Chicago Opera Theater to Present ‘The Weight of Light’

By Francisco Salazar

The Chicago Opera Theater continues its 50th Anniversary season with the concert premiere of the fifth full-length opera produced through COT’s industry leading Vanguard Initiative.

“The Weight Of Lightis Gillian Rae Perry’s first opera that was developed over the course of her two years as a COT Vanguard composer and audiences will have the opportunity to see the culmination of this process at the concert premiere. The opera will be presented at the Epiphany Center for the Arts on April 27.

The day of the performance, Vanguard Initiative Director Lidiya Yankovskaya will lead a conversation about the work with Perry and librettist Marcus Amaker.

The company also announced that the newest composer joining its Vanguard initiative, Aaron Israel Levin. Levin will begin the two-year program at the start of the 2024-25 season and will complete his tenure with the concert premiere of his Vanguard opera in Spring 2026. Levin is currently completing a Doctor of Musical Arts at the Yale School of Music and his music has been performed and commissioned by the Aizuri Quartet, Bent Frequency Duo, the Chelsea Symphony, Fifth House Ensemble, the Historical Keyboard Society of North America, and mezzo-sopranos Kayleigh Butcher and Lisa Neher.

In a statement, Yankovskaya said, “Since its inception in 2018, the Vanguard Initiative has provided vital support to essential compositional voices from a wide range of backgrounds. This innovative, artist-driven program immerses participants in all facets of opera as an art form, with individualized opportunities that thoroughly prepare some of the most inspiring composers writing today to create the future of opera. With ‘The Weight of Light,’we celebrate the creation of the 5th Vanguard Opera, while also welcoming our latest (7th) Vanguard Composer into the program.”