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Our motto: "Critical thinking in the cheap seats." Unbiased, honest classical music and opera opinions, occasional obituaries and classical news reporting, since 2007. All written content © 2018 by Paul J. Pelkonen. For more about Superconductor, visit this link. For advertising rates, click this link. Follow us on Facebook.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Festival Preview: Kicking the Tires

Superconductor breaks down this year's Prototype Festival.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Images from four of the operas at this year's Prototype Festival:
(clockwise from upper left: Fellow Traveler, Acquanetta, The Echo Drift and IYOV).
All images © 2018 Prototype Festival.
The two weeks of the New York-based Prototype Festival are the first important event of the new calendar year. Here is the cutting edge: fearless contemporary composers presenting bold, brilliant new works (OK sometimes they're less than brilliant) but they are always at least interesting. Superconductor offers this short field guide to this year's Festival, which opens on Sunday, January 7th with this year's Festival Soirée. The operas are....


Acquanetta (premieres Jan. 9 at the Gelsey Kirkland Arts Center)
This is the premiere of the chamber version of Michael Gordon's horror opera, inspired by the pulp fiction and sci-fi flicks of the 1940s. Mikaela Bennett takes the leading role and Bang On A Can provides the music with choral backing from members of the choir of Trinity Church.

The Echo Drift (premieres Jan. 10 at Baruch Performing Arts Center)
Played in surround-sound and incorporating elaborate animation, this is the world premiere of a new opera by Mikael Karlsson. The Echo Drift is a hallucinatory story of a convicted murderer (Blythe Gaissert) who finds herself trapped in a labyrinthine prison. They are befriended by a moth and it gets weird from there. Presented by Beth Morrison Opera Projects.

Black Inscription (premieres Jan. 11 at HERE)
A rock opera by three composers (Matthias Bossi, Jeremy Flower, & Carla Kihlstedt) this is the multimedia story of a deep-sea diver on a benthic odyssey into the murky deep, weighted down by a seven piece ensemble.

Fellow Travelers (premieres Jan. 12 at the Lynch Theater at John Jay College)
This is the big one this season. Composer Gregory Spears and librettist Greg Pierce offer their setting of a 2007 novel by Thomas Mallon, chronicling the adventures of a State Department official who has an affair with another man in the middle of the McCarthy witch hunts. A chilling and relevant piece for our time, that takes the listener back to an era of terror and restrictive behavioral norms. Aaron Blake and Joseph Lattazzi are the leads. George Manahan conducts the auspicious American Composers Orchestra in its Prototype Festival debut.

Secrets (Jan. 13-14 at National Sawdust)
A conceptual work by Clarion McFadden, this new work falls somewhere between chamber music, opera and jazz.

IYOV (premieres Jan. 15 at HERE)
This "opera-requiem" draws inspiration from The Book of Job. That story of an unfortunate, but faithful man is retold as a Ukrainian opera by composer Roman Grygoriv.

Stranger Love (premieres Jan. 16 at Roulette)
This Work-in-Progress by composer Dylan Mattingly will feature the first act of this new opera, an unfolding love story for seven soloists and 28 players including three microtonal pianos. Played by the new music orchestra Contemporaneous.

Sága (Jan. 20 at Joe's Pub at the Public Theater)
A theatrical song cycle, this is a retelling of the ancient myths of Iceland and Greenland by the composer Dez Mona. The music is provided by Baroque Orchestra X.

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Since 2007, Superconductor has grown from an occasional concert or CD review to a near-daily publication covering classical music, opera and the arts in and around NYC, with excursions to Boston, Philadelphia, and upstate NY. I am a freelance writer living and working in Brooklyn NY. And no, I'm not a conductor.