Hear a Christmas fairy tale set in the magical world of “The Wizard of Oz”!
Librettist Edward Einhorn and I first started dreaming up The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, a family opera adaptation of the 1902 holiday classic by L. Frank Baum, back in 2015 while we were both fellows in AOP’s Composers & the Voice program.
This nontraditional Christmas fairy tale set in the magical world of “The Wizard of Oz” has always captured my imagination. Now I’m delighted to share that there will be a workshop preview of our opera-in-progress, in person in NYC and streaming online!
Hear 25 minutes of excerpts from The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, performed in a piano-vocal concert reading of two holiday operas next Thursday, June 2 at 7:30pm EDT at OPERA America’s National Opera Center, 330 7th Ave, New York, NY, in a presentation by Edward Einhorn’s Untitled Theater Company No. 61. “Claus”will be paired with excerpts from Exagoge, Edward’s opera on Passover themes with composer Avner Finberg.
Reserve your ticket here (recommended donation $10; masks and proof of vaccination required). A free livestream will also be available on YouTube and posted for 48 hours following the performance.
OPERA America has awarded a Commissioning Grant for Female Composers to Houston Grand Opera for Turn and Burn, my upcoming opera with librettist Megan Cohen!
In Turn and Burn, small-town barrel racing champion Shayla Taylor and ambitious executive Jamie Hernandez aim for a big win at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. When an accident threatens Shayla’s career-defining race, the women discover each other’s strength in adversity. Our original story informed by interviews with rodeo athletes offers a feminist perspective on contemporary rodeo culture.
A 70-minute one act opera for five singers with an eight-piece amplified chamber-rock ensemble, Turn and Burn is scheduled for a World Premiere production with stage direction by Leslie Swackhamer in Houston next year.
OPERA America’s grant incentivizes opera companies in the United States to commission and produce works by female composers. In addition to Houston Grand Opera’s commission of my work, recipients this year include Beth Morrison Projects for Du Yun’s “In Our Daughter’s Eyes,” which is written by Michael Joseph McQuilken; Boston Lyric Opera for Ellen Reid and librettist Christopher Oscar PeÃ±a’s “The Desert Inn;” Guerilla Opera for “HER: alive / un / dead: a media opera” by Emily Koh; HERE for Heather Christian’s “A Practical Breviary: Terce;” Opera on Tap for Kamala Sankaram and librettist Kristin Marting’s “Joan of the City;” Opera Orlando for Stella C. Y. Sung and librettist Mark Campbell’s “The Secret River;” Opera Philadelphia for Missy Mazzoli and librettist Royce Vavrek’s “The Listeners;” and The American Opera Project for Rima Fan and librettist Karen Fisher’s “Precipice.”
I am honored to be included in such accomplished and visionary company!
As composers, musicians, organizations, and our audiences work to stay connected during this extended hiatus from live performances, many are turning to online video interviews as a way to continue engaging with the motivating ideas and individuals behind the music of our moment.
Last month, I was honored to be invited by three different interview series for public conversations about my work as a composer writing opera, choral music, and music inspired by nature, respectively.
In early June, librettist Megan Cohen and I were interviewed by Patrick Summers, Artistic Director of Houston Grand Opera, in a private Zoom event for friends of HGO that explored our upcoming opera, Turn and Burn, commissioned by the company for a World Premiere production next year.
My next interview was with Matthew Guard, Artistic Director of vocal ensemble Skylark. Our conversation centered on my choral cycle inspired by Victorian art, Transform the World with Beauty, which Skylark commissioned and toured last year. To watch my interview and lots of great content, please consider subscribing to Skylark+, a special platform to support the ensemble’s artists during this pandemic.
Most recently, I spoke with a composer colleague, Ryan Suleiman, for his weekly interview series Reflections on Music and Nature. We discussed my approach and motivations in composing music inspired by landscape, nature, and place; artists as activists of the imagination; and Landscape Music, the international composers’ network I direct and which Ryan is a member of. Our conversation is available for viewing anytime on YouTube (see below).
Several upcoming performances have been canceled or postponed due to COVID-19; see list of all upcoming events for current information.
This past December, librettist Megan Cohen and I headed back to Houston for the first music workshop of Turn and Burn,our chamber opera commissioned by Houston Grand Opera through HGOco’s “Song of Houston” initiative. Four days of work with our performers and directors culminated in a presentation of the complete 75-minute score, drafted for a reduced orchestration of piano, electric and acoustic guitar, and drum set.
Since then I’ve been revising and orchestrating in anticipation of our second music workshop May 18-22, which will include the full score for rock-classical octet! We’re thrilled with how the piece is taking shape and excited to be taking these final steps in its development towards the premiere production in February 2021.
