OPERA FUSION: NEW WORKS RESIDENCY Workshop will use resources of Cincinnati Opera and
the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music Cincinnati Opera and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) Opera Program are pleased to announce the selection of a new American opera, Meet John Doe, for the Opera Fusion: New Works Meet John Doe, with music and a libretto by the late Daniel Catán, will receive a workshop in Cincinnati from January 21 to 31, 2015.
Catán, credited as the first contemporary Mexican composer to have an opera produced in the United States, is perhaps best known for his opera Il Postino, which starred Plácido Domingo at its 2010 world premiere at Los Angeles Opera. In 2008, Catán made an extended visit to Cincinnati to advise as two of his works were performed here. Cincinnati Opera presented Florencia en el Amazonas as the company's first mainstage Spanish-language opera, and Rappacini's Daughter was presented by CCM in collaboration with Cincinnati Opera. During his time in Cincinnati, Catán gave both master classes and lectures, and he demonstrated an inexhaustible generosity in sharing his time and expertise with students and opera lovers. Catán began work on Meet John Doe prior to his untimely death in 2011, but the opera remained unfinished.
Now, Opera Fusion: New Works welcomes a creative team tasked with completing the opera. Eduardo Diazmuñoz will act as chief editor, composer of structural scenes, and conductor for the workshop. The husband-and-wife team of Michaela Eremiásová and Jairo Duarte-López will compose additional scenes, as well as edit the score. The composer's widow, Andrea Puente Catán, is the associate editor, advisor, and project manager. Robin Guarino, the J. Ralph Corbett Distinguished Chair of Opera at CCM, will act as both stage director and dramaturg. The completion of the piano vocal score was jointly funded by Cincinnati Opera and Gotham Chamber Opera.
The workshop will culminate in a free public reading of excerpts on Saturday, January 31, 2015 at 7:30 p.m. at Memorial Hall, 1225 Elm Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202. Tickets are available now through the Cincinnati Opera box office; call (513) 241-2742 to reserve.
The opera Meet John Doe is based on the 1941 Frank Capra film of the same name, which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Story. Meet John Doe follows the story of Ann Mitchell, a newspaper columnist who unwittingly sparks a grassroots populist movement with a fictional letter to the editor from "John Doe" protesting society's ills, and John Willoughby, a homeless former baseball player whom she hires to pose as the public face of John Doe.
Following Catán's premature death, his wife Andrea Puente Catán began to work toward the completion of his unfinished final opera. "I did not want to shelve Daniel's score in an archive. There is a difference between the work of art cut by death, where the creator would finish the work if he could, and the one that is simply abandoned. Daniel wanted to finish the score; he did not abandon it," Ms. Puente said. "He was in a very intense creative period when he was struck by death. He left manuscripts, sketches, sources of inspiration----both poetic and musical----and a very clear road map. It almost seemed that he knew that we would have to follow his directions on how to finish it."
Ms. Puente continued, "This work is Daniel's musical last will and testament for the art that he loved so much: opera. Opera Fusion: New Works, Cincinnati Opera, CCM, and Gotham Chamber Opera were exactly the right partners that we needed to complete this project. The opportunity to listen to the whole arc of the work collaboratively with young singers who are the future of the art form will give Meet John Doe the impulse that it needs to take off."
"After having had a lengthy, close, and intense personal and professional relationship with Daniel Catán which spanned 36 years, it was only natural for me to offer to help in any possible way to finish his last opera," said conductor/composer Eduardo Diazmuñoz. "Opera Fusion: New Works has been doing a marvelous job at promoting works that not only are essential and transcendental to our lives, but also, as in this case, by promoting a work by a great opera composer who certainly deserves to be heard."
"We are very grateful for the support of Cincinnati Opera, CCM, Opera Fusion: New Works, and Gotham Chamber Opera," said composers Michaela Eremiásová and Jairo Duarte-López. "Thanks to their adventurous thinking, this workshop will provide a great opportunity to acknowledge one more wonderful opera by Daniel Catán. It is also for us, as composers, a great challenge and a major responsibility to step in the shoes of such a formidable composer."
