As reported by Associated Press and confirmed by NY City Opera spokesperson Susan Woelzel (July 6), A.R. Gurney, Terrence McNally and Wendy Wasserstein will each contribute one-act libretti to Central Park, an operatic evening about the New York City park, scheduled for upstate NY's Glimmerglass Opera in summer 1999. Penning the scores will be up-and-coming composers Deborah Drattell, Michael Torke and Robert Beaser.
All the plays will have something to do with NY's Central Park -- an appropriate venue, since all three playwrights are Manhattan-based. Also, after the Glimmerglass staging, the show will have six performances at New York City Opera. PBS-TV's "Great Performances" will tape Central Park during its Glimmerglass run for broadcast during the `99-00 season.
McNally (paired with Beaser) should be especially comfortable with the format, since he contributed a one-act to By The Sea, By The Sea, By The Beautiful Sea (three plays that take place on a beach) and recently wrote the second act of House, a linked one-act collaboration with Jon Robin Baitz.
For her part, Wasserstein (paired with Drattell) just contributed Waiting For Philip Glass to the one-act evening Love's Fire. Her other plays include The Sisters Rosensweig and The Heidi Chronicles.
Gurney (paired with Torke) has written such plays as The Dining Room, Sylvia, Love Letters and Labor Day, currently at Manhattan Theatre Club. Central Park will be directed by Mark Lamos, with Michael Yeargan designing the set and Stewart Robertson (Glimmerglass Opera's musical director) conductiong. In a statement, NYCOP's general director Paul Kellogg said of the project, "NY City Opera has a proud history of commitment to American work and has given the first performances of several American operas which are now part of the standard repertory... Glimmerglass has also been reviving American operas in innovative productions... When "Great Performances" broadcasts the work nationally on PBS, it will reach an audience of more than six million."
Said Great Performances executive director Jac Venza, "The time is long overdue for a new opera set in New York."
-- By David Lefkowitz