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May 4, 2010

Seven short, new operas at Peabody focus on 'Women's Studies'

One of the cool programs at Peabody (at least it looks cool to an outsider like me) is Opera Etudes, which gets grad student composers creating new works for performers at the conservatory. At 7:30 p.m. tonight, May 4, you can catch seven premieres -- one-act operas, about 15 minutes each, linked together by the theme "Women's Studies." (The perspective of those studies tilts a bit on the male side; only one of the composers and three of the librettists are women.) 

The operas will be performed performed in English. Some will have piano accompaniment, others will be backed by instrumental ensembles. Roger Brunyate, director of Opera Etudes, has done the staging for three of the new pieces. Oh, yeah -- the performance is a steal. Free admission 

Plot descriptions from the seven operas suggest a very provocative evening in store:

Joshua Bornfield's "On Your Own Time" (he wrote the libretto as well as the score) addresses sexual harassment in the workplace. Jon Carter provided music and text for "Missed Connections," which is inspired by personal ads on Craigslist and involves "a married woman who has started to question her sexuality."

Zhangyi Chen's "April Showers," with text by Elizabeth Dow, focuses on

a bride-to-be and her bridesmaids on the eve of the wedding. Daniel Gil-Marca is composer and librettist for "Just Tomorrow," which examines the lives of two sisters facing crises a year after their mother’s death. Emily Koh's "Generations," with a libretto by Katherine Krueger, looks at women from four generations of one family.

Jake Runestad's "The Toll," with text by Elizabeth Reeves, takes off on the Cinderella fairytale, the challenge of " 'happily ever after,' and what compromises must be made in order to attain it." And "Cheated," with words and music by Jeff Zeiders, revolves around a woman who discovers her husband is unfaithful.


Posted by Tim Smith at 10:43 AM | | Comments (0)

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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