CHAUTAUQUA, N.Y. — Chautauqua Opera Company today unveils program plans for the 2021 season, including two mainstage productions at the open-air Performance Pavilion on Pratt Avenue, and an enhanced commitment to new works through the celebrated Composer-in-Residence program and a new Composer Fellows program.
The mainstage performances highlight the versatility of Chautauqua Opera Company through new productions of Derrick Wang’s Scalia/Ginsburg and (Working Title): A Company Developed Piece. The 2021 repertoire responds to the issues of the day and the challenges of performing live in what everyone hopes will be the final months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Planning for the 2021 season has focused on how we can assure the safety of our company and audience. There have been many difficult decisions to make and, unfortunately, reductions in the number of artists and production personnel we can engage. Nonetheless, I am pleased that we will still give seven mainstage performances (compared to nine in 2019), and we are looking to 2022 for the return of our full company,” said Steven Osgood, general and artistic director of Chautauqua Opera Company.
Hailed as “a dream come true” (Ruth Bader Ginsburg), a “perfect … jewel” (Opera Today), and “the kind of opera that should be everywhere” (OperaWire), Scalia/Ginsburg is a one-act comedy about the close and unlikely friendship between U.S. Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia. Created by composer-librettist Derrick Wang and inspired by the Justices’ own words, this “buoyant show with a serious core” (Süddeutsche Zeitung) was first introduced at the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013, ushering in the era of Supreme Court-themed art. Premiered in 2015 at noted conductor Lorin Maazel’s Castleton Festival and revised for a sold-out 2017 production at The Glimmerglass Festival, Scalia/Ginsburg has since been produced across the United States and received its sold-out Australian premiere in 2021. OperaDelaware’s 2019 production of Scalia/Ginsburg, the best-selling show in the company’s 75-year history, has been broadcast on national radio and featured on Live with Carnegie Hall. Justices Ginsburg and Scalia themselves wrote forewords to Derrick Wang’s libretto, an early version of which was published in the Columbia Journal of Law and the Arts and excerpted as a chapter in Justice Ginsburg’s 2016 book My Own Words. The Los Angeles Times wrote: “Could we please make it a constitutional requirement that no one can be sworn into office in the White House or Congress without having first seen Scalia/Ginsburg?”
“There could not be a more perfect time for Chautauqua Opera to produce Scalia/Ginsburg,” Osgood said. “We look forward to opening our season with this highly acclaimed, hysterically funny and poignant chamber opera. Our new production, which will embrace the openness of the Pavilion setting, will also be a delightful introduction to the art of opera for many new opera patrons.”
“I am delighted that Chautauqua Opera is producing Scalia/Ginsburg,” said composer-librettist Derrick Wang. “I am grateful that Scalia/Ginsburg and its theme, ‘We are different, we are one,’ will have the chance to resonate with the Chautauqua Institution’s 2021 themes of democracy, empathy, innovation, comedy, and navigating our divides.”
Tenor Chauncey Packer, a star of the opera and concert stages from the Metropolitan Opera to Teatro alla Scala, makes his Chautauqua Opera debut singing the role of Justice Antonin Scalia. Mezzo-soprano Kelly Guerra will sing the role of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and lyric bass Michael Colman will return to the role of The Commentator, which he has previously sung with Opera Carolina and Opera Grand Rapids. Both Guerra and Colman are Apprentice Artists in Chautauqua Opera’s 2021 Young Artist Program. Cara Consilvio returns to Chautauqua Opera to direct, following her vibrant production of Hydrogen Jukebox in 2017. Steven Osgood conducts.
