FIRST EVER ZOOM OPERA TO PREMIERE ON APRIL 24-26, 2020

The work, titled all decisions will be made by consensus, with music by Kamala Sankaram and libretto by Rob Handel, will be performed live via Zoom.

Renowned composer Kamala Sankaram (Washington National Opera, Houston Grand Opera) has embarked on an opera experiment during the current COVID-19 health crisis which has shut down the world’s stages.  Sankaram, along with librettist Rob Handel, have composed the world’s first Zoom opera, titled “all decisions will be made by consensus,” that will be presented live via the streaming platform on April 24, 2020 at 1PM, April 25 at 7PM, and April 26 at 3PM.  The project, part of HERE Arts Center, will feature Metropolitan Opera and Broadway star Zachary James with a special guest appearance by Orange is the New Black and The Last OG’s Joel Marsh Garland.

“With the current health crisis and its related cancellations, artists have found themselves trying to find new ways to connect with their audiences,” said Sankaram.  “As always with new technologies, adapting traditional models can be an uneasy fit. So, I began this project with a question: what would happen if you created a piece specifically intended to be performed live over a conferencing platform like Zoom? The result is an experiment, an absurdist comedy, and a first answer to that question, hopefully leading to new ways to connect in this new world we’ve found ourselves in.”

The opera involves a Zoom meeting of activists with radically conflicting styles.  The people are behind them, but is now the time to strike? The cast includes Paul An, Hai-Ting Chinn, Zachary James, Joan LaBarbara, Adrian Rosas, and Sankaram herself, with special guest Joel Marsh Garland (Orange is the New Black, The Last OG).  The ensemble is directed by HERE Arts Center’s Kristin Marting.

Interested audience members can join directly to a special Zoom link TBA to watch and enjoy the performance.  Additionally, the opera will be streamed to HERE’s Facebook page on Friday, April 24 at https://www.facebook.com/hereartscenter/. Other details on the live streams can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/events/695839284558301/.

The presentation is part of #stillHERE. In response to the current pandemic,  the OBIE-winning HERE (Kristin Marting, Founding Artistic Director) is proud to announce additional free online programming designed to uplift audiences during these challenging times. These programs include #stillHERE, a weekly Livestream featuring a HERE artist who invites viewers to share in the creation of new work; and HERE@HOME, a weekly watch party that streams full-length productions previously presented at HERE; and #COVIDEO, a sequential, community-built work of video art that is led by HERE artists and staff, and that the public is invited to participate in.  Please visit HERE.org for more information.

SELECT BIOS:

Kamala Sankaram: Praised as “strikingly original” (NY Times) and “new voice from whom we will surely be hearing more” (LA Times), Kamala Sankaram works at the cutting edge of opera. Her recent genre-defying hit Looking at You (with collaborators Rob Handel and Kristin Marting) featured live data-mining of the audience and a chorus of 25 singing tablet computers. With librettist Jerre Dye, and Opera on Tap, she created The Parksville Murders, the world’s first virtual reality opera (available on Samsung VR, shown at the Kennedy Center Reach Festival, “Best Virtual Reality Video” NY Independent Film Festival, Future of Storytelling, Salem Horror Festival and the Topanga Film Festival.) Recent commissions include the Glimmerglass Festival, Washington National Opera, Houston Grand Opera, the PROTOTYPE Festival, and Shakespeare Theatre Company, among others. Awards, grants and residencies include: Jonathan Larson Award, NEA ArtWorks, MAP Fund, Opera America, HERE Artist Residency Program, the MacDowell Colony, and the Watermill Center. 

