Aviva Players and Kindred Spirits to present "That Certain Age: Short Operas about Aging with Humor and Grace" December 1 at National Opera America Center.
December 1, 2015 at 7:30 PM
The National Opera America Center, 330 Seventh Ave. (at 29th Street), NYC
Presented by Aviva Players and Kindred Spirits.
$20 general admission. Box office: SMARTTIX, 212-868-4444, www.smarttix.com
NEW YORK, November 2 -- On December 1, The Aviva Players will conclude its 40th Anniversary three-part concert series at The National Opera America, Center, 330 Seventh Ave. (at 29th Street), Manhattan with "That Certain Age: Short Operas about Aging with Humor and Grace." The evening is presented by Aviva Players and Kindred Spirits. Director is Rina W. Elisha and musical director is Barbara Ames. The evening will feature works composed by Anne Phillips, Alice Shields, Mira j Spektor, Haim Elisha and Seymour Barab.
The lineup includes: "Give me Time" and "Mothers and Daughters" by Mira J. Spektor, "Komachi at Sekidera" by Alice Shields, "Making Plots" and "Tempo Fuori Del Tempo" by Anne Phillips, "Originality" by Haim Elisha and "Jewish Humor" by Seymour Barab.
Singers include Shadia Almasri (Soprano), Santiago Aponte (Tenor), Martha Cluver (Soprano), Charles Coleman (Baritone), Karen Jolicoeur (Soprano), Bill Krakauer (Bass), Angela Leson (Soprano), Leslie Middlebrook (Mezzo Soprano) and Lars Woodul (Baritone). Musicians include pianists Barbara Ames and Anne Phillips, Koto player Mayuko Matsuda and cellist Wanda Glowacka.
The evening is the third part of the Aviva Players' 40th Anniversary Series to be presented this fall at Opera America. The three-part series also includes "Songs, Piano Rags & Chamber Music by Women Composers, including the Piano Trio by Fanny Mendelssohn" October 16 and "A Double Feature of Chamber Opera Films" November 4. For info on these other concerts, see: www.jsnyc.com/season/aviva.htm.
"Give Me Time," music by Mira J. Spektor, lyrics by Mira J Spektor, June Siegel and Caroline Crippen. Two people meet on a park bench in this operatic cabaret duet about love and aging in our ever changing world. Performed by Karen Jolicoeur and Lars Woodul.
"Mothers and Daughters" is comprised of two short pieces by Mira J. Spektor. "Casino" offers us dice and roulette for a daughter in a Casino in the South of France; cards for her mother, who plays Gin Rummy in her Central Park West Apartment. The games are over and nothing goes. With Angela Leson and Leslie Middlebrook. "Have Song, Will Travel" depicts a daughter remembering her mother in a time of adversity. With Karen Jolicoeur as the Daughter.
"Komachi at Sekidera" by Alice Shields is based on the Japanese Noh play, "Sekidera Komachi" by Kanze Motokiyo Zeame (1363-1443). The protagonist, Ono no Komachi, was a woman of great literary gifts and beauty who lived at the Heian court in ninth-century Japan. She became a legend after her death, and many apocryphal stories surround the few known facts concerning her life. In the opera, Komachi has lived into old age, beyond her beauty and her literary fame, and is forgotten. Confronted with age and mortality, she alternates between crying out for the days that are gone, and contemplates the bittersweet delight of being alive. Featured are Martha Cluver as Ono no Komachi with Mayuko Matsuda (Koto) and Sarah Carrier (Alto Flute).
"Tempo Fuori Del Tempo" by Anne Phillips, with libretto by Marilyn Scott Murphy, is about a women who decides to celebrate her fiftieth birthday in Italy; she takes a plane and is delighted to discover that her seat mate is a dashing young Italian. The title means Time out of Time and it is a fantasy-come-true experience. With Shadia Almasri, Santiago Aponte and Leslie Middlebrook.
"Making Plots" by Anne Phillips, libretto by Robert F. Benjamin, is about an elderly woman whose park bench is taken over by a videographer. She fights for her right to her park spot and becomes the woman in the cast of the video being made. Features Soprano Shadia Almasri as the old woman, Charles Colman as the actor in the film and Anne Phillips on piano.
