Felix Jarrar and Thomas Barrett Blakeley’s Chamber Opera ‘Washington Square’ Releases on Apple Podcasts

By Chris Ruel

Composer/pianist Felix Jarrar and lyricist/librettist Thomas Barrett Blakeley have announced the digital release of Act one of “Washington Square” exclusively on Apple Podcasts. Act two of the opera will be available later in 2021.

The chamber opera, based on Henry James’ novel of the same title, is Jarrar’s tenth operatic work and a first for Blakeley. The libretto relates the story of a naïve heiress and her overbearing father, who believes her handsome suitor wants something more than love; he wants his daughter’s money.

Soprano Kirsten C. Kunkle stars as Catherine Sloper alongside tenor Gabriel Hernandez as Sloper’s love interest, Morris Townsend. Baritone Miguel Angel Vasquez sings the role of the father, Dr. Austin Sloper, and mezzo-soprano Nicholle Bittlingmeyer, that of Aunt Lavinia Sloper.

Accompanying the vocalists is Jarrar at the piano and Adam von Housen on the violin. Allais Media virtually mastered the audio.

Jarrar, a prolific young composer who continues to shape contemporary art song and opera, has written nearly 190 works that, in addition to his operas and art songs, include string quartets, cantatas, and an oratorio. The composer currently serves as a vocal coach at Mannes College and as assistant music director for Vermont-based Barn Opera. His works have been performed at Symphony Space, (le) poisson rouge, Feinstein’s/54 below, the BAM! Fisher Hillman Studio, Roulette Intermedium, and Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall.

Librettist Blakeley has penned numerous stage plays and musicals. His works have been performed at Playwrights Horizons, Theater for the New City, the Dream Up Festival, and the Broadwater Theatre in Hollywood. As a freelance writer, Blakeley has written about the art of screenwriting for WeScreenplay and InkTip Magazine.