Tonight, July 21 at 2:00pm, and Sunday, July 22 at 7:30pm, American Opera Projects, in association with Opera New Jersey, will premiere Blessed Art Thou Amongst Women, an operatic meditation in three parts on the religious and feminine icon Mary with music by Tarik O'Regan, Gregory Spears, and Antonio Vivaldi and performed by countertenor Ryland Angel and mezzo-soprano Hai-Ting Chinn. The Sebastian Chamber Players and keyboardist Mila Henry perform under the musical direction of Steven Osgood, with stage direction by Crystal Manich. Performances will be held at the Berlind Theatre at Princeton's McCarter Theatre Center and feature an artist panel discussion. Tickets are $15 and available at operanj.org or (609) 799-7700.
Blessed Art Thou Amongst Women consists of two contrasting contemporary monodramas - Gregory Spears' Our Lady (from medieval Provençal texts) and Tarik O'Regan's The Wanton Sublime (with a libretto by Anna Rabinowitz). The new works will be paired with a unique staged performance of Vivaldi's Stabat Mater. The performances will mark the second partnership between AOP and Opera NJ, following last season's exciting workshop premiere of The Family Room by Thomas Pasatieri.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
TARIK O'REGAN (composer, The Wanton Sublime)
Born in London in 1978, Tarik O'Regan was educated at the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. He now lives and works in New York City and Cambridge, England. His compositions are performed internationally by opera and ballet companies, symphony orchestras, choruses, chamber ensembles and soloists. Available on over 25 recordings, mostly on the Harmonia Mundi label, his music has garnered two GRAMMY® nominations (including Best Classical Album) and two British Composer Awards. His opera Heart of Darkness, based on the novella by Joseph Conrad (Tom Phillips, libretto) was developed by American Opera Projects and premiered to rave reviews at the Royal Opera House in a co-production with Opera East and ROH2. Tarik O'Regan is published exclusively by Novello & Company. www.tarikoregan.com
GREGORY SPEARS (composer, Our Lady)
Gregory Spears writes instrumental and vocal music that blends together stylistic aspects of romanticism, minimalism, and early music. His music has been performed by Houston Grand Opera (HGOco), the American Composers Orchestra, Center City Opera Theater, Opera Index, and the NOW Ensemble (MATA), among many others. Current projects include a new collaborative dance opera (Wolf-in-Skins) with choreographer Christopher Williams and an evening-length opera based on the novel Fellow Travelers written in collaboration with playwright Greg Pierce and director Kevin Newbury. Spears' first opera, Paul's Case, was developed by American Opera Projects' Composers & the Voice Program and was noted for its "solid dramatic timing, compassionate characterizations, and huge potential" (Philadelphia Inquirer - David PatRick Stearns' Best in Classical Music for 2009). www.gregoryspears.com
ANNA RABINOWITZ (librettist, The Wanton Sublime)
Anna Rabinowitz's fourth volume of poetry, Present Tense, was published by Omnidawn Books in fall 2010. Her previous volume of poetry is The Wanton Sublime: A Florilegium of Whethers and Wonders, published by Tupelo Press, 2006. Her book-length acrostic poem, Darkling: A Poem (Tupelo Press, 2001) was transformed into an experimental, multi-media opera theater work by AOP. It had its world premiere and ran for three weeks off-Broadway in 2006 and was performed in a concert version in Berlin and Poland in 2007. Center City Opera of Philadelphia performed a concert version at the Philadelphia Fringe Festival in 2009. Other awards include a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and nominations for a Pushcart Prize and Foreward Magazine's Best Poetry Book of the Year for Darkling. Rabinowitz is Editor Emerita of American Letters & Commentary, a vice-president of the Poetry Society of America, and a member of the Board of Directors of AOP. For more information, visit www.annarabinowitz.com.
RYLAND ANGEL (Counter-tenor)
Born on St Cecilia's day, Ryland Angel has received a Grammy nomination. Recordings include music of Charpentier, Scarlatti, Stradella, Lorenzani, Peri, Handel, Monteverdi, Beaujoyeux, Purcell, Bach and Spears (EMI, Universal, K317, Koch, Virgin Classics etc). New and upcoming recordings include "Sacred Seven - Chant"(Cosmos), "Freud und Lust" - Buxtehude/Bach solo cantatas (Deux-Elles), Rosenmuller solo cantatas with Artek and Vespers by Colonna (Houston Chamber choir). www.rylandangel.com