From Music in Cincinnati

"Opera Fusion: New Works" to Continue

Posted in: 2015
By Mary Ellyn Hutton
Oct 11, 2015 - 5:11:21 PM

The Transept

Cincinnati Opera and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music have announced the selection of a new American opera, “Shalimar the Clown,” for their fall 2015 “Opera Fusion: New Works” residency.

The opera, with music by Jack Perla and libretto by Rajiv Joseph, will be work shopped in Cincinnati utilizing the talent, resources and facilities of both Cincinnati Opera and CCM.  The residency will culminate in a free public reading of excerpts from the opera at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 17 at the newly renovated Transept, 1205 Elm St. in Over-the-Rhine (formerly St. John’s Church at the corner of Elm and 12th Streets).

Adapted from the 2005 novel by Salman Rushdie, it will receive its world premiere at Opera Theater of St. Louis on June 11, 2016. 

“Shalimar the Clown” is about members of a troupe of acrobats and dancers in a Kashmiri village. Shalimar, a Muslim, and Boonyi, who is Hindi, fall in love and marry.  When an American ambassador sees Boonyi dance, the promise of a new life destroys their love and Shalimar seeks revenge.

Directing the workshop will be James Robinson, artistic director of the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, who will also direct the premiere. The conductor will be Roberto Kalb, resident assistant conductor of the company.

Composer Perla’s operas have been commissioned by Seattle Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and Houston Grand Opera.  A pianist, he is also active in jazz, chamber and symphonic music.  Joseph wrote the Broadway play “Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo,” a 2010 Pulitzer Prize finalist for Drama, which also received a grant for Outstanding New American Play by the National Endowment for the Arts.

 “Opera Fusion: New Works,” designed to foster the creation of new American opera, is made possible by a $300,000 grant from the Andrew W Mellon Foundation (recently renewed for another three years).  The program consists of a ten-day residency in Cincinnati and is led by co-artistic directors Marcus Küchle, director of artistic operations at Cincinnati Opera, and Robin Guarino, J. Ralph Corbett Distinguished Chair of Opera at CCM.

“Opera Fusion: New Works” has presented six new operas in workshop since its founding in 2011.  They include “Doubt” by Douglas Cuomo and John Patrick Stanley (2011), premiered at Minnesota Opera in January, 2013; “Champion” by Terrence Blanchard and Michael Christofer (2012), premiered at Opera Theater of St. Louis in June, 2013; “Fellow Travelers” by Gregory Spears and Greg Pierce (2012), to be premiered by Cincinnati Opera in June, 2016; Ricky Ian Gordon and William H. Hoffman’s “Morning Star” (2012), premiered by Cincinnati Opera in June, 2015; “Great Scott” (2014) by Jake Heggie and Terrence McNally, to be premiered by Dallas Opera this fall; and “Meet John Doe” by Daniel Catán (2015).

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