Freya Performers Explore ROOTS at Carnegie Music Hall

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The Freya String Quartet’s performance at the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall will be a musical exploration of the sights and sounds that shaped the ensemble’s musicians.  Roots will be performed on Monday, February 24 at 7:30 p.m.

The program opens with a set of folk songs from cellist Katya Janpoladyan’s native Armenia.  These tuneful and rhythmically driven pieces evoke the rich musical traditions of a culture dating back nearly 2,500 years.

Spanning thousands of miles, Freya will also perform a work composed expressly for the group by Swedish-American composer Matthew Peterson.  The eponymously named Badlands’ sweeping musical lines and colorful intonations are inspired by rugged beauty of North Dakota’s famous geological marvel.  Both Jason Neukom (composer and violinist) and Jason Hohn (viola) are North Dakota natives.

The program will conclude with Edvard Grieg’s String Quartet in G Minor.  This work of passionate lyricism was an early favorite of violinist Ashley Buck, indeed of each member of the ensemble.  Freya’s musicians credit Grieg’s composition with instilling a love of performing chamber music and exploring its vast repertoire.

Founded in 2009, the Freya String Quartet is dedicated to performing a wide range of music, advocating artistic evolution, and teaching the importance of classical music in the Pittsburgh area.  The ensemble is deeply committed to reaching new audiences by breaking the boundaries of classical music conventions. Freya’s repertoire spans composers from Shostakovich to Glass and Beethoven to Radiohead.  Members of the ensemble have performed throughout the US, Asia, South America and Europe.  To further advance its passion for live performance, innovation, education and collaboration Freya String Quartet helped create Symbiotic Collusion in 2011.

A project on the near horizon is the release of the album Snapshots, featuring nine short “character” pieces composed for Freya by Sean Neukom and Richard Neukom.  The Neukoms are a musical family!

The February 24 concert is the fourth in the ACFL&MH’s Listen Locally chamber music series.  Freya performed the series premiere concert in 2012.  “We’re thrilled to be returning to the Listen Locally series,” says violist Jason Hohn.  “It’s truly a wonderful venue that’s been lovingly restored and is a joy to perform in.”

The remaining two concerts this season’s series are:

March 31 Ferla-Marcinizyn Guitar Duo with contralto Daphne Alderson

April 28 Matt Murchison Mutiny (euphonium, flute, piano, bass, drums)

Tickets for the Listen Locally are $15 and may be purchased in advance at the ACFL&MH during library hours or at the box office the night of the concert.  A reception with the musicians follows the concert.  Please contact Lynne Cochran, Music Hall Director at 412-276-3456 ext. 7 for more information.  All performances take place on Mondays at 7:30 p.m.

Excitement builds for “ROGER HUMPHRIES Pass it On” premiere

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by ‘Burgh Vivant Michael Buzzelli

Local jazz legend and educator Roger Humphries was honored at the Savoy Restaurant on Thursday, February 06, 2014. Humphries is the subject of a new documentary, “Roger Humphries: Pass it on,” directed by Billy Jackson.

The Savoy was hopping with local luminaries such as WQED’s Chris Moore, KDKA’s Lynn Hayes Freeland, KQV’s Elaine Effort, and sculptor Thad Mosley. They were mingling at the Savoy’s upstairs bar and snacked on some excellent hors d’oeuvres provided by Savoy’s star chef, Kevin Watson.

Everyone came out to celebrate Humphries illustrious career and to see a short preview of the film.

Jackson, the film director and producer, chose Humphries as a subject primarily because of Humphries’ altruistic outlook on developing and nurturing young talent. Jackson said, “Roger is a musical icon, yet accessible and down to earth. His humble spirit and commitment to ‘Passing it On,’ is inspiring and unique given his stature and years in the music business.”

“Roger Humphries: Pass It On” premieres February 22 at the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild at a red carpet event. The film premiere is a fundraiser for four Pittsburgh non-profits who educate musically gifted youth; The Afro-American Music Institute, The Roger L. Humphries Music Scholarship Fund, The Jazz Workshop of Homewood and Lighthouse Arts, Inc.

Don’t pass up, “Roger Humphries: Passing It On.” You can join the fun February 22 at the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild, 1815 Metropolitan Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15233. For pricing and additional information, go to www.rhpassiton.com or www.mcgjazz.org.

DSCN0034WQED’s Chris Moore with Roger Humphries.

 

DSCN0039ROGER HUMPHRIES Pass It On” director, Billy Jackson.

 

DSCN0050‘Burgh Vivant Lonnie “The Theatre Lady” chats with Pamela Collier.