An Opera by Derrick Wang
Performances at 4 p.m. July 9, 16, 23, 30 and August 6
Cara Consilvio, Director
Steven Osgood, Conductor
Efren Delgadillo Jr., Stage Design
Michael Baumgarten, Lighting Design
B.G. FitzGerald, Costume Design
Martha Ruskai, Wig and Makeup Design
Kelly Guerra, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Chauncey Packer, Justice Antonin Scalia
Michael Colman, The Commentator
The ingenuity, creativity and inspiration of Chautauqua Opera Company comes to the Pavilion stage in (Working Title): A Company Developed Piece. This original work will be developed through conversation, collaboration and hands-on engagement with Chautauqua Opera Company’s five young artists, three composers, Chauncey Packer (director) and Steven Osgood (conductor) – in total an artistic team of ten. After the fashion of experimental theater, the development of the work will employ theater games and improvisation, with the final 75-minute work juxtaposing striking rearrangements of beloved operatic repertoire with new composition. It will celebrate the extraordinary expressiveness of opera while also pushing limits and exploring each artist’s authentic voice– their distinctive gifts, and personal and artistic backgrounds.
“This is something that we would not attempt under normal circumstances,” says Osgood. “The unique context of our 2021 season encourages experimentation and artistic risk taking. Sure, it’s a little scary – and will require a ton of work, but it’s also really exciting and truly a wonderful opportunity to create, grow and learn as artists, and as a company.”
Chauncey Packer makes his directorial debut with (Working Title): A Company Developed Piece. The production will feature Chasiti Lashay (soprano), Kelly Guerra (mezzo-soprano), Jared V. Esguerra (tenor), Yazid Gray (baritone) and Michael Colman (bass). Composer-in-Residence Frances Pollock will lead the composition and arrangement process with Composer Fellows Jasmine Barnes and Sage Bond. Steven Osgood will conduct.
(Working Title): A Company-Developed Piece
Performances at 4 p.m. July 28, August 3
Chauncey Packer, Director
Steven Osgood, Conductor
Frances Pollock, Composer
Jasmine Barnes, Composer
Sage Bond, Composer
Efren Delgadillo Jr., Stage Design
Michael Baumgarten, Lighting Design
B.G. FitzGerald, Costume Design
Martha Ruskai, Wig and Makeup Design
Chasiti Lashay, Soprano
Kelly Guerra, Mezzo-soprano
Jared V. Esguerra, Tenor
Yazid Gray, Baritone
Michael Colman, Lyric Bass
Continuing the company’s commitment to creativity by increasing the profile and volume of new music produced during the Summer Assembly, composer Frances Pollock returns as the 2021 Chautauqua Opera Company Composer-in-Residence. Osgood says Chautauqua’s Composers-in-Residence have emerged as ambassadors for new music.
“Our focus on new music since 2016 has been wildly successful — exceeding all of our expectations,” Osgood said. “Through the Composer-in-Residence program, Chautauquans get to know new music while also getting to know the creator, which is a singular and special experience on both sides and something I knew would resonate deeply at Chautauqua.”
Joining Pollock will be two Composer Fellows. A new initiative in 2021 that expands the company’s capabilities and perspectives on new music, the inaugural Composer Fellows will be Jasmine Barnes and Sage Bond.
“Our decision to create a new mainstage work in 2021 actually enabled us to launch the fellows program sooner than we would have otherwise. So, in some ways, the pandemic helped to expedite the introduction of our vision for Composer Fellows, and having these two composers as our inaugural fellows will dramatically expand and enhance the musical influences on our company” Osgood said.
The fellows program has two areas of focus: 1) to support the development of new music by providing emerging composers a space for creating that includes resources such as exposure to singers and their voices, platforms to showcase new works, and experiences tailored to their respective developmental stages; and 2) the opportunity to work with an established composer and a complete creative and production team on a new mainstage production.
Programs at the Performance Pavilion on Pratt do not require a ticket for lawn seating, although no-cost reservations may be required to comply with COVID-19 safety regulations. A limited number of reserved seats in the Pavilion will be available for $25 and will go on sale in May. The annual Opera Pops performance with Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra will take place Saturday, Aug. 7. This will be included with the Traditional Gate Pass. Single tickets will be sold on an as-available basis for $45.
