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Pittsburgh Opera Presents The Grapes of Wrath

November 3, 2008

PITTSBURGH, Nov. 3 /PRNewswire/ — Pittsburgh Opera announces the world premiere of the revised version of The Grapes of Wrath, a new opera based on John Steinbeck’s novel, by Ricky Ian Gordon and Michael Korie. Both Gordon and Korie will be in Pittsburgh to supervise the production.

   What:     The Grapes of Wrath by composer Ricky Ian Gordon and librettist             Michael Korie, based on the novel by John Steinbeck. A             co-production by Pittsburgh Opera, The Minnesota Opera, Utah             Symphony & Opera, and Opera Pacific.    Where:    Benedum Center for the Performing Arts    When:     Saturday, November 15 at 8:00 PM Tuesday, November 18 at 7:00 PM             Friday, November 21 at 8:00 PM   Sunday, November 23 at 2:00 PM    Run Time: Three hours and 30 minutes including two 15-minute intermissions    Language: Sung in English with projected English texts    Tickets:  Start at $16. Call (412) 456-6666, visit             http://www.pittsburghopera.org/, or at the Theater Square box office at             665 Penn Avenue.   

More info: For an enhanced version of this release, and related events, see http://www.pittsburghopera.org/pressroom/pressroom.shtml?search=action&categor y=H000.

The Grapes of Wrath follows the Joad family as they pursue the American Dream from Oklahoma to the orchards of California. OBIE-winning composer Gordon (Orpheus and Euridice, 2005) and Tony-nominated librettist Korie (Grey Gardens, 2007) fuse the traditions of opera and Broadway with blues, Appalachian music, and echoes of Copland and Gershwin.

Pittsburgh Opera’s production reflects the substantial revisions Gordon and Korie have made to the score since the world premiere at Minnesota Opera in January 2007, including a reconfigured first act and expanded choral writing.

Richard Buckley takes the podium to lead members of the original Minnesota Opera cast, as well as former Resident Artists of Pittsburgh Opera in major roles: Craig Verm (Tom Joad), Sean Panikkar (Jim Casy), and Jason Karn (Al Joad). WQED’s Anna Singer plays Granma. New to Pittsburgh are soprano Danielle Pastin as Rosasharn (a first-year Resident Artist making her company debut), Jesse Blumberg as Connie Rivers, and Metropolitan Opera mezzo-soprano Elizabeth Bishop as Ma Joad.

The cast of 19 soloists includes three children and an ensemble of bit players who – along with the impressive chorus – portray waitresses, truck drivers, politicians, field hands, and townspeople.

The Production

As co-producer of this inspiring new opera, Pittsburgh Opera presents The Grapes of Wrath in its innovative set by opera and Broadway designer Allen Moyer (Grey Gardens on Broadway; Pittsburgh Opera productions The Elixir of Love and The Flying Dutchman). Moyer uses a vintage Ford truck and animated front and rear projections by Wendall K. Harrington to portray the different locations as the Joads travel across Route 66 to California.

Director/dramaturg Eric Simonson, the Academy Award(R)-winning film and stage director who has also acted in The Grapes of Wrath theater production, has been involved with the work from the beginning. Director/ choreographer Doug Varone, who won a 2006 OBIE award for his work on Ricky Ian Gordon’s Orpheus and Euridice, works with Simonson to create some of the most striking scenes in the opera.

   --  Gordon and Korie have found the timeless and timely essence of       Steinbeck's epic. -- LA Times   --  This is not a happy story, but its telling is nothing short of       incandescent -- Variety   --  Gordon, who first made his name in the theatre and as a composer of       Broadway-style songs, fills his score with...Gershwinesque       song-and-dance numbers, a few sweetly soaring love songs in the manner       of Jerome Kern, banjo-twanging ballads, saxed-up jazz choruses, even a       barbershop quartet. Yet, with a slyness worthy of Weill, Gordon wields       his hummable tunes to critical effect. -- The New Yorker    Principal Cast & Conductor   Conductor            Richard Buckley   Rosasharn            Danielle Pastin+*   Ma Joad              Elizabeth Bishop+   Granma               Anna Singer   Jim Casy             Sean Panikkar**   Tom Joad             Craig Verm**   Pa Joad              Peter Halverson+   Uncle John           Robert Orth   Connie Rivers        Jesse Blumberg+   Noah Joad            Andrew Wilkowske+   Granpa               Joseph Frank   Al Joad              Jason Karn**   Featured Ensemble    Anna Jablonski+     Mae, the Waitress                        Greg Pearson+                        Theodore Chletsos+                        Karin Wolverton+                        Kelly Markgraf+     The Ragged Man    Production Credits   Original Stage Director and Dramaturg    Eric Simonson+   Original Choreographer                   Doug Varone+   Production                               Co-Commissioned by The Minnesota                                            Opera and Utah Opera   Orchestration                            Ricky Ian Gordon and                                            Bruce Coughlin   Set Designer                             Allen Moyer   Costume Designer                         Karin Kopischke+   Lighting Designer                        Robert Wierzel   Video Designer                           Wendall K. Harrington+   Wig & Makeup Designer                    James Geier   Sound Designer                           Chris Evans   Chorus Master                            Mark Trawka   Asst. Stage Director/Fight Choreographer Doug Scholz-Carlson   Aerial work                              Flying by Foy    +     Pittsburgh Opera debuts   *     Pittsburgh Opera Center artists   **    Pittsburgh Opera Center alumni   

Original scenery and costumes are jointly owned by Pittsburgh Opera, The Minnesota Opera, Utah Symphony & Opera, and Opera Pacific and were constructed at The Minnesota Opera and Utah Symphony & Opera shops.

   This production is generously sponsored by Nova Chemicals.   WPXI-TV is the media sponsor of The Grapes of Wrath.   KDKA/AM is the season radio media sponsor of The Grapes of Wrath.   WDUQ-FM is the production radio sponsor of The Grapes of Wrath.   Ameriprise Financial is the national sponsor of The Grapes of Wrath.    Pittsburgh Opera's 2008-2009 season sponsors include:   BNY Mellon (Friday Night Sponsor)   PNC Foundation (Opening Night Sponsor)    Links:   Pittsburgh Opera http://www.pittsburghopera.org/   Ricky Ian Gordon http://www.rickyiangordon.com/   Collected reviews http://www.rickyiangordon.com/grapes-press.html   

Pittsburgh Opera, now celebrating its 70th season, is one of America’s leading opera companies. It produces a range of programs, from mainstage productions to free community concerts to intimate cabarets. Pittsburgh Opera’s internationally renowned resident artist program is among the country’s top five training centers for rising opera stars. More than 20,000 students, families, and educators participate in Pittsburgh Opera educational events annually. The company’s newly designed administrative and rehearsal space is housed in a 140-year-old air brake factory in the city’s Strip District.

Pittsburgh Opera

CONTACT: Beth Parker of Pittsburgh Opera, +1-412-281-0912 ext. 248,eparker@pittsburghopera.org

Web Site: http://www.pittsburghopera.org/

 




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