NEWS: Opera Omaha ONE Festival's pioneering spirit

It’s time for Opera Omaha’s second annual ONE Festival: March 30–April 14, 2019! Led by Omaha native and Opera Omaha General Director Roger Weitz (Chicago Opera Theater, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts) and Festival Artistic Director James Darrah (p r i s m, Breaking the Waves, Proving Up), ONE amplifies the Omaha creative spirit by curating a cadre of interdisciplinary, world-class artists to rethink how contemporary opera is made.

“What Opera Omaha, in common with an increasing number of opera producers, is discovering is that today’s public is open to new experiences. [ONE offers] “a chance to peer into the operatic laboratory and engage some of the more inventive experiments in modern opera.” -- William Littler, Toronto Star 

"This inaugural edition of ONE lived up to all the talk of innovation and risk ­taking—buzzwords that classical music institutions are increasingly eager to throw around—by placing so much focus on collaboration and immediacy of experience." -- Thomas May, Musical America

For the 2019 ONE Festival, Artistic Director James Darrah directs a new site-specific production of Philip Glass’ Les Enfants Terribles with choreography by Gustavo Ramírez Sansano, and acclaimed theatre director Lileana Blain-Cruz directs a new production of Gounod’s Faust. In partnership with Film StreamsRoss Karre curates CINEsound, a series of Cinémathèque-inspired screenings exploring sound in film and featuring new scores to silent films performed live by members of International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE). Other events include the premiere of Ellen Reid’s interactive musical playground installation, Playground, with her new composition titled Run, and Christopher Emile’s multi-site dance and video work FOR RESEARCH ONLY.

The ONE Festival deconstructs the multi-disciplinary structure of opera through thought-provoking productions, exhibitions, installations, concerts and social gatherings that bring local and visiting artists together as one collaborative community. Each of the festival’s handpicked creatives is an Artist-in-Residence. With an emphasis on experimentation and new work, ONE fosters an environment that encourages and celebrates bold risks and transformative storytelling. Often presented in intimate and unexpected venues, the Festival places artists and audience in direct communication, further activating a culturally vibrant city.”



A Dance Opera

The Mastercraft
April 3, 5, 7, 13 & 14
An opera by Philip Glass
Based upon the work “Les Enfants Terribles” by Jean Cocteau
Copyright Editions Grasset & Fasquelle-1929

© 1996 Dunvagen Music Publishers, Inc. Used by Permission.

Les Enfants Terribles is the story of a brother and sister–Paul and Elisabeth–cut off from the outside world and dangerously dependent on each other. The psychological “game” that intertwines their lives twists inevitably to tragedy. Full of kinetic music, Glass’ opera is uniquely scored for three grand pianos which overlap to create a transformative and hypnotic sound world. This site-specific production sheds new light on the work’s unique conception as a dance opera, blending a superb cast of four singers with four dancers choreographed by Gustavo Ramirez Sansano (Semele, 2016).

Creative Team
Conductor David Bloom
Director James Darrah
Choreographer Gustavo Ramirez Sansano / TITOYAYA
Scenic Designer Yuki Izumihara
Costume Designer Camille Assaf
Lighting Designer D.M. Wood
Wig & Makeup Designer Ronell Oliveri
Supertitle Designer Kelley Rourke

Gérard/Narrator - Adrian Kramer
Dargelos/Agathe/Naomi - Louisa O'Connell
Paul - Theo Hoffman
Elisabeth - Vanessa Becerra

A Visionary Epic Opera

Orpheum Theater
April 12 & 14

Charles Gounod FAUST, Opera in 5 acts
Libretto by Jules Barbier and Michel Carré
Versions with dialogues
Edited for L’Opéra francais series by Paul Prévost

Used by arrangement with European American Distributors Company, U.S. and Canadian agent for Baerenreiter-Verlag, publisher and copyright owner.