Steven Osgood is in his sixth season as General and Artistic Director of the Chautauqua Opera Company. He opened the 2019–20 season at Rice University conducting the double bill of Kamala Sankaram and Jerre Dye’s Taking Up Serpents and Missy Mazzoli and Royce Vavrek’s Proving Up. In January 2020 he joined the PROTOTYPE Festival to conduct the world premiere of Blood Moon. In Spring 2020 he was conducting the world premiere of Intimate Apparel by Ricky Ian Gordon and Lynn Nottage, based on her play of the same name, at Lincoln Center Theater when the emerging pandemic forced all Broadway productions to shut down performances. That production will re-open in the 2021–22 season. Osgood has conducted the world premieres of over 20 operas, including in recent seasons Breaking the Waves at Opera Philadelphia, JFK at Fort Worth Opera, The Scarlet Ibis, Thumbprint and Sumeida’s Song for the PROTOTYPE Festival, as well as Missy Mazzoli’s Song from the Uproar with Beth Morrison Projects. From 2001 to 2008 Osgood was Artistic Director of American Opera Projects. He founded the company’s internationally recognized Composers and the Voice workshop series and remains Artistic Director of the fellowship. With AOP he conducted the world premieres of As One in its sold-out run at BAM, and Paula Kimper’s Patience and Sarah at the 1998 Lincoln Center Festival.
Cara Consilvio is a director and producer of opera, theater, and film with extensive experience in dance and choreography. 2021 productions include Penny and Second Nature for Opera Grand Rapids, and the world premiere of Bernadette’s Cozy Book Nook for Fort Worth Opera. Other credits include engagements with Houston Grand Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, Portland Opera, Tulsa Opera, Piedmont Opera, Opera Carolina, Anchorage Opera, Syracuse Opera, Opera in the Heights, and Opera Saratoga. Consilvio is a co-founder of Hup! Productions and is currently in post-production on her feature film directing debut, a documentary called “For the Love of Friends.”
Chauncey Packer is an exciting American tenor. He has sung operatic roles with companies across America from Atlanta Opera to San Francisco Opera, and in Europe from Opera Comique to Teatro alla Scala. Packer has also performed concert works around the world with symphonies and chamber orchestras and has also honed his craft in the musical theater world in two First National Broadway Tours. Packer’s upcoming engagements in the 2021–22 season include a concert with NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra, two productions with the Metropolitan Opera, and his debut with Lyric Opera of Chicago.
Derrick Wang is a creator, thinker and advisor unlocking value in unlikely places. As an ASCAP and BMI award-winning composer, lyricist, and librettist, his works have been performed by artists and groups including the American Modern Ensemble, Castleton Festival, Glimmerglass Festival, Orchestra Victoria, Opera Carolina, Opera Delaware, Opera Grand Rapids, Opera Naples, Opera North, Washington National Opera, and Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, in venues from New York to Australia, and his orchestrations have been performed at Carnegie Hall and Juilliard. As an interdisciplinary thinker, his writing has been published in academic journals, profiled in legal periodicals, cited on network television (including “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?”), and covered in U.S. news outlets (ranging from The Wall Street Journal to MSNBC) and international media (from The Economist to the Süddeutsche Zeitung and beyond). As founding advisor of Arsāpio, a creative consultancy and newsletter for polymathic growth, he demonstrates how artistic knowledge can unlock leadership potential in organizations of all kinds. As a speaker, pianist and creator of the motto “We are different, we are one,” he has addressed judges, legislators and legal scholars across the American political spectrum and the United States. He can be heard narrating and performing excerpts from his internationally performed and acclaimed opera Scalia/Ginsburg as an audiobook chapter in Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s My Own Words. A graduate of Harvard University (AB magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa), the Yale School of Music (MM), and the University of Maryland Carey School of Law (JD), he teaches music and law in the Business of Music program at the Peabody Conservatory of The Johns Hopkins University. For more information, visit www.derrickwang.com.
