On Behalf of a Madman

When footage from a West Wing staff party is leaked to a major news channel, the president is on the warpath looking for a culprit. Staffers scheme and second-guess each other amidst the misleading headlines, and politicians exploit the turmoil for their own ends. Sound familiar? Mozart, Haydn, Rossini, and Donizetti would have thought so. This brand-new opera, woven together from 18th and 19th century plots with new dialogue, will make you see today’s politics from a totally new vantage point. Directed by Julia Mintzer with an original script by Charles Ogilvie, On Behalf of a Madman will feature Classical and Romantic arias arranged for Harmonie band by Grand Harmonie co-founder Yoni Kahn, conducted by Geoffrey McDonald. Caution: this production contains strong language, but no worse than the average White House cabinet meeting!

Arts at the Armory
191 Highland Avenue, Somerville, MA  – map
United States

| 7:30 PM – 9:30 PM
Google Calendar, ICS
| 7:30 PM – 9:30 PM
Google Calendar, ICS

Geoffrey McDonald (conductor)

Geoffrey McDonald (conductor)

Geoffrey McDonald is lauded as a vibrant and versatile conductor, a “promising and confident” talent (The Philadelphia Inquirer) already joining the ranks at the forefront of an evolving American opera scene. The New York Times describes him as “an agile conductor…whose pacing is sure in both reflective and restless passages”, and the Observer has noted his “original and flexible musical imagination” in productions ranging from baroque to contemporary opera, in traditional venues as well as ambitious site-specific performances.

In 2017 and 2018, McDonald makes company debuts leading productions at Opera Philadelphia, Atlanta Opera, Wolf Trap, Opera Omaha, Chicago Opera Theater, and the Caramoor Festival. As Music Director of New York City’s On Site Opera, he continues to marshal performances of the highest musical standard while adapting to immersive and logistically challenging settings. As the Observer put it in the spring of 2015: “Geoffrey McDonald repeated the miracle of nuanced coordination [in On Site Opera’s Barber of Seville] between orchestra and singers he recently accomplished with Orlando downtown.” Of other recent On Site Opera performances, The New York Times noted, “Geoffrey McDonald, drew stylish, nimble playing”, elsewhere admiring his “grace and verve”, while Opera News has praised his “sensitivity and control.”

Highlights from recent seasons include appearances as guest conductor with The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, collaborations with the International Contemporary Ensemble, and with the historical instrument ensemble Grand Harmonie. In the spring of 2017, McDonald made his German theater debut with Theater und Orchester Neubrandenburg/Neustrelitz, and led the West Bohemian Symphony Orchestra in Prague in a performance of Smetana’s Ma Vlast. He is a regular workshop and assistant conductor with Opera Philadelphia, having participated in the development of new operas by Nico Muhly, Missy Mazzoli, Daniel Schnyder, and Kevin Puts. He has also conducted for American Opera Projects in the production of Gregory Spears’s Wolf-in-Skins, and their workshop presentation of Tarik O’Regan’s Heart of Darkness. In the summer of 2017 he led performances of Alcina from the harpsichord at Red River Lyric Opera in Texas.

In past seasons, McDonald conducted the Gotham Chamber Opera, American Symphony Orchestra and Bard Festival Players, and has collaborated regularly with innovative stage director R.B. Schlather on Händel’s operas OrlandoAlcinaAriodante, and Semele. In addition to his active freelance career, he has already established an impressive record as an engaging conductor-educator, serving as Music Director of the Longy Conservatory Orchestra in Cambridge, Massachusetts (2013-2015); the Bard College Orchestra (2011-15); the Philadelphia Young Artists Orchestra (2010-13); and the Columbia University Bach Society (2009-12).

McDonald earned his masters in orchestral conducting at Mannes College of Music, where he was the recipient of the Alma Askin Scholarship, the Felix Salzer Techniques of Music Award, and the Mannes Theory Essay Prize. Upon earning his bachelors degree (Summa Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa) from Princeton University in musicology, he was awarded the inaugural Edward T. Cone Memorial Prize for excellence in combining music scholarship and performance. He studied piano, cello, and voice, and is a sought-after vocal coach, working with accomplished singers who appear on the world’s top stages.

Julia Mintzer (stage director)

Julia Mintzer (stage director)

Winner of the National Opera Association’s JoElyn Wakefield-Wright Directing Fellowship, Julia Mintzer’s recent all-female La Bohème for Metrowest Opera was lauded by The Theater Times as “a highly energetic, fascinating production.”

