Fellow Travelers, composed by Gregory Spears with a libretto by Greg Pierce, will receive a workshop from Nov. 17 to 26, 2013. Pierce’s libretto is adapted from the best-selling 2007 novel by Thomas Mallon. The director of the work is Kevin Newbury, who directed Cincinnati Opera’s 2007 production of Nixon in China. Mark Gibson, Director of Orchestral Studies at CCM, will conduct. G. Sterling Zinsmeyer is the executive producer of Fellow Travelers. The workshop will culminate in a public performance on Tuesday, Nov. 26; location and ticket information will be announced at a later date.
“We’re thrilled to be developing this piece through Opera Fusion: New Works,” said librettist Greg Pierce. “Thomas Mallon’s novel is a gripping love story that takes place during a chilling and overlooked era in American history, when paranoia destroyed the lives of many gays and lesbians in the State Department. It’s an honor to bring this story to the stage. I can think of no better place to develop it than Cincinnati Opera and CCM.”
“What drew us to Fellow Travelers is that it contains all the classic themes of opera: love, deception, betrayal and political intrigue,” said composer Gregory Spears. “Developing the piece in Cincinnati is a dream come true, a first chance to experience the words, music, and staging working together to tell this timely story. The libretto is fast-paced and has many overlapping scenes, while the music uses layered textures and switches quickly between solo and ensemble singing. We’re particularly excited to experiment with these story-telling techniques in collaboration with the fantastic musicians at Cincinnati Opera and CCM.”
“It is a great honor to be selected for inclusion in the prestigious Opera Fusion: New Works residency,” said director Kevin Newbury. “Our creative team has been hard at work developing the new opera Fellow Travelers and we are all thrilled to have the opportunity to gather as a team and work on the material. Workshops of new operas are incredibly valuable to the creative process, allowing us to hear the music and the text, make changes and chart the course forward. I am confident that having the CCM and Cincinnati Opera staff and talent available to us for two weeks will teach us a great deal about the work and transform our process.”
Opera Fusion: New Works, a unique collaboration between Cincinnati Opera and CCM Opera, was created in 2011 to foster the development of new American operas. The program offers composers or composer/librettist teams the opportunity to workshop an opera during a 10-day residency in Cincinnati, utilizing the talent, personnel and facilities of both organizations. The workshops are cast with a combination of CCM students and professional artists who have appeared in Cincinnati Opera’s mainstage productions, and each workshop concludes with a public performance. The program is led by co-artistic directors Marcus Küchle, Director of Artistic Operations of Cincinnati Opera, and CCM’s Robin Guarino, the J. Ralph Corbett Distinguished Chair of Opera. Opera Fusion: New Works is generously funded by a $300,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
“CCM Opera is thrilled to begin workshopping our fourth Opera Fusion: New Works project, Fellow Travelers,” said Robin Guarino, co-artistic director of Opera Fusion: New Works. “I was very interested in this piece because I was drawn by the story and its historical and political context. It’s a great subject, and I think the composer and librettist are exceptional.”
“We chose Fellow Travelers for the 2013 residency due to the great promise of this creative team,” said co-artistic director Marcus Küchle. “We were very impressed with the bodies of work that both Greg and Gregory have produced.”
In 2011, Opera Fusion: New Works awarded its first workshop to composer Douglas J. Cuomo and librettist John Patrick Shanley in support of their new opera Doubt, which premiered at Minnesota Opera in Jan. 2013. In 2012, Opera Fusion: New Works provided workshops for Champion, by composer Terence Blanchard and librettist Michael Cristofer, which premiered at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis in June 2013; and Morning Star, by composer Ricky Ian Gordon and librettist William M. Hoffman. The program is open to American composers and composer/librettist teams of proven merit, with no age restrictions. Eligibility is restricted to operatic works, either completed or in progress, which have not yet received a professional premiere. Opera Fusion: New Works will continue to offer residencies through 2014, and will begin accepting applications for the 2014 residencies in fall 2013.
Learn more about Fellow Travelers by visiting www.cincinnatiopera.org/2013-opera-fusion-works.