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Thomas Paine in Violence, an opera by Paul Pinto
November 6, 2017 @ 8:30 pm - November 18, 2017 @ 10:00 pm
Designing this one!
Check calendar for details: http://here.org/shows/calendar/2017/11/
As a centerpiece of its 25th anniversary season, HERE (Kristin Marting, Artistic Director and Kim Whitener, Producing Director) will present the world premiere commission of Thomas Paine in Violence by 2016-17 HERE resident artist Paul Pinto (thingNY, Varispeed, Robert Ashley) and directed by Obie-winner Rick Burkhardt (Here Be Sirens, Three Pianos, Nonsense Company).
Simultaneously set in the mind and afterlife of the revolutionary activist and political philosopher, Thomas Paine in Violence is a new work of opera theater, setting the Founding Father in a cosmic radio station, struggling to organize and communicate a message of economic justice amidst a whirlwind of strange figures, audio speakers, microphones and electronic gadgetry orbiting around the space, enveloping the audience in a whirlwind of sound and text.
The eighty-minute opera stars legendary composer and virtuoso vocalist Joan La Barbara as Thomas Paine and is scored for four diverse singers – a chorus oF Brown men of high falsettists and deep baritones – with the collaborating thingNY ensemble comprising violin, cello, harp, and piano, various foley objects, and live electronics. First performed as a 15-minute radio opera for Experiments in Opera and WQXR’s Q2, Burkhardt and Pinto, with the support of HERE’s Artist Residency Program, have spent three years developing the libretto and score into a fully staged operatic experience.
Thomas Paine in Violence is the most ambitious work to date from Pinto, who has developed a unique style that deftly mixes chamber music, extended vocal technique and rhapsodic recitation into a sort of “opera sermon” with work that is striking, funny, and poignantly politically conscious. The ambition of the opera is met by the relevance of its subject matter. America (especially its urban, young people of color) has been vocal in grappling with our history of social inequality. Additionally, both popular theater and fringe arts are finally diversifying both in casting and aesthetics.
At its core, Thomas Paine in Violence is a commentary on the social inequality that currently litters the American landscape by taking as its starting point the work of this famed middle-class Englishman who championed fair taxation, abolition of slavery, secular government and equal rights over two centuries ago. While Enlightenment thinkers debated each other in grand rhetoric, Paine proposed his utopian blueprints in plain speak and, of course, common sense. With the libretto, Thomas Paine in Violence mixes Paine’s words with embellished rants and arguments to create a stream of humorous and raw soapbox debating, and at the same time, engages a 21st Century audience. With its score, the opera creates the modern media landscape: a relentless momentum of slander and politispeak, sometimes streaming too quick for comprehension, and other times obliterated under musical censorship.
Joining La Barbara in performance are Christian Luu, Andrew Mayer, Paul Pinto, and Eddie Rodriguez along with four members of thingNY, Mélanie Genin (harp, voice), Andrew Livingston (cello, voice), Erin Rogers (piano, voice), and Jeffrey Young (violin, voice).
The creative team includes Chloe Treat (choreography), Carolyn Mraz (set design), Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew (lighting design), Philip White (sound design), and Alex B. West (production stage manager).
Ten performances of Thomas Paine in Violence will take place November 6-18 (see above schedule) at HERE, located at 145 Sixth Avenue, just below Spring Street. Critics are welcome as of November 7, which will act as the official opening. Tickets, priced at $25 general / $45 premium, can be purchased by visiting here.org or by calling 212-352-3101. In person sales at the box office after 5pm only on performance days and two hours prior to curtain for matinees. For Group Sales, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thomas Paine in Violence was commissioned, developed, and produced through the HERE Artist Residency Program. Support has been provided by HERE’s allocated government, foundation, and individual funding, and by the Puffin Foundation.