[EAR HEART MUSIC] American Opera Projects and American Modern Ensemble – Two New Operas

Tuesday, April 22, 2014. 8:00 pm

[EAR HEART MUSIC] American Opera Projects and American Modern Ensemble – Two New Operas

Tuesday, April 22, 2014. 8:00 pm

Ear Heart Music presents

American Modern Ensemble and American Opera Projects
in the world premieres of

The Wanton Sublime and The Companion 

Chamber operas by
Tarik O’Regan/
Anna Rabinowitz and Robert Paterson/David Cote

Mid-concert discussion moderated by author A.M. Homes

The Wanton Sublime, from composer Tarik O’Regan and librettist Anna Rabinowitz, explores the human and mythic aspects of the Virgin Mary. In this one-act monodrama for mezzo-soprano and amplified chamber ensemble, Mary struggles to retain her flesh and blood identity in the face of external forces intent on symbolizing her as the ideal woman. Featuring mezzo-soprano Hai-Ting Chinn under the direction of Mallory Catlett. Duration: 30 minutes.

Says Anna Rabinowitz, “The Virgin Mary comes down to us through western cultural history as the eternal feminine, exemplar of woman as gentle and compliant. The vehicle through which she has been known may be theology, but, as the dominant female in our culture, many of the characteristics of her womanhood are today in conflict with powerful social and political issues of gender. In The Wanton Sublime, Mary is a woman who, in the face of the destiny presented to her, occupies an interior world rife with questions rather than received answers. She is troubled, anxious, ambiguous, aware of her rights or lack thereof.”

In The Companion, a futuristic one-act opera by composer Robert Paterson and librettist David Cote, people live with biomorphic androids that cook, clean, and make love on demand. Maya is not completely satisfied with her model so she calls in tech-support worker Dax. But can Maya handle Joe 2.0? Featuring soprano Nancy Allen Lundy, tenor Brandon Snook, and baritone Kyle Guglielmo under the direction of Walker Lewis. Duration: 35 minutes.

Says David Cote, “The Companion is the second act of an opera triptych about sexuality and power called Three Way. Clearly The Companion is science fiction, but who doubts that society is headed this way? In the piece, I wanted to tell a funny yet strange story about obsession, detachment and projection. Technology enables Maya’s quest for perfect love, even as it reflects the absurdity of that quest back at her. Dax knows how robots work, but people are a dark mystery. Joe has amazing perceptual and cognitive powers, but he lacks emotional integration. Whether that makes him more human or less is an open question.”

These semi-staged premieres, featuring the American Modern Ensemble with Tyson Deaton, conductor, will be presented with an intermission. The author A.M. Homes, best known for her novel The End of Alice and her memoir, The Mistress’s Daughter, moderates a mid-concert discussion with fellow Yaddo artists Mallory Catlett, Walker Lewis, Tarik O’Regan, Robert Paterson, and Anna Rabinowitz, as well as David Cote.


Tarik O’Regan, “one of the leading British composers of his generation,” (Gramophone) who is writing “music of startling beauty” (The Observer), grew up in London, where he was born in 1978. Since 2007 he has divided his time between New York City and Cambridge, England.

His recent projects include Suite from Heart of Darkness for the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; a third solo album on the Harmonia Mundi label,Acallam na Senórach; and the premiere of his first opera, Heart of Darkness, developed through AOP’s First Chance program and premiered at the Royal Opera House, London. Currently he is working on a full-length ballet, commissioned by the Dutch National Ballet; and large-scale new works for the Hallé Orchestra, Sydney Dance Company, and SOUK at the Royal Concertgebouw. O’Regan’s music is described as “exquisite and delicate” (The Washington Post), generating “previously unheard sound worlds with astonishing effect” (The Philadelphia Inquirer). His work, recognized with two GRAMMY® nominations and two British Composer Awards, is recorded on over 25 albums and is published exclusively by Novello & Co./Music Sales Classical.

