Terry Cook as John P. Parker (top), Andrea Jones-Sojola as Miranda Parker (middle) and (L-R in the front) Nekyla Hawkins, Ariss Payne and C.J. Hughes as their children. Photo by Philip Groshong, courtesy of the Cincinnati Opera.
In the last post, we mentioned Cincinnati Opera has been active in presenting and even commissioning new works. In fact, almost every summer season has at least one slot for a new opera. But the Queen City company is also proving its commitment to new opera this fall with the world premier of Rise for Freedom: The John P. Parker Story, composed by Adolphus Hailstork with a libretto by David Gonzales. The 45-minute family opera is about Parker, one of the leading conductors of the Underground Railroad.
If you follow Lexington-area opera, you might recognize the woman in the photo, above, as Andrea Jones-Sojola, one of the University of Kentucky Opera's stars a few years back. She sings the role of Miranda, Parker's wife.
Also in the show is UK doctoral student Jeremy Cady as the slave owner Sroufe, who dares Parker to come "run away" one of his slaves. Cady just finished up the role of Pang in Kentucky Opera's Turandot.
With all these props to UK, I have to mention I'm proud to say Hailstork is a professor of music and composer-in-residence at my alma mater, Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va. He was previously commissioned to write Paul Laurence Dunar: Common Ground for the Dayton Opera in 1995.
There are six public performances of Rise for Freedom this weekend and next at the Aronoff Center in Cincinnati. Click here for showtimes and complete ticket information.
~ By the way, I did receive a few questions off last weekend's story and column about UK's production of Thomas Pasatieri's Hotel Casablanca. All went something like, "are there any melodies?" and "is it like other modern operas?" I only got to see a bit of it in rehearsal, but it is most definitely not Schoenberg, or any 12-tone or minimalist composition. In fact, there are some melodies that have been stuck in my brain since that rehearsal a week ago. It's definitely easy on the ears.
~ As we also mentioned in that column, San Francisco Opera premiered Philip Glass' new opera, Appomattox, last weekend. Some reviews are in:
The San Jose Mercury News' Richard Scheinin calls it "unrelenting and unforgiving."
The San Francisco Chronicle's Joshua Kosman says it's, "Ambitious and maddeningly inconsistent."
The New York Times' Anthony Tommasini calls it, "a missed opportunity."