RTB’s Opera Shorts 2012 ~ A Preview

Poster concept by Scottie Roche

Remarkable Theater Brigade presents its fourth annual Opera Shorts—an eclectic, electric evening of opera miniatures—at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall on October 19 at 7:30 PM

Opera Shorts 2012 features ten 10-minute operas by a powerhouse line-up of living composers including Carlisle Floyd, Bern Herbolsheimer, Seymour Barab, Graham Robb, Ben Bierman, Richard Burke, Patrick Soluri, Randolph Coleman, Christian McLeer and David Morneau.

While the focus of the October 19 show is firmly on the composers, there are some exceptional singers on board as well including Metropolitan Opera baritone Chris Trakas, soprano Danya Katok, who recently debuted at New York City Opera and operatic baritone, and Broadway actor Dewey Moss, as well as soprano and co-founder of RTB Monica Harte. The instrumentation ranges from colorful chamber ensembles to the exotic Peruvian percussion box, the cajón. Richard Burke made a special arrangement of his opera Sacred Tree for this evening’s performance including piano, string quartet and woodwinds.

RTB co-director and co-founder Christian McLeer speaks about this year’s program.

“This year we’re doing a darker piece of mine called ‘Puppet’ with Dewey Moss, and we’re really honored and excited that Anthony Laciura from Boardwalk Empire is directing it! One of the biggest ones we have now is Carlisle Floyd, and he’s been rehearsing his piece ‘Pilgrimage’ down in Florida–Chris Trakas is going to sing on that one. We also have a piece by Ben Bierman called ‘Come To Spain’, which is very jazzy–It’s kind of romantic, but he has a great way of using melodies, especially with complex jazz chords like 9ths, 11ths and 13ths! Patrick Soluri, who we’ve had on every program so far, is returning as well with another comedy piece called “Polka” which takes place in the 90s and has a wedding setting.”

Danya Katok returns in the production this year, and she had a few minutes to discuss her beginnings with RTB.

“I met Monica [Harte] because we were both students at the CUNY Graduate Center–it was a contemporary performance practice class, and she heard me sing, and then she invited me to sing with her company. I thought it was really fun to work with them! I was in Christian McLeer’s ‘Sonata’ and Tom Cipullo’s piece ‘The Husbands’. Originally that piece was a song, and then they decided to stage it, which I thought was really clever. With ‘Sonata’, since it was a world premiere, we didn’t really know what we were getting into, and it had never been done before, so, when I first got it, before the staging rehearsals, it was a bit like ‘I don’t really understand what this is’, but it was much clearer when they started staging it, and it was great fun working with Dewey. He’s such a great actor to work against. He gives you so much to play with, and that’s a great pleasure as well.”

The program:
Seymour Barab: “All Mine”
Benjamin Bierman/Earl Shuman: “Come to Spain”
Richard Burke: “The Sacred Wood”
Randolph Coleman/Lawrence George: “Threnody”
Carlisle Floyd: “Pilgrimage”
Bern Herbolsheimer: “Quartet”
Christian McLeer: “Puppeteer”
David Morneau/Brantley Aufill: “Ballad of Milt Famey”
Graham Robb/Jim Stewart: “Flora and the Prince”
Patrick Soluri/Royce Vavrek: “Polka”

Christian McLeer: Sonata (Danya Katok, soprano; Dewey Moss, tenor)

Click here to buy tickets for Opera Shorts 2012

RTB | New York’s New Music


Monica Harte: On Nevada Opera, Madame Butterfly, and G-Train

Remarkable Theater Brigade’s co-founder and General Director Monica Harte (also known for the annual delight Opera Shorts) has now brought her organizational skills to a new but familiar place, Nevada Opera (a company started and run for many years by her parents), and for starters she’s reinvigorating the opera world yet again with a re-imagined take on Puccini’s Madame Butterfly, giving the piece a new anime-style look. Continue reading

Remarkable Theater Brigade Talks About Its Shorts…Opera Shorts

RTB’s Monica Harte and Christian McLeer

Remarkable Theater Brigade (also known as RTB) is a performing arts group that produces new music works of various disciplines: operas, ballets, musicals, as well as music-only projects like orchestral and electro-acoustic pieces, and is run by soprano/composer Monica Harte, and composer/musical director Christian McLeer, also the General and Artistic Directors, respectively. RTB had eventually started an annual production of an evening of 10-minute short operas titled Opera Shorts that I had the chance to see back in November of this year (For which I wrote a review), and I loved how they could do both comical and serious pieces in this format. I even met some of these great folks afterwards! Monica Harte had some time to chat with us about this yearly project. Continue reading