American Opera Initiative: Three 20-Minute Operas
WNO's American Opera Initiative moves into its second exciting season with the premieres of three new 20-minute operas in a concert performance, accompanied by a chamber orchestra, and followed by a Q&A session with the artists and creative teams.
Of the fall 2012 concert, the Washington Times raved, "WNO's young singers made a favorable impression" in an event that "showcased writer-composer teams of great promise. [It's] a welcome surprise that both the company and the Kennedy Center should be rightfully proud to support." The three operas selected are as follows:
Composed by Jennifer Bellor
Libretto by Elizabeth Reeves
The ghosts of three immigrant Irish railroad workers--killed in a violent clash with local farmers as they fled a cholera outbreak at their Pennsylvania work camp--return to haunt Malachi Harris, the man charged with making sure that no trace of them or their fate survives.
At the inception of construction of America's first transcontinental railroad, in eastern Pennsylvania, the companies responsible for building each "cut" of track relied on Irish immigrants as a source of cheap labor. In August 1832, the entire crew of 57 workers at one such Pennsylvania worksite--Duffy's Cut--die. Most are victims of the cholera epidemic sweeping the country, but several are murdered by local farmers as they try to escape their disease-ridden camp. Hoping to preserve his lucrative contracts with the railroad, contractor Phillip Duffy wishes to destroy all evidence of what happened at the site and charges the camp blacksmith, Malachi Harris, with the task. Haunted by the ghosts of three dead workers he knew in life and nursed in illness, and troubled by his own conscience, Malachi must decide whether to carry out Duffy's orders or preserve some trace of what happened at Duffy's Cut.
Composed by Joshua Bornfield
Libretto by Caitlin Vincent
Set against the framework of Ellis Island at the turn of the 20th century, Uncle Alex tells the story of one immigrant family and the simple, yet heroic act that changes their lives forever.
More than 12 million immigrants entered the United States through Ellis Island, with over one million processed in 1907 alone. Set against the backdrop of this peak year, Uncle Alex tells the story of new arrivals Anna and Jacob Eingold as they navigate their final interview with an Ellis Island inspector. When their hopes are derailed by a technicality, fellow immigrant Alex Margolis calls his own future into question with an unexpected act of heroism. An opera about love, family, and what it truly means to be American, Uncle Alex provides a modest glimpse into an experience that has shaped the core of this country.
Composed by Michael Gilbertson
Libretto by Caroline McGraw
A young reporter, desperate to stand out in a 24-hour news cycle, finally gets a moment in the spotlight, only to discover how harmful a constant stream of information can be.
Johanna is an eager rising television reporter, confined to the purgatory of human interest pieces. When a tragedy strikes and she is the first on the scene, she couldn't be happier--until she collides with a grieving young woman and is forced to confront the human suffering behind the headline.