With the New York Opera Fest 2018 officially underway, OperaWire will be showcasing small previews for each major participant at the festival, as we did during last year’s event. However, we are doing things a bit differently this year and giving the floor directly to each company to speak to you, the reader, directly. Enjoy!
At the core of the New York Opera Fest is the ability for unique companies to showcase their own visions about developing opera. One of these organizations is Rhymes with Opera, which has commissioned a plethora of operas since its founding in 2017. And this season, the company will do something special that should appeal to audiences of all ages.
May 11, 12, 18, & 19, 2018: Rhymes With Opera presents “Rumpelstiltskin:” 124 Bank Street Theatre, 124 Bank St, New York, NY
Tell us a bit about your company in general and what you’re all about!
Founded in 2007, Rhymes With Opera includes founding company members Ruby Fulton (composer); Elisabeth Halliday (soprano); George Lam (composer); Bonnie Lander (soprano); and Robert Maril (baritone). During the 2012-2013 season, Rhymes With Opera expanded to include a house band, the Rhymes With Orchestra, a chamber ensemble comprised of some of this generation’s most exciting contemporary instrumentalists. With the addition of the RWO Orchestra, RWO has become a self-contained contemporary opera machine, commissioning and producing works that can be performed whole-cloth by the company.
Since 2007, RWO has commissioned more than 17 new operas ranging from one-minute “signature” pieces to evening-length productions.
Tell us a bit about your production(s) and why you’re excited about them!
To celebrate its 10th Anniversary of creating and producing brand-new chamber operas, Rhymes With Opera chose one of the oldest fairy tales in western culture. The story of Rumpelstiltskin, collected by the Brothers Grimm, dates as far back as the 17th century. A mysterious creature makes a bargain with a young woman to grant her the power to turn ordinary straw into gold. In return, Rumpelstiltskin asks for her first-born child. When she refuses, Rumpelstiltskin gives her a seemingly impossible way out: “find my name, and you may keep your child…”
But this isn’t your grandma’s fairytale…..In Rhymes With Opera’s new production, themes of greed, bargaining, magic, and unconditional love combined with elaborate costumes, queer drag culture, and loud makeup transform a very old story into a new, modern opera. For this world premiere, the fantastical character of Rumpelstiltskin grapples between the two sides of their personality and will be portrayed by two singers simultaneously. In fact, this unique take on Rumpelstiltskin’s duality is very much reflected in the opera’s creative process: the music is a unique collaboration by Rhymes With Opera co-artistic directors Ruby Fulton and George Lam, with an original libretto by Chicago-based John Clum.
Tell us why you’re excited about this year’s New York Opera Festival!
The NYOA Opera Fest is such a great opportunity to see what other companies are doing in NYC that we might not have known about because of the way social media works. Plus having the chance to see short scenes from 2018 productions at the Opera Fest Kickoff Party is fantastic!
What do you feel is the biggest challenge small opera companies face?
Our biggest challenge is always matching our artistic visions to budgets. We wanna give our audiences the best possible production, and we feel we always come really close to achieving our goals, but a bigger budget with more NY funding opportunities sure wouldn’t hurt either!