AMERICAN OPERA PROJECTS (AOP) will present select scenes from: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, the first opera ever to be adapted from a play by Tony-winning playwright Tom Stoppard. The opera-in-development by Herschel Garfein (librettist, Elmer Gantry; composer, American Steel) will feature baritones Keith Phares and Matthew Burns in the title roles under the direction of Mark Morris (The Met's Orfeo ed Euridice, NYCO's King Arthur). The program will be presented on Friday, November 20 and Saturday, November 21, at 4 PM at the Mark Morris Dance Center, 3 Lafayette Ave. in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. Tickets are $20 / $15 for students and seniors, available at www.operaprojects.org. A post-show discussion with composer/librettist Herschel Garfein and director Mark Morris moderated by Michael MacLeod, General & Artistic Director of Glimmerglass Opera, will follow the Saturday, November 21 performance.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead is the first full-length opera to be adapted from a work by British playwright Tom Stoppard. Adapted and composed by Herschel Garfein, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead is based on the 1967 Tony Award-winning play that retells the story of Hamlet from the point-of-view of two minor characters in the Shakespeare play. Allowed only a highly restricted view of the tumultuous events of Hamlet unfolding around them, and deceived by nearly everyone, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern play games to pass the time and tirelessly devise strategies to make sense of their place in the grander scheme.
Choreographer and director Mark Morris will direct a cast of notable young performers in the piano-vocal workshop of scenes, including baritones Keith Phares (San Francisco Opera, Glimmerglass) and Matthew Burns (Met Opera, NYCO) in the title roles, Matthew Curran (Seattle Opera) as The Player, and Lucy Schaufer (Met Opera, Washington National Opera) as Alfred/Osric. The workshop will also feature performances from singers Constance Hauman, Matt Morgan, Martin Hargrove, Chad Sloan & Caleb Stokes. Steven Osgood (NYCO's La Navarraise) will music direct, with Kelly Horsted on piano. Morris and Garfein last collaborated on the dance triptych Mythologies (BAM, Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie, Manhattan Center).
The workshops and post-show discussion represent AOP's contribution to OPERA America's first ever National Opera Week (November 13-22, 2009, www.operaamerica.org/now) created to bring the inventiveness and excitement of opera to a broader national audience. As it does with each of its shows, AOP will encourage audiences to participate in the creation of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead by meeting and speaking directly to the composer, in person and online, and commenting on the show. Most recently AOP audiences helped to create Séance on a Wet Afternoon, the first opera by Stephen Schwartz, that had its premiere with Opera Santa Barbara in September 2009 and Jorge Martín's Before Night Falls that will debut at Fort Worth Opera in 2010.
For over 20 years, American Opera Projects (AOP) has been creating, developing and presenting exclusively new American opera and music Theatre Projects that have appeared at the Royal Opera House (London), the Lincoln Center Festival, Skirball Center at NYU, the Guggenheim Museum, Symphony Space, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Israel Vocal Arts Institute (Tel Aviv), Freie Universität Berlin, and many other national and international venues. AOP, based in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, has presented over 15 world premiere operas including Lee Hoiby's This Is the Rill Speaking (2008), Stefan Weisman's Darkling (2006), and Paula Kimper's Patience & Sarah (1998).