A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM, opera a cappella now available at Albany Records

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Birthday Clown, a new mini for Savannah Voice Festival

 On August 21, 23 and 25, Savannah Voice Festival gave the premiere of BIRTHDAY CLOWN, a little "Pixar short" opera they commissioned to go before I PAGLIACCI. Marco is a performer who is stuck in a rut playing kids birthday parties. Marie, a teen violinist, is a guest at the party, but a "pity invite" and out of place. They end up performing for each other when all the party guests go off to fly a drone that the birthday boy got from his uninvited dad. Marie has two alter egos "D-Do" and "D-Don't" who advise her.

If you are professionally curious, you can download the piano vocal score via the link on the right column of the blog.

You can see a little rehearsal video of the scene pictured above here. Pictured Jessica Fishenfeld, Emily Yocum Black, and Joanna Pope.

This picture includes the Birthday Clown, Marco Nisticò. The opera was conducted by Jorge Parodi and directed by Grant Preisser. I'm looking forward to writing another, longer opera for SVF next season!

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Birthday Clown at Savannah Voice Festival

One of the summer's projects has been a mini opera, BIRTHDAY CLOWN, for Savannah Voice Festival. It's a curtain raiser before our production of I PAGLIACCI. The birthday clown isn't happy doing birthday parties and he ends up at one where there's been a miscommunication--"teens" not "ten" year olds.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Utah Opera's Golden Spike 150 operas

In May, Utah Opera premiered four minioperas, part of the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad. I was fortunate to have been selected to write one of them, COMPLETING THE PICTURE, with my very old friend, Victoria Panella Bourns. Everything went smoothly at the first performance in Brigham City, but the next night in Ogden, the power went off midway through the show. My opera had already been done, but they completed the program outside as the sun went down. 

COMPLETING THE PICTURE is a short S/A/T/B piano opera about the contribution made by Chinese workers who built the railroad from the west over the Sierra Nevada mountains. 

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Spring Speed Dating Tonight! productions

This spring has seen a nice new group of Speed Dating Tonight! productions, including productions at Columbus State, Eastern Michigan, and Opera Roanoke. A production up at SUNY-Potsdam (pictured) had over thirty five singers. Several of these productions included premieres of new dates.

One of those pieces "The Love of My Life" is a gender non-binary song that begins: 

The love of my life will be the love of my life
I don't care what it has been its legs.

You can hear a rehearsal of it with the original singer, Kaylee Tasber. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

The Appraisal...

Grant Wood's painting from 1931 can be seen at the Dubuque Museum of Art.  In my upcoming opera, EIGHT WOODS AND A VAN, the painting is brought to life and sung by Jessica Pray (Farmer's Wife) and Jessica Grigg (Banker's Wife) The photo is by Taylor Fiser. Although the women in the picture have a cool, appraising air, in their song, I imagine them as having more in common in their struggles during the Great Depression. Costumes are perfectly done by Kathryn Bowery Huang.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Interview on IPR

Thanks to Jacqueline Halbloom at IPR for doing a great job making me seem lucid for this radio interview I did about my upcoming opera, EIGHT WOODS AND A VAN, for the Cedar Rapids Opera. Here's a link to the interview.

EIGHT WOODS AND A VAN is about the artist Grant Wood. I've used eight of his works of art as a point of departure along with one by Jan van Eyck.

If I had the chance to make the opera longer, I would have liked to include Grant Wood's WOMAN WITH PLANTS.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

House with Gothic windows

A pretty bad drive-by picture of a house with Gothic windows in Central Iowa. Here's a wikipedia article about the style. The house that inspired Grant Wood is in Eldon, IA. 

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Tour de Chislic

(Mutton Chislic at Red Rocks Bar and Grill in SE South Dakota)

Just got back from a fun residency at Northern State University in Aberdeen, South Dakota. Thanks so much to the voice faculty there--Darci, Michael, and Marla--for setting it up. A lot of Speed Dating Tonight!, a little rep coaching, and helping them pick two soloists for an aria and concerto competition. They commissioned a new song for their January production of Speed Dating Tonight! and it is about chislic. You can hear a recording from a coaching
The beginning of the lyric goes...

Chislic... Meat on a stick
Sometimes on a skewer, sometimes on a toothpick
Grilled, broiled, or even fried
No matter how they make it, you should take it.

South Dakota has amazing sunsets--

Saturday, October 20, 2018


Up in Fargo to help them celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the opera. We've had a great relationship--they've done SPEED DATING TONIGHT! twice and also toured CORPS OF DISCOVERY. 

While I'm here, I got to sit in on a little rehearsal of my first mini-opera LEO. LEO was first done in 1985 at the One Aria Opera Festival produced by the Texas Opera Theater. It had a nice run--toured by the company and done by several companies--but has been on the shelf for at least twenty years. So I'm very grateful to Fred Heringes, Steven Sulich, David Hamilton, and the young singers at Concordia for planning on producing it this January. 

LEO is a jazz opera about a man who is angry with his cat. I recopied it for this revival cause nobody likes to read manuscript anymore. By the way, I've lost track of my  collaborators, Fernando Fonseca and Cal Massey. If anybody knows how to get back in touch with them, I'd love to get back in touch. There is business to be done!

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Speed Dating Tonight! #62 in Savannah

 Finished up the summer with a lively SpDT! at Savannah Voice Festival. Of the 60+ productions, I've only been involved with a handful, so every time I do it, I get to hear some pieces I haven't heard before and, inevitably, revise them. The production featured the premieres of two new dates "Bow Tie Duet" and "Toaster" written for SVF supporters, the Krulics and the Andersons. 

Two of the performers, Kristina Costello and Sarah Barker were gracious enough to record two of the older pieces, Dress up, and You Know Who

As composer-in-residence at Savannah Voice Festival it is very gratifying to hear my music programmed regularly there and, in some cases, not even knowing it's scheduled until I hear it.