THE SECRET RIVER Piano Workshop Announced at Mead Botanical Garden
Last season, Opera Orlando announced the development of its first commissioned opera, The Secret River, and on Saturday April 24, Orlando audiences got a glimpse of this new work.
The Company performed a public chant of the play on the Grove Stage at Mead Botanical Garden. An audience of over 200 socially distant opera fans braved the sun and heat to attend this special event, which began with a pre-show presentation on the development of the work with composer and Professor Stella Sung from the University of Central Florida and the Pulitzer Prize. and Grammy Award-winning librettist Mark Campbell, as well as a puppet demonstration by production partner MicheLee Puppets.
The piano workshop is a key moment in the development of any new work, and Opera Orlando was delighted to involve the community in the creation process. “The Secret River is truly an opera house for all audiences,” said Opera Orlando executive director Gabriel Preisser. “This week spent working on the opera in anticipation of the first production in December 2021 was extremely helpful in refining the work. The cast and creative team brought so much energy and excitement to the rehearsals, and c It was a joy to hear the score the first time around. Sharing this with the community has only reinforced the feeling that we have a truly special opera in the works. ”Orlando Sentinel artistic writer Matt Palm, who attended Saturday’s presentation, was also encouraged and intrigued by the performance: “The Secret River is a melodious work … It will be fascinating to see how the elements of the set design – lighting, costumes, and set design – will create a greater sense of adventure and danger for Calpurnia. “
One-act chamber opera located in central Florida during the Great Depression, The Secret River is based on the book of the same name by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. It follows the journey of Calpurnia, a smart girl with a robust imagination, performed by 2020-2021 soprano and studio artist Kyaunne Richardson. Calpurnia learns from her mother, sung by soprano NaGuanda Nobles, and her father, sung by Benjamin Taylor, that her family and community have gone through tough times. She takes it upon herself to help them, overcome her fears and trust her imagination throughout her search for the Secret River. She is guided by the town’s midwife, Mother Albirtha, played by Kimberly Milton, and Rawlings herself makes an appearance in the work, performed by Metropolitan Opera soprano Emily Pulley.
Opera Orlando has been fortunate to receive funds from several foundations and institutions to support The Secret River. Stella Sung’s commission received funding from OPERA America’s Opera Grants for Female Composers program, supported by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation. In addition, the Opera Orlando Youth Company, which will be featured in The Secret River, received funding from the Elizabeth Morse Genius Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts approved a $ 10,000 art projects award to support the world premiere production, as well as a touring production at the school of the work. “The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support this Opera Orlando project,” said Ann Eilers, Interim Chair of the Foundation for the Arts. “Opera Orlando is one of the country’s arts organizations that have demonstrated creativity, excellence and resilience during this very difficult year.” Additional funding also came from the Pabst-Steinmetz Foundation and the Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation.
Stay up to date with Opera Orlando at www.operaorlando.org and get your tickets to the final production of the 2020-2021 season, As One – an intimate and powerful story about a transgender woman’s journey to personal fulfillment, authenticity, and inner peace.
Season tickets for the Opera 2021-22 on the MainStage series will also be available soon from the Bill & Mary Darden Box Office at the Dr Phillips Center (445 S. Magnolia Avenue, Orlando), online at www.drphillipscenter.org, or by calling (407) 839-0119, ext. 0. “Like” or “follow” the Opera Orlando Facebook page for schedules and event updates, and subscribe to the Opera Orlando YouTube channel for all online content.