American Lyric Theater in partnership with MasterVoices
The Halloween Tree
October 30, 2016 at 3:00 pm
Based on the Novel by Ray Bradbury
By Theo Popov & Tony Asaro
Featuring Mark S. Doss as Moundshroud
with Emma Grimsley, Shirin Eskandani, Spencer Viator, Brian Wallin, Michael Kelly, Jarrett Porter and members of MasterVoices
Adam Turner, Conductor
Merkin Concert Hall at Kaufman Music Center
American Lyric Theater (ALT) and Merkin Concert Hall at Kaufman Music Center, in partnership with MasterVoices (formerly The Collegiate Chorale), presents The Halloween Tree on October 30, 2016 at 3pm in the Merkin Concert Hall at Kaufman Music Center, 129 W 67th Street, New York City. Based on Ray Bradbury’s classic novel that explores the origins of Halloween, composer Theo Popov and librettist Tony Asaro take us on an epic journey as a group of children search for their friend Pipkin, who has mysteriously disappeared on Halloween night. Conductor: Adam Turner. Featuring Mark S. Doss as Moundshroud; with Emma Grimsley, Shirin Eskandani, Spencer Viator, Brian Wallin, Michael Kelly, and Jarrett Porter with members of MasterVoices. Tickets are $25 ($125 VIP tickets include prime seating and a reception with the artists) and are available online at http://www.kaufmanmusiccenter.org/mch/event/insightalt-the-halloween-tree/, or by calling the Merkin Concert Hall box office at (212) 501-3330.
In Ray Bradbury’s The Halloween Tree, a group children set out to go trick-or-treating on Halloween, only to discover that their friend, Pipkin, has been whisked away on a journey that could determine whether he lives or dies. With the help of a mysterious character named Carapace Clavicle Moundshroud, they pursue their friend across time and space through Ancient Egyptian, Ancient Greek, and Roman cultures, Celtic Druidism, Notre Dame Cathedral in Medieval Paris, and The Day of the Dead in Mexico. Along the way, they learn the origins of the holiday that they celebrate, and the role that the fear of death, spooks, and the haunts has played in shaping civilization. The Halloween Tree itself, with its many branches laden with jack-o’-lanterns, serves as a metaphor for the historical confluence of these traditions.
Bradbury’s novel originated in 1967 as the screenplay for an unproduced collaboration with animator Chuck Jones. In 1992, Bradbury wrote and narrated a feature-length animated version of the novel for television, for which he won an Emmy Award. A longer limited-edition “author’s preferred text” of the novel, compiled and edited by Donn Albright, was published in 2005. This edition also included both the 1967 and 1992 screenplays.
In cooperation with the estate of Ray Bradbury, Lawrence Edelson (producing artistic director of American Lyric Theater), commissioned composer Theo Popov and librettist Tony Asaro to write a full-length opera of The Halloween Tree for family audiences in 2015. Popov and Asaro are Resident Artists in ALT’s Composer Librettist Development Program, the only full-time training program for gifted emerging operatic writers in the country. The October 30th InsightALT concert presentation of the opera is the culmination of an extensive workshop held by ALT this fall.
The InsightALT series provides an insider’s look at how new operas are made. Each event features a concert reading of a new opera in development at American Lyric Theater, with guest singers from the world’s leading opera houses, followed by a discussion with the composer and librettist of each work. InsightALT: The Halloween Tree, will feature a concert reading of the opera-in-progress, followed by a discussion between Popov, Asaro and Edelson, including an exploration of the challenges of adapting Bradbury’s classic novel for the opera stage, and writing operas for family audiences.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
AMERICAN LYRIC THEATER
Great Operas Don’t Just Happen. American Lyric Theater (ALT) was founded in 2005 by Lawrence Edelson to build a new body of operatic repertoire by nurturing composers and librettists, providing an incubator for their collaborations, and contributing new works to the national canon. Many opera companies commission and perform new works; but ALT is the only company in the United States that offers extensive, full-time mentorship for emerging operatic writers. While the traditional company model focuses on producing a season, ALT’s focus is on serving the needs of composers and librettists, developing new works, and collaborating with larger producing companies to help usher those works into the repertoire. In 2012, ALT was the first company dedicated to artist mentorship rather than operatic production to be recognized by OPERA America as a Professional Company Member – a testament to ALT’s service to the field. For more information about American Lyric Theater, please visit www.altnyc.org.