 

DSCN0047Roger Humphries, sculptor Thad Mosley, Dr. Harry Clark, and Dr. Curtiss Porter.

 

DSCN0051 2KQV’s Elaine Effort with husband Edmund Effort.  Photobomb: Chris Moore.

 

 

 

 

 

Point Park’s Conservatory Theatre Company presents rock musical ‘Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson’

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Directed by Michael McKelvey, the show previews Feb. 20, runs Feb. 21-March 2 at Pittsburgh Playhouse

PITTSBURGH – Point Park University’s Conservatory Theatre Company presents Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, a raucous and unique rock musical that reinvents America’s seventh president as a contemporary rock star.

Directed by Michael McKelvey, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson opens Friday, Feb. 21, and runs through Sunday, March 2, with a preview on Thursday, Feb. 20, in the Rockwell Theatre at the Pittsburgh Playhouse. Performances will be at 8 p.m., Thursdays through Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Tickets range from $18 to $20 and can be purchased by calling the Pittsburgh Playhouse box office at 412.392.8000, or at www.pittsburghplayhouse.com.

Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson gives a modern spin to the founding of the Democratic Party, Jackson’s life and his relationship with his wife, Rachel Jackson.

McKelvey directs Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, with choreography by Cassidy Adkins, scenic design by Michael Thomas Essad, costume design by Michael Montgomery, lighting design by Andrew David Ostrowski, and sound design by Kristopher Buggey. Layden Jenson-Bunch is stage manager.

Director McKelvey’s Pittsburgh Playhouse credits include Honk Jr. (stage/music director), Oklahoma! and A Chorus Line (music director).  Recent regional directing credits include Swing! Legally Blonde, Sweeney Todd, Oklahoma! A Year with Frog and Toad (SSA), Les Misérables (Interlakes), Chess (Austin Playhouse); A Minister’s Wife, I Love You Because,  john & jen, The Last Five Years (Penfold); Footloose, Annie (Zilker Theatre); City of Angels, Carousel, The Pajama Game (Mary Moody Northen);  Reefer Madness, Company, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, and Evil Dead (DMP).  At Point Park, McKelvey is the coordinator of private voice, an instructor of musical theatre, and is part of the NYC Showcase production staff.  He is the artistic director of SummerStock Austin and Doctuh Mistuh Productions in Austin, Texas, and is the recipient of multiple B. Iden Payne and Austin Critics’ Table Awards as a stage director, music director, and producer.  In March, he is slated to direct the musical, Ordinary Days.

‘Burgh Vivant host Brian Edward to emcee cabaret at Off The Wall

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CARNEGIE, PA – This Valentine’s weekend, ‘Burgh Vivant host Brian Edward will emcee the first in a series of variety cabarets sporting acts of music, comedy, dance, poetry, and more, produced by Off The Wall Productions.

The cabaret will feature performances by Hotep the Artist (pantomime and spoken word), Vocalist Rebecca Covert, comedian Derek Minto, and Off The Wall’s new resident company fireWALL Dance Theater.  Performance dates are Friday, February 14th at 7:00pm, and Saturday, February 15th at 8:00pm, at Off The Wall Theater, 25 West Main Street, Carnegie, PA.  Ample free parking is available.  Tickets may be purchased HERE.

Brian Edward is the host and executive producer of ‘Burgh Vivant, Pittsburgh’s cultural talk magazine.  He has worked in the theatre in the capacity of actor, director, playwright, and comedian, with local credits including Pittsburgh Opera, Arcade Comedy Theater, and The REP.  Brian was named among the top supporting actors in Pittsburgh by the Post Gazette in 2001, and among the top leading actors in 2002.  He is also the creator of the musical comedy Amish Burlesque.  He has emceed numerous charitable events and film festivals, is frequently quoted in print and radio, and has been a recurrent guest on the CBS-KDKA morning show, Pittsburgh LIVE Today.

Off The Wall is a Pittsburgh theatre production company whose mission is to enrich, enliven, educate, amaze and entertain its audiences, and to help create a more conscious and compassionate community while increasing the public knowledge and appreciation of theater in South Western Pennsylvania.  Off The Wall aims to encourage and support the admiration of all arts and artists by providing a home in which live theater, dance, music, and comedy can be presented, and to nurture, challenge, inspire and empower women theater artists from the Pittsburgh region and beyond to collaborate as playwrights, directors, technicians, and actors, explore new ideas, and develop new works.  Off The Wall’s 96 – seat house offers an intimate environment, allowing performers to have close interaction with their audience.

