RIP Umrzeć w Atenach (2008-2013)

This is going to be a wrap-up post for the UwA 2013 reading, and a place in which I hope to reflect on the end of this production; but for now, here is a picture, taken by photographer Rami Shaya, of the choir teaching choruses to the audience in the gallery before the reading.


There are more photos which I will share once I get them uploaded.




This Wednesday–TO DIE IN ATHENS


TO DIE IN ATHENS in Dotknij Teatru

On Wednesday, March 27th, at 18.00, the International Day of TheaterTheatre, as part of the Dotknij Teatru (Touch Theater) festival in Łódź, we will present another reading–the most fully realized so far–of the superspektakl TO DIE IN ATHENS, at Fabryka Sztuki, with Teatr Chorea.

And for the first time in the life of TDIA/UwA, there will be dancers–from two Łódź-based dance groups, KIJO, a contact-improvisation troupe, and BRZYDAL, which started performing after its members met during Chorea’s 2011 Oratorium production.

(Photos by Aneta Lukas from a December 2012 work showing at Fabryka Sztuki.)



Dzień: 27.03.2013 r.
Godzina: 18:00
Czas trwania: 2 godz. (2 hours long )
Miejsce: Fabryka Sztuki w Łodzi
Adres: ul. Tymienieckiego 3
Wstęp: bezpłatny (free admission)

Ilość miejsc: Liczba miejsc ograniczona. Konieczna wcześniejsza rezerwacja.
Rezerwacja: zapisy chorea.warsztaty@gmail.com lub pod nr tel.: 48 506 103 208

(The number of seats available for this performance is extremely limited; it is absolutely necessary to email chorea.warsztaty@gmail.com or else call 48 506 103 208 to make a reservation.)

Some links:
Teatr Chorea’s event listing
Dotknij Teatru’s event listing
Facebook event
Interview for LiteRacje


Chór Parallel Octave z Baltimore i Wielki Chór Młodej Chorei z Łodzi zapraszają do pokazu nowego projektu w Łodzi: czytania spektaklu, po polsku i po angielsku, będącego adaptacją starogreckich komedii i dramatów.
The Parallel Octave Chorus, from Baltimore, and the Great Choir of Young Chorea, from Łódź, invite you to a showing of a new project in Łódź: a reading of a play, in Polish and English, adapted from the ancient Greek comedies and dramas.

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“A Game of Hearts” in Cincinnati, May 3 and 4

North American New Opera Works has announced casting and dates for “A Game of Hearts” in Cincinnati this May. They will be presenting our short opera in tandem with Samuel Barber’s “A Hand of Bridge,” in the spirit of putting all of the short operas about card games together in the same place. Now if I could just get some traction on that “A Five-Hour-Long Game Of Civilization“…but that might skew the length of the evening.

Our cast for “A Game of Hearts” includes:

Esther Kang, soprano, playing the role of Harriet Oshiro
Abigail Santos Villalobos, soprano, playing the role of Jean Bierbaum
Samantha Stinson, soprano, playing the Role of Sylvia Bierbaum Holtz
Dashiell Waterbury, tenor, playing the role of Dr. Steve Vergara
Michael Young, baritone, playing the role of Jerry Rosenberg.

As usual, our Musical Director maestro Tyler Catlin will conduct for us and our Piano Maven Liz Remizowski is to be backed by a full piano quartet this time. Performances will be May 3rd at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Terrace Park and on May 4th at the Clifton Cultural Arts Center in Clifton.

There’s more information on the performances here on the NaNoWorks website.

This also seems like a good place to mention that “A Game of Hearts” will be at the Opera America showcase in New York in 2014. Details very TBA on that, but the blog will know as soon as I do. Perhaps even sooner.


February Rehearsanalia

This February, the snow has melted, and Łódź has been full of rehearsals. A busy month. Many of the other Fulbrighters, especially those who work on a university schedule, have traveled out of town recently. I’ve been here and at the theater.

