works & Process established a new residency and commissioning program, inviting artists to create new works, made in and for the iconic Guggenheim rotunda. worksandprocess.org.


April 5, 2020
7:30 PM - 9:00 PM


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