Julia directed the first full staging of Beethoven’s Fidelio with historical instruments in the United States, produced by period orchestra Grand Harmonie and Princeton University, and listed as one of Opera News’s “Noteworthy and Now.” She joined the Helsinki Festival to direct Sissy is to Bassarid, an original piece for their Music Theater Creation Lab, and this summer she assistant directs Rigoletto at Charlottesville Opera (dir. Albert Sherman.)

Her production of La Cenerentola for Bel Cantanti Opera was acclaimed as “wildly funny…This production is just the sort of thing that keeps opera alive and relevant.” (BrightestYoungThings.com) Her Dido and Aeneas for Hubbard Hall Opera was also commended by reviewers for its “striking ideas” (The Berkshire Review) and its final tableau, described as “a knife in the heart — a wonderfully dark gesture.” (The Daily Gazette.) Other credits include Alcina for Satori Opera, Il Tabarro for Garden State Opera, The Old Maid and the Thief for Hubbard Hall Opera, and L’elisir d’amore for Bel Cantanti Opera. Also in the world of historical performance, she staged Schutz’s Weihnachtshistorie with The Weckmann Project and Musica Nuova.

Ms. Mintzer’s interactive theater piece Pizza Parlance, in collaboration with artist Charles Ogilvie, was listed in Nombre Art Magazine’s “5 Must-Sees of Venice Biennale” and their performance piece Chacun a son gout was presented at STORE Contemporary in Dresden, Germany. She staged an original performance piece “Well I want it in writing, the smallest event and the secretest agency” at Cornell University’s Society for Humanities. She has been sponsored by the European Network of Opera Academies to direct excerpts from Il barbiere di Siviglia in a workshop at the Opera Academy of Verona.

Julia has led seminars on the integration of technique and interpretation at the University of Cologne’s Institute for Art and Art Theory, has been a guest speaker at Europa-Universität Flensburg, taught masterclasses at the Bel Canto Summer Program in Munich, and will guest teach at New England Conservatory Preparatory Division this spring. She has directed scenes programs for the University of Dayton Early Music Ensemble, Opera for Humanity, and the Tanglewood Institute, where she was on faculty for the Young Artists Vocal Program for two years.  She is a graduate of The Juilliard School with additional studies at Columbia University.

www.juliamintzer.com

Charles Ogilvie (book, set design)

Charles Ogilvie (book, set design)

Charles Ogilvie has made projects in sculpture and art film at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Gloucester Cathedral, The Max Planck Institute (Dresden), the Ashmolean Museum, and the Museum of the History of Science in Oxford. His work has been shown by the Saatchi Gallery and has been shortlisted for the New Sensations and Red Mansion prizes. His opera design debut in 2015 was L’Elisir d’amore for Bel Cantanti Opera, where he created digital animations and treated and re-edited archive film, to create a 1930s movie theatre setting. Charles was selected by the European Network of Opera Academies for a cartooning workshop on Il barbiere di Siviglia at the Opera Academy of Verona, and created a stop-motion animation short for I want it in writing…at Cornell University’s Society for the Humanities. Charles has produced performance art works for the 2015 Venice Biennale (listed in Nombre Art Magazine’s “5 Must-Sees of Venice Biennale” and reprised at the NWR-Forum Dusseldorf,) STORE Contemporary (Dresden) and Rambert Dance Company in London. He graduated with distinction from the Royal College of Art in Sculpture, and with first class honors from Oxford University, from which he also holds a PhD. He recently both designed and co-authored a new translation for Metrowest Opera’s all-female La Boheme. His is completing the libretto for Bread and Circuses, a new opera composed by Liam Wade exploring political rhetoric and the cultural crisis of white working class America through the lens of professional wrestling. Bread and Circuses, as well as the book for On Behalf of a Madman, were created with the support of a Bogliasco Foundation Fellowship.

http://www.charlesogilvie.co.uk/

Yoni Kahn (arranger)

Yoni Kahn (arranger)

A founding member of Grand Harmonie, Yoni Kahn is pursuing a double life as a musician and theoretical physicist. With degrees in math, physics, horn performance, and music composition from Northwestern University, and a Ph.D. in physics from MIT, Kahn is currently a postdoctoral researcher at Princeton University studying dark matter. Simultaneously, his career as a historical horn specialist includes performances with the nation’s top period instrument ensembles, including the Handel & Haydn Society, Trinity Baroque Orchestra, Tempesta di Mare, Bach Society Houston, Yale Schola Cantorum, and Clarion Music Society. His arrangements and reconstructions of period wind music have been premiered by Grand Harmonie, including the original nonet instrumentation of Brahms’s Serenade no. 1 and a Harmonie band arrangement of Mozart’s La Finta Giardiniera, both created collaboratively with Thomas Carroll.

