The folks at Fort Worth Opera have announced not one, but two world premieres for its 2014 Festival season, which will be the third and fourth new works premiered by the company since Darren K. Woods came on board a decade ago. (The first two were Frau Margot and Before Night Falls.)
One new work is A Wrinkle in Time, based on the beloved young adult novel by Madeleine L'Engle, and expanded from a one-act children's opera already created by composer Libby Larsen and librettist Bradley Greenwald. The other is called With Blood, With Ink, a chamber opera based on the true story of 17th-century Mexican nun Juana Inés de la Cruz, by composer Daniel Crozier and librettist Peter M. Krask. The latter will feature costumes by Austin Scarlett, best known from the first season of Bravo's reality show Project Runway, who has made costumes for dance and other performing arts.
Here's more from the Fort Worth Opera's news release:
Fort Worth Opera Reveals Two World Premieres Slated for 2014 Festival: A Wrinkle in Time and With Blood, With Ink
Company Continues Commitment to Championing New Works and Contemporary Composers
FORT WORTH, Texas – Fort Worth Opera (FWOpera) General Director Darren K. Woods today revealed that the company will stage two world premieres as part of its 2014 Festival season,April 19–May 11, 2014. The company will mount the full-length adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time by composer Libby Larsen and librettist Bradley Greenwald, based on the hugely popular science fiction novel by Madeleine L'Engle, as well as the professional world premiere of theaward-winning opera With Blood, With Ink, by composer Daniel Crozier and librettist Peter M. Krask, based on the true story of 17th-century Mexican nun Sor (Sister) Juana Inés de la Cruz, a renowned intellectual, poet, nun, and champion of women's rights who was forced by the Inquisition to sign an oath in blood renouncing her life's work. The two operas are the company's third and fourth mainstage world premieres.
"These two premieres reaffirm Fort Worth Opera's commitment to new works, contemporary composers, and to growing new audiences," said Mr. Woods. "I am honored to stage both these operas: A Wrinkle in Time had an indelible impact on me as a child and it has provided the perfect opportunity to collaborate with the distinguished composer Libby Larsen. In the book, the children travel to different worlds and meet fantastical beings, and we'll be utilizing state-of-the-art technology to create the magical landscapes and characters inside Bass Hall, which will be a magnificent home for this production. And I'm equally overjoyed that our first world premiere on our newly-named Opera Unbound alternative-venue series will be With Blood, With Ink, a heartbreaking, historical gem of an opera which has been awaiting a mainstage premiere for nearly 20 years. Whereas Wrinkle will allow us to stretch the bounds of stage technology and effects, With Blood, With Ink is an incredibly intimate opera about Sor Juana's very human struggle, and I can't wait to bring it life in the McDavid Studio, our chamber theater."
A Wrinkle in Time will be a full-length, mainstage opera which has loose roots in Larsen's original one-act children's opera commissioned by Opera Delaware in 1991 for elementary school groups. The 1962 Madeleine L'Engle novel of the same name is about a teenage girl, her younger brother, and their search for their father, a government scientist who went missing while working on a top-secret project. The work illuminates the eternal battle of good vs. evil and the struggle of conformity vs. non-conformity. A landmark book, winning the 1963 Newbery Award among other awards, it has been internationally hailed anew this year on the occasion of its 50th anniversary.
Composer Libby Larsen, one of America's most prolific and popular living composers, whom the press has praised for her ability "to make contemporary opera both musically current and accessible to the average audience," spoke about the origins of the opera's new version.
"Darren and I were judges together for the Lynam Vocal Competition a few years ago," Ms. Larsen stated. "He looked up as I walked into the room and just beamed. 'I've got to talk to you,' he said. 'If you ever want to adapt A Wrinkle in Time as a mainstage opera, I want to produce it.' The thought had never entered my mind, but I immediately loved the idea because Darren's a world-class impresario and I knew he would bring the best artist together to bring this piece to life. And he loves this book as much as I do. We have the best situation for our opera to thrive and we're having a whee of a time doing it."
With Blood, With Ink will receive its mainstage world premiere as part of the company's Opera Unbound series. Since the one-act opera's creation in 1993, it has been produced at several universities (Manhattan School of Music, Boston Conservatory, and Peabody Conservatory, among others) and was featured at New York City Opera's VOX program. Winner of the National Opera Association Prize for new opera in 1994, it has been hailed by The New York Times as a "harmonically lush, lyrically driven score." With Blood, With Ink chronicles the extraordinary life of an impoverished, illegitimate child in colonial Mexico who rose to become the first great literary figure in America, known as the Phoenix of America, and who went on to create the largest library in the Americas of the time. Sor (Sister) Juana has long been revered in Mexico but is only now being discovered in the U.S. The opera examines the irony of Sor Juana's unparalleled genius, which was the key to her success as well as the cause of her destruction.
"After a long time searching, it is tremendously gratifying to know that our opera has finally found its right home in Fort Worth—an adventurous, welcoming, and spirited American home," said Mr. Crozier. "We could not be more thrilled or more honored to join this community of enthusiastic and gifted artists."
