Cleveland Opera Theater - New Opera Initiative
Harriet Tubman: When I crossed that line to freedom is the second production of Cleveland Opera Theater's New Opera Initiative, which features an annual production of a new or recently composed opera, and workshops and readings of other new works in development. read more
The World Premiere performance of Harriet Tubman: When I crossed that line to freedom was given by American Opera Projects First Chance and Irondale Ensemble Theatre in Brooklyn, NY., produced in association with the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council of New York, the American Opera Project, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Harriet Tubman: When I crossed that line to freedom was selected for the Cleveland Opera Theater New Works Series partially because of its connection to the Northeast Ohio community in which it will be presented; both Cleveland Opera Theater and Oberlin Conservatory of Music are situated in communities that were part of the Underground Railroad. This opera is musically accessible given its uniquely American musical and thematic roots. Furthermore, Harriet Tubman affords the rare opportunity to produce an exceptional opera based on experiences of African-Americans in the United States.
This co-production with Oberlin Conservatory Opera Theater builds on the success of the innaguaral Cleveland Opera Theater New Opera Initiative production of Clarimonde, the New Vampire Opera by Frédéric Chaslin and librettist P.H. Fisher, which was presented in during the 2014 - 2015 season in a co-production with the Cleveland Public Theatre, and in collaboration with On-Site Opera of NYC in October 2015.
The new opera Clarimonde is an adaptation of Théophile Gautier’s novella La Morte Amoureuse (1836), which predates Bram Stoker's "Dracula" by 6 years. The story is in the genre of the conte fantastique where science fiction, fantasy and magic realism merge. Clarimonde is a classic tale of the supernatural in which a young, handsome priest, Romualdo, is tempted to abandon the priesthood by the sensual vampiress Clarimonde. Romulado’s mentor, the tough and wise Bishop Serapion, guesses what is transpiring, and he wages a battle to save not only Romualdo’s physical life, but also his very soul. The cunning Vampire Maker, who took Clarimonde into his care when she was a young girl, conspires to thwart the Bishop’s interference, and to help Clarimonde in seducing Romualdo and winning his soul. Clarimonde is not a neck-biting, ghoulish creature with fangs, rather; she is an exquisite, erotic courtesan who falls in love with Romualdo. She believes that his love for her (and his pure, priestly blood) will redeem her, rescuing her from her eternal doom.
This Cleveland production of Clarimonde follows the world-premiere developmental workshop presented in a co-production between On Site Opera and The Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice in August. This is an exciting opportunity for Clevelanders to hear a new opera by an internationally recognized composer / conductor and librettist, while featuring professional artists from the Greater Cleveland area. This production will also present a rare opportunity to talk with the composer Frédéric Chaslin and librettist P.H. Fisher who will be in attendance at both performances!
In what other setting can you hear live new opera about Vampires performed by local professional artists, while sipping your favorite beverage, in costume on Halloween or All Saints Day, then interact with the creators of the work, the performers and fellow opera goers in a post production reception?
Cleveland Opera Theater founder and Executive Director, Andrea Anelli says, “Since founding the company in 2006, it has been my desire to offer an "New Opera' series to Cleveland audiences, featuring modern or new works. This concert production of Clarimonde, a piece we are excited to be bringing directly from it's premiere with On Site Opera (from New York City) at the Phonetia Festival, initiates the debut of this series. The New Opera Initiative will feature a new or recently composed work of opera theater, which will be produced each season during the fall realizing our company's commitment to honoring past traditions while nurturing contemporary approaches to opera, thus preserving, as well as creating, a legacy.”
While many have claimed, “opera is dead,” Cleveland Opera Theater claims that opera theater that is very much alive, thriving, and developing as an art form. With this production in particular, [which centers on the beautiful vampiress Clarimonde] we hope audiences will discover that opera is indeed "un-dead!"