Grapes of Wrath Opera, on Three CDs, in Stores Aug. 26; Digital Release Is Nov. 4

News   Grapes of Wrath Opera, on Three CDs, in Stores Aug. 26; Digital Release Is Nov. 4
 
PS Classics, the label dedicated to the heritage of Broadway and American popular song, makes its first leap into opera territory with the Aug. 26 release of composer Ricky Ian Gordon and librettist Michael Korie's three-act opera The Grapes of Wrath.

The opera, based on John Steinbeck's famous novel about Depression-era "Okies" heading West for opportunity, received its world premiere by The Minnesota Opera Feb. 10-18, 2007, in a production co-commissioned and co-produced by The Minnesota Opera and Utah Symphony and Opera. Gordon and Korie's adaptation, directed by Eric Simonson and conducted by Grant Gershon, "recreated the nostalgia and harsh reality of the 1930s dustbowl days, tracing the Joad family's journey from the ruin of their Oklahoma farm to the false promise of a better life in California," according to PS Classics.

The production was performed by a cast that included Brian Leerhuber, Kelly Kaduce and Deanne Meek.

The three-CD set, recorded live during the opera's world premiere performances, was produced by Grammy Award-winner Steven Epstein, whose PS Classics discs include the Broadway version of Grey Gardens, the Broadway revival of 110 in the Shade, and Victoria Clark's solo album "Fifteen Seconds of Grace."

PS Classics has previously released recordings of Gordon's Only Heaven, Dream True and My Life With Albertine, as well as two cast albums of Tony Award nominee Korie's Broadway musical Grey Gardens starring Tony winners Christine Ebersole and Mary Louise Wilson.

The Grapes recording — made possible by The Shen Family Foundation — will be sold in stores and through online retailers beginning Aug. 26 (as previously mentioned on Playbill.com), but will not be available for digital download until Nov. 4. "This is an epic work, and an astounding listening experience," PS Classics co-founder Tommy Krasker told Playbill.com. "We wanted to encourage people to experience the work in its entirety, with the benefit of a beautifully designed 96-page booklet that includes essay, synopsis, bios, full libretto and production photographs."

As previously reported, on Aug. 26, the day of The Grapes of Wrath release, excerpts from the opera will be presented by Tony Award-winner Victoria Clark (currently starring in the Roundabout Theatre Company's production of The Marriage of Bette and Boo), Elizabeth Futral, Jesse Blumberg, Kelly Markgraf, Stephen Powell, Robert Orth and Mary Phillips, in a performance and signing at the Lincoln Triangle Barnes & Noble (66th Street and Broadway in Manhattan) beginning at 5:30 PM. Korie and Gordon will host the event, which will feature Timothy Long and Gordon on piano.

The Grapes of Wrath will be produced by Pittsburgh Opera in November and Opera Pacific in January 2009.

Founded in 2000 by Tommy Krasker & Philip Chaffin, and a four-time Grammy nominee (for its cast albums of Assassins, Nine: The Musical, Grey Gardens and Company), PS Classics' recent releases include solo discs by Maureen McGovern and Kerry Butler and the original cast recordings of A Catered Affair and Adding Machine. Its upcoming releases include "Jason Danieley and The Frontier Heroes" (Sept. 16) and the next volume in its Songwriter Series, "Howard Sings Ashman" (Nov. 4). For more information, visit psclassics.com.

Cover art for <i>The Grapes of Wrath</i> album.
Cover art for The Grapes of Wrath album.
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