The Kennedy Center

The Domingo-Cafritz Young Artists

Washington National Opera: American Opera Initiative: Three 20-Minute Operas

Saturday, January 14, 2017

JFK Centennial Celebration Washington National Opera

The world premiere of three short operas--this year focusing on themes and values related to the Kennedy Center's centennial celebration of John F. Kennedy--will be semi-staged in a concert performance, accompanied by members of the WNO Orchestra.

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Three new 20-minute operas will be semi-staged in a concert performance, accompanied by a small chamber orchestra conducted by Steven Osgood and followed by a Q&A with the artists and creative team. "Short-form chamber opera appears to be the wave of the operatic future," said the Washington Post about WNO's 2015-2016 presentation. This new season's three operas are each based on a contemporary American story and inspired by the ideals often ascribed to President Kennedy as part of JFKC: A Centennial Celebration of President Kennedy. Each opera will be performed in English.

Performance Timing: Approximately 1 hour, with no intermission.

What Gets Kept
Music by Frances Pollock

Libretto by Vanessa Moody
Amy, suffering from a terminal illness, has decided to pursue death on her own terms with medical assistance. While her teen daughter faces the situation head-on, her husband seeks to buy the family more time together. Embracing its unique blend of dark humor and deep compassion, the family navigates the difficult tasks of grieving for a living person and finding peace in the aftermath of loss. What Gets Kept champions the ideals of courage and creativity as the family interacts with death in brave and inventive ways. Harnessing the ideal of community, the family must balance the needs of the individual with those of the whole. A JFKC Commission

Amy: Daryl Freedman
Emma: Jennifer Cherest
Lawrence: Frederick Ballentine

Music by Zach Redler
Libretto by J Douglas Carlson
Adam is the story of the creation of the world's first sentient artificial human. Mirroring the spirit of President Kennedy's launch of the U.S. space program, Adam's creator Athena seeks her goals "…not because they are easy but because they are hard" (JFK). She does so in the service of science and of her country…but is there justice in creating a being with free will for a purpose that he did not choose? Will Athena have the courage to stand by Adam against forces that would own his destiny? The ideals that inspire these questions would be as essential in such a future as they are now and as they were in the Kennedy era. A JFKC Commission

Adam: Frederick Ballentine 
Athena: Raquel González 
Colonel Grey: Andrew Bogard

Music by Matthew Peterson
Libretto by Emily Roller
Three refugees are stranded in an inflatable lifeboat out in the open ocean; they are the sole survivors of a shipwreck. After three days, tensions erupt between the strangers, who each fled the same conflict for different reasons. As their pasts are revealed, cooperation--and survival--seem unlikely. Lifeboat explores and challenges the ideals of courage, social justice, and service; can these ideals overcome major divides between people of different backgrounds and experiences? Can we all live in the same boat? A JFKC Commission.

The Professor: Andrew McLaughlin
The Soldier: Raquel González 
The Doctor: Daryl Freedman 

Following both performances:
Saturday evening, Jan. 14
Don't miss your opportunity to engage directly with our artists and share your thoughts on the experience you just had! Here's your chance to ask questions and get the inside scoop on the production from members of the cast and creative team.
All discussions begin immediately after the performance and are free with your ticket.
"WNO's American Opera Initiative is an exciting and positive leap forward in the trajectory of American opera: keeping it fresh, energized, bold, and current."
--Jake Heggie, composer and former American Opera Initiative advisor

WNO's acclaimed commissioning program for contemporary American opera enters its fifth exciting season, this time with four world premieres presented across a single weekend (Three New 20-Minute Operas and The Dictator's Wife hour-long opera). Our Domingo-Cafritz Young Artists and other talented performers will be among the casts.

Says the Washington Post: "Encouraging new voices and new work is a good thing… and [the American Opera Initiative] is getting more music heard. Let's applaud it--and attend it!" This season, the American Opera Initiative and Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program welcome new program director Robert Ainsley and three distinguished advisors including composer John Musto (Later the Same Evening, The Inspector), librettist Gene Scheer (Three Decembers, WNO's Moby-Dick), and conductor Steven Osgood (General and Artistic Director of Chautauqua Opera Company).