by Stewart Wallace

libretto by Michael Korie

May 15-17, 2020

The Blue Shield Theater of California at YBCA

Twenty-five years after its world premiere, Harvey Milk returns to San Francisco.  Hailed as “The best new American opera in many years,” the 1995 premiere was barely sixteen years after the murders with the AIDS epidemic raging. The opera was seen as “ripped from the headlines.” That was never the intent.  Stewart Wallace has radically reimagined the score with an emphasis on its mythic elements in what was always intended as a celebration of Harvey Milk’s life.  Appropriately, this premiere coincides with Harvey Milk’s 90th Birthday and is proudly part of a city-wide celebration.

As the centerpiece of its 10th Anniversary season, Opera Parallèle is proud to revive this modern classic.  This new Harvey Milk is streamlined.  It’s taut and visceral.  Michael Korie’s libretto now unfolds in two very direct, swift-moving acts, capturing the whirlwind energy of Harvey Milk as he transforms himself from Wall Street stockbroker to the leader of one of the most influential civil right movements of the 20th century.

This truly San Francisco story is a timely and potent call to action as it evokes the power of Milk’s activism and challenges us to come out for justice.

About the Composer

Composer Stewart Wallace is known for his groundbreaking operas, especially his two San Francisco premieres The Bonesetter’s Daughter and Harvey Milk. His music has been called “brave, bold and important,” “truly staggering,” and “a potent addition to the repertoire.” The Bonesetter’s Daughter inspired both a documentary for PBS and a book by Chronicle Books which includes the libretto by Amy Tan. The San Francisco Opera’s studio recording of Harvey Milk is available on Teldec Classics. Over thirty years with works in every genre, Wallace has collaborated with a diverse group of artists including Michael Korie, Richard Foreman, Christopher Alden, Evelyn Glennie, Marc Ribot, and Amy Tan. His four operas with librettist Michael Korie share an obsession with what it means to be American, the dark undercurrents in our politics and a perhaps naive sense that art can change the world. Stewart Wallace is a Director Member of the Board of Yaddo, the renowned artist retreat. His music is published and represented internationally by Schott.

About the Librettist

Michael Korie photo

MICHAEL KORIE received The Marc Blitzstein Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters for his work in opera and musical theater. His librettos to operas composed by Stewart Wallace include Harvey Milk, Where’s Dick?, Kabbalah, Hopper’s Wife, and SuperMax set to premiere in 2020. He adapted Steinbeck’s novel for the libretto to The Grapes of Wrath composed by Ricky Ian Gordon. The Garden of the Finzi-Continis, also with Gordon, premieres in 2020 at New York City Opera. His operas have been produced at San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Minnesota Opera, New York City Opera, BAM Next Wave Festival, Opera Theater of Saint Louis, Michigan Opera Theatre, and abroad in Germany and Australia. For musical theater, Korie wrote the lyrics to composer Scott Frankel’s music for the Broadway productions of War Paint and Grey Gardens, and the Off-Broadway productions of Far From Heaven and Happiness. Next year, a new musical collaboration with James Lapine and Tom Kitt premieres at Lincoln Center Theater. Korie’s lyrics received the Edward Kleban Prize, Jonathan Larson Award, and the ASCAP Richard Rodgers Award. He teaches lyric writing at Yale, libretto writing at Columbia, and serves on the council of the Dramatists Guild.

Creative Team

Conductor | Nicole Paiement
Director/Production Concept | Brian Staufenbiel
Choreographer | Michael Mohammed
Set Designer | Sean Riley
Lighting Designer | Alexander V. Nichols
Media Designer | David Murakami
Costume Designer | Alina Bokovikova
Wig / Makeups | Sophia Smith
Assistant Conductor | Jessica Bejarano

Cast

Young Harvey | Richard Watson & Nicholas Hu, tenors

Chorus | Carol Ruth Silver, Ella Hill Hutch, Robert Gonzales, Gordon Lau, Drag Queens, Castro Residents, Gay Pride Paraders, Opera Couples, Men at the Opera, Concentration Camp Deportees, Stonewall Rioters, Milk Train, Power Brokers, Candlelight Mourners

Funders

Ann & Gordon Getty

Jones Day Foundation

Nancy Livingston & Fred Levin

James C. Hormel and Michael Nguyen-Hormel

University of California Santa Cruz – ARI