In despair, the aging and regretful scholar Faust makes a deal with the devil for an ill-fated chance at youth, vitality and love. Exciting theatre director Lileana Blain-Cruz makes her company debut, crafting a fascinating new production of Faust that reimagines the classic, hedonistic tale. Conductor Steven White (Così fan tutte, 2017) returns to Opera Omaha to lead the Omaha Symphony in this world stage premiere of a new performance edition, featuring music from the opera that hasn’t been heard in over 150 years.

Creative Team
Conductor - Steven White
Director - Lileana Blain-Cruz
Scenic Designer - Adam Rigg
Costume Designer - Kaye Voyce
Lighting Designer - Yi Zhao
Wig & Makeup Designer - Ronell Oliveri
Dramaturg and Supertitle Designer - Kelley Rourke

Faust - Sébastien Guèze
Wagner - Samuel Schultz
Siébel - Elizabeth Pojanowski
Méphistophélès - David Pittsinger
Valentin - Craig Irvin
Marguerite - Cecilia Violetta López
Marthe - Emily Pulley




An Operatic Sound Sculpture

Joslyn Art Museum
March 30 – April 14

Commissioned by Opera Omaha
© 2019

Explore sound as you swing, slide and play on Playground, an interactive sound sculpture installation, curated by Ellen Reid. On selected dates and times, take part in open recess on Playground, and then watch as the resonant art sculpture comes to life for Run, a 15-minute original composition for voice and devised playground instruments, featuring ONE Festival soloist Naomi Louisa O’Connell and International Contemporary Ensemble artists. Join us in the contemporary wing of the Joslyn Art Museum for the world-premiere debut of Ellen Reid’s Playground. This one-of-a-kind transformative experience will be free and open to museum guests of all ages during gallery hours.

Creative Team
Music by Ellen Reid
Concept by Ellen Reid
Words by Zackary Drucker
Curator and Composer - Ellen Reid
Poet - Ms Zackary Drucker
Designer - Julia Noulin-Mérat

Soloist - Naomi Louisa O'Connell

A Deconstruction of Opera in Motion

April 6, 10 & 11

In this original dance exhibition, the audience will journey into the thoughts of the performers and become a part of their reality. A culmination of contemporary dance, live music and projection mapping, For Research Only skews the lines of realistic/rehearsed theatre, giving viewers an unmasked and intimate glimpse into how a performance is made. A completely immersive experience, audience members will be woven into the content of the piece through movement, music and conversation.

Creative Team
Curator and Choreographer - Chris Emile
Art Director - Marquet K. Lee
Projection Designer - Meena Murugesan


Film Streams, Dundee and Ruth Sokolof Theaters
March 30, April 13 & 14

 CINEsound, curated by Ross Karre, explores the multi-faceted dimensions of music and sound and how they interact with the world in a digital age. This cinematheque style series invites the audience to an immersive experience, featuring live instrumentalists interpreting stories through sound, in accompaniment to classic, film noir and documentary style films. In partnership with Film Streams and International Contemporary Ensemble, these uniquely curated cinema experiences promise an exciting merger of compositions, sounds, and live scoring with gems of the silver screen.

A B O U T   O P E R A   O M A H A

Opera Omaha, the only professional opera company in Nebraska, began in 1958 as the Omaha Civic Opera Society, a volunteer association, and with tremendous community support became fully professional by 1970. Opera Omaha produces a season of original mainstage productions, presented at the historic Orpheum Theater, and smaller productions and musical events throughout the community. Opera Omaha is internationally known for its productions of eight world premieres and four American premieres of classical masterpieces and is highly regarded regionally for extensive community engagement and education programs. Opera Omaha’s recently completed 60th anniversary season saw the launch of the ONE Festival, an innovative new spring festival, and a groundbreaking civic action initiative, the Holland Community Opera Fellowship — work that is key to Opera Omaha’s ongoing transformation from a performing arts organization to a cultural resource for the community. 


Sarah Knight