Other WOrks in Development
New Short Operas & Music-Theatre Gems
The company will present an evening of two short operas by artistic members. Composer Nicolas Benavides’ opera Pepito was an instant hit when presented as a workshop premiere last year by the Washington National Opera, and now we seek to broaden the audience for this charming, humorous look at nonetheless serious subjects such as the importance of animal rescue, the struggle for cross-cultural-linguistic-and species-communication, and the development of the next generation of opera lovers.
Company composer and cellist Dawn Avery has been commissioned to write a companion short opera based on the works of American artist Georgia O’Keefe and her final years in Abiquiu with her beloved philosophizing chow-chow and his none-too-loving observations of the human race and ruminations on the state of art, nature, and spirit animals. The program of these companion works is designed for audiences of all ages.
This last work will launch a collaboration with the Phillips Collection to commission and present a total of five short “Music-Theatre Gems”, which will showcase outstanding local composers and librettists/lyricists teams based on the Phillips iconic works in their collection. This collaboration of visual art plus music-theatre programming will be part of a more extended series of events to be performed as split programs presented in the Phillips Collection galleries and Dupont Underground.
His and Hers in Boxing: Approaching Ali and The Boxing Life of Lisa Cohen:
Composer D.J. Sparr with Librettists Mark Campbell and Davis Miller debuted this one-hour opera as part of Washington National Opera’s first inaugural American Opera Initiative (AOI) for less than a handful of performances at the Kennedy Center. Most Washingtonians did not get to see their own home-grown Soloman Howard step into a major role while still in the Domingo Cafritz training program. It has been the intention of Alliance for New Music -Theatre to bring this opera and Soloman Howard back from what is now his illustrious international career.
Set between 1964 and 1989, the story is about a boy in North Carolina in the early 1960's who is galvanized to overcome some traumatic childhood events when he sees Muhammad Ali on television. More than twenty years later, as a writer on the brink of middle age, he now seeks to rekindle that spirit by visiting his boyhood hero in person at his mother's home in Louisville. The opera moves back and forth in time, and Howard creates a tour de force role as the great boxer and then the elderly, frail Ali fighting the opponent of his life in Parkinson’s.
New Music-Theatre will be setting it – where else? – but in a boxing ring, not in Dupont Underground but with added performances in a local boxing gym across town.
The Garuda Project
Indonesia’s history has always been linked to water. So is its destiny. The seas have for more than a millennium preserved the great diversity of its peoples in ethnicity, religion, and language. In 2019, the country celebrates its 70th anniversary of unification, but in this century Indonesia faces a new challenge. As sea levels rise, the watery world that protected and “fed” the islands with its bounty threatens to destroy its landmass. The Indonesian Ambassador, Mahendra Siregar, and senior staff of the Indonesian Embassy have invited Artistic Director Susan Galbraith, who was born and grew up in Indonesia, to launch a multi-year project, drawing on the rich legends, dance, and music of the country and create a new work of music-theatre in collaboration with both local Indonesian and American artists. The new work will serve as both an important warning and an opportunity for people to unite in response to climate change. From Hanuman’s great leap across the ocean (taken from the Hindhu Ramayana) to a tale of Garuda, the mythical bird and symbol of Indonesia, who must battle for amrta, the sacred water of life, the entire community is called on to participate and save the world. The work will incorporate Balinese and Javanese dance, gamelan orchestra, singing, drama and wajang kulit (Shadow Puppetry) and will be performed primarily in English with some spoken bahasa Indonesia.
On the Road to Arivaca
Alliance has been researching, developing and now commissioning composer Rosino Serrano, who resides in Mexico City, to develop a “chamber opera,” that takes up the issue of immigrants crossing our southern border and humanizes the story that has dominated our national conversation. Based on a true encounter, two men trespass the rule of “no engagement” between “illegal” and “Samaritan” when they inadvertently meet, and both face difficult moral choices. The opera will put the audience “on the road” in difficult encounters that surround the many issues of immigration, national boundaries, and cross-cultural- and linguistic engagement. How does one act when one has to decide in a split second on the fate of a fellow human being? Larry Ortiz wrote the original poem on which the opera is based and serves as advisor on the project. The work will also feature a local Latinx children’s chorus. As part of the larger project, New Music-Theatre has partnered with In Series and the Sitar Arts Center in Adams Morgan, to embark on a two-year pilot program of ongoing workshops developing the Latinx Children’s Chorus which will participate in “bookend” productions by both companies and opportunities for young participants to build relationships, be expose to professional performances of the highest caliber, and find outlets for their own creative expressions.