Friday, 19 January 2018

Today : world première of Missy Mazzoli's 'Proving Up' in Washington

Today, the Washington National Opera presents the world première of Missy Mazzoli's opera Proving Up, as part of the American Opera Initiative Festival. The libretto by Royce Vavrek is based on a coming-of-age short story by Karen Russell.

(c) Stephen S. Taylor

It is the composer's fifth opera. Her previous lyrical works include the chamber opera Song from the Uproar : The Lives and Deaths of Isabelle Eberhardt (New York, February 2012) and Breaking the Waves (Philadelphia, September 2016).
A group of Nebraska families struggles to claim their land under the Homestead Act. In order to satisfy the grant, or "prove up," their homes must each have at least one glass window. Unable to afford such a luxury, the families recruit young Miles to ferry a single window from one home to the next, each time the inspector arrives. How will Miles handle this enormous responsibility, knowing so many depend on his help to achieve the American Dream ? (reproduced from the Kennedy Center website)
The cast includes soprano Leah Hawkins (Mrs. Joohannes 'Ma' Zegner), soprano Madison Leonard (Zegner Sister 1), mezzo Allegra De Vita (Zegner Sister 2), tenor Arnold Livingston Geis (Miles Zegner) and baritone Christopher Kenney (Mr. Johannes 'Pa' Zegner). Chris Rountree conducts and Alison Moritz directs.

The required orchestra is the following (according to the full score) :

- flute (doubling piccolo and A maj harmonica), clarinet in Bb (doubling bass clarinet and A maj harmonica), bassoon (doubling contrabassoon and E min harmonica) ;
- horn in F, trumpet in C (doubling E min harmonica) ;
- percussion (1 player) : 7 acoustic guitars, hanging on the wall in open tunings, vibraphone, glockenspiel, chime, suspended cymbal, hi-hat, triangle, brake drum, bass drum, low tom-tom, snare drum, 4 temple blocks, sandpaper, whip, tambourine ;
- piano (doubling harpsichord), harp ;
- strings.

The performance should last about 1 hour. The full score published by G. Schirmer is available on the Music Sales Classical website.

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