In the meantime… on Wednesday, March 11 at 7:30pm, rodeo fans will preview the operain a performance by Miss Leslie and Her Juke Jointers at Rodeo Houston’s “Stars Over Texas Stage”! This reprisal of HGO’s Rodeo Songs cycle will include the World Premiere of “Next Rodeo”, my country song with lyrics by Megan, sung from the perspective of a barrel racer on the road, adapted from the opera. This will be the first performance of my music by a honky-tonk band! Learn more about the event.
Next month, librettist Megan Cohen and I head back to Houston for the first music workshop of Turn and Burn, our chamber opera commissioned by Houston Grand Opera’s HGOco for premiere in Spring 2021.
Four days of work with our performers and directors will culminate in a presentation on December 9th of the complete 75-minute score, drafted for a reduced orchestration of piano, electric and acoustic guitar, and drum set. Revisions and orchestration will follow, leading to a full score workshop in 2020.
I can’t wait to share the fruits of this process with you all!
I’m spending two months in Taos, NM as an Artist-in-Residence at The Helene Wurlitzer Foundation of New Mexico. I’m hard at work on the score of Turn and Burn, my upcoming chamber opera about rodeo for Houston Grand Opera’s HGOco.
As a three-time alumna of the Wurlitzer Foundation’s residency, I’ll also be giving an Artist Talk at The Harwood Museum of Art in conjunction with their special exhibit, The Legacy of Helene Wurlitzer: Works from the Harwood Collection. This event takes place on Friday, March 8, 2019 at 5:30pm. Details at harwoodmuseum.org.
Next month in New Mexico: My chamber opera Mabel’s Call will be given a staged workshop production, featuring the full 85-minute score with six principals, chorus, and chamber ensemble!
The accomplished faculty directors and student performers of the University of New Mexico Opera Theatre have spent the semester taking a deep dive into this opera and its historical inspiration: Mabel Dodge Luhan, the influential salon hostess, philanthropist, writer, and international icon of the avant-garde, and Taos, New Mexico in the 1910s and ’20s.
I’m incredibly honored by this collaboration and the invitation to work with the university as an artist in residence. After months of emails and video conferences, I arrive in Albuquerque next week to join rehearsals as the team prepares for their performances in UNM’s beautiful Keller Hall on November 2, 3, and 4.
Mabel’s Call has been developed over the past three years through workshops with American Opera Projects, Fort Worth Opera, and The Harwood Museum of Art, and two artist residencies at The Helene Wurlitzer Foundation of New Mexico.
“The most mysterious and probably most affecting of the three works was Mabel’s Call, an opera whose trio of excerpts were so subtle and arresting they exemplified a sort of waking-dream feeling [the] characters each seemed to be lost in…the composer most called to mind was Ives.” ,THE COLUMN
Excerpts from my chamber opera Mabel’s Call were beautifully performed last month on Fort Worth Opera’s Frontiers showcase. An aria and two scenes were given a piano-vocal reading in a showcase of new operas.
It was a great honor to have my work featured on this platform, to share the stage with highly accomplished artists, and to receive feedback from a jury of opera professionals, as part of this project’s development!
I’m extremely honored that my chamber opera Mabel’s Call has been selected by Fort Worth Opera for their renowned 2018 Frontiers showcase! A 20-minute excerpt will be presented with piano accompaniment alongside other five other new operas-in-development during the Fort Worth Opera Festival at Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth, Texas. Check out their press release for more information about each of the works selected for this year’s festival.
Mabel’s Call will be featured on Thursday, May 3, 2018. Tickets are $10 and may be purchased online.
Hailed as “one of the most significant music events of the year” by D Magazine, Fort Worth Opera’s Frontiers showcase has yielded numerous regional and world premieres since its inception. This program offers audiences a first look at the developmental processes for operas and gives emerging composers and librettists a platform to showcase their talents.
I’m incredibly fortunate to have Mabel’s Call continue its development as part of this amazing program. Learn more about this opera at mabelscall.com.
I had the great pleasure of spending last week doing immersive field research in Houston, Texas with my librettist collaborator (and sister) Megan Cohen. We’re in the early stages of developing a “feminist rodeo opera” commissioned by Houston Grand Opera’s HGOco for their wonderful Song of Houston chamber opera initiative.
Set at the present-day Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, this opera’s fictional story focuses on women in rodeo culture. Our characters include a professional barrel racer, a CEO of a Western wear company, a rodeo queen, and the ghost of a 19th century cowboy.
Thanks to Houston Grand Opera’s HGOco, and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, our research activities included interviews with seven amazing rodeo athletes (including World Champion barrel racers!); site visits to George Ranch, The Heritage Society, and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Women’s Leadership Conference; and, of course, plenty of exploring and observing the rodeo itself. Check out my Twitter and Instagram feed (#RodeoOpera) for photos and summaries of our experiences throughout the week!
The premiere production of our opera is scheduled for Spring 2021. I can’t wait to share it with you.