Rhymes with opera
digital press kit
Rhymes With Opera is a New York-based ensemble of performers and composers that expand the repertory of contemporary opera by commissioning, developing, and staging new vocal works.
Elisabeth Halliday (soprano), Bonnie Lander (soprano), Robert Maril (baritone)
Ruby Fulton, George Lam
CURRENT PROGRAM OFFERINGS
Adam’s Run, a video opera, was created by composer Ruby Fulton, librettist Baynard Wood, and filmmaker Rachel Dwiggins. The opera is a dark comedy which takes place in a dystopic future world, amidst chaotic and extreme weather, where two television show hosts vie for the most viewed program in America. Despite their ideological differences, existentialist weather woman Julie Shore and environmentalist evangelist the Reverend Billy Noble fall in love. Television producer Dana Daring tells their story from a news perspective as a series of flashbacks. With multiple screens telling stories within stories, post-Minimalist sounds of wild weather, the voices of eccentric characters, and strains of forbidden love, this video opera will challenge viewers to broaden their perspective on the definition of opera.
*Adam’s Run is a film presentation of a video opera. This screening will not include live performers.
Heartbreak Express resulted from a collaboration between composer George Lam, and librettist John Clum. Inspired in part by Tai Uhlmann’s documentary film For The Love of Dolly, the opera follows four Dolly Parton “superfans” waiting to meet their idol for the first time. Sisters Darlene and LuAnne entered an essay contest and won the chance to meet Dolly Parton in person. Darlene thinks that this encounter with Dolly will change their lives for the better, but LuAnne is not so sure. Longtime partners Don and Travis have amassed a huge collection of Dolly memorabilia. They poured their life savings into making a new Dolly doll, and came to get Dolly’s blessing to manufacture the new dolls. The opera follows the four fans as they meet in the waiting room and ends in a quintet (with Dolly’s mysterious ‘Assistant’) as they describe their life-changing encounters with the superstar.
Composer Adam Matlock and librettist Brian Slattery created Red Giant, a surreal story set in the future. Red Giant takes place in a spaceship on a journey to an unknown destination. As the sun slowly explodes and engulfs their former planet, the three humans onboard reflect on both the futility of their search for a new home and their need for a sense of hope.
“Rhymes with Opera sits on the cutting edge of innovative repertoire.”
–Matthew Sigman, Opera News, August, 2016
“… Most successful was an unpretentious gem entitled Heartbreak Express, presented Saturday (and running through November 21) by a scrappy little group called Rhymes With Opera. This odd but delightful opera is a character study of four fans of singer Dolly Parton who are waiting for an audience with the legendary lady …”
–James Jorden, New York Observer, November 18, 2015
“Alongside the frequent (and highly publicized) struggles of large opera companies, there lies a compelling trend: a growing wealth of smaller-scale opera companies that prioritize innovative productions of everything from standard repertoire to obscure gems to entirely new works. Rhymes With Opera is a perfect example of such a company. Since their founding in 2007, they have provided consistently high-quality performances of new operas, often in varying stages of development … George Lam’s score is evocative and nuanced, featuring a muted perpetual motion in the orchestra ensemble out of which individual instruments emerge to intertwine with the vocalists.”
–Michael Berg, Sybaritic Singer, November 17, 2014
“Ever heard of a sci-fi opera? Me neither. The possibility of these opposite-world genres coexisting came to life at the Barrow Street Mansion this past Sunday (1/19) thanks to the brilliant minds behind Rhymes with Opera … Overall, the story begs the question about hope and its capacity to survive against uncertainty. It’s the show’s music, however, that kept it engaging. The live seven-piece orchestra, albeit small, produced a sound that could have filled the entire block, and the score could easily be mistook for the soundtrack of an indie bohemian Star Wars.”
–Jessica Maiuro, Jersey City Independent, January 22, 2014, Review of “Red Giant”
“Rhymes With Opera, one of the coolest DIY groups in town, put together an intriguing program over the weekend … Red Giantconcerns three Earthlings heading into the deep unknown via spaceship, while their old planet is being consumed by the sun … The best moment may be when a character says of the voyagers’ fate when they find a new home: “We’ll know how to do everything better.” … Matlock’s score makes good use of minimalist pulses and patterns, with lots of lyricism holding everything together. Vocal lines, including a fair amount of sprechtstimme … emerge naturally against the subtly colored orchestration.”
–Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun, January 13, 2014