Yesterday the Dallas Opera announced that it has commissioned a new opera by composer-librettist Mark Adamo (Little Women (1998) and Lysistrata, or The Nude Goddess (2005)) which will debut in the 2015-2016 season. The new work will be holiday-themed, and it will be the third new work commissioned by Dallas Opera to debut in 2015. Other new commissions already announced for that year are Great Scott (premiering in October 2015), which reunites Moby Dick composer and Jake Heggie with librettist Terrence McNally, and Everest, scheduled for February 2015, the first opera by British composer Joby Talbot.
At a time when so many arts organizations are struggling to stay afloat, the Dallas Opera’s apparent financial stability, which allows the organization to take on these new commissions, marks a boon for the company. The debut of three new works in less than 12 months will certainly present a marquee year for the opera company. Here’s a sample from Adamo’s Little Women, followed by the full release:
THE DALLAS OPERA IS PROUD TO ANNOUNCE A NEW COMMISSION FOR A HOLIDAY OPERA BY AMERICAN COMPOSER MARK ADAMO
The Renowned American Composer/Librettist of the operas Little Women, Lysistrata and The Gospel of Mary Magdalene As well as other acclaimed works
This Dallas Opera World Premiere Scheduled for December, 2015
Publically Announced at This Evening’s “Composing Conversation” at the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas
DALLAS, NOVEMBER 14, 2013 – The Dallas Opera thrilled audience members at this evening’s “Composing Conversation” at the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas, when Dallas Opera General Director and CEO Keith Cerny made the surprise announcement that Mark Adamo, one of America’s most successful and accomplished composer-librettists has agreed to create a new holiday opera for the 2015-2016 Season.
Mr. Adamo is the artist behind a host of orchestral, chamber and choral works, in addition to several compelling operas including Little Women, one of the most frequently performed American operas of our time. His most recent composition, The Gospel of Mary Magdalene, successfully premiered earlier this season at San Francisco Opera and was described by The Huffington Post as a “feast for the ears, eyes and mind.” His 2005 opera Lysistrata, based on the comedy by Aristophenes, prompted Alex Ross of The New Yorker to write, “I relaxed a minute after the music began, knowing that I was in the hands of a brilliant theatre composer.”
Mr. Adamo expressed his pleasure with the new commission, stating, “I couldn’t be happier to be making my debut with the Dallas Opera: this has long been one of the most distinguished companies in this country, and I am honored to join its roster of artists.”
Adamo’s commission is the latest in a series of recently commissioned world premieres, beginning with Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer’s Moby-Dick (2010) and their song cycle “A Question of Light” (the latter presented in partnership with the Dallas Museum of Art).
Under the guidance of Keith Cerny, the list has grown to include Great Scott, reuniting Heggie with librettist Terrence McNally (Dead Man Walking) to create a star vehicle for mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato (premiere date: October 2015); and Everest, scheduled to be unveiled in February 2015, marking the first opera by British composer Joby Talbot (A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) working with librettist Gene Scheer.
“I’ve been keenly interested in Mark Adamo’s work for some time,” explains Mr. Cerny. “As a composer-librettist, Mark has shown profound insights into the workings of the human heart and psyche coupled with an ability to create operas and orchestral works that are carefully thought out, meticulously crafted and complex.
“I find Mark’s music as intellectually and emotionally satisfying as it is beautiful.”
The new opera will be conducted by Dallas Opera Music Director Emmanuel Villaume.
Mr. Adamo is a Philadelphia native who served as Composer-in-Residence at New York City Opera from 2001 through 2006. Adamo began his education in the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, where, as a freshman in the Dramatic Writing Program, he received the Paulette Goddard Remarque Scholarship for outstanding undergraduate achievement in playwriting. He went on to earn a Bachelor of Music Degree cum laude in composition in 1990 from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
A brief-yet-highly successful career as a music journalist and scholar was eventually overtaken by Adamo’s desire to compose his own works. He was catapulted to the top ranks of American composers by the critically acclaimed 1998 world premiere of Little Women (based on the novel by Louisa May Alcott) at Houston Grand Opera and he continues to compose outstanding orchestral, choral and ballet music—in addition to full-scale operas—for leading arts organizations in the U.S. and throughout the world.