WATCH/LISTEN:  ‘Burgh Vivant’s guest Virginia Wall Gruenert – Artistic Director of Off The Wall Productions.

WATCH/LISTEN:  ‘Burgh Vivant’s guest Kim El – poet, actor, writer, director, now performing her original show STRAIGHTENING COMBS in repertory at Off The Wall Theatre.

 

Pittsburgh Opera presents Gregory Spears’s PAUL’S CASE

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A new production, based on Willa Cather’s 1905 story of a Pittsburgh boy

Pittsburgh, PA… Pittsburgh Opera continues its 75th anniversary season with Gregory Spears’s PAUL’S CASE, a new opera with a Pittsburgh connection, starring the Resident Artists of Pittsburgh Opera’s acclaimed singer training program. The second work in Pittsburgh Opera’s American Opera Series,* PAUL’S CASE is on stage at Pittsburgh Opera Headquarters February 22 – March 2, as the company’s 2013-14 Second Stage Project. Based on Willa Cather’s short story of the same name, PAUL’S CASE is the story of a high school “dandy” who yearns for a more exciting life away from gritty, industrial Pittsburgh. Paul’s fantasies have been fed by the glamorous musical performances he witnesses as an usher at Carnegie Music Hall. When Paul is suspended from school, he steals money and flees to New York City. After a stay in the Waldorf-Astoria, a shopping spree, and a fling with a Yale freshman, Paul’s escape is discovered by his father and by the media. Paul’s ambitions come crashing down in a wrenching finale.

Pittsburgh Opera’s new production of PAUL’S CASE features its Resident Artists. Daniel Curran is Paul; Alex DeSocio is Paul’s father. Phillip Gay performs the dual roles of Principal and Waldorf-Astoria Bell Boy. Resident Artist Samantha Korbey and Rebecca Belczyk (Dark Sisters, 2014) take on triple roles, as teachers, singers, and maids, while Nicole Rodin portrays a teacher and a maid. Christopher Toeller (The Magic Flute, 2013) is the Yale Freshman. Resident Artist George Cederquist is the stage director for PAUL’S CASE. Head of Music Glenn Lewis conducts.

Composer Gregory Spears is expected to participate in Opera Up Close February 16 [see “related events”] and will attend the opening night performance.

* Pittsburgh Opera’s American Opera Series is supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and includes PAUL’S CASE (Jan. 25 – Feb. 2), PAUL’S CASE (Feb. 22 – Mar. 2) and ORPHÉE (Apr. 26 – May 4). 

Facts about the opera and the composer

PAUL’s CASE premiered in April 2013 at Urban Arias in Washington, DC, and was developed by American Opera Projects. The work blends minimalist and Baroque stylings to create a unique new chamber opera sound.

PAUL’S CASE received excellent reviews both from The Washington Post at its world premiere in April 2013, and from the New York Times, from the Prototype Festival in January 2014.

Gregory Spears and librettist Kathryn Walat took a fresh look at Willa Cather’s 1905 story, and drew timeless parallels from Paul’s character when they created the opera. To quote Gregory Spears, “he [Paul] seems to be saying ‘yes’ and ‘no’ to life throughout this piece. He’s so full of life, and a fascinating character, yet at the same time, he ultimately says ‘no’…. There’s something about that paradoxical feel of him…so fascinated by the world, and at the same time, feeling as if he needs to reject it – this powers the enigma that’s at the core of the Cather story.” See more remarks from Gregory Spears and Kathryn Walat here.

 

The story, in brief

Pittsburgh, 1906. Paul appeals his suspension in front of three teachers and the high school principal. The teachers are infuriated by his dandyish behavior and appearance, epitomized by the red carnation he wears. Paul is dismissed; he bows gracefully and exits.

Later that evening, Paul’s father is calculating figures at his desk, while Paul changes into a uniform – he works as an usher at Carnegie Music Hall. The father decries his son’s disdain for middle-class values, while Paul tells of his love for all things exotic and theatrical. Paul’s English teacher arrives unexpectedly at the Music Hall with two tickets given to her by a steel magnate. Waiting for the show to begin, the English teacher recounts a life full of disappointments. Two opera singers take the stage; Paul and the English teacher are enchanted. Paul’s father, still simmering at home, warns that this will be Paul’s last night working at the theater, on account of his recent suspension from school.

Paul’s father sends him to work as a cash-boy clerk. Distraught, Paul describes his contempt for the banalities of workaday life in Pittsburgh. He steals the firm’s weekend deposit and catches the next train to New York City.