For the first time, Fort Worth Opera has hired a celebrity from the fashion world to serve as costume designer, for the mainstage premiere production of With Blood, With Ink—American designer Austin Scarlett, celebrated for his collaborations with artists such as Shein Wei and Parson's Dance Company, as well as known for his appearances on the fashion design competition reality TV show Project Runway.
The full cast and creative team for both operas, as well as performance dates, will be announced at a later time. Biographies and additional information on the creative teams, will be available on the FWOpera website as they are announced.
A Wrinkle in Time
Libby Larsen (Composer) is one of America's most performed living composers. She has created a catalogue of over 400 works spanning virtually every genre from intimate vocal and chamber music to massive orchestral works and over twelve operas. Grammy Award winning and widely recorded, including over fifty CD's of her work, she is constantly sought after for commissions and premieres by major artists, ensembles, and orchestras around the world, and has established a permanent place for her works in the concert repertory. As a vigorous, articulate advocate for the music and musicians of our time, in 1973, Larsen co-founded the Minnesota Composers Forum, now the American Composer's Forum, which has become an invaluable aid for composers in a transitional time for American arts. A former holder of the Papamarkou Chair at John W. Kluge Center of the Library of Congress, Larsen has also held residencies with the Minnesota Orchestra, the Charlotte Symphony, and the Colorado Symphony.
Bradley Greenwald (Librettist) grew up in Minnesota where he began his opera career with a tour of Madame Butterfly through the Minnesota Opera. There he met Libby Larsen when he was cast as Clerval in herFrankenstein; or the Modern Prometheus in 1990. In 1991, she asked him to adapt A Wrinkle in Time for her original version of the opera, commissioned by Opera Delaware, which he did under the name of Walter Green. Since then, Greenwald has performed opera, theater, musical theater, concerts, and recitals with several organizations based in the Twin Cities, including Theatre de la Jeune Lune, Guthrie Theater, Children's Theatre Company, Jungle Theater, 10,000 Things Theater, Nautilus Music-Theater, Minnesota Dance Theatre, VocalEssence, Frank Theater, Minnesota Orchestra, Lyra Baroque Orchestra, A Prairie Home Companion, Skylark Opera, and Ballet of the Dolls. Among his career achievements, he received a Minnesota State Arts Board Fellowship in Music, the McKnight Fellowship for Theater Artists, and a 2006 Ivey Award for I Am My Own Wife.
With Blood, With Ink
Works by Daniel Crozier (Composer) have been recorded or performed by the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, the New York City Opera, the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, the Bach Festival Society of Winter Park,Songfest 2004, and saxophonist Branford Marsalis with the Walden Chamber Players. They have been recorded for release on the Albany, ACA Digital, PARMA, and MARK labels. His awards include a fellowship from the State of Florida's Division of Cultural Affairs (2007), first prize in Fresh Ink 2004, the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra's commissioning competition for Florida Composers, ASCAP Special Awards annually since 1996, two nominations for awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, an ASCAP Foundation Morton Gould Young Composers Grant for his first opera, The Reunion, and first prize in the National Opera Association Chamber Opera competition for his second, With Blood, With Ink. In May, 2010 Anthony Tommasini's review in The New York Times praised the opera as "Driven by Mr. Crozier's harmonically lush and lyrically soaring score." Daniel Crozier serves as Associate Professor of Theory and Composition at Rollins College.
Peter M. Krask is the librettist of With Blood, With Ink which has been twice featured on New York City Opera's VOX festival and has been performed in universities around the country. Other works include The Language of Birds (composer John Kennedy), commissioned by Sarasota Opera, Rendezvous of Light premiered in a production he also directed and designed, and an adaptation of Calvino's Invisible Cities (composer Christopher Cerrone). His non-fiction essay, The Question I Asked Him, was chosen to lead to the anthology The Man I Might Become and his memoir, The Way the Stars Come Home was included in the anthologyWrestling with the Angel. He has written features and criticism for The Baltimore Sun, The City Paper, The Boston Phoenix, and The New York Blade. Mr. Krask holds a Master's Degree in Criticism from the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University. He lives in New York City.
Austin Scarlett (Costume Designer) is a designer whose work spans the realms of fashion, theatre, and pop culture. His designs have been described as "magic" (The New York Times) and "worthy of a goddess" (Elle). Originally from Oregon, Austin moved to New York as a teenager to pursue his education at The Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) and Art Students League of New York. Scarlett first gained recognition for his designs on the original season of the hit TV show Project Runway, and he later became one of the youngest designers in history to be named Creative Director of a luxury gown collection. In 2010, Scarlett developed, hosted, and designed his critically acclaimed television program, On the Road with Austin and Santino, traveling across the country creating original fashions for once-in-a-lifetime occasions. This season, he again captured America's attention as a finalist on Project Runway All Stars. This fall, he will debut his signature line of couture eveningwear and wedding dresses. Scarlett has collaborated on the international stage with artists such as David Parson's Dance as seen on PBS, Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, Greenwich Music Festival, and Shen Wei Dance Arts at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.