A Thousand Splendid Suns: Opera at the Library!

By now, many of you know that we are hosting a workshop performance of a brand new opera based on Khaled Hosseini’s book A Thousand Splendid Suns. Showcasing this “work in progress” is a great opportunity for our library. Not only is the book a bestseller, but the composer and librettist have each received awards for their earlier works. And, the opera has just been picked up for the 2020 season by Seattle Opera!

Stephen Kitsakos and Sheila Silver appeared on WAMC Public Radio’s The Roundtable to talk about this new work. Click Here to listen to the archive of the interview.

Film Screening of Act I: Thursday, November 9, 6pm

Workshop Performances of Act II: Saturday, November 18, 1pm & 4pm

There is no charge, but reservations are requested. 

To reserve seats for the November 9 film screening of Act I (performed at Manhattan’s Trinity Church last year, pictured above), email programs@hudsonarealibrary.org, call 518-828-1792 x101, or stop by the front desk of the library. 

To reserve seats for the 1pm or 4pm workshop performances of Act II on November 18 CLICK HERE.

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Film Screening: A Thousand Splendid Suns: The Opera-Act I

A Thousand Splendid Suns: The Opera-ACT I

Thursday, November 9, 6PM, FREE

A free screening of Act I workshop of the opera that was filmed last year in Key West, Florida. This film will be shown ahead of a live workshop presentation of Act II on Saturday, November 18 at 1PM and 4PM. This event is free but donations are accepted. Seating is limited, for reservations email programs@hudsonarealibrary.org, call (518) 828-1792 x101, or visit the main desk of the library.

 

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Live Performance: A Thousand Splendid Suns: The Opera-Act II

Hudson Area Library in collaboration with the American Opera Projects present A Thousand Splendid Suns: The Opera- Act II workshop presentations on Saturday, November 18, 2017 with a performance at 1PM and another at 4PM.

The workshops are free but donations are accepted. Seating is Limited, To Reserve Your Ticket CLICK HERE

“A Thousand Splendid Suns is more than a story of survival in the face of what seem to be insurmountable odds. It is a story of the unconquerable spirit of a people and individuals seen through the eyes of two indomitable women.” – Contemporary Literature

AOP First Chance and the Hudson Area Library present a music reading of Act II of the new opera A Thousand Splendid Suns, by composer Sheila Silver and librettist Stephen Kitsakos, based on the bestselling novel by Khaled Hosseini.

Performances by: Maya Lahyani, Lucy Fitz Gibbon, Ron Lloyd, Ian McCuen, Michael Scarcelle with an ensemble of 7 instruments including Steve Gorn on bansuri, and Jonathan Singer on tablas.

Music Direction: Sara Jobin

Stage Direction: Leslie Swackhamer

A Thousand Splendid Suns is scheduled for a World Premiere by the Seattle Opera in 2020. For more information visit AMERICAN OPERA PROJECTS.

 

 

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Bios

 

MAYA LAHYANI (MARIAM)

Lahyani,a 2010 grand finalist of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and the recipient of an Adler Fellowship at the San Francisco Opera, is fast-becoming one of the most sought-after young singers today. She began the 2016-2017 season as a soloist in a world premier collaboration with Alonzo King LINES Ballet at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco and then returned to the Seattle Opera as Flora in La Traviata, and as Varvara in Janáček’s Katya Kabanova. In the spring, she returned to The Metropolitan Opera as Flora in La Traviata conducted by Nicola Luisotti, and Maddalena (cover) in Rigoletto. Last season included performances and covers at the Metropolitan Opera as Maddalena in Michael Mayer’s production of Rigoletto, Lola in Sir David McVicar’s production of Cavalleria Rusticana, and as a Serving Woman in a highly acclaimed new production of Elektra by legendary director Patrice Chéreau, conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen, which was seen live in HD around the world. Ms. Lahyani also joined both Opera Las Vegas and PORTopera in the title of Carmen, earning rave reviews for her portrayal of the iconic role.

Ms. Lahyani sang over 50 performances at the Metropolitan Opera, making her debut during the 2013-2014 season in Anthony Minghella’s production of Madam Butterfly as the first Israeli born to ever sing on their stage. During that season she also appeared in Massenet’s Werther directed by Richard Eyre, and in Rusalka under the baton of Yannick Nézet-Séguin (both productions were seen live in HD). During the 2014-2015 season she performed the roles of the Palestinian Woman in John Adams’ The Death of Klinghoffer, Flora in Willy Decker’s iconic production of La Traviata, and Rosette in Laurent Pelly’s production of Manon.

