The Whirlwind 24-Hour Opera Project®

The 24-Hour Opera Project® (24HOP), held earlier this month as part of National Opera Week, is an opera experience like no other for both participants and audience. Imagine writing, composing, rehearsing and performing a brand new opera in just 24 hours collaborating with people you have probably never met.  You can read what Cory Lippiello, the Opera’s new director of artistic planning and community engagement has to say about the Project here

The latest 24HOP, with the limited hours of creation and rehearsal happening at First Presbyterian Church, had its own drama, as seems appropriate.  A last-minute cancellation left only three lyricists to match with four composers.  So, in a random selection, one lyricist was lucky enough to have her libretto set to music by two different composers.

The work of the composer-librettist teams yielded two versions of an opera called The Lifespan of a Fly, another opera named 3D’s Dance Hall, and one entitled Grace Out of Place.  These operas were composed around the theme of “adopting a new identity,” which was drawn from ideas the artists themselves submitted at the Friday kick-off. As secondary inspiration, the teams blindly selected props ranging from a king’s crown to a feather duster, a giant plastic fly and other seemingly arbitrary stage utensils including a clown’s red nose and a bull whip.

In the wee hours of Saturday morning, the new operas were turned over to the director-singer teams to bring the works to life on stage. After a grueling, yet energizing day, the new pieces had their world premieres on Saturday evening before an appreciative and engaged audience at the 14th Street Playhouse, a new, larger venue for the Project.

The judges – the Opera’s Cory Lippiello, Jamila Robinson from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and Lyndsay Werking from OPERA America – selected The Lifespan of a Fly as their top pick.  The audience found 3D’s Dance Hall to be their choice.

Here’s the evening in pictures and sound.

Bert Huffmann, the Opera’s director of development, was emcee for the 24HOP showcase.

(Above and below)  GRACE OUT OF PLACE — music by Natalie Williams, libretto by Lauren McCall.  Performed by Elizabeth Stuk, Megan Brunning, and Pedro Carreras.  Directed by Kristin Kenning.  Their inspiration props were a clown nose and a feather duster.

(Above and below) Judge’s ChoiceTHE LIFESPAN OF A FLY #1— music by Ronnie Reshef, libretto by Vynnie Meli.  Performed by Sondra Collins, William Green, and Ivan Segovia.  Directed by Mira Hirsch.  The inspiration props were a crown, a giant plastic fly, and a book.

(Above and below)  THE LIFESPAN OF A FLY #2 — music by Gustav Westin, libretto by Vynnie Meli.  Performed by Laurie Tossing, Gus Godbee, and Kristin Moye.  Directed by Rebecca Bowden.  The inspiration props were a crown, a book, and a giant plastic fly.

(Above and below) Audience Favorite — 3D’s DANCE HALL — music by Marvin Carlton, libretto by Madeleine St. Romain.  Performed by Jayme Alilaw, Abigail Halon, and Jonathan Spuhler.  Directed by Dawn Neely.  The inspiration props were a bull whip and a meerschaum pipe.

The audience’s favorite team.

The judge’s winning team and their trophies.

Listen here to Georgia Public Broadcasting’s coverage of 24HOP

Watch the videos:

Grace Out of Place
The Lifespan of a Fly #1
The Lifespan of a Fly #2
3D’s Dance Hall

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