"Daniel Catán was a composer of immense talent. I have wonderful memories of working with him, and feel indebted to him for his generous sharing of his knowledge and experience," said Opera Fusion: New Works co-artistic director Marcus Küchle. "I am so glad that we are able to make history and honor the memory and legacy of this great artist by continuing the work on his final opera."
"It is a great privilege for Opera Fusion: New Works and CCM Opera to workshop Daniel Catán's opera Meet John Doe," said co-artistic director Robin Guarino. "I recently returned from meeting with Daniel's widow, the remarkable Andrea Puente Catán, who has overseen the completion of the opera together with conductor/composer Eduardo Diazmuñoz. It was very moving and very exciting to hold the completed opera in my hands as we worked through the score. Marcus Küchle and I have cast an extremely talented group of 18 CCM singers and alumni who will be preparing over the next month and a half for 10 days of intensive collaboration and rehearsal in January. During the residency, Andrea Puente Catán will visit CCM in master class discussions about Daniel Catán's legacy and the process of completing the opera Meet John Doe."
Opera Fusion: New Works, a unique collaboration between Cincinnati Opera and CCM Opera, was created in 2011 to foster the development of new American operas. The program offers composers or composer/librettist teams the opportunity to workshop an opera during a 10-day residency in Cincinnati, utilizing the talent, personnel, and facilities of both organizations. The workshops are cast with a combination of CCM students and professional artists, and each workshop concludes with a public performance. The program is led by co-artistic directors Marcus Küchle, Director of Artistic Operations of Cincinnati Opera, and Robin Guarino, the J. Ralph Corbett Distinguished Chair of Opera at CCM. Opera Fusion: New Works is generously funded by a $300,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
In 2011, Opera Fusion: New Works awarded its first workshop to composer Douglas J. Cuomo and librettist John Patrick Shanley in support of their new opera Doubt, which premiered at Minnesota Opera in January 2013. In 2012, Opera Fusion: New Works provided workshops for Champion, by composer Terence Blanchard and librettist Michael Cristofer, which premiered at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis in June 2013; and Morning Star, by composer Ricky Ian Gordon and librettist William M. Hoffman, which will have its world premiere at Cincinnati Opera on June 30, 2015. In 2013, the residency went to Fellow Travelers, by composer Gregory Spears and librettist Greg Pierce; and in 2014, the program invited composer Jake Heggie and librettist Terrence McNally to workshop Great Scott, which will premiere at The Dallas Opera in October 2015. For more information, visit www.cincinnatiopera.org.
About Meet John Doe
Infuriated at being told to write one final column after being laid off from her newspaper job, Ann Mitchell prints a letter from a fictional unemployed "John Doe" threatening suicide on Christmas Eve in protest of society's ills. When the letter causes a sensation among readers, and the paper's competition suspects a fraud and starts to investigate, editor Henry Connell is persuaded to rehire Mitchell, who schemes to boost the newspaper's sales by exploiting the fictional John Doe. From a number of derelicts who show up at the paper claiming to have written the original letter, Mitchell and Connell hire John Willoughby, a former baseball player and tramp in need of money to repair his injured arm, to play the role of John Doe. Mitchell starts to pen a series of articles in Doe's name, elaborating on the original letter's ideas of society's disregard for people in need.
The newspaper's publisher, D.B. Norton, proposes to take John Doe national through the radio, with Mitchell writing the speeches. Meanwhile, Willoughby is offered a bribe from a rival newspaper to admit the whole thing was a publicity stunt, but ultimately turns it down and delivers the speech Mitchell has written for him instead. The speeches inspire citizens across the country to form John Doe Clubs whose simple slogan is "Be a better neighbor." However, Norton secretly plans to channel Doe's popularity into support for his own national political ambitions. Willoughby, who has come to believe in the John Doe philosophy himself, denounces Norton and tries to expose the plot at the rally, but Norton speaks first, exposing Doe as a fake. Despondent at letting his now-angry followers down, Willoughby plans to commit suicide by jumping from the roof of City Hall on Christmas Eve, as in the original John Doe letter. Mitchell, who has fallen in love with Willoughby, desperately tries to talk him out of jumping, and citizens tell him of their plan to restart their John Doe Club. Convinced not to kill himself, Willoughby leaves, carrying a fainted Mitchell in his arms.