Other recent engagements including her Seattle Opera Debut as Dryad in Ariadne auf Naxos, Hansel in Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel With Opera Fairbanks, the title role of Carmen with the Wolf Trap Opera, the Page in Atom Egoyan’s production of Salome with The Canadian Opera Company, Third Lady in The Magic Flute with The Dallas Opera, and Rigoletto in concert with The Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bow.l

Ms. Lahyani received her Bachelor and Master’s Degrees in Music from the Mannes College of Music in New York.

LUCY FITZGIBBON (LAILA)

Lucy Fitz Gibbon is a dynamic musician whose repertoire spans the Renaissance to the present. The Berkshire Review for the Arts praised Lucy’s “agile and beautifully focused soprano of exceedingly wide range, uniform timbre, and great flexibility… a remarkable performer who stood out among    many other remarkable musicians.”

 She believes that creating new works and recreating those lost in centuries past is integral to the continuation of classical music today. As such, Lucy has performed the U.S. premieres of works by Francesco Sacrati La Finta Pazza, Deidamia, Barbara Strozzi Presso un ruscello algente, and Agostino Agazzari’s Eumelio. With composer and animator Anna Lindemann, Lucy has helped to create three diverse multimedia performances: Bird Brain (chamber work with film); Theory of Flight (stage work with digital animation and electronic music); and a new project knitting together long-form art songs by Schubert and Prokofiev, as well as a new work by Lindemann, with live-manipulated, interactive digital animation. She has also worked closely with numerous other composers, including John Harbison, Sheila Silver, Christopher Stark, David Hertzberg, and Pauline Oliveros, on projects ranging from song to opera.

A graduate of Yale University, Lucy is the recipient of numerous awards for her musical and academic achievements. Lucy also holds an artist diploma from The Glenn Gould School of the Royal Conservatory and a master’s degree from Bard College Conservatory’s Vocal Arts Program. She currently holds the position of Visiting Lecturer at Cornell University. For more information, see www.lucyfitzgibbon.com.

 

RON LLOYD (RASHEED)

Recognized by The New York Times as a “robust baritone” and “agile comedian” and by The Sondheim Review for his “opulent baritone and nuanced phrasing,” baritone Lloyd has been praised for thoughtful portrayals and versatility on operatic, concert, and musical theatre stages across the United States. Ron made his professional operatic debut as HORACE TABOR in The Ballad of Baby Doe with Amarillo Opera upon graduating from West Texas A&M University. After moving to New York City, he spent two seasons touring with Opera Iowa as BELCORE in L’Elisir d’Amore and as FIGARO in Il Barbiere di Siviglia in the US and China before apprenticing with Chautauqua Opera,  Sarasota Opera, and Lake George Opera performing mainstage roles and cover assignments that included GERMONT and BARON DOUPHOL in La Traviata, FALSTAFF in Falstaff, MORALES in Carmen, PETER in Hansel and Gretel, and MILLER in Verdi’s Luisa Miller.

Notable recent performances include his Carnegie Hall debut as KUNZ GILGENSTOCK in Richard Strauss’ Feuersnot with the American Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Leon Botstein, a house debut with Winter Opera St. Louis as FORD in Verdi’s Falstaff, a return to Mobile Opera as TONIO in Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci, his seventh role with Albuquerque’s Opera Southwest as LEPORELLO in Don Giovanni, bass soloist for Beethoven’s NINTH SYMPHONY with the Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Gerald Steichen, and encore performances of Sondheim’s demon barber in LOOK Musical Theatre’s remounted production of Sweeney Todd, which garnered the distinction of Tulsa’s “Best Night of Theatre” in 2007 and once again in 2014 from The Tulsa World. Often recruited for first readings of new American works with organizations such as Music-Theatre Group (The Wing Wherewith) and Ardea Arts (BOUNCE), 2016 began with a feature on Opera America’s 2016 New Opera Showcase in A Thousand Splendid Suns, by American composer Sheila Silver  2016.

 

IAN MCEUEN (TARIQ, WAKIL, TALIBAN GUARD)

Ian McEuen has been praised for his versatility as a performer, impressing audiences with his “sweet lyric tone” and “gravitas on stage.” He began the 2016-2017 season with his role and company debuts as Oliver Sacks in the UrbanArias production of  The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, and then reprised the role in a new production with Quantum Theater. After that he played Tobias in Sweeney Todd for New Orleans Opera, Pang in Virginia Opera’s Turandot, and Goro in the Kennedy Center Opera House’s production of Madama Butterfly with Washington National Opera.

