A new chamber opera
Music by Laura Kaminsky
Libretto by Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed
Based on an original concept by Mark Campbell
Projection Design by Kimberly Reed
Production design concept by Brian Staufenbiel
Co-commissioned with American Opera Projects

OVERVIEW

Today It Rains is a new chamber opera inspired by a real event in the life of American artist Georgia O’Keeffe. On the rainy morning of April 29, 1929, O’Keeffe boarded a train in New York with fellow artist Rebecca Strand, leaving behind her tumultuous marriage with Alfred Stieglitz and yearning for escape and creative fulfillment. Three days later, she arrived for the first time in Santa Fe, New Mexico, inspired by the power of the area’s landscape and ready for new artistic experience. The 90-minute work that imagines this life event will be performed by a cast of eight singers and an instrumental ensemble of eleven, and will feature a sophisticated projection design, including ‘film arias’ created by Kimberly Reed and Brian Staufenbiel. While taking its inspiration from this singular artist’s journey, the story will resonate with anyone who seeks creative freedom and is transformed by the beauty of Nature. Today It Rains is a courageous woman’s story and an independent artist’s story. It is also a uniquely American story.

 

Co-commissioned by Opera Parallèle and American Opera Projects. The score has been commissioned by Opera Parallèle in part through the OPERA America Opera Grants for Female Composers program, made possible through the generosity of The Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation. The libretto has been commissioned by AOP with support from the New York State Council of the Arts. By arrangement with Bill Holab Music.

PERFORMANCES

WHERE
Z Space, San Francisco
Directions

WHEN
Thursday, March 28, 2019 at 7:30 pm
Friday, March 29, at 7:30 pm
Saturday, March 30, at 7:30 pm
Sunday, March 31, at 2 pm

CAST

Blythe Gaissert (mezzo-soprano) as Georgia O’Keeffe

Daniel Belcher (baritone) as Alfred Stieglitz

Nathan Granner (tenor) as Aubrey

Marnie Breckenridge (soprano) as Beck

Maya Kherani (soprano) as Ensemble

Kindra Scharich (mezzo-soprano) as Ensemble

Elliot Paige (tenor) as Ensemble

Gabriel Preisser (bass) as Ensemble

ARTISTIC TEAM

Conductor: Nicole Paiement

Creative/Stage Director: Brian Staufenbiel

Assistant Director: David Toro

Set Design: Sean Riley

Lighting Design: TBD

Media Design: Kimberly Reed

Costume Design: Alina Bokovikova

Wigs/Makeup: Sophia Smith

Props: Ryan Parham

Pianist: Keisuke Nakagoshi

Dramaturgy: Matt Gray and Brian Staufenbiel

Co-Commissioner

American Opera Projects

SUPPORT

Funders/Major Donors

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
OPERA America’s Opera Grants for Female Composers
New York State Council for the Arts
JTS Fund
University of California, Santa Cruz
Z Space

SYNOPSIS

Today It Rains is a new chamber opera inspired by a real event in the life of American artist Georgia O’Keeffe.On the rainy morning of April 29, 1929, O’Keeffe boarded a train in New York and, three days later, arrived in Santa Fe, New Mexico where she was soon to be transformed by the power of the area’s landscape.

The opera imagines O’Keeffe’s personal journey as the train rushes toward its destination and she reexamines her passionate but turbulent marriage with photographer and influential gallery-owner Alfred Stieglitz, her artistic stasis, and her need for new inspiration to guide her work. Along the way, O’Keeffe and fellow traveler and artist Rebecca Strand bemoan the status of “woman artist” and the difficulty of accommodating the demands of marriage in their creative lives. The past becomes the present when the windows in the train’s lounge car turn into paintings and O’Keeffe is transported back to the 291 Gallery where she first met Stieglitz. Later, during a night of uneasy sleep, she imagines that she hears a party of artists and critics on the roof of her train compartment and relives a past argument with Stieglitz. Finally, O’Keeffe learns to honor her creative impulses when she hears Aubrey, a porter on the train, practicing his clarinet. In the final moments of the opera, she approaches Santa Fe and immediately and irreversibly connects again with the expansive beauty of the New Mexican landscape.

