the cell theater
November 2, 2016 at 8pm
A song cycle by Eric Salzman
“On the Beach at Night”, Walt Whitman
“A Meredith Bestiary”, William Meredith
“cummings set”, e e cummings
Jessica Fishenfeld, soprano
Scott Joiner, tenor
Eric Sedgwick, piano
a short film by Scott Joiner and Adam Taylor
Cassandra Ground Zero
a monodrama in the form of an opera
Kristin Norderval: voice, piano, computer processing
Text: Eva Salzman
Music: Eric Salzman
In the Greek legend, Cassandra has the gift of prophecy but when she refuses the advances of Apollo, he curses her; no one believes her predictions although they invariably come true. In our version, Cassandra is lounging by the side of a swimming pool on an island resort. When she complains about the heat or the threat of the immediate future, we should listen…but we won’t. We never do.
Cassandra Ground Zero was written for the Norwegian-American soprano Kristin Norderval who first performed it in 2001 at NewOp10 and the Ultima Thule Festival in Oslo, Norway, and subsequently in Vienna and Düsseldorf, Germany. Tonight’s performance is the American premiere. The work is designed so that Ms Norderval creates all her own accompaniments, partly through pre-recording and piano playing but mostly through live computer processing during the actual performance.
The first part of the evening consists of Salzman’s settings of poetry by Walt Whitman (“On the Beach at Night”), William Meredith (“A Meredith Bestiary”) and e e cummings (“cummings set”) for voice and piano, sung by soprano Jessica Fishenfeld and tenor Scott Joiner. Also featured will be a short film by Adam Taylor and Scott Joiner entitled “Connection Lost: (L’Opera di Tinder)”
Soprano Jessica Fishenfeld (Whitman and Meredith songs) has performed with the Metropolitan Opera Guild, the Palm Beach Opera, the Rainy Park Opera Company, at Carnegie/Weill Hall, at the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, Italy, with the Long Island Opera and the Music for Montauk Festival.
Scott Joiner, the composer/performer of “Connection Lost (L’Opera di Tinder)” and the soloist in the Salzman “cummings set”, is a close associate of Eric Salzman and has helped produce this program. He has appeared with CCO, American Opera Projects, the San Francisco Opera and recently made his Carnegie Hall debut in Richard Strauss’ “Friedenstag”; later this season he will perform in Victoria Bond’s “Mrs. President” at the National Opera Center. Other recent engagements include Pedrillo in Mozart’s “Entführung aus dem Serail” (St. Petersburg Opera) and the Manhattan School’s production of Conrad Susa’s “Dangerous Liasons”. He was a recent finalist in the Metropolitan Opera Regionals.
Kristin Nordeval is a performer, composer and improviser whose career has been two-fold; split between vocal performance and composition. Her performance repertoire spans the renaissance to the avant-garde, and her credits as a soprano soloist include performances with the Oslo Sinfonietta, Philip Glass Ensemble, Pomerium, the Netherlands Dance Theater, and the San Francisco Symphony. She has improvised in a wide range of styles – from free improvisations with Pauline Oliveros to jazz improvisations with composer-vibraphonist Kevin Norton – and has recorded vocal works by numerous prominent American composers, among them Eve Beglarian, David Lang, Tania Leon and Annea Lockwood. Five chamber operas have been composed specifically for Norderval, including Pope Joan, a dance-opera by Anne LeBaron, recorded on New World Records, and She Lost Her Voice That’s How We Knew – a one-woman electro-acoustic opera by Frances White.
Eric Salzman has been involved in the development of new music theater for close to a half century as a composer, writer and artistic director. His “Big Jim & the Small-time Investors” (text by Ned Jackson), about an L.A. con man and his virtual reality machine, was workshopped by CCO; excerpts will be performed by Victoria Bond on her Cutting Edge series next spring. Another recent work, “Jukebox in the Tavern of Love”, commissioned and recorded by the Western Wind (libretto by Valeria Vasilevski), has been released by Labor/Naxos. Also on this label are his “The Nude Paper Sermon”, “Civilization & Its Discontents” (with Michael Sahl), “Wiretap”, “Helix”, “Larynx Music” and “Queens Collage”. He has written extensively on new music and music-theater and is currently composer-in-residence with the Center for Contemporary Opera. Further information about his work can be found on his web site www.ericsalzman.com.
Eva Salzman’s poetry has been published by Oxford (“The English Earthquake”), Bloodaxe (“Bargain with the Watchman”), Wrecking Ball (“One Two II”) and Jones Press (“One Two”) and her work has appeared in the New Yorker, Kenyon Review, Times, Guardian, Independent, Observer, Times Literary Supplement, Poetry Review, London Magazine and in many anthologies. As a librettist she has worked with the English National Opera Studio and with composers Ian McQueen, A.L. Nicholson, Gary Carpenter, Philip Cashian and Rachel Leach as well as with her father, Eric Salzman.
Eric Sedgwick is a noted pianist, accompanist and vocal coach. He is on the staff at the Manhattan School of Music and has worked with OperaWorks, Opera Singers Initiatives, Art Song Preservation Society of New York, the Stonewall Chorale, Broadway Concerts Direct, Cutting Edge Concerts, Carnegie Hall’s Carmina Burana Project, Regina Opera and Riverfront Opera. Singers that he has worked with include Marni Nixon, Sarah Rice, Leona Mitchell, Thomas Stacy and many others; he has also collaborated with singers in Catherine Malfitano’s performance classes and he has coached and music-directed many productions, working with both singers and instrumentalists.
Adam Taylor has written and directed an extensive catalogue of short films and features and has been the recipient of more than 25 festival awards. “Connection Lost” is the first film by The Rainy Park Opera Company. Inspired directly by Eric Salzman’s achievements in the field of new music-theater and by other modern and contemporary operatic works, it is a short, ribald satire about the smartphone dating app of the same name.