A NEW KIND OF FALLOUT by Gilda Lyons and Tammy Ryan set for World Premiere Opera Theater SummerFest 2015.
Music and theater lovers can step into the creation of a new opera during free developmental workshops of Opera Theater’s commissioned Eco-Opera, A NEW KIND OF FALLOUT, which has its world premiere in July during SummerFest. The public is invited to take part in the development of A New Kind of Fallout during a series of free pre-season public workshops and other events continuing in May and June and leading to the July 18 opening night at the Twentieth Century Club, Oakland.
Inspired by the environmental advocacy of Rachel Carson, Springdale, PA, native and scientist who wrote the ground-breaking Silent Spring, the new opera is a collaboration between composer Gilda Lyons and librettist Tammy Ryan, a playwright based in Pittsburgh. The opera’s title is quoted from Carson’s 1963 Congressional testimony in which she described the environmental threat of pesticides like DDT “a new kind of fallout”.
Jonathan Eaton, Opera Theater’s artistic and general director, is staging the new opera, with Robert Frankenberry as music director. Cast members Lara Lynn Cottrill, Christopher Scott, Daphne Alderson, and Desiree Soteres are featured on May 14 and 17 and joined by the rest of the SummerFest cast on June 27:
- The Pittsburgh Botanic Garden, Oakdale, Thurs., May 14 at 6 pm.
- Chatham University, Shadyside, Rachel Carson’s alma mater, Sun., May 17 at 2 pm in the Campbell Memorial Chapel, with a reception following.
- Carrie Blast Furnaces, Swissvale, Sat., June 27 at 6 pm, The full cast will be featured in this final workshop, set in the dramatic Rivers of Steel Heritage Area site. Librettist Tammy Ryan and Music Director Robert Frankenberry will take part. Chairs and blankets welcome for outdoor audience seating, with limited ticketed seating available. Ticketed tours of the site will be given prior to the workshop. Food and refreshments will be on sale.
Excerpts from A New Kind of Fallout will be heard and discussed in venues relevant to the preservation of our eco-systems. Karen Jeng Lin accompanies cast members at the piano in selected scenes. Audience members take part in a discussion led by Eaton following each workshop. Feedback then continues to inform the creation of the work as produced fully for the first time in July. Workshop attendees will receive special ticket offers to attend A New Kind of Fallout during SummerFest.
The first development workshop was held at Phippps Conservatory in February.
Additional pre-season events likewise showcase music from A NEW KIND OF FALLOUT sung by Lara Lynn Cottrill and aspects of Silent Spring with details at otsummerfest.org:
- Rachel Carson Homestead, Sat., May 30, when excerpts of A NEW KIND OF FALLOUT will be sung by Lara Lynn Cottrill during a daytime event celebrating the author’s birthday.
- Amiche Artists Festival, Sat., June 6, 9 am-9 pm, Irvine Park, Beaver.
- Poets Corner, Sun., June 14, 2-3:30 pm, when the Northside arts series hosts Cottrill and music director Robert Frankenberry at the piano for a program of readings from Silent Spring and music from the new opera in the Tiffany Sanctuary of Calvary United Methodist Church. A reception follows.
A New Kind of Fallout premieres on Sat., July 18 at 7:30 pm with additional performances on Fri., July 24 at 7:30 pm; and Sun., July 26 at 2 pm. In addition to A New Kind of Fallout, Opera Theater SummerFest will feature from July 10 through August 2: operas sung in English—The Marriage of Figaro and Figaro Redux with music by Mozart and Capriccio by Richard Strauss—and the musical Damn Yankees; an International Recital Series featuring artists including countertenor Andrey Nemzer and contralto Daphne Alderson; dining options; and late night cabaret by SummerFest company members.
“This new Eco-Opera, A New Kind of Fallout, is the first in a series of commissions,” says Jonathan Eaton, the company’s artistic and general director who will stage the full production. “We envisage a series of new operas which will address critical issues we confront in our society today – hot button topics such as global warming, race relations, violence…”
Eaton stressed the importance of new compositions to the operatic form: “Opera is often viewed as something of a museum art form. We want to bring it up to date by creating new works that are relevant, provocative and important to people today.
“Each workshop will present new scenes from the opera – hot off the press – and explore the issues it raises in discussions with the artists,” Eaton says. “We think they will be fascinating to anyone who is interested in issues of the environment, in women’s role in the modern world, in creating new works – and in experiencing this in unique and beautiful spaces.”
“A New Kind of Fallout is inspired by Rachel Carson – a pioneering woman scientist whose work was instrumental in founding the Green Movement in America,” says Eaton. “She also took on a male establishment and won. So we invited two women artists to write the opera – local star playwright Tammy Ryan has created the libretto, and Gilda Lyons is writing the music. We are thrilled with the results, and want to share sections of the work as it is created with our audiences in a series of workshops.”
With these developmental workshops of A New Kind of Fallout, SummerFest offers a wonderful opportunity to see a new opera in its early stage. With music by noted composer Gilda Lyons (Night Caps: Moonlight Suite from 2012) and a libretto by Pittsburgh playwright Tammy Ryan (A Soldier’s Heart, Lost Boy Found in Whole Foods), A New Kind of Fallout is a full-length work touching on the life of Rachel Carson, the Pittsburgh-trained scientist and author whose seminal 1962 work, Silent Spring, helped launch the environmental movement in the United States. Carson was born in nearby Springdale, PA, and attended Pittsburgh College for Women (now Chatham University).
Visit otsummerfest.org for tickets and details on all events.
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Box Office: 412-326-9687
Venue: The Twentieth Century Club, 4201 Bigelow Blvd. at Parkman, Oakland,
Pittsburgh PA 15213.