Resonance Works announced its 2021-22 season, Bridging Time, Space, and Tradition, and the appointment of Dr Clare Longendyke as the organization’s first executive director. The ninth season of Resonance Works combines virtual and in-person performances in line with the organization’s mission to enrich the Pittsburgh community through innovative musical experiences that engage audiences and empower artists.
The season opens October 1 with HEROES, a series of world premiere opera films created by member companies of the Decameron Opera Coalition that explore the meaning of heroism. In November, Back to the Future presents an all-female formation and soloist Jeffrey Turner, former principal bassist of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, with the Resonance Chamber Orchestra. A family film by Engelbert Humperdinck’s beloved Hansel & Gretel debuts in December, with a concert by 2021 Metropolitan Opera Grand Final winner soprano Raven McMillon in February. Verdi’s iconic masterpiece, Rigoletto, closes the season with performances at the end of May.
The Decameron Opera Coalition presents HEROES
The new season of Resonance Works will begin on October 1, 2021 with the virtual premiere of HEROES, the second project of the Decameron Opera Coalition. Resonance Works co-founded this unprecedented partnership of nine independent opera companies from across the United States who have come together to cultivate new works and reshape the way opera is created and enjoyed. The coalition’s inaugural series, Tales from a Safe Distance, has been hailed as “an unbridled success” (Houston Journal) and received a “Freddie” Award for Excellence in Opera 2020 from Fred Plotkin and WQXR New York Public Radio, named one of Operawire’s defining moments of the year, and has been archived in the Library of Congress. The film series is still available for public streaming in the IDAGIO Global Concert Hall.
The Coalition returns with renewed fervor for HEROES, seven world premiere opera short films presented in three episodes that explore the meaning of heroism and the profile of unsung, unconventional or misunderstood heroes from different eras and geographies. Each DOC company honors a different hero with its chapter: from Hazel M. Johnson (the mother of environmental justice) and Sacajawea, to the everyday heroes of Pittsburgh, New York and Duluth. The setting for the series is âHero Songs,â a new cycle of artistic songs from DOC co-founders Peter Hilliard and Matt Boresi. Headlining the project is renowned soprano Karen Slack (Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago), recently named the 2022 winner of the Sphinx Medal of Excellence. Slack is joined in the song cycle by former Pittsburgh Opera resident artist, tenor Javier Abreu, mezzo-soprano Tesia Kwarteng and baritone John Castillo.
The Resonance Works chapter, âLetter to Our Children,â is the creative product of composer Justine F. Chen, 2020 Opera America Discovery Grant recipient and award-winning playwright Jacqueline Goldfinger. The piece is presented as a touching letter from the composer to her twin sons about her late father’s heroism in caring for his family. Mezzo-soprano Laurel Semerdjian, an alumnus of the Pittsburgh Opera Resident Artist program, brings the world premiere to life alongside an ensemble from the Resonance Chamber Orchestra.
DOC will host a virtual evening broadcast live on October 1 at 8 p.m. with artist interviews and a preview of all chapters. The episode-specific evenings take place virtually on October 3, 5 and 7, streaming on all virtual platforms. All three episodes of HEROES air on October 1, and tickets are on sale now at https://bit.ly/DOCHeroes. After the immense success of Tales, HEROES promises to be a dynamic start to the season of Resonance Works.
Back to the future
On November 13 and 14, the company returns to the stage for its first live performances since December 2019. With Back to the Future, the Resonance Chamber Orchestra makes its debut at the Greer Cabaret at Theater Square with a string orchestra program works inspired by past musical traditions from around the world. The program features guest soloist and former Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra principal double bassist Jeffrey Turner at the Pittsburgh premiere of Missy Mazzoli’s Dark with Excessive Bright (2018). The program also includes Shuo (1995) by Chen Yi, a “shimmering and sparkling amalgamation of folk songs from [the composer’s] native China “, Jessie Montgomery’s Source Code (2013), which is based on a syntax derived from black spirituals, and Leyendas: An Andean Walkabout (2003) by Gabriela Lena Frank, a work that juxtaposes the traditions of Western classical and folk music Andean, these performances will go on sale later this month.
