the little OPERA theatre of ny
the New York Premiere
of Benjamin Britten's
with a libretto by Myfanwy Piper
based upon the ghost story by Henry James
May 9-12, 2019 at GK ArtsCenter
The little OPERA theatre of ny(LOTNY) presents the New York Premiere of Benjamin Britten's opera in two acts, OWEN WINGRAVE, with libretto by Myfanwy Piper, at GK Arts Center, 29 Jay Street, Brooklyn, NY, from May 9-12, 2019, with performances Thursday through Saturday at 7:30pm and Sunday at 3pm. Tickets are $20-$45 and are available at www.ticketcentral.com.
In Benjamin Britten's hauntingly intense opera based on a ghost story by Henry James, Owen Wingrave sets a young man's scruples and beliefs against the fanaticism of his family. Wingrave is a young man who comes home to confront his family and rebel against its military past. The ghosts of his ancestors and a dark secret haunt all the inhabitants of the Wingrave home. Britten's powerful score etches strong individual voices caught within a fraught atmosphere. Originally commissioned by the BBC, it premiered on television in 1971, and was subsequently performed at Covent Garden in 1973. This production will be part of the Fourth New York Opera Alliance Opera Fest.
Conducted by Richard Cordova (Falstaff with the Martina Arroyo Foundation, Prince of Players with LOTNY), the New York Premiere will be directed by LOTNY Artistic Director Philip Shneidman (Piramo e Tisbe, Prince of Players) with costume design by Lara de Bruijn (My Name is Ben at GoodspeedandParty Face at City Center) and projection design by Alex Basco Koch (Be More Chill on Broadway).
Located in the heart of DUMBO, GK ArtsCenter is conveniently near the F train (York Street), the A/C trains (High Street), and the NY Waterway Ferry (Dumbo/Brooklyn Bridge Park).
ABOUT THE OPERA
BBC Television commissioned an opera from Benjamin Britten in 1966, and in 1968 he and Myfanwy Piper began to sketch the scenario of Owen Wingrave, a story Britten had known since at least the time of his earlier Henry Jamesopera, The Turn of the Screw. The composition, whose style reflects Britten's later interest in aspects of 12-note technique, was sketched between the summer of 1969 and February 1970; the full score was completed by August. The television premiere was recorded at Snape Maltings, airing in May 1971. Shortly thereafter, an audio recording was made with the original cast, including Peter Pears, Janet Baker and John Shirley Quirk with Benjamin Luxon in the title role. Britten thought of the work as a chamber opera, although it requires an orchestra of 46. He intended it for the stage as well as television, but it has been seen infrequently in either medium. In 2007, an arrangement of the opera for an orchestra of 15 was completed by composer David Matthews, who worked for many years as Britten's assistant and also wrote his biography, Britten (Haus Publishing, 2003).
Edward Benjamin Britten, Baron Britten OM CH (22 November 1913 - 4 December 1976) was an English composer, conductor and pianist. He was a central figure of 20th-century British classical music, with a range of works including opera, other vocal music, orchestral and chamber pieces. His best-known works include the opera Peter Grimes (1945), The War Requiem(1962), and the orchestral showpiece The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra (1945). Born in Suffolk, he studied at the Royal College of Music in London and privately with the composer Frank Bridge. Britten first came to public attention with the a cappella choral work A Boy was Born in 1934. With the premiere of Peter Grimes in 1945, he leapt to international fame. Over the next 28 years, he wrote 14 more operas, establishing himself as one of the leading 20th-century composers in the genre. In addition to large-scale operas for Sadler's Wells and Covent Garden, he wrote "chamber operas" for small forces, suitable for performance in venues of modest size. Recurring themes in his operas include the struggle of an outsider against a hostile society and the corruption of innocence. Britten's other works range from orchestral to choral, solo vocal, chamber and instrumental as well as film music. He took a great interest in writing music for children and amateur performers. Britten was a celebrated pianist and conductor, performing many of his own works in concert and on record. In his last year, he was the first composer to be given a life peerage.
