Gotham Chamber Opera

Where opera gets intimate.

Keeping Operas, And His Life, In Brisk Motion

By VIVIEN SCHWEITZER

“WHAT role does the government have in the home?” the American composer Nico Muhly asked recently over tea in a Midtown cafe. “It’s a complicated and interesting question.”

Mr. Muhly, 30, whose high-profile commissions include a work for the Metropolitan Opera, said that as a gay man he is particularly interested in the government’s role in personal relationships. He explores a longstanding fascination with polygamy in his chamber opera “Dark Sisters,” a story of a polygamist family in a Mormon offshoot whose children are removed by state officials concerned about child abuse. A co-production of Gotham Chamber Opera, Music-Theater Group and the Opera Company of Philadelphia, the work, with a libretto by Stephen Karam and sets and video projections by 59 Productions, will receive its premiere on Wednesday evening at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater of John Jay College.

Mr. Muhly, an engaging, funny man whose rapid-fire speech is peppered with profanities, said he wanted to give equal voice to Eliza, the character who decides to escape, and the women who choose to remain on the compound.

“I think an oratorio is where you can make a moral judgment,” he said, “but in an opera you want to ask questions.” He believes that forcing under-age girls into marriage and “essentially facilitating statutory rape” is wrong, he quickly added, but he didn’t want “Dark Sisters” to be “an oppression pageant.”

Mr. Muhly, whose life seems to unfold at fever pitch, is also determined to ensure that “Dark Sisters” doesn’t drag. “I’m kind of obsessed with keeping things moving,” he said. “Death for me is that moment when you’re watching an opera and you’re, like, looking at your watch.”

Read the entire article on-line: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/06/arts/music/nico-muhly-composer-of-dark-sisters-and-two-boys.html?pagewanted=print

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Our Fall Newsletter features interviews and articles from the creative team, and a special messag from our Board President and our Executive Director.  An excellent way to prepare for your experience with Dark Sisters.

Staging a contemporary opera: Nico Muhly, Rebecca Taichman, and Neal Goren discuss how the staging of Dark Sisters draws inspiration from the score.

Notes from our Artistic Director: Neal Goren explains the five-year gestation process of a new American opera.

Photos from the September Preview, and more.

Opening Night is Wednesday, Nov. 9 and performances run until Nov. 19.

Download your copy of the Newsletter here.

 

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