Seattle Opera Commissions First New Work in 25 Years

Classic Arts News   Seattle Opera Commissions First New Work in 25 Years
The Seattle Opera's first commissioned work in two decades, Daron Hagen's Amelia, will receive its premiere in May 2010, the company announced today.

Amelia, to be directed by Stephen Wadsworth, has a libretto by American poet and writer Gardner McFall, based on a story by Wadsworth that uses "the theme of flight as a motif for exploring the human condition." The Pilot's Daughter, a collection of poems by McFall, concerns such issues as the Vietnam War and loss.

The Seattle Times points out that, contrary to what the title might imply, the opera is not about the famous aviatrix Amelia Earhart.

Set between 1966 and 1996, the opera will address man's fascination with flight in exploration, adventure and war. The title character, Amelia, traumatized in childhood by the loss of her Navy pilot father in Vietnam, is expecting her first child. The story line uses the idea of flight as a tool to connect different generations and cultures.

Hagen's concert music has been performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic. His previous operas include Shining Brow, Vera of Las Vegas (with a title role created on stage by the Juilliard-trained drag queen Princess Shequida Ryzell de la Nuit), Bandanna, Broken Pieces and The Antient Concert.

Wadsworth has staged many productions at Seattle Opera, including its current Ring cycle, Janácek's Jenufa, Gluck's Orphée et Eurydice, Handel's Xerxes and Wagner's Lohengrin. He will direct Wagner's Flying Dutchman in Seattle this coming August and the Seattle/Metropolitan Opera co-production of Gluck's Iphig_nie en Tauride next fall.

The first workshops for Amelia will be held this December in New York, with another tentatively scheduled for Seattle in the summer of 2008.

The Seattle Times quotes general director Speight Jenkins as saying that the company has "long intended to undertake" the commission of a new opera and that the theme of flight is "so close to the heart of Seattle." The city was the site of the first commercial plane flight; Boeing had it corporate headquarters there until 2001 and continues to build its commercial jets there.

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