American Opera Projects (AOP) explores the outer edges of the operatic form with Darkling, an experimental opera-theatre work with original music by Stefan Weisman based on the poem by Anna Rabinowitz.
Spanning the decades from the 1930’s to the post-World War period, Darkling is a remarkable story both poignant and humorous of love, loss, calamity and hope. Past and present blur, characters are swept along by the great forces of history and lives are bowed and buffeted in this uniquely moving and captivating work."Brave and sensitive" (The New York Times), Darkling uses opera, avant-garde theatre, vaudeville and cutting edge technology to create “an unlikely collaboration of Wagner, Sally Bowles and Steven Spielberg" (Time Out/New York). This dramatic tour-de-force views history not from a grand geo-political perspective but from the insightful, intimate outlook of a poet whose ordinary Polish-Jewish family is unexpectedly affected by extraordinary events of the Holocaust.
In 2006, American Opera Projects presented the world premiere of Darkling, conceived and directed by Michael Comlish and featuring a newly-commissioned song "The Darkling Thrush" by veteran composer Lee Hoiby.
Darkling was created for four singers (soprano / mezzo / tenor / baritone), seven actors, and string quartet with optional piano. A touring version of Darkling reduces the number of actors to three and is adaptable to multiple venues. (Click here for more info on the touring version of Darkling.)
STEFAN WEISMAN (composer for Darkling)
Stefan Weisman first worked with AOP as a member of its annual Composers & the Voice program. His playful and brooding soundscapes have been described by Anthony Tommasini (The New York Times) as "personal, moody and skillfully wrought." His one act opera Fade was produced by Philadelphia’s Center City Opera Theater at 2008's ConNEXTions. Fade was commissioned by Second Movement and premiered in London in 2008. It also had successful productions in San Francisco and Brooklyn, and will again be heard again in New York City next year. His commissioned work for the Bang on a Can All Stars was mentioned in the New York Times’ retrospective of 2007’s best new music. Upcoming projects include a new chamber work for eighth blackbird, and a multimedia family opera, The Scarlet Ibis, which is being developed by the HERE Arts Center and American Opera Projects. Stefan participated in AOP’s Composers & the Voiceduring the 2003-04 season. For more information, visit his website.
ANNA RABINOWITZ (text: Darkling: A Poem )
Anna Rabinowitz’s fourth volume of poetry, Present Tense, published by Omnidawn, was named one of the best poetry books of 2010 by The Huffington Post. Her previous volume of poetry is The Wanton Sublime: A Florilegium of Whethers and Wonders, published by Tupelo Press, 2006. At present, she is working on a monodrama based on The Wanton Sublime. American Opera Projects (AOP) has commissioned her to write the libretto and Tarik O’Regan, a Grammy-nominated British composer, to write the music. Her book-length acrostic poem, Darkling: A Poem, (Tupelo Press, 2001) was transformed into an experimental, multi-media opera theater work by AOP. It had its world premiere and ran for three weeks off-Broadway in 2006 and was performed in a concert version in Berlin and Poland in 2007. Center City Opera of Philadelphia performed a concert version at the Philly Fringe Festival in 2009. A translation of the original text into German will be brought out by Luxbooks, Weisbaden, Germany, in spring 2010. Rabinowitz’s books also include At the Site of Inside Out, (University of Massachusetts Press), which won the Juniper Prize. Other awards include a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and nominations for a Pushcart Prize and ForeWord Magazine’s Best Poetry Book of the Year for Darkling. Rabinowitz is Editor Emeritus of American Letters & Commentary, a vice-president of the Poetry Society of America, and a member of the Board of Directors of AOP. For more information, visit www.annarabinowitz.com.
"They Will Not Ask" from Darkling
2006 PREMIERE PRODUCTION
Performance by Hai-Ting Chinn. Directed by Michael Comlish, Conducted by Brian DeMaris, Sets by Glenn Reed, Costumes by Anna Kiraly, Lighting by Brian Scott; String ensemble, members of the FLUX Quartet. Commissioned and Developed by AOP.
"There's Been a Slippage" from Darkling
2006 PREMIERE PRODUCTION CLICK HERE for complete list of performers. Directed by Michael Comlish, Conducted by Brian DeMaris, Sets by Glenn Reed, Costumes by Anna Kiraly, Lighting by Brian Scott; String ensemble, members of the FLUX Quartet. Commissioned and Developed by AOP.
For complete list of featured articles and reviews of Darkling,
please visit the AOP Press Page.
November 22, 2011 Darkling CD Release party featuring concert performance of arias MUSIC DIRECTION: Brian DeMaris
PERFORMANCES BY: Carol Monda, Maeve Hoglund, Hai-Ting Chinn and Mark Uhlemann
Drom, New York, NY
May 27, 2010 Galapagos Art Space
Beth Morrison Projects in association with American Opera Projects presents Concert performance of arias as part of "21c Arias" series MUSIC DIRECTION: J. David Jackson
PERFORMANCES BY: Hai-Ting Chinn and Mark Uhlemann
September 8-12, 2009 The Lantern Theater, Philadelphia, PA
Center City Opera Theater in association with American Opera Projects presents Touring concert version MUSIC DIRECTION: Andrew M. Kurtz
STAGE DIRECTION: Matt Gray
PERFORMANCES BY: Maeve Hoglund, Hai-Ting Chinn, Jon Garrison, Martin Hargrove, Jason Switzer, and Sharon Sigal
June 9-11, 2007:
Premiere of touring concert version
Max Kade Auditorium, Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany Aleksander Fredro Theatre, Gniezno, Poland
May 12, 2007:
Preview of touring concert version
and other new works presented byOn the Edge New York City Opera's VOX 2007
Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, New York University
June 06, 2006: Concert reading of scenes. Post-show panel discussion with creators.
Co-production with Friends of Freie Universität Berlin as part of Jewish Documentary Film, Theater and Speaker Series, German Consulate General, Auditorium, NYC.
Feb. 26 - March 18, 2006:
WORLD PREMIERE Adapted and Directed by Michael Comlish East 13th Street Theater
136 East 13th St.
New York, NY 10003 MORE INFO
November 13 & 14, 2005:
Workshop concert reading of scenes w/ panel discussion
Works & Process at the Guggenheim series
Peter B. Lewis Theater, Guggenheim Museum, NYC.
April 19 & 20, 2005: Workshop concert reading of scenes
The Great Room, 138 South Oxford Space, Brooklyn, NY
Music Direction: Steven Osgood
Improvisational development workshops
Director Michael Comlish held performance workshops in Brooklyn and Manhattan to develop Darkling by exploring each section of the original poem. The following performers participated: Elzbieta Czyzewska, Rana Kaye, Peter Kazaras, Dylan McCullough, Carol Monda, and David Tirosh.
2011 Studio Recording
Released by Albany Records
Stefan Weisman, composer
Anna Rabinowitz, librettist
Maeve Höglund, soprano, Hai-Ting Chinn, mezzo-soprano, Jon Garrison, tenor, Mark Uhlemann, bass-baritone, Tom Chiu, Philip Payton, violins, Kenji Bunch, viola, Raman Ramakrishnan, cello, Brian DeMaris, conductor
"'Darkling' CD offers intriguing take on the problem of memory...This is a weighty work that yields deeper meaning upon multiple listenings." (Examiner.com)