David Kravitz (President)

David Kravitz (President)

Hailed as “a charismatic baritone” by the New York Times, “magnificently stentorian and resonant” by Opera News, and “a first-rate actor” by Opera (UK), David Kravitz’s recent opera engagements include lead roles at Washington National Opera (Davis Miller in the world premiere of Approaching Ali), Chautauqua Opera (Captain Balstrode in Peter Grimes), Skylight Music Theatre (Scarpia in Tosca), Opera Santa Barbara (The Forester in The Cunning Little Vixen), Grand Harmonie (Don Pizarro in Fidelio), Opera Saratoga (Don Magnifico in La Cenerentola), Ash Lawn Opera (Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof), Boston Lyric Opera (Abraham in Clemency), Emmanuel Music (Nick Shadow in The Rake’s Progress and Nick Carraway in The Great Gatsby), and the New England Philharmonic (Wozzeck in Wozzeck).  He recently created the lead role of De Sade in Nicola Moro’s Love Hurts at the Piccolo Teatro in Milan, Italy.

His many concert appearances include the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Baltimore Symphony, the Virginia Symphony, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Boston Baroque, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, and Emmanuel Music, under conductors such as James Levine, Bernard Haitink, and Charles Dutoit.  This season he returns to the Boston Symphony for The Damnation of Faust under Charles Dutoit and for Tristan und Isolde under Andris Nelsons, to Odyssey Opera for Dunois in Tchaikovsky’s The Maid of Orleans, to the Boston Chamber Music Festival for Schoenberg’s Ode to Napoleon, and to Emmanuel Music for Creon and the Messenger in Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex.  An exceptionally versatile artist, Mr. Kravitz’s repertoire ranges from Bach to Verdi to Sondheim to cutting-edge contemporary composers such as Matthew Aucoin, Mohammed Fairouz, Paul Moravec, and Elena Ruehr.  Mr. Kravitz has recorded for the Naxos, BIS, Sono Luminus, Koch International Classics, BMOP/sound, Albany Records, and New World labels.  His distinguished legal career has included clerkships with the Hon. Sandra Day O’Connor and the Hon. Stephen Breyer.

Patrick Cook (Press Secretary)

Patrick Cook (Press Secretary)

Patrick Cook is earning praise for his performances across the country in venues including The Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall. Recent operatic performances include Peter Quint in The Turn of the Screw, Bacchus in Ariadne auf Naxos, Governor in Candide, Florestan in Fidelio, and the title role in Idomeneo, with companies including Annapolis Opera, Bard Summerscape, DC Public Opera, Grand Harmonie, Maryland Lyric Opera, Washington Concert Opera, Washington National Opera, and Wolf Trap Opera. Cook appeared as a concert soloist in performances with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, American Symphony Orchestra, Berkshire Bach Society, Metropolitan Philharmonic, New Dominion Chorale, Handel Choir of Baltimore, The Washington Chorus, and the DC Wagner Society.

A champion of new works, Cook created the role of Dr. Henry Fairfield Osborn in On Site Opera’s world premiere of John Musto’s Rhoda and the Fossil Hunt at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City earning praise for his “ample enthusiasm and power.” He debuted at Carnegie Hall as part of Osvaldo Golijov and Dawn Upshaw’s Composing Song Workshop. In 2011, Cook performed for President Obama’s Town Hall meeting in College Park, MD. Cook is a 2011 and 2010 DC District Winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. He can be heard as Bois-Rosé on the American Symphony Orchestra’s recording of Meyerbeer’s Les Huguenots. A graduate of the Baltimore School for the Arts, Cook holds advanced degrees from the University of Maryland College Park, Bard Conservatory, and The Juilliard School.

www.PatrickCookTenor.com

Paul An (Senate Majority Leader)

Paul An (Senate Majority Leader)

Paul An has performed over sixty operatic and oratorio roles with many companies and venues including NY Philharmonic, Carnegie Hall, London Symphony Orchestra, Nashville Opera, Orlando Opera, National Symphony Orchestra, Tulsa Symphony among many others. From Puccini to Bach, Renaissance to contemporary, Paul An’s bass voice has been critically acclaimed across all genres of classical vocal music. As an ensemble singer, he performs with the Metropolitan Opera as well as a full-resident of the Choir of Trinity Wall Street Church. These ensembles have been nominated and awarded the Grammy Awards during his residency. He is a graduate of The Juilliard School and Rutgers University.