He made his debut in Fort Worth Opera’s production of Adam’s Lysistrata in 2012 and then joined the company for two seasons singing in  Ariadne aux Naxos, With Blood, With Ink and Figaro and the Zombie Apocalypse. In the 2014-2015 season he joined the roster of the Metropolitan opera covering roles in The Merry Widow and Die Zauberflote and later returned to Washington National opera in Weill’s Lost in the Stars and with the Knoxville Opera in Tosca. As a Marc & Eva Stern Fellow at SongFest Los Angeles, he worked with Graham Johnson, William Bolcom, Jake Heggie, Libby Larsen and John Musto.

McEuen received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Voice from the Carnegie Mellon University School of Music and his Masters in Voice from the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Voice. He continued his operatic training in 2011 at the Seagle Music Colony.

MICHAEL SCARCELLE (HAKIM, ABDUL SHARIF, TALIBAN SOLDIER )

Garnering praise for his combination of vocal beauty, musicality and charisma, bass-baritone Scarcelle has proven his versatility in concert, recital, opera and theatre. Recent performances include Herrmann Augustus CANDIDE with Leipzig MDR Symphony Orchestra, Poo-Bah MIKADO with Mobile Opera, HYDROGEN JUKEBOX with Skylight Music Theatre, Poo-Bah MIKADO with Shreveport Opera. Other performance highlights include Demetrius A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM with Opera Naples, King Melchior AMAHL AND THE NIGHT VISITORS, Beaupertuis in Nino Rota’s THE ITALIAN STRAW HAT and Don Pedro LA PÉRICHOLE with Amarillo Opera, The Pirate King THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE with Anchorage Opera, Alidoro LA CENERENTOLA and Ceprano RIGOLETTO with Salt Marsh Opera, and the role of Death in Holst’s SAVITRI with Little Opera Theater of New York, for which The New York Times praised his “forbidding, resonant bass-baritone.” In 2015 he made his Carnegie Hall debut as Masolino in American Symphony Orchestra’s performance of Schillings’ MONA LISA.

Mr. Scarcelle, a Philadelphia native, has appeared in concert internationally including several recitals at the historic Academy of Music in his hometown. Among his theatre credits are roles in NAUGHTY MARIETTA, HELLO DOLLY, ANNIE GET YOUR GUN, THE DESERT SONG and THE KING AND I. He holds a Master of Music degree from Yale University and a Bachelor of Music degree from Hunter College. He additionally studied at The Catholic University of America and The American Musical and Dramatic Academy focusing on dancing and acting.

 

SHEILA SILVER (COMPOSER)

Sheila Silver is an important and vital voice in American music today. She has written in a wide range of mediums: from solo instrumental works to large orchestral works; from opera to feature film scores. Her musical language is a unique synthesis of the tonal and atonal worlds, coupled with a rhythmic complexity which is both masterful and compelling. Again and again, audiences and critics praise her music as powerful and emotionally charged, accessible, and masterfully conceived. Recipient of a 2013-14 Guggenheim Fellowship, Sheila Silver  returned from six months in India where she studied Hindustani music, the heart of Afghan music, which is incorporated into the opera, A Thousand Splendid Suns. Throughout her career, Silver has had works commissioned and performed by numerous orchestras, chamber ensembles, and soloists internationally. Her recent work, Beauty Intolerable (2013), a songbook based on the poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay, premiered in New York and the Hudson Valley last June. Developed with American Opera Projects and The Millay Society, the show included singers Risa Harman, Lauren Flanigan and Deanne Meek, with actresses Tyne Daly and Tandy Cronyn reciting Millay’s poetry. Winner of the 2007 Sackler Prize in Music Composition for Opera, she composed the chamber opera, The Wooden Sword, with librettist Stephen Kitsakos. In 2009 they collaborated on another opera, The White Rooster, for women’s vocal quartet, Tibetan bowls and percussion. Commissioned by the Smithsonian, it premiered in 2010 at the Sackler-Freer Galleries to celebrate the Tibetan exhibit, In the Realm of the Buddha. Silver’s first opera, The Thief of Love, hailed as “music of great beauty” by Howard Smith of Music and Vision, is available on DVD. She is Professor of Music at Stony Brook University. www.sheilasilver.com

 

