Frederica von Stade Will Star in Ricky Ian Gordon and Leonard Foglia's A Coffin in Egypt; Foglia Directs

By Andrew Gans
March 20, 2014

The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts will present the West Coast premiere of A Coffin in Egypt — a new chamber opera in one act, based on Horton Foote's play of the same name — April 23, 25 and 27 in the Bram Goldsmith Theater.



The opera was penned by composer Ricky Ian Gordon with a libretto by Leonard Foglia, who also directs.

The cast is headed by mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade with Cecilia Duarte, Carolyn Johnson, David Matranga, Adam Noble and a Gospel Chorus of Cheryl D. Clansy, Laura Elizabeth Patterson, James M. Winslow and Jawan CM Jenkins. The conductor is Timothy Myers.

"The story, rich with regional imagery of Horton Foote, the legendary Texas playwright and author," press notes state, "tells of 90-year-old grand dame Myrtle Bledsoe, who has outlived her husband, her daughters and virtually everyone else in Egypt, Texas. But in the last stage of her life, she can’t outlive the truth and an intimate afternoon conversation triggers a searing examination of the past — a haunting tale of memory and murder, racism and recrimination — in this tour-de-force written for von Stade."

“In our first season, we are pleased to collaborate with Houston Grand Opera and Opera Philadelphia, two of America’s most distinguished companies, to present A Coffin in Egypt, bringing Frederica von Stade, one of the great artists of our time, to the Bram Goldsmith Theater stage,” said Lou Moore, executive director of The Wallis, in a statement. “It also brings the deep atmosphere of renowned Texas writer Horton Foote, the music of Ricky Ian Gordon, one of this generation’s most theatrical and accomplished composers, and Leonard Foglia, a leading director of opera and Broadway theater.”

The production will also have set and costume design by Riccardo Hernández and lighting design by Brian Mason.

A Coffin in Egypt is co-produced and co-commissioned by Houston Grand Opera, Opera Philadelphia, and the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts.

Tickets, priced $99-$199, are available at www.thewallis.org or by calling (310) 746-4000 or in person at the Wallis Annenberg Center Box Office located at 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd, Beverly Hills.