February 5, 2019
Laura Kaminsky’s opera about the painter Georgia O’Keeffe won’t have its Opera Parallèle world premiere until March 28, but its long gestation period has included many events to acquaint future audiences with the work.
Ever since the announcement of the commission more than three years ago, Opera Parallèle and co-commissioning American Opera Projects have made efforts to spread the word about the opera, composed by Kaminsky, with libretto by Kimberly Reed and Mark Campbell. Public workshop productions in Santa Cruz last year were supplemented with panel discussions and Q&A sessions.
Similarly, the world-premiere production next month will be accompanied by a series of events in ZSpace to inform, educate, and involve; for ticket information, see www.operaparallele.org:
March 27, “Georgia and the Rebels” kick-off party, opening of lobby installation, on-stage panel discussion, and post-performance reception. Panelists include Bettina Aptheker, Chair of Feminist Studies UCSC (moderator), filmmaker/librettist Kimberly Reed, choreographer/dancer Nicole Klaymoon, artist Sadie Barnette, actor Margo Hall
March 28, first in the series of “Creative Rebel Conversations,” pre- and post-show reception
March 29-30, pre- and post-show conversation, reception
March 31, closing reception after final performance
The production team includes Nicole Paiement, conductor; Brian Staufenbiel, creative/stage director; Sean Riley, set designer; and Keisuke Nakagoshi, pianist.
In the cast: Blythe Gaissert as Georgia O’Keeffe, Daniel Belcher as Alfred Stieglitz, Nathan Granner as Aubrey, Marnie Breckenridge as Beck, and the ensemble of Maya Kherani, Kindra Scharich, Elliot Paige, and Gabriel Preisser.
The opera is inspired by a real event, of O’Keeffe leaving New York (and her marriage with Alfred Stieglitz) in 1929 for Santa Fe, which became her home and the subject of her art. O’Keeffe’s three-day train ride was replicated by librettist Campbell, the second time joined by Reed, who shot a portion of the journey for a film used in the projection design.
Kaminsky’s work — which intends to capture “the essence of the strong female protagonist’s personal journey” — includes such popular music of the day as jazz, lindy hop, 19th-century German Romantic music, Irish fiddle music, American folk and blues, and the Native American music of New Mexico.
Says the composer: “We are using an event in the life of iconic American artist Georgia O’Keeffe as the point of departure to reflect on several universal issues: the human need for self-expression and the struggle for creative freedom; imbalance of power in relationships; the desire to seek — and make — beauty; the fragility and fierceness both of the natural environment; and so much more.”