American Lyric Theater’s mentorship programs for composers and librettists are made possible by generous lead funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts; and additional support from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, The Alice M. Ditson Fund of Columbia University, The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, The Amphion Foundation, The ASCAP Foundation Irving Caesar Fund, Francis Goelet Charitable Lead Trusts, Friars Foundation, Howard Gilman Foundation, Howard & Sarah D. Solomon Foundation, New Music USA’s Impact Fund (made possible with funding from The Scherman Foundation’s Katharine S. and Axel G. Rosin Fund), and OPERA America / The Opera Fund.
MERKIN CONCERT HALL at Kaufman Music Center
Kaufman Music Center is New York’s go-to place for music education and performance.
It’s where music lovers, from curious fans to renowned performers, come together to explore their musical passions. Founded in 1952 as a community music school, today’s Kaufman Music Center is home to Merkin Concert Hall; Lucy Moses School, New York’s largest community arts school; and Special Music School, a K-12 public school for musically gifted children. www.kaufmanmusiccenter.org/MCH/
MASTERVOICES (formerly The Collegiate Chorale) is a New York City-based performing arts organization that celebrates singing and the art of musical storytelling. Founded as The Collegiate Chorale 75 years ago by legendary conductor Robert Shaw, and now under the artistic direction of Ted Sperling, the company presents varied programming, with emphasis in three areas: choral masterpieces, operas-in-concert, and musical theater. MasterVoices has performed in prominent NYC concert halls, including Carnegie Hall, New York City Center, and Geffen Hall, as well as abroad, with world-class soloists, top orchestras, and esteemed conductors. MasterVoices considers education and outreach to be important facets of its work, and engages young singers and community members in four initiatives: Side-by-Side, the Complimentary Ticket Program, the Faith Geier Artist Initiative, and Bridges – Connecting Communities Through Music. For more information, visit mastervoices.org. Connect with MasterVoices on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (@mastervoicesny).
After abundant exposure to Christian Orthodox music in his childhood, composer THEO POPOV began his formal compositional training by studying electronic music with Paul Lansky and musical geometry with Dmitri Tymoczko. Having explored various forms of sacred and folk musics, he cultivated a special interest in Classical Antiquity, and has for several years worked on assembling an extensive gallery of Ancient Roman music-making. Theo often fuses this research into his oeuvre. His first opera, Nero Artifex, received a full stage production at Princeton University to enthusiastic acclaim in March 2010. A three-act drama in Classical Latin with libretto by Mariah Min and Veronica Shi, the opera presented one of history’s most notorious emperors as a well meaning but incapable ruler, a gullible dreamer and unfortunate artist. Since then, Theo has focused primarily on writing for the theater stage. In May 2012, his second opera Once Upon the Wind, based on the Russian folktale, “The Soldier Who Captured Death,” with libretto by Kate Light, premiered within the framework of the Composer Librettist Development Program at the American Lyric Theater. The opera received a second performance with The Secret Opera in New York City in 2014, after being selected as a winner in the company’s inaugural Composers Competition. In addition, Theo has written two puppet shows, a number of choral and orchestral pieces, art songs, chamber and electronic music. Popov completed his composition degree at Princeton University, where he studied with Steve Mackey, Peter Westergaard, Bill Whelan, Barbara White, Paul Muldoon and Kofi Agawu. He has also studied theremin with Lydia Kavina, voice with David Kellett, piano with Edmund Niemann and dramaturgy with Cori Ellison. He is an alum of the Composer Librettist Development Program at American Lyric Theater, returning to ALT to develop The Halloween Tree.
TONY ASARO is a multi-talented artist, who has worked as a librettist, lyricist, conductor, vocalist and producer throughout New York City and the Bay Area. He is a co-founder of The FOGG Theatre, where he currently serves as Artistic Director. In 2008, he was honored with the Anna Sosenko Assist Trust Award for songwriting. As a composer/librettist, Tony wrote the award-winning Our Country, with Dan Collins, which premiered in 2009 with the Planet Connections Theatre Festivity. Our Country went on to win four Planet Connections awards, including Outstanding Overall Production of a Musical, and Outstanding Book, Music & Lyrics of a Musical, and was subsequently published by NYTE Small Press in the anthology, “2010: Plays and Playwrights.” The hit show then enjoyed a successful run in at the New York Musicals Theatre Festival in 2010. Tony has produced every iteration of Our Country, including the concept album, which is available on iTunes. In addition, he has self-produced multiple readings of his show The Many, Many Men of Tony Asaro in both New York City and San Francisco, and has co-produced concerts of his own work on both coasts. Tony’s first musical, Family has enjoyed two productions-one at SCU in 1999 and one at the Ryan Repertory Theatre in New York City in 2000. An accomplished librettist, Tony has received commissions from choirs and opera companies to pen libretti for multiple operas and oratorios, including his opera All Wounds Bleed, developed at American Lyric Theater with music by composer Christopher Cerrone (a 2013 Pulitzer Prize Finalist). Published by Schott Music, the opera was selected for showcase in OPERA America’s 2012 New Works Forum, and received its world premiere at Tulsa Opera in 2013. Tony’s most recent work was the is currently hard at work writing music and lyrics for the first FOGG Theatre show The Cable Car Nymphomaniac, which will premiere in San Francisco in November. Tony holds an undergraduate degree in Theatre and Music from Santa Clara University, and a Masters Degree in Musical Theatre Writing from the Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program at NYU: Tisch School of the Arts. In 2011, he was a first-year Resident Artist in American Lyric Theater’s Composer Librettist Development Program. He returns to the CLDP to work on his original commission, The Halloween Tree.