Three hotel maids prepare a sumptuous suite at New York’s Waldorf Astoria. Paul enters triumphantly, and smugly catalogs his purchases from an afternoon shopping spree. At dinner in the Waldorf Astoria’s dining room, he encounters a Yale freshman in town for a weekend visit, and the two join up for a drunken night on the town.

Waking with a hangover the next day, Paul asks for the Pittsburgh newspapers, in which the maids read of his theft. Paul discovers that he has been spotted at a New York hotel and that his father is coming to take him back home. He then unwraps his final purchase, a shiny revolver, and contemplates his final actions. He puts the revolver away, and heads for the Newark train yard.

Arriving on an embankment overlooking railroad tracks, Paul buries a red carnation in the snow. He falls asleep and is later awakened by a distant train whistle. As the locomotive approaches, he leaps in front of it. Paul’s teachers and father lament Paul’s death as he dissolves into the landscape.

Tickets to PAUL’S CASE are $40, with all performances at Pittsburgh Opera Headquarters, 2425 Liberty Avenue, in the Strip District. For additional information, videos, photos, musical samples, cast biographies, and the full story of PAUL’S CASE, visit www.pittsburghopera.org. To purchase tickets, call 412-456-6666 or visit www.pittsburghopera.org.

The 2013-14 Pittsburgh Opera season is generously supported by PNC.
Paul’s Case is generously sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Alvin Filstrup and the Filstrup Foundation.
The National Endowment for the Arts provides project support for Pittsburgh Opera’s

2014 American Opera Series.

Giant Eagle Foundation is the Resident Artist Program Sponsor.

 

Cast and Artistic Team (cast is listed in order of vocal appearance)

 

Paul                                                                 Daniel Curran *

Principal/Bell Boy                                            Phillip Gay *

History Teacher/Opera Singer 1/Maid 1        Rebecca Belczyk

Drawing Teacher/Opera Singer 2/Maid 2      Samantha Korbey *

English Teacher/Maid 3                                  Nicole Rodin *

Father                                                              Alex DeSocio *

Boy (Yale Freshman)                                     Christopher Toeller

Conductor                                                       Glenn Lewis

Director                                                           George Cederquist *

Costume Designer                                          Antonia West

Lighting Designer                                            Jerry Sherk

 

Director of Musical Studies                            Mark Trawka

Assistant Conductor                                        James Lesniak

Hair & Makeup Designer                                Nicole Pagano

PAUL’s CASE is a new production by Pittsburgh Opera.
+    Pittsburgh Opera debut

*     Pittsburgh Opera Resident Artist

**   Pittsburgh Opera Resident Artist alumni

 

Tickets and Group Discounts

Tickets for all performances of PAUL’S CASE are $40. Group discounts are available. For tickets, call (412) 456-6666 or visit www.pittsburghopera.org. For discounted group tickets (6 or more), contact Randy Adams at 412-281-0912, x 213.

 

Related Events

 

Brown Bag Concert
Saturday, February 8 – 12:00 p.m.

George R. White Opera Studio, Pittsburgh Opera Headquarters (2425 Liberty Avenue)

These casual, one-hour concerts feature our Resident Artists in the George R. White Opera Studio at Pittsburgh Opera Headquarters. Guests can meet the performers after the concert. Free and open to the public; no RSVP required. Doors open at 11:30 a.m. For more information, call (412) 281-0912 or visit www.pittsburghopera.org

 

Opera Up Close: PAUL’S CASE

Sunday, February 16 – 2:00 p.m.

An in-depth look at the music and story of Gregory Spears’s PAUL’S CASE with singers and directors from the production, in the George R. White Opera Studio at Pittsburgh Opera Headquarters. Panelists include PAUL’S CASE composer Gregory Spears; Willa Cather scholars Dr. Timothy Bintrim of St. Francis University and Dr. James Jaap of Penn State

New Kensington, Resident Artist stage director George Cederquist; and Pittsburgh Opera Director of Artistic Operations Bill Powers. Admission is $5; the event is free to members of FRIENDS of Pittsburgh Opera and donors at $50 and above. For more information, visit www.pittsburghopera.org.

 

PAUL’S CASE Previews on WQED-FM 89.3 and WQED.ORG

Saturday, February 15 – 12:30 p.m.; Friday, February 21 – 7:00 p.m.

