Eastman Opera Theatre will open its 2020-21 season with a “Our Voices: Immersive Composer Collaborations” in late November or early December.
As the Eastman School of Music prepares to celebrate its upcoming centennial, EOT plans to continue the season in 2021 with two operas by Eastman alumni: Dominick Argento’s “Postcard from Morocco” and Kevin Puts’ “Silent Night.” The season will end with scenes from Mozart’s operas.
“COVID-19 made the EOT faculty consider innovative new projects that fuse social distancing guidelines on the performance stage with modern technology used to connect us on a computer screen,” director Steven Daigle said. “For the student, some of the season productions are neither live performance nor completely virtual. Adaptability and collaboration are an integral part of the training for the Eastman voice student with or without COVID-19. By challenging our students with these unique productions, they will be better prepared for the changing professional opera theater world that awaits post-pandemic.”
The fall production will feature one-on-one musical collaborations between students and six composers of music for the voice and lyric stage: Anthony Davis, Ricky Ian Gordon, Lori Laitman, Missy Mazzoli, Ben Moore and Errollyn Wallen. Each will curate a program of their vocal music, join in group discussions and individual coachings with students and faculty members, and guide the process up to the fall performances.
Students will be part of the production process from the ground up — working with a composer, coach, director and design team led by directors Stephen Carr, Daigle and Madeleine Snow, and music directors Timothy Long and Wilson Southerland.
“Adversity breeds creativity, and we are excited to present a season that embraces and makes good use of the positive discoveries we’ve made during these difficult recent months,” said Carr, associate artistic director for EOT. “Our students will have the opportunity to work one-on-one with some of the most prominent and prolific living composers of vocal music. They will take an active role in the scenic, costume and lighting design of their own performances. In the end, we hope that they’ll emerge from this time as more fully fleshed artists with a deeper understanding and greater appreciation of all that goes into this most collaborative of art forms.”
“In this time of COVID-19, we hope to reflect our new world by partnering with six highly esteemed composers that involve some of the music industry’s most successful vocal music composers today,” Long said. “By bringing them to our virtual Eastman world to work alongside our talented students, we intend to highlight stories of underrepresented voices through song and theater.”
“Postcard from Morocco,” a surrealist fantasy set in a mysterious railway station, is scheduled for February 2021 at EOT’s Scene Shop. “Silent Night” recounts the true story of a spontaneous Christmas Eve truce in 1914 among German, French and British troops on the Western Front during World War I. The production will be mounted in Kodak Hall.
“The winter and spring operas celebrate Eastman’s centennial by presenting works of our world-renowned alumni, including Pulitzer Prize winners Dominick Argento and Kevin Puts,” Long said. “I am thrilled about our upcoming season and I hope you all join us.”
The final proposed production of the season, “Mozart May-hem” on April 29-30 and May 1-2, will feature student performances of scenes and arias from “Le nozze di Figaro,” “Cosi fan tutte” and Die Zauberflöte in the Black Box Theatre.
Visit esm.rochester.edu for information.