Dana Varga (News Anchor)

Dana Varga (News Anchor)

Praised for her “stunning voice”, soprano Dana Lynne Varga was the first place winner in the 2016 Classical Singer National Vocal Competition. Dana continues to amass accolades for her numerous operatic roles that include Musetta in La Bohème, Fiordiligi in Cosi fan tutte, Anna Maurrant in Street Scene, Rosalinda in Die Fledermaus, Micaëla in Carmen, Alcina in Alcina, Hanna Glawari in The Merry Widow, First Lady in The Magic Flute and Giannetta (/Adina cover) in L’elisir d’amore, the latter performed at the prestigious Caramoor Festival in New York. Ms. Varga sings regularly with Boston Lyric Opera, and has performed with Odyssey Opera, Connecticut Lyric Opera, the Aldeburgh (Britten-Pears) Festival, PORTopera, Opera Boston, Boston Opera Collaborative, PANopera, Commonwealth Opera and Boston Baroque, amongst others.

www.danavarga.com

Laura Bohn (Strategist)

Laura Bohn (Strategist)

Soprano Laura Bohn, recognized for her “powerfully sung” and “skillful” performances (OperaNews) is making her mark as a dynamic presence on international stages. Engagements for 2018 include her debut with the LA Philharmonic under the baton of Dudamel as a soprano solo in Bernstein’s Mass, soloist with the Millennium Jazz Orchestra on the Bernstein Celebration Tour in major Dutch theaters and a return to The Dallas Opera for Michel Van der Aa’s Sunken Garden, covering the role of Marinus. Recent performances include La voix humaine at National Sawdust in New York, The Duchess in Adès’s Powder Her Face at West Edge Opera and Bellini’s Norma in Before I Die at Operadagen Rotterdam and on tour in the Netherlands and Belgium in 2017.

Other recent highlights include Anna in The Seven Deadly Sins, The Governess in The Turn of the Screw (Dallas Opera cover), Ino in Händel’s Semele with the Hague Philharmonic and Lucha in The Industry’s Hopscotch mobile-opera in LA. Laura sang Nerone in MonteverdISH, a hiphop breakdance adaptation of L’incoronazione di Poppea which toured Europe in 2011 and 2013 including performances at Het Concertgebouw and Konzerthaus Berlin. She toured Europe in over 40 shows with DJ Mozart, a dance opera in 2014. A Seattle native, she holds a masters degree from the Manhattan School of Music.

www.LauraBohn.com

Vera Savage (Aide)

Vera Savage (Aide)

Mezzo-soprano Vera Savage’s singing has been described as “a dream: supple and powerful with a deep velvet shimmer.”  A true singing actress, critics have noted that “whatever she sings, we believe.” Vera’s recent performances include Mercedes in Bizet’s Carmen with the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra, Meg Page in Verdi’s Falstaff with both Opera Saratoga and Opera on the James, Madame Larina in Eugene Onegin with the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra, Praskovia and the cover of Hanna Glawari in The Merry Widow with Boston Lyric Opera, Tisbe in La Cenerentola at Opera Saratoga, Sesto in La Clemenza di Tito at Opera in the Heights, and a “thoroughly intimidating” Mrs. Baines in Elmer Gantry with Florentine Opera.

A frequent principal artist with Boston Lyric Opera, Vera was last year’s winner of BLO’s annual “Stephen Shrestinian Award for Excellence.” Recently, Vera placed fourth in Shreveport Opera’s “Singer of the Year” competition, was a finalist in the Bel Canto Scholarship’s annual competition, and was a semi-finalist in the “Joy of Singing” art song competition. Upcoming engagements include performances with Boston Lyric Opera, Commonwealth Chorale, and Vera’s debut at the Spoleto Festival USA in Donizetti’s rarely performed opera Pia de’ Tolomei.

www.verasavage.com

“On Behalf of a Madman” was created with the support of a Bogliasco Foundation Fellowship.