Lippa (Big Fish, The Wild Party, The Addams Family, jon & jen) penned original music and lyrics for the oratorio that premiered June 26 in San Francisco. It utilizes some of Milk's actual words for the text.
Lippa portrayed Milk, the first openly-gay man to hold public office in California, along with Tony Award winner Benanti (Gypsy, Women on the Verge) as the soprano soloist and Noah Marlowe as young Harvey Milk. They were joined by the 300-member SFGMC. Dr. Timothy Seelig conducted the oratorio that has orchestrations by August Erksmoen and accompaniment by the Bay Area Rainbow Symphony.
The live recording was mixed and mastered by multi-Grammy Award winner Leslie Ann Jones at Skywalker Ranch. I Am Harvey Milk is available now at SFGMC.org and is also available on iTunes.
The track listing follows:
"An Operatic Masterpiece"
"I Am the Bullet"
"You Are Here"
"Friday Night in the Castro"
"Was I Wrong?"
"A Decent Society"
"Sticks and Stones"
"Thank you, Mrs. Rosenblat"
"Tired of the Silence"
Noah Himmelstein, who assistant-directed the Broadway revival of Golden Boy and the new musical The Bridges of Madison County, staged the three-performance engagement. The work is a SFGMC commission.
Big Fish producer Bruce Cohen, Robb Nanus and Jessica Leventhal produce the work. I Am Harvey Milk has video and projection design by Andrew Lazarow.
According to SFGMC, "I Am Harvey Milk weaves the story of Harvey Milk's life – from boyhood to his rise as the first openly gay man to hold public office in California to his assassination. Part choral work, part theater piece, I Am Harvey Milk is an emotional celebration of an American icon."
The work will be made available for choruses to perform across the U.S. The Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles will present the oratorio in summer 2014 as part of its 35th anniversary season.