"Originality" by Haim Elisha, based on a play by Mario Fratti, is about an old couple who have been married longer then necessary. The husband, trying to come up with fresh and interesting material to satisfy the wife's demand for originality, rattles off story after story but she has heard it all before. She is bored to death and dies, He, full of happiness and joy to be free at last, collapses and dies too. Performed by Leslie Middlebrook and Charles Coleman.
"Jewish Humor from Oy to Vey" by Seymour Barab. A selection of Jewish jokes, dramatized. With Leslie Middlebrook and Bill Krakauer.
Seymour Barab (1921-2014, composer of "Jewish Humor from Oy to Vey") was an American composer of opera, songs, instrumental, and chamber music, as well as a cellist, organist, and pianist. He was particularly known for his fairy tale operas for young audiences. He was a longtime member of the Philip Glass Ensemble. His "Little Red Riding Hood" was the first American opera performed in China in its post-isolationist period. His Civil War opera, "Philip Marshall," was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. "The Toy Shop," commissioned by the NYC Opera, was performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. as were scenes from the "Pied Piper of Hamlin." Other notable works included “Cosmos Cantata,” set to a text by Kurt Vonnegut. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Opera Association. He founded the New Music Quartet (in Chicago) and the Composer’s Quartet (in New York City). He played the viola da gamba and helped form the New York Pro Musica, which popularized Baroque and Renaissance music.
Haim Elisha (composer of "Originality") is an accomplished composer/conductor. His opera "A Certain Quiet," commissioned by Theater for The new City and composed with support grants from NYSCA, received its world premiere in April 2015. "Metamorphosis for Brass Quintet" won the first prize in National Competition for New Music at the Illinois Fine Arts Festival. He is the recipient of numerous ASCAP awards and Meet the Composer grants. He was Artistic Director/Conductor for Rockland Opera from 1986 to 2009 and was professor of music at State University of New York (SUNY). For the past decade, he has performed on the avant-garde jazz and improvisation scene in New York City and Israel, working with his son, composer/percussionist, Ehran Y. Elisha. He is also a painter and exhibits in New York City galleries.
Rina W. Elisha (director) was principal stage director for Rockland Opera. She produced and directed over 40 operas including Rossini’s "Il Barbiere di Seviglia," Puccini’s "Tosca" and Verdi’s "Otello." Most recently she produced and directed "A Certain Quiet," a contemporary opera by Haim Elisha, at Theater for the New City. Other recent productions include "Carmen" for Oswego Opera and "L’Elisir D’Amore" for Vera Musica. She is the recipient of Artists’ Fellowship Award in Playwriting/Screenwriting from the New York Foundation for the Arts and has received awards from the John Golden Fund, Madelyn Cervantes, and Jerome Foundation. Her works have been produced by La Mama, Theater for the New City, WPA Theater and Re-Cher-Chez Studio for Avant-garde Art. She has directed productions for the Festival of New Italian Playwrights, presented by Ente Teatrale Italiano in New York City. Ms. Elisha served on the faculties of Performing Arts Department at SUNY Rockland, Hunter College and Yeshiva University-Stern College for Women. She was Guest Director at Marymount College, Tarrytown; Artist-in-Residence at University of Maine and Guest Lecturer at West Point Military Academy. She is a member of Stage Directors and Choreographers Society and Dramatists Guild.
Anne Phillips (composer of "Making Plots" and "Tempo Fuori del Tempo") began her career playing piano, singing in clubs and singing song demos for writers like Burt Bacharach, Carole King and Neil Diamond. She has worked as a singer and choral arranger/conductor with many of the music world's leading artists and is widely known as writer/arranger/producer of commercials. As a singer, she has recorded several solo albums including her classic “Born To Be Blue.” Her children’s musical, “The Great Grey Ghost of Old Spook Lane,” is published by Samuel French. She has written several short operas which have been performed at Weill Hall and Opera America and is composer of the Christmas jazz opera “Bending Towards The Light … A Jazz Nativity,” which has become a “new New York tradition” (NY Magazine). The show has starred such jazz greats as Dave Brubeck, Lionel Hampton, Clark Terry and Tito Puente. This season it will be performed in New York as a co-production with Chelsea Opera at Christ and St. Stephen’s Church on December 20.