Hosted by WQED’s Anna Singer, and broadcast over the airwaves as well as the WQED website, the PAUL’S CASE preview gives listeners an engaging introduction to the singers, music and story of the opera. For more information, visit www.pittsburghopera.org

Audio Description: PAUL’S CASE
Tuesday, February 25

Ticketholders with visual impairments are invited to use Pittsburgh Opera’s Audio Description service at our Tuesday performances. Trained volunteers describe the scenery, costumes, and stage action via headphones. Those wishing to use Audio Description should reserve seats to the Tuesday, February 25 performance: call Randy Adams at 412-281-0912, ext. 213 or groups@pittsburghopera.org. Braille and large-print opera programs are also available.

Meet the Artists of PAUL’S CASE

Tuesday, February 25

Immediately following the opera, in the George R. White Studio, Pittsburgh Opera Headquarters

Ticketholders for the Tuesday, February 25 performance of PAUL’S CASE are invited to remain in the George White Studio immediately following the performance for interviews with General Director Christopher Hahn and the stars of the opera. This event is free to all Tuesday performance ticketholders.

Pittsburgh Opera celebrates its 75th anniversary in 2013-14 with OPERA FOR A NEW AGE, a mix of long-beloved operas and new favorites. Established by five intrepid women in 1939, Pittsburgh Opera is viewed as one of the most vibrant opera organizations in the U.S., with a rich artistic tradition, outstanding educational programs, an acclaimed artist training program, and a progressive outlook toward the future. Its green initiative culminated in LEED® Silver certification for its Strip District headquarters, and its capacity as a true community partner has increased significantly under General Director Christopher Hahn’s leadership. Tickets for the 2013-2014 season start at just $12.

2013-14 Season
AIDA •• October 12 – 20, 2013
THE MAGIC FLUTE •• November 9 – 17, 2013

DARK SISTERS •• January 25 – February 2, 2014

SECOND STAGE PROJECT: PAUL’S CASE •• February 22 – March 2, 2014
LA BOHÈME •• March 26 – April 6, 2014
ORPHÉE •• April 26 – May 4, 2014
For ticket information visit our website www.pittsburghopera.org or call (412) 281-0912

Music on the Edge presents STRIKE DUO in cooperation with Andy Warhol Museum

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This January, Pitt’s Music on the Edge and The Andy Warhol Museum will present Strike Duo (piano and percussion) in a program that highlights leading creative voices in contemporary music. The duo will perform at the Warhol  on January 25 at 8 p.m.

Nick Barnard of MusicWeb International describes Strike Duo members Jeffery Meyer (piano) and Paul Vaillancourt (percussion) as “exceptionally fine players both individually and in tandem.” Their program in Pittsburgh will explore a variety of music ranging from Chen Yi’s folk music inspired China West Suite to Mario Davidovsky’s Synchronisms No. 6, a classic of electroacoustic repertoire. The program will also include Brooke Joyce’s Sacred Trees, mark Mellits’ Tight Sweater (Remix), Eric Moes’ Cross Chop (for solo drum set), and Jim David’s Duo Toccata.

Paul Vaillancourt is Associate Professor of Percussion at Columbus State University. He has been a featured soloist with the St. Petersburg Chamber Philharmonic, the National Arts Center Orchestra, the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra, and at the Banff and Aspen Music Festivals. Recent concerto performances have included Michael Daugherty’s Raise The Roof with the CSU Wind Ensemble and Jennifer Higdon’s Percussion Concerto with the CSU Philharmonic. He has had various performances broadcast by NPR, CBC and Radio-Canada and is in demand as an instructor and composer of Scottish pipe band drumming.

Born in Chicago, Jeffery Meyer has established an international reputation as both a conductor and pianist. Since 2002 he has been the Artistic Director of the St. Petersburg Chamber Philharmonic in St. Petersburg, Russia one of that city’s most innovative and progressive ensembles. He has appeared with orchestras in the United States and abroad, including ensembles such as the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Syracuse Symphony Orchestra, Cayuga Chamber Orchestra, Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra, Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra, Sichuan Symphony, and the Orchestra Sinfonico “Haydn” di Bolzano e Trento. In recent concert seasons, the versatile Meyer’s busy schedule has included conducting, performing as piano soloist, as a chamber musician, and conducting from the keyboard.

Tickets are available through the University of Pittsburgh Stages Box Office, by calling 412-624-7529, or visiting music.pitt.edu/tickets. Tickets in advance: general admission is $15; students and seniors are $10. At the door: general admission is $20; students and seniors are $15. (No free student tickets at The Warhol.)

Pittsburgh Opera presents Nico Muhly’s DARK SISTERS

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Photo above  by Kelly & Massa for Opera Philadelphia.

