CHICAGO OPERA THEATER’S ANDREAS MITISEK TO MAKE NEW YORK CITY DIRECTORIAL DEBUT
Having earned accolades for his work at Chicago Opera Theater (COT) and the Long Beach Opera (LBO), COT’s Andreas Mitisek has been chosen to direct New York City Opera’s (NYCO) production of Hopper’s Wife by composer Stewart Wallace and set to a libretto by Michael Korie. This staging will mark the East Coast premiere of the opera and will be Mitisek’s New York City directorial debut. Performances take place on April 28, 29, 30 and May 1 at Harlem Stage (150 Convent Ave, New York, NY). “I am delighted to present Hopper’s Wife as the first work in our multi-season series of chamber operas. I was introduced to this fascinating opera when it was in development twenty years ago, and feel it is the ideal piece to launch this new series,” said Michael Capasso General Director of New York City Opera. “Stewart Wallace and Michael Korie have a distinguished history with City Opera, and we are thrilled to be presenting their groundbreaking work. This production also marks the beginning of an exciting relationship with Chicago Opera Theater and Long Beach Opera.”
“Being part of New York City Opera’s first season with a New York premiere of a contemporary opera is a great way to celebrate my personal New York City directing debut,” said Andreas Mitisek, COT’s Stefan Edlis & Gael Neeson General Director. “This honor is especially gratifying to me because this work was originally commissioned by Long Beach Opera in 1997.”
Hopper’s Wife, a three-character, 90-minute chamber opera, is based on an idea inspired by both fact and fiction. Described after its LBO world premiere as “brave, bold and important” by Mark Swed of the Los Angeles Times, Stewart Wallace and Michael Korie’s challenging, erotically-charged opera audaciously charts new territory in music drama. The work explores the dichotomies between art and obscenity, high culture and indecency, through the allegory of an imagined marriage between painter Edward Hopper and gossip columnist Hedda Hopper, juxtaposing familiar icons of Hollywood’s golden age with stark depictions of desperation and depravity.
The cast, all making City Opera debuts, features mezzo-soprano Elise Quagliata in the title role, baritoneJustin Ryan as Edward Hopper, and mezzo-soprano Melanie Long as Ava, a character inspired by the young Ava Gardner. Austrian-American director Andreas Mitisek, who serves as artistic and general director of both Chicago Opera Theater and Long Beach Opera, stages the work. James Lowe, admired for his versatility in conducting musical theater and opera, leads the New York City Opera Orchestra.
According to composer Stewart Wallace, “Each of the three characters is inspired by a different kind of indigenous American music. Hopper’s pastoral sound conceals a barely restrained violence. Mrs. Hopper cracks and pops with the urban sound of the New York she yearns to return to. And Ava, the artist’s model, has a sound that evolves from bluegrass in Act One to torchy blues as Hollywood reshapes her in its own image.”
The Harlem Stage performances of Hopper’s Wife mark its second production, after the work’s premiere in 1997 by the Long Beach Opera in California.
Hopper’s Wife contains adult language and nudity and may not be suitable for all audiences.
The New York City Opera season concludes with Florencia en el Amazonas at Rose Theater at Jazz at Lincoln Center in June 2016.
For more information about New York City Opera’s season, please visit nycopera.com.
About the Cast
Elise Quagliata has recently performed with Opera Omaha in La Fanciulla del West and sings the title role of Carmen in October at Utah Opera. She is admired for her interpretation of the music of Jake Heggie and in particular her portrayal of Sister Helen in Heggie’s Dead Man Walking with various companies, including Des Moines Metro Opera. Justin Ryan’s operatic portrayals have ranged from roles in The Magic Flute toThe Tender Land. During the 2015-16 season, Ryan makes his company debut with Connecticut Lyric Opera in The Marriage of Figaro and returns to the Featherstone Center for the Arts in Martha’s Vineyard for a new production by Wendy Taucher based on Rossini’s The Barber of Seville. During the 2015-16 season, Melanie Long appears as Hansel in Hansel and Gretel with the Lindal North Workshop at the Oslo Opera House and as Musetta in the British Magnetic Opera production of La Bohème at the 2016 Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
About the Creative Team
Andreas Mitisek serves both as artistic and general director of LBO and the Stefan Edlis & Gael Neeson general director of COT. Recent directing credits at LBO include: Poulenc’s La Voix Humaine, the world premiere of Tobias Stokes’ Fallujah, the U.S. premiere of Gavin Bryars’ Marilyn Forever, David Lang’s The Difficulty of Crossing a Field and Ernest Bloch’s Macbeth. For COT, he has staged and designed Mozart’sLucio Silla, Poulenc’s La Voix Humaine, Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, and Orpheus & Euridice by Ricky Ian Gordon. Mitisek makes his NYCO debut with this production of Hopper’s Wife.