Anna Rabinowitz adapted the libretto for The Wanton Sublime from her volume of poetry The Wanton Sublime: A Florilegium of Whethers and Wonders, published by Tupelo Press, 2006. In addition to The Wanton Sublime, Anna Rabinowitz wrote the libretto for another AOP-commissioned opera based on her poetry, Darkling, an experimental, multi-media opera theater work that had its world premiere and ran for three weeks off-Broadway in 2006 and was performed in a concert version in Berlin and Poland in 2007. A translation of the original text of the book-length acrostic poem, Darkling: A Poem, (Tupelo Press, 2001) into German was brought out by Luxbooks, Weisbaden, Germany, in spring 2013. She is also collaborating with Francis Schwartz, composer/poly/artist, on an experiential, multi-faceted work, one segment of which will be performed at New College, Sarasota, by instrumentalists, chorus and mezzo-soprano Isabelle Ganz in November, 2014. Her fourth volume of poetry, Present Tense, published by Omnidawn, was named one of the best poetry books of 2010 by The Huffington Post. Rabinowitz’s books also include At the Site of Inside Out, (University of Massachusetts Press), which won the Juniper Prize. Other awards include a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and nominations for a Pushcart Prize and ForeWord Magazine’s Best Poetry Book of the Year for Darkling. Rabinowitz is Editor Emerita of American Letters & Commentary, a vice-president of the Poetry Society of America, and a member of the Board of Directors of AOP.


Robert Paterson writes “vibrantly scored and well-crafted” music that “often seems to shimmer” (NewMusicBox). His works are praised for their elegance, wit, structural integrity, and a wonderful sense of color. Paterson was awarded The Composer of The Year at Carnegie Hall from the Classical Recording Foundation in 2011. The Book of Goddesses was on the Grammy® nomination ballot this past year for Best Contemporary Classical Composition and was named one of the Top 10 favorite pieces of the year by NPR’s Best Music of 2012. Recent performances include Ghost Theater, commissioned by the Albany Symphony, Dark Mountains with Jamie Laredo and the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, and A Dream Within A Dream, commissioned by the Chamber Choir of Europe. His works have been played by numerous ensembles, including the Louisville Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra and the American Composers Orchestra. Upcoming engagements include a commission by the Utah Arts Festival as the result of winning their 2013 composition competition, the one-act opera Safe Word with Fort Worth Opera’s Frontiers program, Dark Mountains with the Austin Symphony and an album of Paterson’s choral works to be recorded with Musica Sacra and conductor, Kent Tritle. Paterson is the founder and Artistic Director of the American Modern Ensemble and resides in New York City with his wife Victoria, a violinist, and their son Dylan.

David Cote is a New York-based librettist and playwright whose plays includeOtherland (commissioned by Gingold Theatrical Group); Rude News and Fish Wrap. Opera libretti: Fade, with composer Stefan Weisman, and The Scarlet Ibis, also with Weisman. The Scarlet Ibis is being co-produced by HERE and Beth Morrison Projects (in association with American Opera Projects) for its world premiere in Prototype 2015. With composer Robert Paterson, Cote is writing a trio of one-act operas about sex and power called Three Way, comprised of Safe Word, The Companion and Masquerade. Safe Word was developed in AOP’s Composers & the Voice program and will be part of Fort Worth Opera’s prestigious Frontiers 2014 showcase. Cote has written lyrics for songs and choral pieces with Paterson, including “The Soprano’s Lament,” “Did You Hear?” and “Snowday.” As an actor and theater director, he performed with Assurbanipal Babilla’s Purgatorio Ink Theater, in Richard Foreman’s Pearls for Pigs, Robert Cucuzza’s Speed Freaks and Richard Maxwell’s Cowboys & Indians. Since 2003, Cote has been theater editor and chief drama critic of Time Out New York. He is a member of the New York Drama Critics Circle and a contributing critic on NY1’s On Stage. His reporting and criticism have appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian andOpera News. Fellowships: The MacDowell Colony. B.A. Bard College.


American Modern Ensemble (AME) is a dynamic, creative force in the American new music scene, The New York Times noting the group’s “strong fan base” and “performers of high-quality,” coupled with “exceptional energy and thoughtful programming” (MusicWeb International).