Pittsburgh, PA… Pittsburgh Opera continues its 75th anniversary season with Nico Muhly’s DARK SISTERS, a new production of a very new opera exploring issues ripped from the headlines and created by a thirty-something composer. The first work in Pittsburgh Opera’s American Opera Series,* DARK SISTERS stars the Resident Artists and is on stage at CAPA Theater January 25 – February 2.

Exploring issues of suppressed individuality and subservient women’s roles, the opera uses episodes from the media – most recently the 2004 raid on FLDS leader Warren Jeffs’s compound in West Texas – to tell the story of the women’s suffering, and how one woman tries to escape. Premiered in 2012, DARK SISTERS revolves around sister-wife Eliza, who has a profound self-discovery after the world comes to the gates of her family’s complex, run by The Prophet. During an appearance on national television to defend her way of life, Eliza makes a dramatic confession, and her world falls into chaos. Resolving to make her own way in the world, she faces the consequences of leaving everything she has ever known.

Pittsburgh Opera’s DARK SISTERS features Resident Artists in the roles of the sister-wives: Jasmine Muhammad is the rebellious Eliza; Meredith Lustig is the lovesick Zina; Nicole Rodin is the troubled Ruth; Samantha Korbey is Presendia; and former Resident Artist Alexandra Loutsion (Rinaldo, 2011) is Almera. Resident Artist Joseph Barron takes the dual role of The Prophet and the newscaster King. Rebecca Belczyk (The Magic Flute, 2013) portrays Eliza’s daughter Lucinda. Resident Artist George Cederquist is the stage director for DARK SISTERS. Head of Music Glenn Lewis conducts the Pittsburgh Opera Orchestra. Composer Nico Muhly is expected to attend the opening night performance.

* Pittsburgh Opera’s American Opera Series is supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and includes DARK SISTERS, PAUL’S CASE (Feb. 22 – Mar. 2) and ORPHÉE (Apr. 26 – May 4).

Facts about the opera and the composer

DARK SISTERS premiered in 2012 at Gotham Chamber Opera in New York City, and was co-produced and co-commissioned by Opera Philadelphia.

Nico Muhly, a 32 year-old “wunderkind” (Huffington Post) who defies convention and definitions, has worked with Philip Glass, Björk, Benjamin Millepied, and Grizzly Bear. He was recently featured on the cover of Opera News, in advance of the premiere of his Two Boys at The Met. Mr. Muhly composes film scores (The Reader, Joshua, Choking Man), liturgical music (an Our Father, a Nunc Dimittis, a setting of Psalm 139), and scored the ballet From Here on Out with Millepied for American Ballet Theater. Most recently, he appeared at New York City’s Le Poisson Rouge with violinist Pekka Kuuisto; the featured piece was a Bach Partita with other pieces interspersed between the original piece’s movements.

In October 2013, Mr. Muhly’s opera Two Boys premiered at The Metropolitan Opera, with former Pittsburgh Opera Resident Artist Juan José de León in the cast. The opera revolves around a detective investigating a murder of a teenager that leads her to a trail of clues on the Internet.

Nico Muhly has been researching the history of the Church of Latter Day Saints for many years. “I read the diaries of some of the wives of Brigham Young; you think you could be reading something from the Old Testament or from today. Similarly, once you get in the world of what constitutes marriage, it was always political, and about property, land. Marriage for love was a Victorian construct.”

Nico Muhly has been quoted as saying that “I can’t think of one opera that isn’t political in some way. When you look at Rameau, Handel, Mozart, they were all looking at the world around them socially and politically. [Mozart’s] Cosi fan tutte is an incredibly political opera. Right now there is a flare-up of interest about Mormonism, but the politics and discussions around it aren’t new.”

The story, in brief
At a polygamist compound in the American Southwest, five mothers cry out in despair. State officials have just raided their homes and removed their children, under the suspicion that minors are being abused and forced to marry. The husband of the five women, a professed Prophet, discloses that he has received a revelation. He must journey into the desert, where he will receive guidance that will ensure the return of their children. The Prophet instructs his wives to “keep sweet” while he is away, explaining that total obedience is necessary to ensure their salvation and the safe return of their children.

Eliza, the fourth wife, has visions of her only child, Lucinda. She remembers her wedding: she was 16, afraid, an unwilling bride. Eliza does not want her daughter to suffer the same fate, but cannot imagine how they could ever leave this life. As night slowly turns to day, Eliza passes the time with her sister-wives. Almera is haunted by dreams of her mother and grandmother, while Presendia and Zina work diligently to pass the time, longing for their husband’s return. Ruth is tormented by mental illness and the memory of her two sons, both of whom died tragically.

