Opera Fusion: New Works steps into ‘Intimate Apparel’

Ricky Ian Gordon (photo by Kevin Doyle)

Ricky Ian Gordon (photo by Kevin Doyle)

Cincinnati Opera and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music will help develop “Intimate Apparel,” Nov. 5-14, as part of its Opera Fusion: New Works residency program. The new American opera by composer Ricky Ian Gordon, with a libretto by Lynn Nottage, was commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera/Lincoln Center Theater’s New Works Program.

Co-artistic directors of Opera Fusion: New Works are Marcus Küchle, director of artistic operations of Cincinnati Opera, and Robin Guarino, J. Ralph Corbett chair of CCM Opera.

According to Küchle, “What we are trying to do is help this piece get to a premiere at either The Met or the Lincoln Center Theater.” The ultimate question is: “For which house is this work better suited?”

The workshop will be directed by Guarino and conducted by Timothy Myers, artistic and music director of North Carolina Opera. Paul Cremo, dramaturg and director of opera commissioning programs for The Met, will assist.

Adapted by Nottage from her prize-winning 2003 play of the same name, “Intimate Apparel” tells the story of Esther, a 35-year-old seamstress in 1905 New York City. Nottage is winner of both the Pulitzer Prize (for “Ruined”) and a MacArthur “Genius Grant.” “She’s a big deal,” said Küchle, “a really brilliant woman.”

Both Nottage and Gordon will attend the workshop.

This is the second of two Opera Fusion: New Works productions this fall, following September’s workshop of “Some Light Emerges,” composed by Laura Kaminsky to a libretto by Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed. Houston Grand Opera will premiere “Some Light Emerges” in March. OF:NW also workshopped Gordon’s “Morning Star” in 2012, which eventually premiered at Cincinnati Opera in 2015, the company’s first world premiere in half a century.

Lynn Nottage

Lynn Nottage

Funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, OF: NW was created in 2011 to foster the development of new American operas. According to Küchle, the program has three goals: “to help develop new works, to help new works be successful – which is different, by the way – and to develop a new generation of artists to bring new works to life.” He and Guarino are responsible for choosing the operas they bring into the program, and have now established a track record that has artists approaching them. For a list of previous workshop projects: cincinnatiopera.org/community/opera-fusion-new-works

The residency for “Intimate Apparel” will culminate in a free public performance of excerpts, Nov. 14, 7:30 p.m., in the Cincinnati Club’s Oak Room, 30 Garfield Place. Tickets are available through the Cincinnati Opera box office.

Immediately following, the entire cast and crew head to New York City for a private presentation before Peter Gelb, general manager of The Met, and Andre Bishop, producing artistic director of Lincoln Center Theater. The Mellon Foundation is also using this workshop performance as a kick-off to a symposium it is hosting that same week in Manhattan among its grantee organizations.

513-241-2742 or cincinnatiopera.org

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