Welcome to 2014—and what a crazy weekend for contemporary American opera in NYC January 11-12 is turning out to be. Not only will the second PROTOTYPE Festival be in full swing (about which more to come), but Morningside Opera will present Here Be Sirens, a new chamber opera by composer-vocalist Kate Soper, at Dixon Place on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.
Soper, a member of the Wet Ink composers' collective, is a fascinating artist in both of her principal disciplines, and has a highly anticipated new album due soon on Carrier Records. In her opera, she's part of a strong cast that also includes Gelsey Bell and Brett Umlauf; director Rick Burkhardt (Three Pianos) handles the staging.
Meanwhile, at very nearly the same time(s) way uptown at Lehman College, the Bronx Opera Company presents the NYC premiere of The Rivals by Kirke Mechem, a comic work introduced at Milwaukee's Skylight Music Theatre in 2011. The Bronx company is an overlooked New York institution that does important and offbeat work regularly; in 2012 I covered their very fine production of Ralph Vaughan Williams's The Poisoned Kiss. As in that endeavor, Benjamin Spierman is the director for The Rivals, and his father, BOC artistic director Michael Spierman, conducts all performances except for opening night, when Eric Kramer is in charge.
I'll be attending The Rivals on Saturday night, and Here Be Sirens on Sunday afternoon. (Yes, saying so in advance is a minor's New Year's resolution, meant to cast aside an old and pointless superstition.) But anyone with plans to attend PROTOTYPE needn't miss out: Here Be Sirens will repeat at Dixon Place Jan. 30–Feb. 2, while The Rivals moves to the Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College in Manhattan for two performances on Jan. 18 and 19.