Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Making the New from History and the Dead

NYC-based actor Jason Martin has a
four octave vocal range. As the star of
The Last Ferryman, Jason has inspired
composer Paul Sullivan to write music
specifically for his voice.
Why does a tiny little theater (say, for instance, Opera House Arts at the Stonington Opera House) on the tip of an island off the coast of Down East Maine commission and create new theatrical and musical works?

Because there are so many important stories to be told, and told well.

Stories to be shared with our community, stories that reflect our rich and unique cultural heritage or a shared humanity in ways that strengthen the ways we understand and act in the world, whether as individuals or together.

And so it is that in the 15th anniversary summer season of Opera House Arts we bring you TWO world premiere productions of work we have originally developed.

The first, R&J&Z by Melody Bates (July 10-20), is an extension of our Shakespeare in Stonington program and will run in repertory with Romeo and Juliet. Once again, you will have the opportunity to be amazed by actors appearing in multiple roles in both shows. And yes, that IS Shakespeare + Zombies--as the title of Melody's play stands for Romeo&Juliet&Zombies.

Per Jansen and Caitlin Johnston
star in this summer's Shakespeare in
Stonington dual productions of
Romeo and Juliet and the new
R&J&Z, by Melody Bates.
But no, this is not just some cheap play on pop culture. Melody has conducted four residencies in our schools over the past two years, teaching Shakespeare and Suzuki acting tools for focus and performance in the classroom as well as on the stage. In her new play, carefully crafted, like the Bard's, in iambic pentameter verse and taking off from Act V of Romeo and Juliet, Melody seeks to deepen our understanding of a culture in transformation: between generations and seeking redemption through the everlasting power of love.

This is a play rich in the lore of Haitian voodoo, in which myths plantation owners sought to create armies of slaves through botanical poisons and drugs, and the mysteries of the Apothecary--the very same mysteries which so fascinated Shakespeare, and caused him to write Juliet into a death-like sleep as part of his most famous tragedy.

And as Melody has written:
"This thing is not unknown in history--
That by some magic, devilish or good,
The flesh reanimates, and walks the earth."

Connie Wiberg, "the last ferryman"
Charlie Scott's granddaugther
and a member of the Deer Isle-
Stonington Historical Society,
speaks to third graders on the
history of the bridge as part of
The Bridge Project, the
educational component of
OHA's commission of
The Last Ferryman.
The second of OHA's new works in development is The Last Ferryman (August 14-24), commissioned by OHA from Grammy Award-winning composer and pianist Paul Sullivan and Maine librettist Linda Britt (Mrs. Smith Goes to Washington). The Last Ferryman re-awakens historical figures and history itself in a celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Deer Isle-Sedgwick Bridge. Like R&J&Z, The Last Ferryman explores a great moment of cultural change--when our beautiful island became, in fact, "an island no more."

OHA and its collaborating artists decided that the best way to truly understand the changes that the bridge brought was to portray life before the bridge,  in addition to the fascinating story of how the bridge came to be. And so The Last Ferryman is told from the perspective of Charlie Scott, the real "last ferryman," who died (some say of heartbreak) two weeks after the bridge opened in June of 1939...

Featuring portrayals of historic island community members, including Frank and Annie McGuire, Raymond Small, Charlie Scott and more, this musical's memorable new score and island flavors are reminiscent of OHA's 2010-2012 hit, Burt Dow, Deep Water Man. Yet the stories told--only 75 years past--speak deeply to the heart of our community's past. And its future.

Subscribe to the 2014 Chamber Music Series at the Burnt Cove Church

This summer, Opera House Arts' enhanced Chamber Music Series of SEVEN concerts, from June through September, at the Burnt Cove Church offers a widely diverse experience for music lovers: from innovative jazz-classical fusion to a solo cello salon and an evening of music on period instruments. Be the FIRST to preview the schedule below. Full program information, including composers and titles, will be available next month.
Don't miss a note--and help to support the ongoing existence of this series--by becoming a subscriber by May 15, and save 20% off individual ticket prices! Subscribing makes it easy: make your purchase once and arrive at the door for each show knowing your tickets are there. And as with our winter Alt-Movie Series, programming of this high quality in our location can only be sustained through the support of passionate music lovers and loyal subscribers: single ticket sales aren't enough.
This special subscription offer is not yet available online, but you can sign up by calling our box office at 207-367-2788, or emailing info@operahousearts.org. This is a $155 package available to you as a subscriber for only $125. 

Opera House Arts' 2014 Chamber Music Series at the Burnt Cove Church
June 10 Violinist Richard Hsu and pianist Anastasia Antonacos, Solos & Sonatas
June 24 The DaPonte String Quartet, Made in America
The internationally acclaimed DaPonte String Quartet returns to the Burnt Cove Church with a special “Made in America” concert to precede July 4th festivities. The program will be comprised of American chamber compositions, several of which are rarely heard in concert including Randall Thompson, Alleluia; George Gershwin, Lullaby; Samuel Barber, Adagio; Earl Stewart, Blues Fugues; and George Crumb, Black Angels.
July 15 Yosvany Terry's Bohemian Trio
In case you missed the fabulous Cuban musician Terry in his two appearances last year as part of our Deer Isle Jazz Festival, you now have a chance to catch his amazing musicianship. His genre-defying Bohemian Trio is a contemporary music ensemble based in New York City. Its founding members are Terry on saxophone & ch├ękere, Yves Dharamraj, cello, and Orlando Alonso, piano.
July 24 Kneisel Hall Young Artists Program
July 29 - Vasily Popov, Levine Music, Solo Cello Salon
This unique and special evening, characteristic of Levine Music in Washington, D.C., where Popov is an instructor, will include one of the Bach cello suites, a stunning 20th century masterpiece by Dutilleux, a Popov cello suite, two virtuoso solo works by Popper and Franchomme--all wrapped up with improvisations on themes given by the audience, and conversation between the musician and audience members.
Aug 12 Trio Nuevo featuring Leah Zelnick. Traditional string trio, in a concert of duos and trios.
Aug 26 BOOM - The Baroque Orchestra of Maine returns with an unusual evening blending violin with harp, cello, and...dance!
Sept 23 Anastasia Antonacos Piano Trio
This special subscription offer is not yet available online, but you can sign up by calling our box office at 207-367-2788, or emailing info@operahousearts.org. This is a $155 package available to you as a subscriber for only $125.