Episode 46: The Great God Pan, The Gender Non-Binary

We go beyond standard definitions and challenge ideas about gender and race. With the upheaval in our society, is opera keeping up? Ross Crean, Sharin Apostolou and Jordan Rutter join us to break boundaries and discuss how opera can bring change to society and expose us all to a new story.

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Jordan Rutter – Three-Way
Ross Crean – Another Voice Collective, Indie Opera/Operafix theme songs
Sharin Apostolou – Nell Gwynn in Prince of Players by Carlisle Floyd, produced by little OPERA theatre of New York

What we’ve seen:

  • Jordan Rutter
    • THE ECHO DRIFT, an opera
      • Score implements electronics
      • Monodrama
      • Audience investment is definitely different for a monodrama as opposed to an ensemble work.
      • Blythe Gaissert as Walker Loats, the lead character
      • John Kelly as The Moth and Governor
      • Nicholas DeMaison, conductor for The Echo Drift
  • Ross Crean
    • AS ONE
      • Laura Kaminsky, composer
      • Co-Librettists, Mark Campbell & Kimberly Reed
      • Chicago Fringe Opera
      • Samantha Attaguile, Hannah After
      • Jonathan Wilson, Hannah Before
      • Amy Hutchison, Director
      • Alexandra Enyart, Conductor
      • The Zafa Collective, String Quartet
      • A Monodrama for two singers
  • Jordan
    • AS One speaks to this feeling out of place in society.
    • Character is researching what is transgender.
  • Sharin Apostolou
      • Cincinnati Opera
      • Minimalist style composers
      • John Adams
      • Philip Glass
        • Satyagraha, an opera
      • The Lavender Scare
      • Love and belonging and being able to fit in
      • Traditional opera versus multi-media new format operas.
      • Experimenting in opera formats, oratorios, video-operas, twitter-operas, etc.
      • FELLOW TRAVELERS, Prototype Festival 2018 NYC
        George Manahan, Conductor
        Kevin Newbury, Director
        Gregory Spears, Composer
        Greg Pierce, Librettists
  • Peter
    • Traditional opera versus multi-media new format operas.
    • Heavy use of multi-media technology in new works
    • Does this affect the creation of the work?
    • Does the work demand the use of this technology?
    • Will the creators write works that are more traditional?
  • Chuck
    • ACQUANETTA, Prototype Festival 2018 NYC
      about media and the creation of “B” horror movies
    • IYOV
      • music-theatre hybrid telling the tale of Job mixed with
        the Latin requiem. Multi-media presentation served the piece.
        Using technology just to use it, not required by the actual writing.
        Do some creators and productions use it get themselves out of a box
        or to cover a budgetary production issue.
  • THE GREAT GOD PAN, an opera
    • Ross Crean, composer and librettist
    • Arthur Machen, author of underlying novella
    • Story originally told by hearsay from a male point of view.
    • No female character is allowed a voice.
    • How to add a female voice and point of view to story
    • Changed a male character to a female one
    • Tommy Boys, women who dressed as men and werebaccepted in society. They wanted their own financial independence. This change gave access to the story to address issues
      of gender through conflict.
  • Entrepreneurship
    • How to choose the material you wish to adapt/create and where do you think it would best be produced
    • Opera scene in Chicago
    • Facebook Opera forum
    • Opera On Tap
    • Chicago Fringe Opera
    • “New Opera” Connection, an online forum run by Ross Crean
  • How was The Great God Pan developed?
    • Workshops, social media shares of score sections, full commercial recording before production due to delay in intended production date
  • Opera scene in Delaware
    • Opera Delaware
      • Wilmington, DE is a major financial and tax corporate area
  • Social Media and how it helps to build connections in the Opera and New Music Community.
    • Is it changing the ways that works are created, cast or produced?
    • It helps to find singers, collaborators or producers.
    • Must always be aware of how we control our narrative.
    • Communities of common interest
    • Audience outreach, how do you reach out to new communities?
    • How do we invite them into the process?
    • How do we make them feel welcome?
      • By sharing we create as many witnesses as possible.
        We make them curious.
    • We create a sense of ownership, a bond with the work.
      How to break down this veneer of exclusivity around opera?
  • Jordan
    • Social media allows you to find/create relationships that don’t
      necessarily pay back immediately, but down the road.
    • Countertenors are primarily expected to sing baroque music
      There are new works being created by contemporary composers
      because they discovered this voice type most of them were not
      familiar with that intrigued them.
    • Orfeo
      • Russel Keys Oberlin, the first countertenor in the USA to attain
        recognition. Founding member of New York Pro Musica
      • Glenn Gould, piano prodigy played Bach on prepared pianos
        before the harpsichord was brought into modern use.
    • THREE-WAY, a new opera
    • Non Gender Binary
      • How to use opera to express that identity
      • Not the same thing as queer or gay themes or characters
      • How do we address them with respect and intent
      • Non binary roles are found in both opera and theater, but it’s usually subtle.
      • Opera has become more regimented casting-wise.
      • What about the roles that don’t factor in gender like:
      • Apollo in Death In Venice, by Benjamin Britten
      • Oberon, in A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Britten, or Ariel in The Tempest by Ades,  and plays by Shakespeare
      • Why can’t Carmen be sung by a countertenor? Butterfly? Or an openly transgender singer, now that they are present
    • LEGENDARY, a new opera
      • Joseph Rubenstein, composer
      • Jason Kim, librettist
      • based on the documentary film, Paris Is Burning,
      • Jennie Livingston, Director
      • Venus Xtravaganza, lead character
    • Angel/Boy in Written On Skin by George Benjamin
    • BEL CANTO, an opera
      • Lyric Opera of Chicago
      • Jimmy Lopez, Composer
      • Nilo Cruz, Librettist
      • Based on the novel by Ann Patchett
      • Anthony Roth Costanzo played Cesar, a young terrorist
      • AKHNATEN
        • Philip Glass, composer
        • English National Opera
        • Los Angeles Opera
        • Anthony Roth Costanzo, Akhnaten
      • George Benjamin, Composer
      • Opera Philadelphia
      • Anthony Roth Costanzo, Angel/Boy
    • Racial issues with casting of traditional canon operas
      • What is the story we are telling by looks, by race or ethnicity?
      • Nozze di Figaro
      • Otello
      • Madama Butterfly
      • Street Scene
      • Handel, Mozart, Rossini
      • Giulio Cesare, an opera
      • Verismo opera and how it didn’t trade in fake ethnic characterization, stories or musical styles
      • Abstract operas given abstract productions, what do behold on to?
      • How do receive the message of the opera’s story?
      • Operas whose plots and characters were current social commentary and
        not actually about the period or places they were set in.
      • Doktor Faustus
      • The Mikado, is really about British Politics
      • The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, set in Florida but it’s
        really about Germany
      • We need a new canon of opera works that address the issues of race and
        identity. More diversity in character types and in casting.
        The racial divide and recognition changes depending on the communities
        we belong to
      • Use of mixed racial casting in opera and musicals
        • Carousel, a musical
        • 1st revival cast an African American man as Mr. Snow, who is
        • a well-to-do business owner
        • New revival has cast an African American as Billy Bigelow, the
          carnie barker and some time thief
      • How will this mixed relationship be dealt with while remaining
        true to the social and historical reality of that period and place?
        Company, a musical

