Minnesota Opera Previews William Bolcom’s ‘Dinner At Eight’ in New Yorks Feinstein 54 Below

By Francisco Salazar

On Jan. 13 the Minnesota Opera previewed the upcoming world premiere of William Bolcom’s recent opera “Dinner at Eight.”

At the Feinstein 54 Below in Manhattan, the company held a dinner for members of the New Works Forum, sponsors and donors of the company. Bolcom was present at the dinner alongside librettist Mark Campbell. During a Q & A, Bolcom joked about his influence for the working, invoking “Everybody I could think about.” Campbell added that composer Julian Grant once told him that describing his music was like “describing my lungs.” However, he did note that the music had a little bit of jazz in it as it was influenced by the music of the 1930’s.

Additionally, Bolcom commented on the opera’s relevancy as it is during the great depression and he noted “it’s close to the 2008 financial crisis we were going through and were not out of yet.”

During the dinner selections from the opera were performed featuring young artists from the Minnesota Opera. Among the selections were “Lobster in Aspic” sung by Mary Evelyn Hangley and “Our Town” featuring Jesse Blumberg and Brenda Harris. Blumberg also took the stage for the aria “You Think You’re Safe.” Meanwhile Hangley showcased two more two duets with Craig Irvin. The two presented “You ready Kitten” and “You Think you’re Safe.”

Before each piece, Campbell would provide a slight intro to contextual where each selection fit in the overall work.

“Dinner at Eight” is based on the play by George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber. Kaufman’s daughter Anne Kaufman was also present at the dinner. The opera is set to premiere on March 11 and will be performed four times through May 19. The opera stars Mary Dunleavy in the lead role of Millicent Jordan with Stephen Powell playing Oliver Jordan. Harris plays Carlotta Vance while Irvin takes on Dan Packard.

Aside from “Dinner at Eight,” the company is presenting Vicente Martín y Soler’s “Diana’s Garden,” Imant Raminsh’s “The Nightingale” and Puccini’s “La Bohème.”