Hansel and Gretel
In December, Resonance Works partners with Opera Ithaca to ring in the holiday cheer with a new cinematic version of Engelbert Humperdinck’s beloved opera, Hansel & Gretel. The film is an innovative reinvention of the 19th century original: Hansel and Gretel, lost in the woods, stumble onto the set of a cooking show by a famous pastry chef, where they are invited to be guest stars ( and the main ingredients!). The film’s star cast includes sopranos Meghan Kasanders (Staastoper Hannover, Opera Theater of Saint Louis) and Marlen Nahhas (Washington National Opera Cafritz Young Artist), mezzo-soprano Annie Rosen (Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago) and the baritone Mario Diaz-Moresco (Chautauqua Opera), and a special partnership with the Pittsburgh Youth Chorus. Resonance Works Artistic Director Maria Sensi Sellner conducts a byte of Resonance Chamber Orchestra players.
Resonance Works and the Pittsburgh Youth Chorus will host an in-person film premiere at the Kelly Strayhorn Theater on December 18. The delicious new movie will be shown online during the holiday season.
Raven McMillon in concert
February brings a one-night-only concert by one of opera’s brightest rising stars. Soprano Raven McMillon, winner of the 2021 Grand Final of the Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions and former Carnegie Mellon, returns to Pittsburgh on February 20, 2022 at the Kelly Strayhorn Theater with a multi-genre program of artistic song, opera and performance. jazz. A sophomore artist at the Houston Grand Opera Studio, she’s this season cast the roles of Frasquita in Carmen, Peter in the world premiere of Joel Thompson and Papagena’s The Snowy Day in The Magic Flute, and makes her home and debut role at the ‘Philadelphia Opera House as Gilda in Rigoletto.
Resonance Works closes the season on May 20 and 22 with its long-awaited production of one of opera’s most beloved and heart-wrenching tales, Giuseppe Verdi’s masterpiece, Rigoletto. An intimate reimagining by the return of director Valerie Rachelle (On the Town) updates the story in the 1930s, placing more emphasis on the relevance of Gilda’s experience. Baritone Andrew Cummings takes on the role of Rigoletto, lending his âheavy voice and formidable presenceâ (Houston Chronicle) to the character. Soprano Joanna Latini (Glimmerglass Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Carnegie Mellon University alumnus) makes her debut as Gilda, with Puerto Rican tenor Ãngel Vargas (Dallas Opera, Opera Theater of Saint Louis) in his debut as Duke of Mantua. The on-stage production will be accompanied by a streaming world premiere of The Assassino, a hip-hopera creation by composer and artist KF Jacques. A prequel to Rigoletto’s story, The Assassino tells the dark beginnings of the assassin Sparafucile through the unique fusion of hip-hop and Jacques’ opera. Jacques’ “Corsair” premiered in last season’s Tales from a Safe Distance and was named Best New Local Opera Production of 2020 in The Chicago Reader.
Longendyke, a “steward” of the Resonance Works mission
Executive Director Clare Longendyke, who joins Resonance Works at the University of Chicago where she was Artist in Residence and Director of Chamber Music, exudes an infectious passion for inspiring audiences to forge deeper connections with classical music. In her work as an artistic administrator and entrepreneur, Longendyke has advocated for the creation of creative places and pioneered new ways to connect artists and audiences to their communities. Longendyke’s efforts to bring innovative musical experiences to public places and historic sites earned her a nomination for the Women of Influence Award from the Indianapolis Business Journal in 2019. She balances an active international career as a concert pianist with her work as an administrator. âResonance Works has been a model of resilience during this difficult time for artists and arts organizations across the country,â commented Longendyke. “I am proud to lead the organization forward alongside Artistic Director and General Maria Sensi Sellner as we continue to innovate new, unique ways to engage Pittsburgh audiences and artists.”
Tickets are currently on sale for HEROES at bit.ly/DOCHeroes. Single tickets for the remainder of the Resonance Works season will be on sale throughout the season. Live performances will have a virtual ticket option for a digital reminder after the in-person event.