Let me start 2014 with a bold statement: We are living in a new golden age of opera. It’s not just a matter of talented singers, though we’ve plenty of those; what’s really exciting is the proliferation of bold new pieces by composers of all genders, nationalities and stylistic inclinations. We may have lost the invaluable New York City Opera in 2013, but the resulting gap has
only forced artists, interpreters and presenters to create opportunities. For proof, consider that during the same weekend the Prototype: Opera/Theatre/Now festival jumps into full swing, you can also catch the New York debut of The Rivals, and attend the birth of an altogether new opera-theater hybrid, Kate Soper’s Here Be Sirens.
Mounted by Morningside Opera, whose last presentation was the cheeky Figaro (90210), Soper’s Sirens is an intimate work for three singers—here, Soper, Gelsey Bell and Brett Umlauf—who take turns at the piano. Don’t assume that a proscribed palette means a shortfall of stylistic options; Soper, a member of the Wet Ink composers collective, has made brilliant use of limited forces in pieces like Voices from the Killing Jar (due out soon on CD). Director Rick Burkhardt, who earned an Obie award for his creative work on Three Pianos, will no doubt bring similar inspiration to this Aristotelian tragicomedy for three singers, one piano.—Steve Smith
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