New York Opera Fest 2018 Preview: Don’t Miss the World Premiere of David Hertzberg’s ‘The Rose Elf’

By David Salazar

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!

David Hertzberg is one of the great composers on the rise. He’s an award-winner that is slated for a major career in the opera world, which means that his upcoming work “The Rose Elf,” is a must-see for enthusiasts of new opera. And thanks to Unison Media, that production is a major part of this year’s New York Opera Fest experience.


June 6, 8, 10: Unison Media and Green-Wood Cemetery present “The Rose Elf:” Catacombs of The Green-Wood Cemetary, 500 25th Street, Brooklyn, NY

Tell us a bit about your company in general and what you’re all about!

Unison Media does a bit of everything – whether it’s handling publicity and social media for artists like Lawrence Brownlee, Gustavo Dudamel, Amanda Majeski, On Site Opera, and many others, or building websites, or running our two concert series – we try to explore new and different ways to promote opera and classical music and to bring more beauty to a world that desperately needs it.

Our “Crypt Sessions” series, which features performances in the staggeringly beautiful Crypt Chapel under the Church of the Intercession in Harlem, has been covered by every major cultural outlet in the country and was named one of The New York Times’s “Best Classical Music Concerts of 2017.” “The Angel’s Share” series looks to build on that, kicking off with “The Rose Elf” and concluding with the world premiere of Gregg Kallor’s dramatic cantata “Sketches from Frankenstein,” as well as his acclaimed setting of Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart,” both in partnership with the amazing folks at On Site Opera.

There’s a lot of angst-ridden, hand-wringing over the death of classical music and opera, but based on the view from the Crypt and Catacombs, things look very much alive to us…

Tell us a bit about your production(s) and why you’re excited about them!

“The Rose Elf” is the first production of our new series “The Angel’s Share,” featuring intimate performances in the remarkable Catacombs of the Green-Wood Cemetery. Each concert is preceded by a whiskey tasting at sunset overlooking the New York City skyline before we descend to the catacombs at dusk. It’s an extension of our other series, “The Crypt Sessions,” which takes place in a Harlem Crypt and has featured performances by Lawrence Brownlee, John Holiday, Daniela Mack & Kevin Puts, Alyson Cambridge, Gregg Kallor, and more.

“The Rose Elf” is an extraordinary chamber opera composed by David Hertzberg, who recently won the Music Critic’s Association of North America’s “Best New Opera” Award for his piece The Wake World, which premiered as part of Opera Philadelphia’s O17 Festival last year. The piece tells a thorny, terrifying tale of two lovers torn apart by a jealous brother, while the mysterious elf of the title watches on, witnessing the tragedy and being transformed through the shared trauma of it.

With visionary director R. B. Schlather at the helm, leading a luxury cast of singers (Samantha Hankey, Alisa Jordheim, Kyle Bielfield, and Andrew Bogard) and a crack orchestra conducted by Teddy Poll, this promises to be a singular experience.

Tell us why you’re excited about this year’s New York Opera Festival!

We could not be more excited to be joining the amazing list of producers who make up the third annual New York Opera Fest! The Fest shows just how much opera is happening in NYC at any given moment, and offers a living, breathing, sprawling portrait of modern opera in all its messy, beautiful glory.

What do you feel is the biggest challenge small opera companies face?

A lack of resources and information, and access to advice and best practices when it comes to the countless moving parts of bringing an opera to life – from contracts to production to marketing and PR, there’s just so much to keep track of, and many smaller companies don’t know what they’re supposed to be doing in some of these important areas. That’s why an organization like the New York Opera Alliance is so important since it helps these smaller companies get a leg up, and gives them access to a wealth of knowledge and shared experience!