Stewart Wallace’s most recent opera The Bonesetter’s Daughter, with a libretto by Amy Tan, based on her novel, was commissioned and premiered at the San Francisco Opera. In addition to Hopper’s Wife, Wallace has collaborated with librettist Michael Korie on four operas, including Kabbalah, Where’s Dick?, and Harvey Milk, a commission of Houston Grand Opera, San Francisco Opera, and New York City Opera. Wallace’s compositions include works for orchestra, chamber music, as well as vocal and choral music, and scores for film and ballet.
Michael Korie writes librettos for operas and lyrics for musicals. He adapted Steinbeck’s novel for the libretto to The Grapes of Wrath by Ricky Ian Gordon and is collaborating with Michael Torke on an upcoming opera. For musical theater, Korie has created the lyrics to Scott Frankel’s music for Grey Gardens, Far from Heaven, and Doll and Happiness. His newest work with Frankel and playwright Doug Wright is War Paint, which premieres in June at Chicago’s Goodman Theater and features Patti Lupone and Christine Ebersole.
James Lowe is a leading conductor of opera and musical theater. For the Houston Grand Opera, he has conducted Carmen and The Marriage of Figaro as well as Jake Heggie’s The End of the Affair. This fall, Lowe makes his San Francisco Opera debut leading performances of Sweeney Todd. He has led new productions of Oklahoma! for Lyric Opera of Chicago and Camelot at Glimmerglass Festival. Lowe served as music director of the Broadway revival of Anything Goes, starring Sutton Foster and Joel Grey.
About Chicago Opera Theater
Chicago Opera Theater is an innovative, nationally recognized opera company that inspires a diverse community through immersive and thought-provoking opera experiences. COT, established in 1974 by Alan Stone, is a founding resident company of the Harris Theater for Music and Dance in Millennium Park. Andreas Mitisek, the Stefan Edlis and Gael Neeson General Director, is known for his adventurous repertory, visionary leadership, fundraising skills and innovative audience-building initiatives.]
Chicago Opera Theater has carved a significant place for itself in the operatic life of Chicago and has reached an audience of hundreds of thousands through its main stage performances, community engagement, education programs in Chicago Public Schools, as well as its renowned Young Artist Program. For more information on the Chicago Opera Theater and its programs please visit www.cot.org.
About Long Beach Opera
Long Beach Opera (LBO) is internationally known for its cutting-edge interpretations of unconventional repertoire. LBO creates immediate, inventive, and often boldly avant-garde productions for an adventurous audience and stands apart from most opera companies in the number of world, American, and West Coast premieres the company has staged. Founded in 1979, it is the oldest professional opera company in the Los Angeles/Orange County region with a performance history of more than 110 operas, ranging from the earliest works of the 17th century to operas of the 21st. LBO’s ever‐growing repertoire has provided stimulus for the subsequent founding of other local opera companies, catapulting Southern California into the spotlight as a major opera epicenter. LBO is a recognized and respected member of the U. S. cultural community, receiving funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, California Arts Council, the County of Los Angeles, and the City of Long Beach, along with generous individual donors, local businesses, public corporations, and private foundations.
About New York City Opera
Since its founding in 1943 by Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia as “The People’s Opera” New York City Opera has been a critical part of the city’s cultural life. During its history, New York City Opera launched the careers of dozens of major artists and presented engaging productions of both mainstream and unusual operas alongside commissions and regional premieres. The result was a uniquely American opera company of international stature.
For more than seven decades, New York City Opera maintained a distinct identity, adhering to its unique mission: affordable ticket prices, a devotion to American works, English-language performances, the promotion of up-and-coming American singers, and seasons of accessible, vibrant and compelling productions intended to introduce new audiences to the art form. Stars who launched their careers at New York City Opera include Plácido Domingo, Catherine Malfitano, Sherrill Milnes, Samuel Ramey, Beverly Sills, Tatiana Troyanos, Carol Vaness, Shirley Verrett, among dozens of other great artists.
Now, having returned to the stage, New York City Opera continues its legacy at a new, state-of- the-art home at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rose Theater with revitalized outreach and education programs, and programming designed to welcome and inspire a new generation of City Opera audiences.