Frances Pollock, Composer-in-Residence: Known for her “bold and bracing” (The Baltimore Sun) opera writing, Frances Pollock’s music “pulls no punches and never flinches” (City Paper). This past season, Frances wrote for Opera Omaha, Bel Cantanti Opera, and Chautauqua Opera Company. Pollock’s first opera, Stinney, won a Johns Hopkins Diversity Grant and a Best of Baltimore award. It was presented at the 2019 PROTOTYPE festival. Pollock has since written operas for WNO, Chicago Lyric and Seattle Opera. Frances is a founding member of the Midnight Oil Collective where she is developing Salt with librettist/wife and best friend Emily Roller. She served as the Chautauqua Opera Company 2020 Composer-in-Residence during which she created “In Our Silence” (librettist Jerre Dye) as a response to the isolation artists experienced during the lock-downs and distancing of the COVID-19 pandemic. She is finishing her doctorate at Yale.
Jasmine Barnes, Composer Fellow, is a Baltimore-native composer-vocalist who has performed and has had her music performed all over the world. She is a multifaceted composer who embraces any writing style of music using a variety of instrumentation and specializes in writing for the voice. She is a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. as well as Sigma Alpha Iota International Music Fraternity Inc., and holds her B.A. (voice) and M.A. (composition) in music from Morgan State University.
Sage Bond, Composer Fellow, is a singer-songwriter, composer, heavy metal frontwoman and a student working toward a Bachelor of Arts in music. Bond has been performing since the age of 13, joining and collaborating with bands of several genres, and building a fanbase in her community. Throughout her music performance career, Bond has auditioned for “American Idol” and “The Voice,” and was nominated for a Native American Music Award (NAMMYs) 2016 in the category of Best Female Vocalist for her self-titled EP. In 2018, Bond released an LP album titled Prisoner and during the pandemic, released a single along with her first music video, titled “Truth,” and donated proceeds to a local hospital in need of funds for personal protection equipment.
Lyric bass Michael Colman, recently hailed by Opera News for “fielding a fine, dark bass-baritone,” has performed roles with many premier regional opera companies including Basilio (Il barbiere di Siviglia) with Chautauqua Opera and Virginia Opera, The Commentator (Scalia/Ginsburg) with Opera Carolina and Opera Grand Rapids, Guglielmo (Così fan tutte) with Opera Grand Rapids, Imperial Commissioner (Madama Butterfly) with Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Sergeant of Police (The Pirates of Penzance) with Dayton Opera, as well as concert performances as the Bass Soloist (Messiah) with the Dayton Philharmonic and the Bass Soloist (Mozart Requiem) with The Virginia Consort.
Filipino-American tenor Jared V. Esguerra is a dedicated performer of vocal works ranging from opera to concert repertoire and musical theater. The Chicago native has been praised for his “pleasing tenor” voice and continues to be in high demand. In addition to his role debut as Fenton in Verdi’s Falstaff at the Crested Butte Music Festival in 2018, he has portrayed Miles in The Turn of the Screw with Chicago Fringe Opera and Ferrando in Così fan tutte with the Floating Opera Company. He has also sung Pirelli in Sweeney Todd with the Janiec Opera Company at Brevard Music Center, the Messenger in Il Trovatore at Sarasota Opera, and the Englishman in Angélique, Luiz in The Gondoliers, and Eisenstein in Die Fledermaus all at DePaul University, of which he’s an alumnus. On the concert stage, Esguerra recently appeared as the tenor soloist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Now Let’s Sing and with Chicago Sinfonietta in its MLK Tribute concert series. After a sold-out run of West Side Story as A-Rab at the Edinburgh International Festival in 2019, Jared returned to appear with Chicago Opera Theater in the critically acclaimed world premiere of Freedom Ride in early 2020. He will return to Chicago Opera Theater in their production of La hija de Rappaccini as Giovanni (cover) in April 2021.