Zachary James, bass-baritone, described as a “true stage animal” by Opera News is an international opera singer known for his “huge, robust bass” which “resonates with force” (Bach Track). Zach was named as the 2019 Breakout Opera Artist of the Year by Verismo Magazine, The Most Innovative Opera Singer of 2019 by The Classical Post and was identified as an industry leader and accepted an invitation to become an official ambassador for Opera America. Zach started his career on Broadway and made his entrance into the opera world creating the role of Abraham Lincoln in the world premiere of Philip Glass’s opera The Perfect American at the Teatro Real in Madrid, a role he reprised for London’s English National Opera and Australia’s Opera Queensland and the Brisbane Festival. A winner of the Lotte Lenya Competition, Zach has been engaged by London’s English National Opera (Amenhotep III in the Olivier Award Winning production of Akhnaten, Abraham Lincoln in The Perfect American), Spain’s Teatro Real and Australia’s Opera Queensland (Abraham Lincoln in The Perfect American), LA Opera (Amenhotep III in Akhnaten), Opera Philadelphia (Terry in the world premiere of Missy Mazzoli and Royce Vavrek’s Breaking the Waves), and more. Zach made his Metropolitan Opera debut in their 2019/2020 season reprising the role of Amenhotep III in the Olivier Award winning production of Akhnaten and returned to Opera Philadelphia to play The Cook in The Love For Three Oranges.

Joan La Barbara is renowned for her unique vocabulary of extended vocal techniques influencing generations of composers and singers received the Foundation for Contemporary Arts John Cage Award (2016). Her works for multiple voices, chamber ensemble, orchestra, interactive technology and film, include “Sesame Street Signing Alphabet” (voice w/live electronics) broadcast worldwide since 1977, collaboration with Jóhann Jóhannsson for feature film “Arrival” and Project 19 commission from the New York Philharmonic, “Ears of an Eagle; Eyes of a Hawk: In the Vortex” premiered February 10, 2020. “The Immersive Early Music of Joan La Barbara” surround-sound remixes of La Barbara’s seminal quad and multi-channel works Mode 298. Composition Faculty, NYU; Performing Arts Faculty, Mannes, The New School. Currently composing a new opera “Dreams of Water Beyond One’s Depth” inspired by the lives and work of Virginia Woolf and Joseph Cornell. www.joanlabarbara.com/ 

Adrian Rosas: Hailed by the New York Times as “a stalwart bass-baritone with a burnished voice” and in Opera News as a “mellifluous bass-baritone [with] theatrical flair”, Adrian Rosas is an artist with “impressive experience and talent” (The Boston Globe). He has performed with major North American opera houses, and as a champion of new and modern music, has had the opportunity to perform newly written works with Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Detroit Opera, American Lyric Theater, American Opera Projects, and the SEM Ensemble. Equally versed in concert repertoire, he has performed as a soloist at Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, The Kennedy Center, and The Library of Congress. Additionally, Adrian is a founder of Arts On Site NYC and the Vocal Apprentice Program at the National Music Festival; holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Western Michigan University, and a Master of Music degree from The Juilliard School.

About HERE

The OBIE-winning HERE (Kristin Marting, Founding Artistic Director) was named a Top Ten Off-Off Broadway Theatre by Time Out New York and is a leader in the field of producing and presenting new, hybrid performances viewed as a seamless integration of artistic disciplines—theatre, dance, music and opera, puppetry, media, visual and installation, spoken word and performance art. 

HERE’s standout productions include Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues, Taylor Mac’s The Lily’s Revenge, Trey Lyford & Geoff Sobelle’s all wear bowlers, Young Jean Lee’s Songs of the Dragons Flying to Heaven, James Scruggs’ Disposable Men, Corey Dargel’s Removable Parts, Robin Frohardt’s The Pigeoning, and Basil Twist’s Symphonie Fantastique and, this season Looking at You by Rob Handel, Kristin Marting and Kamala Sankaram.

Since its founding in 1993, HERE and the artists it has supported have received 18 Obies, 2 Bessies, 5 Drama Desk Nominations, 2 Pulitzer Prizes, 4 Doris Duke Awards, and 2 MacArthur Fellowships. 

Funding Credits

The HERE Artist Residency Program (HARP) is made possible with public funds from: the National Endowment for the Arts; the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; the New York State Council on the Arts, with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. Additional support provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; The Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation; Howard Gilman Foundation; the Mental Insight Foundation; the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation; the Mertz Gilmore Foundation; The Shubert Foundation; Jerome Foundation; the Fund for the City of New York; The Fan Fox & Leslie R. Samuels Foundation; The Scherman Foundation; the Jim Henson Foundation; the Joseph and Joan Cullman Foundation for the Arts; Select Equity Group; Edison Properties; Jane Henson Foundation; Royal Little Family Foundation; the Leon Levy Foundation; and HERE’s generous community of individual donors.

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