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Amelia Final

Roosevelt University presents Chicago premiere of Amelia on March 1 & 2 in Pilsen

Posted: 02/11/2013
Amelia, an unusual contemporary opera about a young woman’s handling of memories and fears, including the loss of her father missing in action in the Vietnam War, will debut in Chicago at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, March 1 and 2, in the Performing Arts Center at  Benito Juarez Community Academy, 1450 W. Cermak Road, Chicago.

The performances are free and open to the public and tickets are not required. Seating is available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

“The young artists appearing in Amelia are among the most highly skilled operatic performers in America today,” said Scott Gilmore, head of the Chicago College of Performing Arts (CCPA) and Chicago Opera Theater (COT) Professional Diploma in Opera program.

“One of the unusual aspects of this production is that a scene is set in Vietnam, which means some of the singers have had to learn to sing and speak in Vietnamese,” said Gilmore.

Daron HagenSpanning different continents and 50 years of recent U.S. history, the fully staged opera by American composer Daron Hagen (right) features performances by the CCPA Orchestra, top young artists from the CCPA/COT Professional Diploma in Opera program and CCPA’s graduate students in voice.


“This production focuses on the character of Amelia, from her perspective as a child to her outlook as an adult,” said Andrew Eggert, director of the Chicago premiere who has an impressive resume as stage director of opera productions across the nation.

Amelia asks a lot of questions about the American dream and what it means today; it blends history with mythology; and it deals with a number of themes including flight and the progress that is inherent in flight,” he said.

The opera received rave reviews at its world premiere at the Seattle Opera in 2010 under the direction of conductor Gerald Schwarz and for its subsequent performances at the University of Houston’s Moores Opera Center in 2012. The Chicago premiere will feature lead performances by seven highly skilled student singers who are currently completing intense professional post-graduate training in opera performance at CCPA and on stage at COT. An earlier opera by Daron Hagen, Shining Brow (about Frank Lloyd Wright) was a hit in Chicago in 1997 when it was presented at COT.
 
Considered to be unique and a final step that can lead to professional singing careers at opera houses around the nation and even the world, the CCPA/COT  joint training program, which is now in its ninth year, annually attracts more than 100 highly skilled applicants from around the world for only a handful of available slots.

“We are pleased to present the most promising young opera singers in the making to Chicago and the Pilsen neighborhood,” said Henry Fogel, dean of CCPA, where building partnerships with local Chicago communities and schools is a priority and important part of the College’s mission.

“With this production of Amelia, we will be reaching out to audiences that might not otherwise have the chance to experience opera or to hear and see a performance of this kind of quality and depth,” Fogel said.

Louise Rogan 

The opera stars CCPA/COT post-graduate student Louise Rogan (Left), a soprano from England, as Amelia. The character is based on the real-life story and personal experience of American poet Gardner McFall, who dealt in her early 20s with the loss of her father, a Navy pilot who was lost at sea in 1966 after taking off in a storm on a training mission for a second tour of duty in Vietnam. McFall’s poems about the loss of her father were published in the 1996 book, The Pilot’s Daughter. She later collaborated on her story with Stephen Wadsworth and turned her writing and experience into a libretto for Amelia at the request of Hagen.

Both McFall and Hagen, a former visiting composer in residence at CCPA, will be in the audience on Chicago’s opening night of Amelia, which is named for doomed flier Amelia Earhart.

“This is a story about a woman who confronts the past in order to move toward a bright new future,” said Eggert, who also has directed COT’s Mosè in Egitto and La Tragédie de Carmen and served for eight seasons as COT’s assistant director. Most recently, he directed the U.S. premiere of Clemency by James MacMillan for Boston Lyric Opera and will direct Blulebeard’s Castle at Opera Omaha in April.

“She travels back in time to uncover the root of her grief, but ultimately, she must make a personal journey, around the world and back, to triumph over her own anxieties about the symbol of flight in the new millennium,” he said.

The conductor for the production is James Paul, former principal conductor of the Grant Park Music Festival, conductor of the Louisiana Philharmonic and music director of the Oregon Festival of American Music and Oregon Coast Music Festival. Joanie Schultz, a free-lance opera and stage director in Chicago, is the production’s associate stage director.

For more information about this and other CCPA performances, visit www.roosevelt.edu/ccpa or contact CCPA’s Performance Activities Office at 312-341-2238.