About Eduardo Diazmuñoz
Eduardo Diazmuñoz is a professor and Chair of Opera at the University of Illinois. For more than 30 years, Maestro Diazmuñoz has been an invited guest in Europe, the United States, Canada, and Latin America, where he is recognized as a conductor, composer, pianist, percussionist, educator, producer, and lecturer. He has been an invited conductor for more than 100 orchestras, and he has been Principal Guest Conductor for the Argentina National Symphony, Caracas Municipal Symphony Orchestra, and Sodre Symphony Orchestra in Montevideo, Uruguay, among others. A student of the renowned conductors Léon Barzin and Leonard Bernstein, Maestro Diazmuñoz won acclaim as General Music Director, Conductor, and Founder of the Metropolitan Philharmonic Orchestra of Mexico and Conductor of the National University Philharmonic, State of Mexico Symphony Orchestra, Mexico City Philharmonic, National Conservatory Symphony and Philharmonic Orchestra, Carlos Chavez Symphony Orchestra, and Bogota Philharmonic Orchestra. He has recorded more than 30 compact discs for 19 recording labels. He has been nominated twice for the Latin Grammy Awards' Best Classical Album and once for Best Instrumental Album, for which he was awarded the Latin Grammy.
About Michaela Eremiásová
Michaela Eremiásová, born in the Czech Republic, has been increasingly recognized as a composer of concert music and music for visual media and modern dance. Ms. Eremiásová enjoys collaborating with painters, poets, and modern dance choreographers as well as with experimental and mainstream filmmakers.
About Jairo Duarte-López
Winner of the 2007 National Prize in Music Composition awarded by the Ministry of Culture of Colombia, Jairo Duarte-López has been increasingly recognized for his work in concert music and music for visual media. Mr. Duarte-López is currently pursuing his PhD in Composition at the Eastman School of Music.
About Andrea Puente Catán
Andrea Puente Catán's career has spanned roles as orchestral harpist, chamber musician, collaborator with composer Daniel Catán, and lecturer and promoter of Catán's legacy. Ms. Puente has held the position of Principal Harp of the Jalisco Philharmonic in Guadalajara, Mexico; Orquesta Ciudad de Malaga, Spain; and Orquesta del Teatro de Bellas Artes, Mexico. Ms. Puente won a fellowship from the Rockefeller Foundation for the project "Harp without Boundaries," in which she commissioned and performed music by contemporary Mexican and American composers. She continues to play with both orchestras and chamber groups, and was a resident artist at Los Angeles Opera for its educational program "Voices of Tolerance." Ms. Puente performs bilingual lecture-concerts for public schools, universities, museums, libraries, and community centers. The chief advocate and caretaker of the legacy of her late husband, composer Daniel Catán, she is currently pursuing a master's degree in philanthropy and fundraising at the Heyman Center for Philanthropy at New York University.
Opera Fusion: New Works is sponsored by a generous grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Cincinnati Opera's 2015 Summer Festival runs June 18 through July 31, featuring Giuseppe Verdi's
Il Trovatore, the world premiere of Ricky Ian Gordon and William M. Hoffman's Morning Star, Gaetano Donizetti's Don Pasquale, and Giacomo Puccini's Turandot. The season will open with Opera in the Park, a free community concert in Washington Park, on June 7. Cincinnati Opera's 2015 season is made possible with support from ArtsWave, Ohio Arts Council, Macy's, The Louise Dieterle Nippert Musical Arts Fund, and many generous individuals, corporations, and foundations.
CCM Opera's spring 2015 performance season includes a Mainstage Series production of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's magnificent Così Fan Tutte (April 9-12). The season also includes a Studio Series production of Claudio Monteverdi's masterpiece L'Incoronazione di Poppea (Feb. 20-22) and an undergraduate opera production of George Frideric Handel's enchanting Alcina (Feb. 27-March 1).
CCM gratefully acknowledges the support of Season Presenting Sponsor: The Otto M. Budig Family Foundation; All-Steinway School Sponsor: The Corbett Endowment at CCM; Community Partner: ArtsWave; Mainstage Season Production Sponsor: Macy's; and Opera Department Sponsor: Mr. and Mrs. Edward S. Rosenthal. For a full season schedule and additional information, please visit http://ccm.uc.edu.
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