Like any train journey that covers many miles, the past and the present are blurred, memory becomes reality and the boundaries between sleeping and waking are erased. While taking its inspiration from this iconic artist’s journey, the story will resonate with anyone who seeks creative freedom and is inspired by the beauty of nature.

Today It Rains is an 80-minute work performed by a cast of eight singers, accompanied by an ensemble of eleven players. The music will provide a richly varied soundscape for both the psychological and physical aspects of O’Keeffe’s journey. The production will feature a sophisticated projection design that reflects O’Keeffe’s memories, the evolution of her creative inner life, and the vast American landscape through which she travels.

Co-commissioned by Opera Parallèle and American Opera Projects, Opera Parallèle will premiere the work in San Francisco in 2019, directed by Brian Staufenbiel and conducted by Nicole Paiement. Today It Rains marks the first full-length work commissioned by Opera Parallèle and is the third opera by the creators of As One, which was commissioned and premiered by American Opera Projects in 2014 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and has since become one of the most produced new operas in the country

COMPOSER

LAURA KAMINSKY (COMPOSER)

one of the top 35 female composers in classical music” (The Washington Post), often addresses contemporary issues including sustainability, war, and human rights in her work. “Full of fire as well as ice, (her music) contrasts dissonance and violence with tonal beauty and meditative reflection. It is strong stuff.” (American Record Guide) With co-librettists Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed she has created the most widely-produced contemporary opera in the U.S., As One (2014), Some Light Emerges (Houston Grand Opera 2017), and the forthcoming Today It Rains (Opera Parallèle/American Opera Projects 2019). Upcoming: Piano Quintet for Ursula Oppens and the Cassatt String Quartet; and with Reed, Postville, inspired by the unprecedented, devastating 2008 immigration raid there, for a consortium led by Santa Fe and San Francisco Operas. Head of composition, Conservatory of Music/SUNY Purchase and composer-in-residence, American Opera Projects.

LIBRETTISTS

MARK CAMPBELL (LIBRETTIST/ORIGINAL CONCEPT)

Mark Campbell’s work as a librettist is at the forefront of the current contemporary opera scene in this country. He has written almost more than 20 librettos, the best known being Silent Night, which received the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in Music. Other successful operas include Later the Same Evening, Volpone, Bastianello/Lucrezia, As One, and The Shining. Awards include: a Grammy nomination, the first Kleban Award for Lyricist, two Richard Rodgers Awards, a Larson Foundation Award, and a NYFA Playwriting Fellowship. Mark had 6 premieres in 2017, including The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs for Santa Fe Opera and Elizabeth Cree for Opera Philadelphia.

 

KIMBERLY REED (CO-LIBRETTIST/MEDIA DESIGNER)

Kimberly Reed designed projections for and wrote As One with co-librettist Mark Campbell, composed by Laura Kaminsky. The team then collaborated for Some Light Emerges (Houston Grand Opera) and the forthcoming Today It Rains (Opera Parallèle). A consortium of opera companies, led by Santa Fe and San Francisco Opera, have commissioned her to write the libretto for Postville, again with Kaminsky. Her written work is collected in The Moth, a New York Times best-seller.  She has held fellowships at NYFA, Yaddo, Squaw Valley Writers Workshop, and the Hermitage. Her documentary film Prodigal Sons premiered at the Telluride film festival and garnered 14 international awards. Her documentary Dark Money premiered at the Sundance film festival in 2018. One of Filmmaker magazine’s “25 New Faces of Independent Film,” she has been featured on CNN, NPR, MSNBC, Moth Radio Hour, and the Oprah Winfrey Show.

 

CAST BIOS

Coming soon!

ARTISTIC TEAM BIOS

Coming soon!

Co-commissioned by Opera Parallèle and American Opera Projects. The score has been commissioned by Opera Parallèle in part through the OPERA America Opera Grants for Female Composers program, made possible through the generosity of The Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation. The libretto has been commissioned by AOP with support from the New York State Council of the Arts. By arrangement with Bill Holab Music.