Ricky Ian Gordon, composer of My Life With Albertine and Dream True, will see the New York debut of his new musical 27, about the relationship between writers Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas in early 20th century Paris.
With a libretto by Royce Vavrek, the musical will premiere October 20 and 21 at New York City Center, under the auspcies of MasterVoices (formerly the Collegiate Chorale), which is hosting the show as the opening presentation of its 75th season.
The production stars Stephanie Blythe, Heidi Stober, Theo Lebow, Tobias Greenhalgh and Daniel Brevik, with Ted Sperling conducting and James Robinson directing. Music will be provided by the Orchestra of St. Luke’s.
According to production notes, 27 explores the relationship between Stein and Toklas, who hosted regular salon evenings at their Paris home at 27 Rue de Fleurus, with such guests as Pablo Picasso, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Man Ray, Henri Matisse and Ernest Hemingway. Originally commissioned by Opera Theater of St. Louis, 27 received its world premiere in June 2014.
For the New York premiere Gordon has expanded portions of the opera originally sung by a small male ensemble and re-scored them for the full MasterVoices chorus.
“It’s with great excitement that MasterVoices brings 27 to City Center for its New York Premiere,” said Sperling, MasterVoices’ artistic director. “MasterVoices has had a long association with Ricky Ian Gordon, presenting the lauded New York Premiere of The Grapes of Wrath in 2010, and is building a new relationship with librettist Royce Vavrek, whose Naamah’s Ark we will premiere this June. We at MasterVoices are committed to bringing worthy works to the New York audience that would otherwise go unheard, and 27 is perfectly suited both to our mission and to the new series we’ve initiated this season at New York City Center.
“We’re delighted to be welcoming back the singular Stephanie Blythe as Gertrude Stein, and to be working with the radiant Heidi Stober (Alice B. Toklas) for the first time. 27 is more than a celebration of the influence that Gertrude Stein had on her contemporary artist friends; it’s also an expression of the love and devotion Alice B. Toklas felt towards Gertrude, and her desire to be recognized as her wife in an era where that was not possible. It could not be a better time to remind ourselves of the timelessness of this struggle, as we wrestle with what it means for us today.”
For more information on the rest of the MasterVoices season, or to order tickets, visit Mastervoices.org.