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CCM Opera and Cincinnati Opera Select Work for Fall 2014 Opera Fusion: New Works Residency

Composer Jake Heggie.

Composer Jake Heggie.

CCM's Department of Opera and Cincinnati Opera are pleased to announce the selection of a new American opera, Great Scott, for the Opera Fusion: New Works program’s fourth year of residencies.

Great Scott, composed by Jake Heggie with a libretto by Terrence McNally, will receive a workshop in Cincinnati from Nov. 17-25, 2014. The opera, based on an original story by McNally, will have its world premiere at the Dallas Opera on Oct. 30, 2015. The world premiere production will feature the creative team of stage director Jack O’Brien and conductor Evan Rogister, who will also participate in the Cincinnati residency.

The workshop will culminate in a free public reading at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 25, at Cincinnati's Memorial Hall, located at 1225 Elm Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202. Tickets will be available beginning at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 1, through the Cincinnati Opera box office. Call 513-241-2742 to reserve.

Great Scott marks Heggie and McNally’s first major collaboration since their groundbreaking opera Dead Man Walking, which premiered at San Francisco Opera in 2000. Cincinnati Opera was the third company to present Dead Man Walking, featuring it as part of the 2002 Summer Festival.

“I don’t know of many creative endeavors quite as daunting as creating a new, full-length opera,” said composer Jake Heggie. “It requires an enormous number of people and countless hours to make an opera come to life; and unlike some Broadway shows, we don’t have the luxury of previews to see the piece on its feet as we work and develop it. After all the time, money, and passion invested, new operas are pretty much shot out of a cannon on opening night. So, it is a thrilling opportunity and a jolt of enormous good fortune to be able to work on Great Scott in Cincinnati as part of the Opera Fusion: New Works program—a full year before the premiere at the Dallas Opera!”

“We will be able to work daily on every aspect of the piece, hear the music sung, engage in the drama and comedy, try different things, change words, rearrange phrases and scenes—even write new material and try it out right away,” continued Heggie. “All of this culminates in an invaluable read-through of the piece with terrific singers. The creative team will be able to learn so much about the new opera, so we can have it in top form for the premiere. We are all grateful beyond measure."

Playwright Terrence McNally.

Playwright Terrence McNally.

Librettist Terrence McNally agreed. “A new American opera with an original libretto needs to be carefully nurtured and brought to life away from the rough-and-tumble world of full-scale production. Jake and I need the opportunity that Opera Fusion: New Works offers us to take Great Scott on the next step towards its world premiere in Dallas. We are a work in process. This recognition that operas are slowly, carefully made is important for the future development of new American operas. We've rolled up our sleeves and we're ready to work. And we're grateful for this precious opportunity.”

“Jake Heggie has been piling triumph upon triumph of late, and the mere promise of him and McNally creating together once more was all it took for me to leap into the fray,” said stage director Jack O’Brien. “Great Scott has all the requisite elements that make operatic theatre irresistibly compelling—a contemporary story of wit, passion, high theatrics and stunning roles. This is a director's dream assignment.”

Opera Fusion: New Works, a unique collaboration between CCM Opera and Cincinnati Opera, was created in 2011 to foster the development of new American operas. The program offers composers or composer/librettist teams the opportunity to workshop an opera during a10-day residency in Cincinnati, utilizing the talent, personnel and facilities of both organizations. The workshops are cast with a combination of CCM students and professional artists, and each workshop concludes with a public performance. The program is led by co-artistic directors Robin Guarino, the J. Ralph Corbett Distinguished Chair of Opera at CCM, and Marcus Küchle, Director of Artistic Operations of Cincinnati Opera. Opera Fusion: New Works is generously funded by a $300,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

CCM Opera Chair Robin Guarino

CCM Opera Chair Robin Guarino

“We are thrilled to be workshopping Great Scott,” said CCM's J. Ralph Corbett Chair of Opera Robin Guarino, co-artistic director of Opera Fusion: New Works.

“My personal ties with Jake Heggie go back to 2000, when I directed the world premiere of his first opera, Again, with the EOS Orchestra. Since then, Jake has become one of the foremost opera composers in America, and his work has been performed throughout the United States and Europe by singers such as Frederica von Stade, Renée Fleming, Susan Graham, Kiri Te Kanawa, Patti LuPone and Bryn Terfel. It is an honor to have him in residence at CCM,” Guarino explains.

“I had the good fortune to work with Jake on the world premiere of Dead Man Walking in San Francisco, and I am excited that our Opera Fusion: New Works program will offer Jake and Terrence the opportunity to fine-tune their latest collaboration,” said co-artistic director Marcus Küchle. “There is a huge amount of talent assembled in this creative team, and I am sure the results will be amazing."

In 2011, Opera Fusion: New Works awarded its first workshop to composer Douglas J. Cuomo and librettist John Patrick Shanley in support of their new opera Doubt, which premiered at Minnesota Opera in January 2013. In 2012, Opera Fusion: New Works provided workshops for Champion, by composer Terence Blanchard and librettist Michael Cristofer, which premiered at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis in June 2013; and Morning Star, by composer Ricky Ian Gordon and librettist William M. Hoffman, which will have its world premiere at Cincinnati Opera on June 30, 2015. In 2013, the residency went to Fellow Travelers by composer Gregory Spears and librettist Greg Pierce.

About Great Scott
Great Scott
is set in an American city that boasts a respected but struggling opera company and a thriving football team. Arden Scott, the hometown girl who has become an international opera star, has returned to her roots to help save the company. She has chosen not a standard classic or a new work, but a long-lost bel canto opera she recently discovered: Vittorio Bazzetti’s Rosa Dolorosa, Figlia di Pompeii, which has been gathering dust ever since its composition in 1835.

By chance, the opera company is set to give the world premiere the same night the local football team, the Grizzlies, will play in their first Super Bowl across town—an event that will be telecast to 100 million viewers. The owner of the team is married to the opera company’s founder, Winnie Flato. Success on the field is no less important than Arden’s and Maestro Bazzetti’s in the opera house. No wonder Arden finds herself is in a state of personal crisis over the career and life she has chosen as every conceivable disaster seems to await the company.

With a large cast and chorus, two mad scenes, an erupting volcano and a difficult unknown score, will mere human resources be equal to the opera’s inhuman demands? And a defeat at the Super Bowl could be the end of Winnie’s opera company as well.

Learn more about Opera Fusion and the creative team behind Great Scott by visiting www.cincinnatiopera.org.


Opera Fusion: New Works is sponsored by a generous grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

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