Alice Shields (composer of "Komachi at Sekidera") is known for her cross-cultural operas and vocal electronic music. In her new chamber opera, "Zhaojun - A Woman of Peace" (2013), Shields takes the next step in her cross-cultural explorations, into the position of women in ancient China. Her previous operas include "Criseyde" (2010), a feminist take on Chaucer's "Troilus and Criseyde" sung in Middle English. It was performed in concert by the New York City Opera VOX Festival (May, 2008), The American Virtuosi Opera Company at CUNY's Elebash Hall (April, 2008, with support from the Alice M. Ditson Fund), and by the University of North Carolina-Greensboro (June, 2009).
Mira J. Spektor (composer of "Give Me Time" and Casino") was born in Europe, graduated from Sarah Lawrence College and then studied at Mannes & Juilliard. In 1975, she founded The Aviva Players. She has composed the chamber operas "Villa Diodati," "Giovanni The Fearless," "Lady of the Castle," "The passion of Lizzie Borden" and "The Housewives' Cantata." Her film scores include "Double Edge" with Fay Dunnaway and music for the PBS-TV documentaries "Art in its Soul" and "Serious Comics" and the new Bank Street Films’ opera-film "Villa Diodati." She has written many English, French and German Songs heard in the US, Europe & Israel. Ms Spektor has recorded on Westminster, Concert Hall, Guilde International du Disque, Original Cast Records, Capstone and AirPlay. Her memberships include BMI, Dramatists Guild, Opera America, League of Professional Theater Women and NYWC. Her poems are in many small presses and include two poetry collections, "From Seaside Houses" and "The Road to November." (www.miraspektor.com and www.theavivaplayers.org)
Robert F. Benjamin (librettist of "Making Plots") is author of "Time Enough," "Parted Waters," "Salt and Pepper" (including "Plots") and "Not Quite Right." He's also had full productions of twenty short plays. His earlier careers were experimental physics and science education. He is a member of Dramatists Guild and Albuquerque Theatre Guild.
Mario Fratti (author of the play "Originality," upon which Haim Elisha's opera is based) is a prolific playwright and drama critic. He was born in Italy but has been living in New York since 1963. Some of his plays have been performed in more that 700 theaters in 19 languages. Among them are "Cage," "Victim," Eleonora Duse," "Return," Academy," "Lovers," "Sister," "Che Guevara," "Bridge," "Porno," "A.I.D.S.," "Seducers" and "Madame Senator." His adaptation of his Felliniesque play "Six Passionate Women" (inspired by Fellini's "8½," depicting a maestro shooting a film about women in Venice) became "Nine," the now-legendary Broadway musical that grabbed seven Tony awards and eight Drama Desk awards. His book, "28 Unpredictable Plays by Mario Fratti," has been published by New York Theatre Experience.
The Aviva Players, an acclaimed chamber ensemble, was founded in 1975 by Artistic Director Mira J. Spektor to research, present and perform the rich repertoire of Chamber Music and Songs by Women Composers of the 12th to 21st Centuries. The ensemble has been heard in concert halls, churches, temples and universities in New York City, the tri-state area and Palm Beach, FL, and has produced three half-hour TV documentaries on Women Composers that are shown frequently on Cable TV and are now available for VCR. ( www.theavivaplayers.org)
Kindred Spirits is a nonprofit incorporated in 1994 by Anne Phillips and Bob Kindred. Its work falls under the all-encompassing concept of the healing power of music. Its production, "Bending Towards the Light...The Jazz Nativity," composed by Anne Phillips, has been cited as "a new New York tradition" by New York Magazine. It is the Christmas story told through jazz and has featured such jazz greats as Lionel Hampton, Tito Puente, Paquito D’Rivera and Dave Brubeck. It is performed annually in New York and other cities. The Kindred Spirits Children's Jazz Choirs is an educational program teaching great songs to inner-city children culminating in a concert with top jazz musicians. (www.annephillips.com)
"That Certain Age: Short Operas about Aging with Grace & Humor" is made possible in part by a seed money grant awarded to Anne Phillips by the New York Women Composers.