The first meetings for the next round of UMRZEĆ W ATENACH//TO DIE IN ATHENS started up again on February 4th. This time, I’ve been holding separate meetings for the High and Low Choruses, as well as working with elementary and high school students in their schools. This means that, as opposed to the usual light Parallel Octave model of meeting only once a week, which I have gotten very used to since 2009, I am in rehearsal for this project at least three, and more like four to five, days a week until it happens. It’s been awhile since I’ve done this.

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Kraków play–first reading

On January 20, 2012, in cooperation with the Kraków Jewish Community Center and visiting singers from Teatr Chorea, we presented a community-based reading of a script based on interviews with members of Kraków’s Jewish community. The script was called “W Tym Mieście” (In This City).

The choir singing, up on the 3rd floor of the JCC, as part of the reading.

The choir singing, up on the 3rd floor of the JCC, as part of the reading.

A more detailed blog post, on the process leading up to the first reading, is here on The Fifth Wall.

I’ve since returned to Kraków for more interviews, and to expand the text; a revised version of the script will be presented this summer at Kraków’s Jewish Culture Festival. Details TBA.


blast-beruffled plume

In the spirit of end-of-year spring-cleaning, and general updates, once 2012 has worn into 2013, I will be back in Poland from January till June, based in the wonderful world of Łódź, studying Teatr Chorea and the Greek chorus in Polish theater on the second half of the second year of this Fulbright grant. Here’s a view of Łódź’s ul. Piotrkowska:


Details, subject to change: In January, I will be working on a new community-based, interview-based script called “W Tym Mieście//In This Place,” with the Kraków Jewish Community Center; in Feb-March, another version of “Umrzeć w Atenach//To Die In Athens”; and in April/May, a script about mysterious grandparents called “End of the Line,” in cooperation with the Central Contemporary Eastern European Theatre Initiative. Throughout, I will also be very avidly observing Teatr Chorea’s ongoing actions, including a new choral adaptation of the myth of Gilgamesh, to premiere with the Łódź Philharmonic in April.

Do teatru! (To the theater!) The entrance to Fabryka Sztuki, the Factory of Art, where Chorea is resident:


The hallway that leads to Teatr Chorea’s rehearsal rooms and offices:


If that seems like a lot, it is, but you wouldn’t want to have six months in Poland without doing a lot of theater. Neither would you want to verge upon the New Year without reading Thomas Hardy’s wondrously gloomy The Darkling Thrush, and thinking about the Century–or the Year–‘s “corpse outleant.”

The land’s sharp features seemed to be
The Century’s corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
The wind his death-lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
Seemed fervourless as I.

You can and should read the whole thing here. You also can and should, I hope, have the happiest of New Years possible.


“Umrzeć w Atenach” w Łodzi pokaz (showing) round-up post

On December 2nd, 2012, in the Fabryka Sztuki (Factory of Art) in Łódź, in cooperation with Teatr Chorea, I and the disembodied Parallel Octave Chorus, and the very-much-embodied Wielki Chór Młodej Chorei (Great Choir of Young Chorea) presented another showing of To Die In Athens: Poland Edition, otherwise known as UMRZEĆ W ATENACH–all in Polish, for the first time. All photos below by Aneta Lukas.


The cast included performers from Warsaw, Łódź, Kraków and Lublin; the chorus included high school students, parents, actors, Fulbrighters, international residents living in Poland, and members of the Łódź community.


In the next picture, the Leaders of the High and Low Choruses attempt to pretend the Antigones of the Antigone Chorus from addressing the citizens of Athens.


More pictures:
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Game of Hearts round-up post

The 20-minute opera “A Game of Hearts,” with music by Douglas Pew and words by yours truly, premiered on November 19th at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater as part of the first American Opera Initiative of the WNO/KC.

The cast of "Game of Hearts" onstage during the reading.

The cast of “Game of Hearts” onstage during the reading.


1) Washington Post

“A Game of Hearts” shows both composer and librettist experimenting with perhaps the greatest technical device of opera: the use of music to elaborate simultaneously different emotions. The ladies in this card game are by turns garrulous, sniping and sentimental. Pew and Weinberg came close to successfully carrying off this most difficult fusion of material, and built to a touching set of verses that had the romantic, French-inflected power of an art song by Gabriel Faure or Cesar Franck.

More reviews and pictures:
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