Opera Unlimited presents the North American premiere of Peter Eötvös's Angels in America, with a libretto by Mari Mezei, based on the play by Tony Kushner. Performances take place on June 16, 17, and 20 at 8:00 pm and June 24 at 3:00 pm in the Stanford Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts.
Kushner's apocalyptic saga of people struggling with AIDS in the 1980's won a Pulitzer Prize and multiple Tony Awards, and the HBO miniseries, directed by Mike Nichols, won multiple Emmys. The Opera Unlimited premiere will be directed by Steven Maler, Artistic Director of Commonwealth Shakespeare Company and Vice President for Artistic Programming at the Wang Center for the Performing Arts, and conducted by Gil Rose. Kushner's 7-hour work is compressed to two hours and 25 minutes. The opera is sung in English.
Transylvanian-born Eötvös is internationally known for his composing and conducting. Angels in America was commissioned by Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris and premiered there in November 2004. Summer 2005 saw its German premiere in Hamburg. This is Eötvös's third opera. The Paris production was filmed for PBS's "Great Performances" and will air in spring 2006.
Gil Rose, music director of Opera Unlimited said, "Angels in America, though clearly of its time, has surprising currency. Its messages of faith, despair and redemption reveal emotional subcurrents of a timeless nature. It's exactly the kind of groundbreaking work that Opera Unlimited is proud to stage in Boston."
Angels will be one of two operas presented at Opera Unlimited, a collaboration between the Boston Modern Orchestra Project and Opera Boston, that stages contemporary chamber opera. Founded in 2003, Opera Unlimited seeks to expand the boundaries of opera and new music performance in Boston, using exciting new works, experimental staging and world-class talent to change the way Boston audiences see opera and listen to contemporary music. This year, Opera Unlimited will feature an expanded number of performances and related events, fully utilizing the new Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA.
Carole Charnow co-director of the Opera Unlimited said, "We are incredibly proud of what our organizations have accomplished with Opera Unlimited. We have staged wonderfully provocative works including successes like Nixon in China and Powder Her Face, and brought many new audience members to opera." Co-director Catherine Stephan added, "Opera Unlimited gives each company a chance to experiment and take a risk outside the boundaries of our main seasons. For BMOP, presenting new orchestral music in the context of opera is one of the most direct ways that we can connect with our audience. Seeing an opera based on current themes is a uniquely visceral experience, one which underscores the relevance of contemporary music to contemporary society."
Baritone Tom Meglioranza, winner of the Naumberg and Concert Artist Guild international competitions, stars as Prior Walter, a young man dying of AIDS who is abandoned by his lover, visited by angels, and declared an unwilling prophet, and soprano Anne Harley as Harper Pitt, a pill-addled agoraphobe trapped in a disastrous marriage to a closeted gay man. Both Meglioranza and Harley appeared in Opera Unlimited's acclaimed Nixon in China last year. Additional cast members will be announced soon.
Tickets cost $45 and $65 and go on sale in mid-April. More ticket information will be available soon. In addition to multiple performances of the two operas, Opera Unlimited will feature auxiliary events, including artist talks. Schedule to be announced.
The opening night of Angels in America on June 16 will be part of a gala event at the Calderwood Pavilion to benefit the AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts, Opera Boston and the Boston Modern Orchestra Project. The evening, which will begin with Angels Unlimited: A Heavenly Party, in the Nancy and Edward Roberts Studio Theater prior to the performance, will honor Larry Kessler, Founding Director of the AIDS Action Committee, who recently announced his retirement. Tickets for the opening night events begin at $150, and sponsorships are available at higher levels. For more information about the gala, contact Miguel Rodriguez at Opera Boston at 617.451.3388. The opening night is sponsored by The Gregory E. Bulger Foundation.
Funding for Opera Unlimited is provided by The Boston Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, Randolph J. Fuller, The Jebediah Foundation and other organizations and individuals.
For more information, call 617.451.3388 or visit the website.