Grammy Award winner, MARK S. DOSS has sung with the major orchestras of Philadelphia, Chicago, Cleveland and Toronto, while additionally performing 92 roles with more than 60 major opera companies around the world, including Milan’s Teatro alla Scala, the Vienna State Opera, San Francisco Opera, London’s Covent Garden, Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Canadian Opera Company. Mr. Doss’ current season began with Sujskij in Dvorák’s Dimitrij at Odssey Opera in Boston, after concluding last season with Jochanaan in Salome in Mallorca, Spain; and the title role (to great critical acclaim) in Verdi’s Macbeth with the Dorset Opera in the UK. With eight major roles at La Scala to his credit, he has also received rave reviews for the title role in Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman (Turin, Bologna and Dorset), the Four Villains in Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffmann (Michigan Opera Theater and Tokyo New National), the title role in Boito’s Mefistofele (Frankfurt), Scarpia in Puccini’s Tosca (Boston, Cleveland and Frankfurt), and Zaccaria in Verdi’s Nabucco (Cincinnati and Frankfurt). Upcoming engagements include Balstrode in Peter Grimes with Bologna’s Teatro Comunale, and the Grandfather in the World Premiere of The Time of Our Singing with La Monnaie in Brussels.
EMMA GRIMSLEY, soprano, shares her talents in many realms throughout the theatre, opera, and musical theatre worlds. A champion of new works, Grimsley is constantly involved in innovative productions in both opera and theatre. This season, she will perform the roles of Young Alyce in Glory Denied with Nashville Opera and Johanna in Sweeney Todd with New Orleans Opera. She will also take part in a workshop in American Lyric Theater in Theo Popov and Tony Asaro’s new piece, The Halloween Tree. Last summer, she débuted at The Glimmerglass Festival as Ruth Putnam in The Crucible and in their productions of Sweeney Todd and La bohème. Recent theatre engagements include the role of Barbara Conti in an Off-Broadway production of ¡Figaro! (90210) and Friends in Theater Company’s production of The Secret Garden, at the famed Off-Broadway Lucille Lortel Theatre to benefit Make-A-Wish Foundation, which featured Broadway stars such as Rebecca Luker and Bill Nolte from the original cast of the musical. Grimsley made her professional début as Lucia in Vespertine Opera Theater’s production of Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia. She also joined the prestigious Aspen Music Festival and School. Grimsley is also a published writer with a degree in English from Loyola University in New Orleans.
Hailed by Opera Today for her “pleasing and pliant voice” Iranian Canadian mezzo soprano, SHIRIN ESKANDANI is a 2013 recipient of an Encouragement Award from the George London Foundation. Recent opera engagements include Cosi fan tutte with Sarasota Opera, Il Turco in Italia with Opera Southwest, Le Comte Ory with Loft Opera. In January 2017, she will sing the role of Mercedes in Carmen at The Metropolitan Opera. In 2014 she was awarded first prize in the Gerda Lissner Competition and was also a prize winner of the Lucia Albanese Puccini Foundation. For the 2013-14 season, Ms. Eskandani had 4 debuts: with American Ballet Theater at Lincoln Center singing the solos in the new production of Sibelius’ The Tempest, with Teatro Gratticielo in Alfano’s Sakuntala, as The Mother with the Little Orchestra Society in a staged production of Hansel and Gretel in Avery Fisher hall, and with Livermore Valley Opera as the title role in Cenerentola. She will spent the summer of 2014 as a member of the Merola Opera Program and joined the Metropolitan Opera in the 2014-15 season covering roles in The Merry Widow.