Incorporating the traditional and the cutting edge, stretching from the bawdy to the brilliant, the New York Times says AME has “consistently demonstrated a flair for inventive programming.” With a world-class ensemble made up of some of NYC’s finest musicians, AME has performed and premiered hundreds of works by living, American composers. AME is committed to connecting audiences with composers: 90% of composers whose work has been programmed by AME have attended the concerts, including John Luther Adams, Chen Yi, John Harbison, Aaron Jay Kernis, Steven Mackey, Christopher Rouse, Paul Moravec, Peter Schikele, Steven Stucky, Joan Tower and David Del Tredici.


At the forefront of the contemporary opera movement for a quarter-century, AOP (American Opera Projects) creates, develops, and presents opera and music theatre projects collaborating with young, rising, and established artists in the field. The Wanton Sublime was commissioned by AOP and developed in its First Chance program. The Companion was developed as part of AOP’s Composers & the Voice program.

AOP has produced over 20 world premieres, including most recently Nkeiru Okoye’s Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom (2014) and Lera Auerbach’s The Blind, a co-production with Lincoln Center Festival 2013. Other notable premieres include Kimper/Persons’ Patience & Sarah (1998), Stefan Weisman’s Darkling (2006), Lee Hoiby’s This is the Rill Speaking(2008), and Phil Kline’s Out Cold (2012) at BAM. AOP-developed projects include: Gregory Spears’s Paul’s Case (Urban Arias, 2013, PROTOtype Festival and Pittsburgh Opera, 2014), Kamran Ince’s Judgment of Midas(Milwaukee Opera Theatre, 2013), Jack Perla’s Love/Hate (ODC Theater with San Francisco Opera, 2012), Stephen Schwartz’s Séance on a Wet Afternoon(New York City Opera, 2011), Tarik O’Regan’s Heart of Darkness (London’s Royal Opera House, 2011), and Jorge Martín’s Before Night Falls (Fort Worth Opera, 2010). Upcoming: As One at BAM (September 2014).


… a feisty contemporary-classical concert series” (The NY Times)

In a golden age of new chamber music, Ear Heart Music is a trusted source for post-genre creative collaboration. A showcase of highly talented and adventurous performers, composers, and collaborative artists, Ear Heart Music is a modern chamber music series for modern ears. “Embracing a landscape where cross-genre collaboration is not the exception or a special occasion but the rule and standard operating procedure, this contemporary chamber music series, organized by the flutist Amelia Lukas, keeps up its high ambitions with a season at Roulette full of new and recent compositions.”(NY Times)

Ear Heart Music “has become a staple in the New York new music soundscape.” (Time Out NY) Since September 2009, Ear Heart Music has produced over 75 unique concerts with over 60 world premieres. Its thoughtfully designed programs highlighting recent masterworks stimulate creative thought and instill new avenues of perspective in the listener. The consistent level of intelligent and inspiring music-making resonates in the mind and body. Shows include electronic processing, performance art, visual art, film, and dance, providing deeper context for the music. Unique artist pairings, diverse programming, and the integral incorporation of new work all contribute to Ear Heart Music playing a major role in reshaping the chamber music landscape for the 21st century.

Upcoming on Ear Heart Music:

May 6
Mivos Quartet & Concert Black
with members of ETHEL, Dal Niente, & Color Field Ensemble
Opposites Attract

Sam Pluta’s frenetically intricate Chain Reactions/Five Events for string quartet and laptop opens the concert with a drawn out, rewarding build. Written last year for the stellar Mivos Quartet to premiere at the Lucerne Festival, this piece is a crowning example of Pluta’s signature style, melding electronic and acoustic sounds to satisfying effect. The world premiere of Robert Honstein’s wordless song cycle Re:you completes the program. At once, touching, relatable, original, and hilarious, Re:you uses an anonymous, real-life online dating conversation as its source material. Honstein’s brightly orchestrated and expertly crafted compositional style lends itself perfectly to this fun new piece. A plethora of guest artists from star ensembles join forces for the premiere.

June 22, 2014: Momenta Quartet – Ghost Opera
In a rare performance of Tan Dun‘s Ghost Opera for string quartet and pipa with water, metal, stones, and paper, new music veterans the Momenta Quartet recall the haunting magic of Chinese peasant shamans. The composer describes this work as a reflection on human spirituality, too often buried in the bombardment of urban culture and the rapid advances of technology.