(Click second image to view full VIDEO)
Chamber opera for three sopranos, non-speaking/non-singing actor, off-stage oboe, 4-hands piano, and percussion (all players vocalize); duration 40 minutes. Click here to view the libretto.
This work was composed for Charity Sunshine Tillemann-Dick (soprano); Catherine Gardner (lyric soprano); Jondra Harmon (mezzo-soprano) in 2004-2005. They were the featured singers in the original production directed by Allison Calhoun at the Theatre Project in Baltimore, MD as part of ‘Singing Shakespeare’ - a Peabody collaboration between composers and the opera department. That collaboration was led by Roger Brunyate. It has gone on to receive many more performances/productions.
Ophelia 1 (the Mad Mermaid) - high soprano
Ophelia 2 (the Violated Saint) - mezzo-soprano
Ophelia 3 (the Faithful Seductress) - soprano
Hamlet - non-speaking / non-singing actor
Ophelia has been portrayed in theater, art, poetry, photography, film, music, and dance over the course of generations. With each generation comes a fresh analysis of her significance to Hamlet, the mystery surrounding her death, and especially her madness. Many interpretations have formed over the years and seem to coincide with an established cultural ethos regarding women of the time. Because Ophelia has served as a social mirror she has reflected the journey of the human spirit that has sought to defy polite social labels, to resist gender-based restraints, and to forge a path that embraces both love and independence. The aim for this piece is to present the multiplicity of the character, the struggle between the aspects, and the eventual resolution of the struggle.
Ophelia Forever is very much indebted to “The Myth and Madness of Ophelia”, an art exhibit spearheaded by Carol Solomon Kiefer of the Mead Art Museum in Amherst, Massachusetts. It was the printed version of this exhibit that not only pointed to non-Shakespearean sources for text but also inspired the concept of three Ophelia’s on stage at once, each representing a different aspect of her psyche, battling for control. Especially significant are the famous painting, Ophelia, 1851-52 by John Everett Millais, Gregory Crewdson’s photograph Untitled (Ophelia) 2000-1, and Linda Stark’s oil on canvas Ophelia Forever (1999).
Included here is a video of the full performance from February 9, 2014 at the Baltimore Theatre Project. (See the video for a cast list and production details. )
1. World Premiere - May 5-7, 2005 Peabody Chamber Opera, at The Baltimore Theatre Project
2. West Coast Premiere - November 13-16, 2008 San Fransisco Cabaret Opera at Chapel of the Chimes
3. Harbor Opera Company - December 7-9, 2008 Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, MD
4. New Peabody Opera Production - February 6-9, 2014, The Baltimore Theatre Project
5. other performances from 2015 forward - contact Amy for details.
Photos used with permission of J.M. Giordano and Edward S. Davis