Last week, Savannah Voice Festival presented a staged workshop of my new opera, A ROYAL FEAST. An idea suggested by Executive Director Maria Zouves, FEAST is a sequel to Rossini's LA CENERENTOLA. It is part of a partnership SVF has with the Esther F. Garrison Middle School for the Performing Arts, a wonderful public school in Savannah. Previous projects have included a production of Rachel Portman's THE LITTLE PRINCE and HANSEL AND GRETEL.
The opera was conceived with the help of a group of student writers and composers. With their background in American (Disney) interpretations of Cinderella, the writers wanted critters--lots of critters. They wanted the sisters to learn to get along. And they wanted more magic. These things are, to varying degrees, not in the Rossini.
FEAST was scheduled to be workshopped in the summer of 2020, but the festival was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During the fall of 2020 we managed via zoom to create two songs with a group of a half dozen students. These songs are now in the show. Before the emergence of the Delta variant of COVID, the Garrison Middle School students were supposed to perform in the workshop live, but the COVID resurgence did not make that possible this summer. Instead, we filmed them in their songs and even sang along with them once.
ROYAL FEAST uses the Rossini cast--Angelina, Ramiro, Dandini, Magnifico, Clorinda, and Tisbe along with a wide array of new critters, including mice, sea gulls, spiders, snakes, cats, birds, and other animals. The premise is, after the wedding at the end of Cenerentola, the family goes to a party thrown in their honor by the critters.
Inspired by the workshop, I'm filling in some parts of the plot and characters with plans for a full production in a coming season in Savannah.
Thank you to SVF, Garrison, the directors, cast, and the students!
On of the first major collections of 21st century American Art Songs has been released by North Star Music. The brainchild of Robert Peavler, the collection includes the work of 90 living composers. Of special note is Volume 1 (S/A/T/B) for singers 16-21. Almost all of the songs in the collection are unique--in other words, what's found in the tenor collection isn't simply transposed into the soprano collection.
While working on a class for singers at Savannah Voice Festival, I interviewed Robert on zoom. An excerpt is being used in the class; the entire interview is here.
Look at this list of composers!
Soprano, Vol. 1 Garth Baxter David Conte Emerson Eads Seamus Flynn Erik Franklin Scott Gendel Franklin Hansen Stephen Jackson Elyse Kahler Michael Kropf Lori Laitman Kari Cruver Medina Paul Salerni Lucy Shirley Dawn Sonntag Richard Pearson Thomas Hayley Turner Jay Vosk Logan Vranković Karen Wemhoener
Soprano, Vol. 2 Nicolas Benavides Clint Borzoni Delvyn Case Dorothy Chang Judith Cloud Emerson Eads Kurt Erickson Jodi Goble Meg Huskin Lee Kesselman Andrew List Michael McAndrew Liam Moore Jean-Paul Perrotte Joseph Rubinstein Paul Salerni Dawn Sonntag Lucy Shirley Sheila Silver Jay Vosk
Mezzo-Soprano, Vol. 1 Michael Ching Maria Thompson Corley Joseph Dubois Rachel Devore Fogarty Erik Franklin Kenneth Frazelle Scott Gendel Daniel Gilliam Jodi Goble Lori Laitman Leonard Mark Lewis Quinn Mason Thomas Pasatieri Dave Ragland Wayland Rogers Lucy Shirley Matthew Shreve David Evan Thomas Ian Wiese
Mezzo-Soprano, Vol. 2 Mark Abel Carol Barnett Garth Baxter Rebekah Driscoll Kurt Erickson Rachel DeVore Fogarty Max Johnson Jeremy Gill Leonard Mark Lewis Andrew List Evan Mack Quinn Mason Kari Cruver Medina John McIntyre Wayland Rodgers Paul Salerni Lucy Shirley David Evan Thomas Bruce Trinkley Gregory Zavracky
Tenor, Vol. 1 Daniel Armstrong Garth Baxter Judith Cloud David Conte Joseph Dubois Stephen Jackson Scott Joiner Ben Justis Robbie LaBanca Lori Laitman Logan Larson Quinn Mason Gary Powell Nash Dave Ragland Justin Henry Rubin David Evan Thomas Richard Pearson Thomas Bruce Trinkley Patrick Vu Gergory Zavracky
Tenor, Vol. 2 Adam Burnette Benjamin Carter Eric Choate Andrea Clearfield Joseph Dubois Elaine Fine Matt Frey Felix Jarrar Scott Joiner Ben Justis Logan Larson Quinn Mason Eric Moe Luke Mayernick Dave Ragland Justin Henry Rubin Joseph Stillwell David Evan Thomas Logan Vranković
Baritone, Vol. 1 Jason Bahr Maria Thompson Corley Reed Criddle Joseph D. Daniel Douglas Fisk Stefania de Kenessey Rachel Devore Fogarty Kenneth Frazelle Marques L.A. Garrett Daniel Gilliam Lori Laitman Liam Moore Dave Ragland Paul Salerni Del’Shawn Taylor M. Ryan Taylor Bruce Trinkley Patrick Vu Carle Wirshba Khyle B. Wooten
Baritone, Vol. 2 Jason Bahr Garth Baxter Jeremy Beck Chester Biscardi Clint Borzoni Andrea Clearfield David Conte Reed Criddle Joseph Dubois Scott Gendel Garrison Gerard Ben Justis Paula Kimper David Ludwig Evan Mack Liam Moore Sheila Silver M. Ryan Taylor Deanna Wehrspann Khyle B. Wooten