Tribeca New Music Presents the World Premiere of ‘Returning; The Ordeal of Olive Oatman’

By Afton Wooten

Composer Edmund Cionek and librettist Maryanne Bertollo’s “Returning; The Ordeal of Olive Oatman,” makes its world premiere with Tribeca New Music at the National Opera Center on Oct. 2.

“Returning; The Ordeal of Olive Oatman,” is based on the true story of a Mormon girl taken captive by Native Americans, in the Southwestern USA in 1851. The opera depicts the struggles of Olive Oatman once she is returned to white society. She faces the influence of her brother and Reverend to tour America speaking of her time away, and must find her voice throughout the process.

The evening includes a concert reading of the 90-minute opera in three acts. Cionek’s score combines Western music of the period and Native American influences.

Soprano Natalie Ballenger stars in the title role with mezzo-soprano Jeanette Blakeney, baritones Markel Reed and Christopher Job, and tenor Edward Washington II. Chorus members include tenor Daniel Lopez and baritones Kyle Torrence and Charles David Carter. Gerald Steichen is the musical director and Jessica Medoff serves as stage director.