Ruth discovers a letter in the Prophet’s study and gives it to Eliza: the letter voices Lucinda’s concerns about being promised to a much older man. Eliza is shocked to learn that her daughter would be promised so soon, and resolves to leave the compound. The Prophet returns, and Eliza convinces him to spend the night with her. She needs his full trust so that she can travel with him the next day and enact a plan to share her own message with the world. Alone in their bedrooms, the other women seethe with jealousy, sadness and longing.

The next day, television personality King interviews the women via satellite. The women are careful to stay on message. Afraid and distraught, Ruth suffers a breakdown during the interview. Although paralyzed with fear, the women continue with the show.

Eliza, afraid that she may not have the courage to speak out, suddenly explodes with the announcement that she was indeed married underage. She also seizes the opportunity to speak to her daughter – she looks into the camera and begs Lucinda to have faith, and to relays her own divine message: “Don’t be afraid of what lies beyond the sharp cliffs, the red earth – blaze a trail beyond the canyons! This is my hope for you, Sisters of Zion! I promise you, kind hearts beat for all of us in the outside world!”

Chaos erupts. Eliza’s sister-wives cannot believe she would betray them. Later that night, Ruth sits atop the mesa near the compound, under a starlit sky. Praying for relief from her pain, and longing to be with her two children in heaven, she jumps to her death.

Back at the compound, a few days later, Ruth is buried. The children have been returned to the ranch. Eliza comes to the gate of the compound and is shunned by the other women. Lucinda approaches her mother, furious – she is sickened that Eliza lost her faith and will not gain eternal salvation. Lucinda refuses to leave with her mother. Eliza pledges that she will always be waiting for Lucinda, and will always love her. Heartbroken, she walks away from the compound and into the unknown.

Tickets to DARK SISTERS are $50, with all performances at CAPA Theater, 9th Street and Ft. Duquesne Blvd., Downtown Pittsburgh. For additional information, videos, photos, musical samples, cast biographies, and the full story of DARK SISTERS, visit www.pittsburghopera.org. To purchase tickets, call 412-456-6666 or visit www.pittsburghopera.org.
The 2013-14 Pittsburgh Opera season is generously supported by PNC.
American Eagle Outfitters is the Friday Night Sponsor.
Dark Sisters is generously sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Alvin Filstrup.
The National Endowment for the Arts provides project support for Pittsburgh Opera’s 2014 American Opera Series.

Giant Eagle Foundation is the Resident Artist Program Sponsor.

WQED is a media sponsor for the 2013-14 Pittsburgh Opera season.
WYEP and WESA are media sponsors for Dark Sisters.

Cast and Artistic Team (cast is listed in order of vocal appearance)

Zina                                                           Meredith Lustig *

Presendia                                                 Samantha Korbey *

Almera                                                      Alexandra Loutsion **

Ruth                                                          Nicole Rodin *

Eliza                                                          Jasmine Muhammad *

Prophet/King                                             Joseph Barron *

Lucinda                                                     Rebecca Belczyk

Conductor                                                 Glenn Lewis

Director                                                     George Cederquist *

Set Designer                                             Dan Daly

Costume Designer                                   Antonia West

Lighting Designer                                      Robert Figueira
Director of Musical Studies                      Mark Trawka

Associate Coach/Pianist                          James Lesniak

Hair & Makeup Designer                          James Geier

 

DARK SISTERS is a new production by Pittsburgh Opera.
+    Pittsburgh Opera debut

*     Pittsburgh Opera Resident Artist

**   Pittsburgh Opera Resident Artist alumni

 Tickets and Group Discounts

Tickets for all performances of DARK SISTERS are $50. Group and subscriber discounts are available. For tickets, call (412) 456-6666 or visit www.pittsburghopera.org. For discounted group tickets (6 or more), contact Randy Adams at 412-281-0912, x 213.

 

Related Events

Brown Bag Concert
Saturday, January 11 – 12:00 p.m.

George R. White Opera Studio, Pittsburgh Opera Headquarters (2425 Liberty Avenue)

These casual, one-hour concerts feature our Resident Artists in the George R. White Opera Studio at Pittsburgh Opera Headquarters. January’s Brown Bag concert features an All-American program. Guests can meet the performers after the concert. Free and open to the public; no RSVP required. Doors open at 11:30 a.m. For more information, call (412) 281-0912 or visit www.pittsburghopera.org

 

Opera Up Close: DARK SISTERS

Sunday, January 12 – 2:00 p.m.

