Podcast 66: Gregory Spears and Natalie Polito

Guest co-host and soprano Natalie Polito joins us in a conversation with Gregory Spears, who is currently working on a new evening-length opera, Castor and Patience, with former U.S. Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Tracy K. Smith, commissioned by Cincinnati Opera.

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OCTOBER 2019, Episode 66 – NOTES
Gregory Spears, Composer
recorded 9/19/19

Gregory Spears is a composer of opera, orchestral, choral and chamber music who currently lives in New York.



  • NY Philharmonic
    • Kelli O’Hara, soprano
    • Jaap van Swieten, conductor
    • Knoxville: Summer of 1915
      • Samuel Barber, composer
    • Philip Glass, composer
      • King Lear Overture, world premiere for orchestra
    • Sergei Prokofiev
      • Selections from Romeo and Juliet, Suites No. 1 & No. 2


  • Mostly Mozart Festival
    • Budapest Festival Orchestra
    • Ivan Fischer, conductor
    • Jeanine de Bique, soprano


  • Moulin Rouge on Broadway
  • Six at ART, a new musical about the 6 wives of King Henry 8th
    • Abbie Mueller, sister of Jessie Mueller is one of the stars
  • Stonewall at New York City Opera


  • Moulin Rouge on Broadway
    • Baz Luhrman, director and co-screenwriter of original movie
    • Alex Timber, director
    • Justin Levine, music supervisor, orchestrator, arranger and additional lyrics
    • Sonya Tayeh, choreographer
    • Aaron Tveit is performing Christian
  • Bat Out of Hell, a musical
    • Jim Steinman, composer/lyricist/co-bookwriter
    • City Center of New York
  • Oklahoma by Rodgers & Hammerstein, a revisal on Broadway
  • Looking At You, a new techno-noir opera
    • Kamala Sankaram, composer
    • Rob Handel, librettist
    • Kristin Marting, director
    • HERE Arts Center
  • Opera on Tap
  • Experiments in Opera

Musical Revivals coming to Broadway in 2019-20 season

  • The Music Man
    • Hugh Jackman
    • Sutton Foster
  • West Side Story
    • Ivo Van Hove, director
    • Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker, choreographer

Castor and Patience, a new opera

  • Gregory Spears, composer
    • Greg is orchestrating it for a 36 piece orchestra.
  • Tracy K. Smith, librettist
    • U.S. Poet Laureate
  • Cincinnati Opera commissioned and will producer world premiere in July 2020
  • Kevin Newbury, director
  • Rachel Eliza Griffiths, visual artist

Fellow Travelers, an opera about The Lavender Scare

  • Gregory Spears, composer
  • Greg Pierce, librettist
  • Kevin Newbury, director
  • Cincinnati Opera produced the world premiere
  • There will be five new productions in 2019-2020 season

Nico Muhly, composer

  • Marnie, an opera
  • The Metropolitan Opera

Thomas Ades, composer

  • The Exterminating Angel, an opera
  • The Metropolitan Opera

Anthony Roth Costanzo, counter-tenor

Wolf in Skins, a dance-opera

  • Christopher William, director/choreographer
  • Gregory Spears, composer
  • American Opera Projects, developer

Natalie Polito

  • Penn Square Music Festival
    • First Fridays in Lancaster
    • Tellus 360

Adolphus Hailstork, composer

  • another of Greg Spears composition teachers


  • Gregory Spears, composer
  • created for singers from Anonymous 4 & Lionheart

Paul’s Case, a chamber opera

  • Prototype Festival
  • Gregory Spears, composer
  • Kathryn Walat, librettist
  • Willa Cather, writer of short story, basis for libretto
  • Kevin Newbury, director

Greg spent the summer of 1998 working as a stagehand for the Spoleto Festival, SC. This is when he gained a love for early music.

  • Henry Bickett, conductor
  • Giasone, an opera by Cavalli
  • North American premiere

Old Columbia, an opera

  • Gregory Spears, composer
  • Royce Vavrek, librettist
  • Houston Grand Opera, comissioner and premiere production
  • About the Columbia Space Shuttle



  • The Metropolitan Opera
  • Akhnaten, Porgy & Bess, Wozzeck
  • NY Philharmonic
    • Bluebeard’s Castle


  • The Constitution
    • Benjamin Yarmolinsky, composer
    • Vertical Player Repertory
  • Fall for Dance at NY City Center
    • Misty Copeland
    • Hubbard Street Dance
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show
    • Arlene’s Grocery
    • Peter Szep is the keyboardist
  • Hamilton on the West End in London


  • Greg was a Fulbright Scholar and studied in Denmark under two composers:
    • Per Norgard, composer
    • Hans Abrahamsen
  • Snedronningen (The Snow Queen), a world premiere
    • Hans Abrahamsen, composer
    • Royal Danish Opera


  • 019 Festival – Opera Philadelphia
    • Semele
    • The Love for Three Oranges
      • Denys & Katya by Philip Venables & Ted Huffman
    • Let Me Die conceived and performed by Joseph Keckler
  • The Adventure of Superbunny: Episode 5
    • C. Colby Sachs (Chuck), composer and music director
    • Hudson Guild Theater

GREGORY SPEARS is a New York-based composer whose music has been called “astonishingly beautiful” (The New York Times), “coolly entrancing” (The New Yorker), and “some of the most beautifully unsettling music to appear in recent memory” (The Boston Globe). He has been commissioned by Lyric Opera of Chicago, Cincinnati Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Seraphic Fire, The Crossing, Volti, BMI/Concert Artists Guild, Vocal Arts DC, New York Polyphony, The New York International Piano Competition, and the JACK Quartet. He is currently working on a new evening-length opera, Castor and Patience, with former U.S. Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Tracy K. Smith, commissioned by Cincinnati Opera. Spears’ most recent opera, Fellow Travelers, written in collaboration with Greg Pierce, was premiered at Cincinnati Opera and subsequently produced at Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Prototype Festival, Minnesota Opera, and will be seen this season at Arizona Opera, Madison Opera, and Boston Lyric Opera. Spears’ first opera, Paul’s Case, written in collaboration with Kathryn Walat, was described as a “masterpiece” and a “gem” (New York Observer) and was recently released on CD by National Sawdust Tracks. His Requiem was released to critical acclaim by New Amsterdam Records in 2011.


Natalie Polito, Gregory Spears, Peter Szep, Walker Lewis, Chuck Sachs, Brooke Larimer, Rossa Crean (Theme Music), Peter Szep (Editor), Photo: Christian Steiner.
Our Very Own Home from Fellow Travelers (Music: Gregory Spears; Librettist: Greg Pierce)  — Joseph Lattanzi and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Mark Gibson conducting.
Agnus Dei from Requiem (Music: Gregory Spears) — assorted artists.
Prelude to Act 2 from Paul’s Case (Music: Gregory Spears; Librettist: Kathryn Walat) — The American Modern Ensemble, Robert Wood conducting.

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