STEPHEN KITSAKOS (LIBRETTO)
Stephen Kitsakos is a theatre writer and director as well as the author of three opera librettos in collaboration with Sheila Silver including The Wooden Sword for the Sackler Prize at U Conn, The White Rooster: A Tale of Compassion for the Smithsonian Institution and the adaptation of Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns. In addition he wrote the monodrama An Incident in Sutton Square, with music by composer Martin Hennessy. A writer member of the Dramatists Guild, ASCAP and a permanent member of the BMI Musical Theatre Workshop, he is a graduate of New York University. Between 2000 and 2013 he was a member of the Faculty of the School of Fine & Performing Arts at SUNY New Paltz where he  also served as Asst. Chair of the Theatre Arts Dept. from 2011-2013. Mr.   Kitsakos’s work has often explored the use of sacred texts to inspire contemporary storytelling as evidenced in his writing commissions for The Woodstock Cycle for the Episcopal Diocese of New York as well as his novel, The Accidental Pilgrim published by ASD Publishing in 2015. He resides in Key West, Florida where he directs, teaches and serves on the Board of of The Studios of Key West, a diverse multi-arts institution in the Florida keys.  http://stephenkitsakos.com

LESLIE SWACKHAMER (DIRECTOR)

An award-winning stage director of opera and theatre, noted for creating bravura acting ensembles and stunning visuals, Swackhamer is a passionate advocate of new work and work by women. She is the Executive Director of the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, the oldest and largest international prize specifically recognizing women playwrights. She is also a founder of the Women Playwright’s Festival in Seattle at A Contemporary Theatre and Hedgebrook. She has workshopped, directed, dramaturged or produced over 100 new works at theatre and opera companies across America. Currently based in Houston, she directs regularly for Stages Repertory Theatre, where she has directed ten hit productions. One of which included the extended and sold-out run of David Adjmi’s MARIE ANTOINETTE (2015 Houston Press Award for Best Director). Other theatres where she has directed include Southcoast Rep, Madison Rep, Seattle Rep, The Empty Space, Florida Studio Theatre, Seattle Shakespeare, Stages Repertory Theatre, The Cherry Lane, ACT Theatre, The Cleveland Play House, American Stage, Cleveland Public, Intiman Theatre, Brave New Works (Atlanta), Musiqa, and The Playwrights Center.

Opera companies where she has directed include the San Francisco Opera, Vancouver Opera, Opera Carolina, Seattle Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Opera Omaha, Madison Opera, Dayton Opera, and Opera in the Heights and The Washington National Opera at the Kennedy Center. http://leslieswackhamer.com

 

SARA JOBIN (CONDUCTOR)

Named a Leonard Bernstein Music Scholar by Harvard College, Jobin tends to defy traditional categories. A Grammy-nominated conductor Jobin has a passion for opera, new and American repertoire, and sacred music. In 2004 she had the honor of making history as the first woman to conduct mainstage subscription performances at San Francisco Opera and has returned to their podium for 16 performances of five different productions since then. She is currently  Chief Conductor of the Center for Contemporary Opera in New York, Resident Conductor of the Toledo Symphony and Associate Conductor of the Toledo Opera, and has guest conducted the opera companies in Arizona, Baltimore (where she was again the first woman), Pittsburgh, Santa Barbara, Anchorage, Tacoma, and Idaho. She has also conducted the Dayton Philharmonic, Symphony Silicon Valley, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, and the Bochumer Philharmoniker. Internationally, she has also led American operas in Szeged and Avignon and brought one in workshop form to Shanghai. Her first full-length recording, the comedy Volpone by John Musto, was nominated for a 2010 Grammy for Best Opera Recording. Her discography also includes a Brubeck premiere with beloved mezzo Frederica von Stade. 

 

 

 

 

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A Thousand Splendid Suns is scheduled for a World Premiere by the Seattle Opera in 2020.

“A Thousand Splendid Suns is more than a story of survival in the face of what seem to be insurmountable odds. It is a story of the unconquerable spirit of a people and individuals seen through the eyes of two indomitable women.” – Contemporary Literature

Based on the international best-selling novel by Khaled Hosseini and set in Afghanistan from the mid-1970’s to the present era, A Thousand Splendid Suns tells the story of two women from different walks of life, one older, one younger, forced into marriage with the same brutal man. Cold to one another at first, they form a bond that enables them to survive and ultimately risk their lives for a chance at freedom. A Thousand Splendid Suns is a universal story of love, passion, sacrifice and spiritual transcendence.

Music by Sheila Silver
Libretto by Stephen Kitsakos

For more information on the opera click here

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