An all-star cast from Broadway and the classical world comes together to present a rare mingling of opera and theatre in The Grapes of Wrath. Originally commissioned and produced by the Minnesota Opera and called "The great American opera" by Musical America, Gordon and Korie's new work melds popular musical styles of the '20s and '30s (song-and-dance, soaring love songs, banjo ballads, jazz choruses, and a barbershop quartet) with the classic drama of grand opera, all to a heart-wrenching yet uplifting effect. The composer (Gordon) and librettist (Korie) have crafted a special concert version of their original opera with narration written especially for this presentation. The starry cast includes Jane Fonda (narrator), Victoria Clark, Christine Ebersole, Nathan Gunn, Elizabeth Futral, Anthony Dean Griffey, Peter Halverson, Steven Pasquale, Stephen Powell, Andrew Wilkowske and Matthew Worth and the role of Tom Joad's young sister, Ruthie, will be sung by Nathan Gunn's daughter Madelyn Gunn. Music by Ricky Ian Gordon and libretto by Michael Korie. Featuring the American Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Ted Sperling. Directed by Eric Simonson with lighting design by Frances Aronson, projection design by Wendall Harrington, sound design by Scott Lehrer and costume design by Jacob Climer.
"In this concert version, we convey the story of the Joad family's journey across America in approximately two hours. We have retained many of the big musical set pieces, arias and choral ensembles, and we have eliminated much of the recitative, replacing it with a narrator who reads sections from the novel, allowing segues from those powerful passages seamlessly into music that continues the drama without loss of suspense or momentum. In addition, this version will feature music never heard in the original full staging of the opera. This is not only a concert version of the full opera, but a different version," said Michael Korie.
About the Company: The Collegiate Chorale
"We are honored to be presenting this richly textured work of soaring passion and devastating beauty. Inherent in its mission is The Chorale's commitment to premiering or showcasing exceptional American works such as Ricky Ian Gordon's The Grapes of Wrath. Gordon and librettist Michael Korie have given a musical voice to this quintessentially American novel in a lyrical language which draws from opera and American musical theater idioms. The choral writing and casting of soloists reflect this cross-over nature. I think both opera and Broadway lovers alike will be moved by this remarkable work," said James Bagwell, music director of The Collegiate Chorale.
The mission of The Collegiate Chorale is to enrich its audiences through innovative programming and exceptional performances of a broad range of vocal music featuring a premier choral ensemble. Inherent in its mission is The Chorale's belief that choral music is a compelling collaboration that creates a powerful, shared experience unifying listeners and musicians of all backgrounds, beliefs and ages.
The Collegiate Chorale, among New York's foremost vocal ensembles, has added to the richness of the city's cultural fabric for more than 65 years. Founded in 1941 by the legendary conductor Robert Shaw, The Chorale has established a preeminent reputation for its interpretations of the traditional choral repertoire, vocal works by American composers, and rarely heard operas-in-concert, as well as commissions and premieres of new works by today's most exciting creative artists. In the summer of 2009, The Chorale performed for a fourth season at Switzerland's Verbier Music Festivaland in July 2008 toured with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra under Zubin Mehta in Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Jerusalem. This season, The Chorale presented the world premiere two-act concert version of Ricky Ian Gordon's opera The Grapes of Wrath at Carnegie Hall to great critical acclaim. The mission of The Collegiate Chorale, led by Music Director James Bagwell, is to enrich its audiences through innovative programming and exceptional performances of a broad range of vocal music featuring a premier choral ensemble.