An in-depth look at the music and story of Nico Muhly’s DARK SISTERS with singers and directors from the production, in the George R. White Opera Studio at Pittsburgh Opera Headquarters. Panelists include Resident Artist Jasmine Muhammad; stage director, Resident Artist George Cederquist; conductor Glenn Lewis; and Director of Artistic Operations Bill Powers. Admission is $5; the event is free to members of FRIENDS of Pittsburgh Opera and donors at $50 and above. For more information, visit www.pittsburghopera.org.

 

DARK SISTERS Previews on WQED-FM 89.3 and WQED.ORG

Saturday, January 18 – 1:00 p.m.; Friday, January 24 – 7:00 p.m.

Hosted by WQED’s Stephen Baum, and broadcast over the airwaves as well as the WQED website, the DARK SISTERS preview gives listeners an engaging introduction to the singers, music and story of the opera. For more information, visit www.pittsburghopera.org.

 

Pre-Opera Talks

CAPA Theater Black Box

Ticketholders are invited to attend a Pre-Opera Talk on DARK SISTERS one hour before each performance’s curtain in the Black Box at CAPA Theater. Learn about the composer and the story of the opera. Free to all ticketholders.

 

Audio Description: DARK SISTERS
Tuesday, January 28

Ticketholders with visual impairments are invited to use Pittsburgh Opera’s Audio Description service at our Tuesday performances. Trained volunteers describe the scenery, costumes, and stage action via headphones. Those wishing to use Audio Description should reserve seats to the Tuesday, January 28 performance: call Randy Adams at 412-281-0912, ext. 213 or groups@pittsburghopera.org. Braille and large-print opera programs are also available in the lobby.

 

Meet the Artists of DARK SISTERS

Tuesday, January 28

Immediately following the opera, in the CAPA Theater Black Box

Ticketholders for the Tuesday, January 28 performance of DARK SISTERS are invited to gather in the Black Box immediately following the performance for interviews with General Director Christopher Hahn and the stars of the opera. This event is free to all Tuesday performance ticketholders.

ROGER ZAHAB – Composer, Conductor, Violinist

He’s a composer, a conductor, a violinist, the senior lecturer and director of the University of Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra  – he’s Roger Zahab, and he’s tonight’s guest on ‘Burgh Vivant!  Roger talks about how he performed what host Brian Edward describes as a “Mr. Holland’s Opus” in transforming Pitt’s Symphony Orchestra, his music-making with Entelechron (PS – the lovely underscoring you hear is from their album!), and his time working with the famed and much debated American composer John Cage.  Listen to “The Full Martini” – the complete interview in audio podcast to hear more on the philosophies of Cage, how he measures up to a particular Pgh pop artist, and Roger’s favorite restaurants in the ‘Burgh!  Hint:  Bacon.  Lots and lots of bacon. Continue reading “ROGER ZAHAB – Composer, Conductor, Violinist”

'Burgh Vivant
'Burgh Vivant
ROGER ZAHAB - Composer, Conductor, Violinist
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DONNA BAILEY – Jazz Artist, Vocalist

Feliz Navidad, Pittsburgh!  Bells are ringing, children are singing – and Donna Bailey has a new Christmas album!  The Pittsburgh-based Jazz vocalist and gives a special preview of her unique rendition of “Baby It’s Cold Outside” and talks about her inspirations, influences, and, incomparable collaborators.  Listen to “The Full Martini” – the complete unedited interview in audio podcast to hear what Donna has on the horizon, what to do when Etta Cox pulls you up on stage, and what’s in a Donna Bailey Martini! Continue reading “DONNA BAILEY – Jazz Artist, Vocalist”

'Burgh Vivant
'Burgh Vivant
DONNA BAILEY - Jazz Artist, Vocalist
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Review – 2 PIANOS 4 HANDS, City Theatre Company

Dueling pianos – and dueling opinions!  Mike “Buzz” Buzzelli and Lonnie the Theatre Lady duke it out over 2 PIANOS 4 HANDS playing at City Theatre through December 22nd.  If you saw it, let us know whose corner of the ring YOU’RE in.  Listen to “The Full Martini” – the complete, unedited interview in podcast for more of Buzz and Lonnie’s banter on this story told through a wide range of music and comedy.  Photos of 2 PIANOS 4 HANDS by Suellen Fitzsimmons and Kristi Jan Hoover.   Continue reading “Review – 2 PIANOS 4 HANDS, City Theatre Company”

'Burgh Vivant
'Burgh Vivant
Review - 2 PIANOS 4 HANDS, City Theatre Company
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