Mary Myfanwy Evans, Myfanwy Piper, (28 March 1911 - 18 January 1997) was born into a Welsh family in London. The daughter of a chemist, she attended North London Collegiate School, from where she won a scholarship to read English Language and Literature at St Hugh's College, Oxford. From 1935 to 1937 she edited the periodical "Axis," devoted to abstract art. In 1937 she married the artist John Piper, with whom she lived in rural surroundings at Fawley Bottom near Henley-on-Thames for much of her life. Between 1954 and 1973 she collaborated with the composer Benjamin Britten on several of his operas, and between 1977 and 1981 with composer Alun Hoddinott on most of his operatic works. She was a friend of the poet John Betjeman, who wrote several poems addressing her, such as "Myfanwy" and "Myfanwy at Oxford." John and Myfanwy Piper had two sons and two daughters. Her elder son, painter Edward Piper, predeceased her.
Composer David Matthews worked as an assistant to Benjamin Britten in the late 1960s and is credited with creating the original piano vocal score for Owen Wingrave. In 2007, he was commissioned to create a chamber orchestra version that premiered in the Linbury Theatre at the Royal Opera Covent Garden.Among David Matthews' own compositions, In the Dark Times and Chaconne have both been recorded by BBC Symphony Orchestra. The cello Concerto in Azzuro, written for Steven Isserlis and the BBC Orchestra of Wales, was nominated for a Radio 3 Listener's Award in 2003. He is music advisor to the English Chamber Orchestra and was Artistic Director of the Deal Festival for 13 years. Mr. Matthews has written biographies on both Michael Tippet and Benjamin Britten.
Henry James, OM (15 April 1843 - 28 February 1916) was an American-British author regarded as a key transitional figure between literary realism and literary modernism, and is considered by many to be among the greatest novelists in the English language. He is best known for a number of novels dealing with the social and marital interplay between emigre Americans, English people, and continental Europeans - examples of such novels include The Portrait of a Lady, The Ambassadors, and The Wings of the Dove. His later works were increasingly experimental. In describing the internal states of mind and social dynamics of his characters, James often made use of a style in which ambiguous or contradictory motives and impressions were overlaid or juxtaposed in the discussion of a character's psyche. For their unique ambiguity, as well as for other aspects of their composition, his late works have been compared to impressionist painting. James also published articles and books of criticism, travel, biography, autobiography and plays. Born in the United States, James largely relocated to Europe as a young man and eventually settled in England, becoming a British subject in 1915, one year before his death. James was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1911, 1912 and 1916.
ABOUT THE CREATIVE TEAM
Richard Cordova (Conductor) led LOTNY's productions of Mitridate, Re di Ponto; the Gustav Holst double bill entitled Travelers, the Carlisle Floyd double bill of Slow Dusk & Markheim, and the NY premiere of Floyd's Prince of Players. This past summer Mr Cordova conducted The Martina Arroyo Foundation's production of Verdi's Falstaff at The Kaye Playhouse. He made his professional conducting debut leading the Scandinavian Premiere of Bernstein's Candide in Bergen, Norway, and has subsequently conducted productions for Oper der Stadt Bonn, Opera North (New Hampshire), Sarasota Opera, Opera Company of Boston, Long Beach Opera, Berkshire Opera, Florida Grand Opera and Baltimore Opera. He has served as Music Director for both Julie Taymor's Juan Darien during its initial off-Broadway inception (later conducting the work during its Tony-nominated run at Lincoln Center Theater); and earlier for Music-Theater Group's off-Broadway production of Virgil Thomson's The Mother of Us All.