        • Stephen Sondheim
        • Marianne Elliott, Director
        • Bobby will be played by a woman
        • April may be recast as a male role
      • Contemporary Musical theater regularly breaks racial barriers in creation of major characters and casting
      • Michael John LaChiusa
      • Jason Robert Brown
      • Yum-Yum in Mikado
      • Johanna in Sweeney Todd
      • The “Bechdel Test”
        • Where scenes where two or more women interact for at least 5
          minutes and it has nothing to do with or relate to men.
          Female characters who do not depend on men for completion
      • LOST DAUGHTERS, an opera in one act
        • Ross Crean, composer
        • Katherine Arathoon, librettist
        • Oberlin Mozart Players, producing organization
        • Characters:
          • The Queen of the Night, Clytemnestra & Mrs. Darling
            Carmen, caught up in how women were treated during that period
      • Susannah, an opera by Carlisle Floyd
        • story based on the apocryphal tale of Susannah and the Elders
        • Susanna, an oratorio by Handel
        • based on Chapter 13 of the Book of Daniel
  • What’s up next for our panelists
    • Sharin
      • FLORIDA, an opera based on true events
      • Randall Eng, composer
      • Sharin Apostolou as Florida
      • UrbanArias, Virginia/Washington DC
    • Jordan
      • working with Randall Eng’s NYU Musical Theater Writers class
      • Developing a work based on the the immersive art installation
      • The Dinner Party by Judy Chicago
      • Brooklyn Museum of Art
      • An immersive art installation of a huge triangular banquet table with place settings using the names of famous historical women
    • Ross
        • St Xavier University
        • Another Voice Collective
        • Katherine Bruton, The Queen of the Night
        • Jessica Hiltabidle, Clytemnestra
        • Marysa Abbas, Mrs. Darling
      • The Times are Nightfall, a micro-opera
        • Based on a story by Kim Feltkamp
        • Libretto by Aiden Kim Feltkamp and Chloe Schaaf
        • Using the characters of Donna Elvira and Donna Anna
          from Don Giovanni to give them further voice

Credits: Peter Szep, Chuck Sachs, John Lynd (Audio Engineer), Peter Szep (Editor)

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