COMPOSER-LIBRETTIST MARK ADAMO:
American composer-librettist Mark Adamo recently premiered his third full-length opera, the “densely rhapsodic” (Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle) The Gospel of Mary Magdalene, at San Francisco Opera—following a busy season of opera and chamber premières. In May 2012, Fort Worth Opera opened its first production of his second opera, Lysistrata; that September, the Constella Festival in Cincinnati opened their season with August Music, for flute duo and string quartet, commissioned by Sir James and Lady Jeanne Galway: in December, Sasha Cooke and the New York Festival of Song introduced The Racer’s Widow, a cycle of five American poems for mezzo-soprano, cello, and piano; and, in April 2013, baritone Thomas Hampson and the Jupiter String Quartet introduced Aristotle, after the poem by Billy Collins, in concerts at the Mondavi Center in Davis, California before continuing to Boston and New York under the auspices of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.
Adamo first attracted national attention with his uniquely celebrated début opera, Little Women, after the Alcott novel. Introduced by Houston Grand Opera in 1998 and revived there in 2000, Little Women is one of the most frequently performed American operas of the last fifteen years, with more than 80 national and international engagements in cities ranging from New York to Minneapolis, Toronto, Chicago, San Francisco, Adelaide, Perth, Mexico City, Bruges, Banff, Calgary, and Tokyo, where it served as the official U.S. cultural entrant to the 2005 World Expo. The Houston Grand Opera revival (2000) was telecast by PBS/WNET on Great Performances in 2001 and released on CD by Ondine that same year; in fall 2010, Naxos released this performance on DVD and on Blu-ray. (Little Women was the first American opera recorded in high-definition television.) Comparable enthusiasm greeted the début of the larger-scaled Lysistrata, Adamo’s second opera, adapted from Aristophanes’ comedy but also including elements from Sophocles’ Antigone. Lysistrat
While Adamo’s principal work continues to be for the opera house, over the past 5 years he has ventured not only into chamber music but also into symphonic and choral composition. Adamo’s first concerto, Four Angels, for harp and orchestra, was commissioned by the National Symphony Orchestra and debuted in June 2007: the Utah Symphony, led by their Music Director Emeritus, Keith Lockhart, presented Four Angels in January 2011. In May 2007, Washington’s Eclipse Chamber Orchestra, for which Adamo served as its first composer-in-residence, performed the revised version of Adamo’s Late Victorians, a cantata for singing voice, speaking voice, and orchestra: Naxos released Late Victorians in 2009 on Eclipse’s all-Adamo CD, which also included Alcott Music, from Little Women, for strings, harp, celesta, and percussion; “Regina Coeli,” an arrangement of the slow movement of Four Angels for harp and strings alone; and the Overture to Lysistrata for medium orchestra. In April of 2010, Harold Rosenbaum’s New York Virtuoso Singers paired six of Adamo’s newly-published choral scores with the complete chamber-choral work of John Corigliano. This concert featured the New York premières of Cantate Domino (after Psalm 91,) Pied Beauty and God’s Grandeur (Gerard Manley Hopkins; commissioned by the Gregg Smith Singers,) Matewan Music(Appalachian folk-tune variations,) Supreme Virtue (Stephen Mitchell’s translation of the Tao te Ching,) and The Poet Speaks of Praising (Rilke: commissioned and introduced by Chanticleer.)
Composer-in-residence at New York City Opera from 2001 through 2006, where he led the VOX: Showcasing American Composers program, Adamo also served as Master Artist at Atlantic Center for the Arts in May 2003. Since 2007 he has served as the principal teacher of American Lyric Theatre’s Composer-Librettist Development Program in New York, in which he coaches teams of composers and librettists in developing their work for the stage.
Adamo began his education in the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, where, as a freshman in the Dramatic Writing Program, he received the Paulette Goddard Remarque Scholarship for outstanding undergraduate achievement in playwriting. He went on to earn a Bachelor of Music Degree cum laude in composition in 1990 from the Catholic University of America. His music is published exclusively by G. Schirmer, Inc.
Image at top from the New York City Opera’s production of Adamo’s Lysistrata.