Philip Shneidman (Director) founded the little OPERA theatre of ny. Recent productions include J.A Hasse's Piramo e Tisbe, the NY Premiere of Carlisle Floyd's Prince of Players, an original adaptation of Chevalier de Saint-Georges L'Amant Anonyme, Floyd's Slow Dusk & Markheim, and Gioachino Rossini's Opportunity Makes the Thief. Previous seasons include Gluck's The Reformed Drunkard; an evening of two one-act operas by Gustav Holst entitled Travelers. Other opera includes Eugene Onegin and Dialogues of the Carmelites at The Mannes College of Music, Purcell's The Tempest at Rutgers. His theater directing credits include: Fully Committed (Adirondack Theatre Festival); and Romeo & Juliet (Queens Theatre in the Park), A Drowned Girl (HERE). As an assistant director on Broadway he worked on The Full Monty, and the Gutierrez productions of A Delicate Balance and The Heiress.
Lara de Bruijn (Costume Design) recent designs include My Name is Ben at Goodspeed, Party Face at City Center, Salome at Irondale, The Two Character Play at New World Stages, Under My Skin at Little Shubert Theatre, Onegin, The Rake's Progress at Boston Conservatory, Blasted at Calderwood Pavilion, Wittenberg and Measure For Measure at Peterborough Players, Black Dolphin at DANSpace, Olityelwe at 59E59 and Stockholm Fringe. Her opera work at the Castleton Opera Festival includes Don Giovanni, Roméo et Juliette, and the world premiere of Scalia & Ginsberg. With LOTNY: Man in a Black Coat, Travelers, The Reformed Drunkard, Opportunity Makes the Thief, Slow Dusk & Markheim, Prince of Players, Piramo e Tisbe. Her new film Ms. White Light is getting it's premiere at this year's SXSW, previous The Good Catholic was an Independent Cinema winner at the Santa Barbara Film Festival.
Alex Basco Koch (Projection Design). Selected credits - Concert Design: The Magnetic Fields 50 Song Memoir. Broadway: Be More Chill (Lyceum) Irena's Vow (Walter Kerr). Off-Broadway: Buyer & Cellar (Barrow Street; Rattlestick); Body of an American (Primary Stages); The Liquid Plain (Signature Theatre); Lenin's Embalmers (Ensemble Studio Theatre). Regional: Marley (Center Stage, Baltimore); Invisible Man (Court Theatre, Chicago; Studio Theatre, Washington DC; Huntington Theatre Company, Boston); ReEntry (Center Stage, Baltimore; Round House, Washington DC; Actors Theater of Louisville). www.alexbascokoch.com
Founded in 2004, the little OPERA theatre of ny (LOTNY) recently presented the New York premiere of Johann Adolf Hasse's Piramo e Tisbe at Baruch Performing Arts Center in collaboration with New Vintage Baroque. The production received wide critical acclaim, heralded by Opera News as "superlative [and] an excellent and irrefutable case for programming this rare work, [with] indelible performances that should count among the finest and most complete interpretations heard in New York this season." In the same season, LOTNY presented the New York premiere of Adrienne Danrich's one woman show, This Little Light of Mine: The Stories of Marian Anderson and Leontyne Price,as part of the 2018 New York Opera Fest. Other recent productions include the New York premiere of Carlisle Floyd's Prince of Players (2017 at The Kaye Playhouse), praised by The New York Times as "well made and stylish" and the U.S. premiere of Chevalier de Saint-George's L'Amant Anonym (2016 at 59E59 Theaters). Past seasons have included Floyd's Slow Dusk & Markheim, Rossini's Opportunity Makes the Theif, a double-bill of Gustav Holst's The Wandering Scholar and Sāvitri, the U.S. premiere of César Cui's A Feast in the Time of the Plague, presented with Rimsky-Korsakov's Mozart and Salieri, and the Virgil Thompson/Gertrude Stein opera The Mother of Us All. LOTNY commissioned and performed Inessa Zaretsky's Man in a Black Coat as part of Target Margin's Last Futurist Lab at The Bushwick Starr, and presented The Bohemians, a concert of Puccini's music as part of the city-wide September Concert for 9/11. www.lotny.org.