SPENCER VIATOR is a tenor from Cincinnati, Ohio. He currently is a young artist with Palm Beach Opera. He has started this year’s season with LoftOpera singing Ferrando in Così fan tutte. This past season he sang roles including Offizier/Scaramuccio in Ariadne auf Naxos, Fernando in Grenados’ Goyescas, and covered both Ernesto in Don Pasquale and Remendado/Dancairo in Carmen. He returns this season to sing Borsa in Rigoletto and a performance of Frederick in Pirates of Penzance. On top of working with Palm Beach Opera Spencer has also been a young artist with Des Moines Metro Opera (cover of Fenton in Falstaff) and Opera Theatre of Saint Louis (1st Priest in The Magic Flute, Streznik in The Kiss). Spencer made his New York City debut with LoftOpera as Liverotto in their acclaimed Lucrezia Borgia. A promoter of new works and new music Spencer has worked closely with Ricky Ian Gordon, composer of Morning Star, in which Spencer sang Soldier Hymie in the World Premiere with Cincinnati Opera. Spencer attended the prestigious College Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati for both his Bachelor and Masters Degrees. During his time there he sang roles including; Don Ramiro in La Cenerentola, King Ouf in L’étoile, and Gherardo in Gianni Schicchi.
Hailed by the Dallas Morning News as a “powerful tenor”, BRIAN WALLIN completed his second season with Fort Worth Opera as an Apprentice Artist in May of 2016. During the 2016 Fort Worth Opera Festival he performed the role of the Reporter and covered the role of Henry Rathbone in the world premiere of JFK; and performed the roles of Undertaker’s Assistant I/ER Nurse/Priest in Buried Alive and Maurice in Embedded as part of their regional premieres. Wallin made his professional debut during the 2015 Fort Worth Opera Festival as Gastone in La traviata and Second Gravedigger in Hamlet. During the summer of 2015 he was a Young Artist at the Glimmerglass Festival in the roles of First Priest in The Magic Flute and in the ensemble of Candide. Other credits include performances in Dialogues of the Carmelites, and La bohème as part of the Janiec Opera Company at the Brevard Music Center. Upcoming engagements include The King of El Dorado in Candide with Théâtre du Capitole and Opéra National de Bordeaux in France, and a return to Fort Worth Opera during the 2017 Festival in the role of El Remendado in Carmen. He earned his B.M. and M.M. from the Maryland Opera Studio.
Praised as “expressive and dynamic” and “vocally splendid”, baritone MICHAEL KELLY recently made his Parisian debut as Sergeant Lombardi in Sondheim’s PASSION at the Théâtre du Châtelet, in a critically acclaimed production staged by award-winning actress / director Fanny Ardant and starring Natalie Dessay. Other recent engagements include Fauré’s Requiem, Mozart’s Coronation Mass, Orff’s Carmina Burana, and Schumann’s Der Rose Pilgerfahrt with the Houston Symphony Orchestra conducted by Andrés Orozco-Estrada. An avid and passionate recital and chamber music interpreter, he can be found on soon-to-be released recordings of Del Tredici’s A Field Manual, and a live recording of Fairouz’s Zabur for Naxos Records. Other engagements include Handel’s Israel in Egypt with Berkshire Choral Festival, the twentieth anniversary production of Kimper’s PATIENCE AND SARAH, and the New York premiere of Zabur at Carnegie Hall. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music and Juilliard, and was a member of the Opernstudio at Opernhaus Zurich. Michael is also co-artistic director with Kathleen Kelly of SongFusion, a song recital series based in Manhattan.
Baritone JARRETT PORTER is currently a Master of Music candidate at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. This past season, he performed the title role in Don Giovanni with the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Porter was a member of Opera Saratoga’s Young Artist Program (2016), where he was seen as The Ogre in the American Premiere of Philip Glass’s The Witches of Venice, directed by world-renowned choreographer Karole Armitage. Porter joins Santa Fe Opera in the workshop of Mason Bates’ The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs in fall 2016, and sings Anderson Cooper in Ted Hearne’s Katrina Ballads with the New Music Ensemble of SFCM. Other recent roles include Sid in Albert Herring, scenes as the title role in Eugene Onegin, and Harry Easter in Street Scene, with the Eastman School of Music, from which he earned a Bachelor of Music in 2015. While at Eastman, he made his Carnegie Hall debut in Howard Hanson’s opera Merry Mount, in performance with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. In 2017 he will appear as Le Chevalier des Grieux in Massenet’s Le Portrait de Manon with the San Francisco Conservatory of Music Opera Theater.