Baritone Yazid Gray, originally from Gaithersburg, Maryland, is currently a Resident Artist with Pittsburgh Opera, where he is scheduled to perform in all four mainstage productions of their revamped 2020–21 season. These roles will include Guglielmo in Così fan Tutte, Soldier in David T. Little’s Soldier Songs, Athamas/Apollo in Semele, and Dizzy Gillespie in Charlie Parker’s Yardbird. He has performed with companies such as Opera Santa Barbara, Chautauqua Opera and Maryland Lyric Opera. Gray received his B.M. in voice from DePauw University and is a graduate of University of Michigan ,where he received his M.M. in voice.
Peruvian-American mezzo-soprano Kelly Guerra was noted as a “standout” (The Wall Street Journal) for her performance with the Tanglewood Music Center as Mrs. Doc in Leonard Bernstein’s A Quiet Place. In 2021, Kelly will sing Zweite Dame in Lighthouse Opera’s Die Zauberflöte, has been featured with the Metropolitan Opera Guild, and continues to workshop Iphigenia by Wayne Shorter and Esperanza Spalding. During the 2019–20 season, Guerra was an Opera Santa Barbara Chrisman Studio Artist where she covered the roles of Suzuki in Madama Butterfly and Donna Rosa in Il Postino. Guerra has been featured at the Lucerne Festival, Tanglewood Music Center, and the Bard Music Festival. As a first-generation American and native of Southern California, Kelly is passionate about producing projects that raise awareness and monetary aid for detained immigrants in the USA as well as premiering and championing contemporary vocal works.
Soprano Chasiti Lashay hails from Houston. Lashay was a finalist in the 2020 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. This past summer, she participated in Chautauqua Opera’s 2021 virtual Opera Invasion doing virtual performances and three master classes. She was also set to be a resident artist at the Lyric Opera of Kansas City for the 2020–21 season which was unfortunately cancelled due to COVID-19. Lashay was announced as a finalist in the Tri-Cities Opera TCO Next virtual competition where she was the second-place winner. She has performed the role of Primadonna in the Prologue of Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos, Suor Angelica in Puccini’s Suor Angelica and covered the role of Countess in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro. She has also performed the following partial roles: Countess from Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro, Mimi in Puccini’s La bohème, Desdemona in Verdi’s Otello, Cleopatra in Barber’s Antony and Cleopatra, Mère Marie in Poulenc’s Dialogues of the Carmelites, Blanche in Previn’s A Streetcar Named Desire, and Arabella in Strauss’ Arabella. Lashay is a recent graduate of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM). She earned her postgraduate diploma in May 2020 and Master of Music in voice at SFCM in May 2019, and completed her Bachelor of Science in business administration at Tuskegee University in 2014.
ABOUT CHAUTAUQUA OPERA COMPANY
Founded in 1929, Chautauqua Opera Company is one of North America’s oldest continuously operating summer opera companies and fourth oldest opera company after the Metropolitan Opera, Cincinnati Opera and San Francisco Opera. The Chautauqua Opera Company offers more than 30 operatic events each season, including three mainstage productions in Chautauqua Institution’s 4,000-seat Amphitheater and in the historic 1,300-seat Norton Hall, concerts with the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra, weekly recitals, opera performances for young audiences, and Opera Invasions. Chautauqua Opera productions feature internationally recognized guest artists alongside emerging artists from Chautauqua Opera’s Young Artist Program.
ABOUT CHAUTAUQUA INSTITUTION
Chautauqua Institution is a community on the shores of Chautauqua Lake in southwestern New York state that comes alive each summer — and year-round through the CHQ Assembly online platforms — with a unique mix of fine and performing arts, lectures, interfaith worship and programs, and recreational activities. As a community, we celebrate, encourage and study the arts and treat them as integral to all of learning, and we convene the critical conversations of the day to advance understanding through civil dialogue.
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