New York Stories (opera)

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New York Stories is a trilogy of English-language one-act operas (Broken Pieces, Just for the Night, and Cradle Song) by Daron Hagen, with a libretto by Hagen and Barbara Grecki first performed in its entirety by Kentucky Opera in Louisville, Kentucky, on 30 October 2010.[1]

Background and performance history

The operas are based on true stories. The first two skits originated as playlets by Barbara Grecki and were adapted by Hagen as he musicalized them. The third skit libretto is by Hagen and is a self-portrait of himself and spouse Gilda Lyons as new parents. "Hagen’s clever jabs at the state of contemporary classical music as the weary composers struggled with their fussy newborn made for a little inside humor."[2] References are made by Hagen in the libretto to the couple's just having returned from a concert featuring music by Ned Rorem and David Del Tredici, among others. Later, the music quotes Elliott Carter's Third String Quartet and several measures of Rorem's artsong, "Early in the Morning".[3]

Conceived both as a trilogy and as three free-standing skits, the first, Broken Pieces,[4] is charming and romantic, the second, Just for the Night,[5] is soulful and sad, and the third, Cradle Song, is warmly domestic and affectionate. The vocal demands of the three female and three male roles are designed for young artist training programs at professional opera companies and at universities. The composer has stipulated that staging in the theater is not preferable to recital, agitprop, site-specific stagings in private homes, schools, and public spaces. He has also stipulated that the trilogy may be cast with as few as two singers and as many as six, in addition to multiple casting. Each opera lasts approximately 20 minutes. Optional music is included in the score of the complete trilogy for a "pantomime prelude" and scene changes.[6]

Broken Pieces

  • Staged premiere: 8 March 2005, by the University of Southern California Opera, Los Angeles, California
  • Concert orchestral premiere: 19 February 2007 by Music on the Edge, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Cabaret premiere: 13 February 2008 by Boston Opera Underground, Boston, Massachusetts

Just for the Night

  • Concert premiere: 7 April 2008 by Prism Ensemble, New York, New York
  • Semi-staged premiere: 17 June 2009 by Long Leaf Opera, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Cradle Song

  • Semi-staged premiere: 21 October 2008 by University of Puget Sound, Tacoma, Washington
  • Concert premiere: 26 October 2008 by the Seasons Music Festival, Yakima, Washington

New York Stories (complete)

  • Site-specific staged premiere: 30 October 2010 by Kentucky Opera, Louisville, Kentucky[1]
  • Semi-staged concert premiere: 1 November 2011 by Chicago Opera Theater / Chicago College of the Performing Arts, Chicago, Illinois
  • Theatrical premiere: 24 February 2012 by the Butler Opera Center, University of Texas, Austin, Texas

Roles

Role Voice type Site-specific
Premiere cast
30 October 2010
Semi-staged
Premiere cast
1 November 2011
Theatrical
Premiere cast
24 February 2012
Producer Kentucky Opera Chicago Opera Theater / Chicago
College of the Performing Arts
Butler Opera Center
Music Director Joey Mechavich Scott Gilmore Richard Masters
Director(s) Daron Hagen Joanie Schults David Radames Toro / Lance Hargis / Joshua T. Miller
Pamela female Andrea Shokery Louise Rogan Dorea Cook / Andrea Ramos
Antonio male Gabriel Preisser Loren Battieste Eun Deuk Cho / Daniel Madrid
Babs female Brandy Hawkins Catheryn Shuman Amelia Ciskey / Mari Stoner
Chip male Daniel Anderson Matthew Newlin Jake Jacobsen
Mama female Erin Keesy Megan Williams Courtney Nance / Nataly Wickham
Papa male Ricky Case Drew Ladd Tim Petty

Synopsis

Broken Pieces

Pamela lives alone with her cat on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Antonio, an Italian immigrant, arrives to fix the tiles in her bathroom. They share their stories and a romantic moment.

Just for the Night

Christmas Eve on Manhattan's Upper East Side. Middle-aged Babs is surprised by a visit from her brother Chip who, it emerges, has been living in a shelter. When he asks to stay the night, she turns him away.

Cradle Song

A married composer couple, Mama and Papa, live in Hamilton Heights. They arrive home after a night on the town and unsuccessfully attempt to put their child down for the night.

Notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 Cengal, Katya. http://www.courier-journal.com/article/20101108/SCENE05/311080003/1010/FEATURES/Opera+makes+house+calls++entertaining+private+audiences, The Courier-Journal; retrieved 29 February 2012.[dead link]
  2. van Ryzin, Jeanne Claire (2012-02-28). "Review: Butler Opera Center's New York Stories". Austin American-Statesman.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Hagen, Daron, Cradle Song (score), New York, New York: Burning Sled, p. 76<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Hagen, Daron, Broken Pieces (score), New York: Carl Fischer, p. 2, ISBN 0-8258-6003-2<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Hagen, Daron, Just for the Night (score), New York, New York: Burning Sled, p. 44<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. New York Stories page at Daron Hagen's official website, retrieved 2 March 2012.

External links