Gotham Chamber Opera

Where opera gets intimate.

In early 2012, Limor Tomer, the concerts and lectures manager for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, called me to the museum to brainstorm.  What form, she wondered, might a Gotham Chamber Opera collaboration with the Met take? During a visit to the stunning Bloomberg Arms and Armor Court, I was struck by the idea that Monteverdi’s Combattimento — a 20-minute mini-opera about the battle between armored knights — would be right at home there. The challenge would be to find an ideal pairing for it. And as long as we were at the Met, with its vast holdings and opportunities, why not choose another space as well? 

 

This seemed like a perfect opportunity to commission a companion piece from the brilliant young Lembit Beecher. During the course of Beecher’s tenure as our composer-in-residence — a position shared with our partners at Opera Philadelphia and the Music-Theater Group — his highly emotional and accessible compositions proved to be a hit at our Le Poisson Rouge concerts. The result is I Have No Stories to Tell You, performed in the Met’s glorious Medieval Sculpture Hall.

 

On a musical level, Beecher’s opera shares (and slightly augments) the instrumental and vocal forces of the Monteverdi, including the use of early instruments. Textually, they both depict war as a catalyst for an altered sense of self, exploring common themes of identity, gender, and a sense of belonging. We hope that through these similarities (and differences) they will speak to each other across the span of 400 years, as do the artworks they are performed among.

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