TRILOGY TO DEBUT THREE GREAT NEW OPERAS THIS WEEKEND: On July 31 and Aug. 1, Trilogy: An Opera Company (TAOC) and Artistic Director Kevin Maynor will present three newly composed one-act operas. Admission to all performances is free and the shows are open to the public.
The first performance to be presented will be “4” by Trevor Weston with contributions from Amiri Baraka. “4” tells the story of one of the most abhorrent crimes of the Civil Rights Movement: the bombing at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., which resulted in the deaths of four young girls attending Sunday school. Twenty others were injured.
The second performance, “The Ballad of James Byrd,” by Michael Raphael, tells the story of James Byrd, a 49-year-old African-American man who was murdered in Jasper, Texas, on June 7, 1998. The murderers were Shawn Allen Berry, Lawrence Russell Brewer and John William King. The performance will be on July 31 at 7 p.m. at Science Theater in Newark, located in Science Park High School at 260 Norfolk St., Newark, N.J.
Trilogy’s one-act “ring cycle” will conclude with the much-anticipated performance of “The Three Mayors” by Michael Raphael, libretto by Gus Heningburg. Newark is the only major metropolitan city to boast the achievement of electing three consecutive Black mayors.
The opera examines the effect of Kenneth Gibson, who was elected in 1970 as Newark’s first African-American mayor; Sharpe James, elected in 1986 and the longest-serving mayor of Newark; and the current leader of the city, Mayor Cory Booker, elected in 2006.
“The Three Mayors” will be performed on Sunday, Aug. 1 at 4 p.m. at Central Theater, located in Central High School, 246 18th Ave. in Newark, N.J.
TAOC provides opera and art related to this genre that is reflective of the world in which we live. TAOC focuses on the works of Black composers who have written on subject matter relevant to the Black community. Past TAOC productions include: “Nat Turner,” “Frederick Douglass,” “Harriet: A Woman Called Moses,” “Call, Shout and Holler,” “Emmett Till: The Oratorio,” “Emmett Till: The Opera,” “Darfur, Darfur” and “Treemonisha.”
The 2011 season will feature the TAOC Summer Festival dramatic presentation of the entire 14-piece TAOC repertoire.
Contact Lynn Pressley or Gail Maynor at TAOC, 30 Howard Court, Newark, N.J. 07103. Email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
NEA AWARDS $40,000 TO NEW YORK PRODUCTION OF “THE GREAT MACDADDY”: The Negro Ensemble Company, in association with Paul Carter Harrison and Alfred Preisser, is delighted to announce that the National Endowment for the Arts has recognized their ongoing efforts to produce a major New York revival of Harrison’s “The Great MacDaddy.”
The NEA has generously awarded the producing team $40,000 toward realizing this modern American masterpiece, with plans going forward to mounting a full production in the spring of 2012.
Harrison’s Award-winning “The Great MacDaddy” was originally staged in a 1974 production that featured Al Freeman Jr., Phylicia Rashad, Cleavon Little and Hattie Winston.
It is one of the seminal works of the Negro Ensemble Company, featuring a narrative form steeped in the oral tradition of African-American folklore, a verbal history of great cultural importance that, like all storytelling cultures the world over, is in danger of disappearing into a haze of technology and infotainment. “The Great MacDaddy” is a rich and theatrically vital text set to music-one of the only plays that examines the African-American journey in the United States in terms of universal myth and metaphor, an African-American “Odyssey.” According to the NEA, insightful, outrageous and heartbreaking, Harrison’s play is wholly unique, a classic – as insightful and timely as when it premiered.
My long-time friend NEC Artistic Director Charles Weldon, Harrison and acclaimed director and Preisser are partnering to present the first New York revival of this OBIE Award-winning play in over 30 years in 2011. With the invaluable support of the NEA in place, the goal of reviving this great American classic from the rich literary canon of the NEC is closer to reality than ever.
I’ll keep you advised as to when and where it will officially open.
BRITISH SINGING STAR AMY WINEHOUSE PASSES AWAY AT 27: It really hurt to learn that Amy Winehouse, the beehived soul-jazz diva whose self-destructive habits overshadowed a distinctive musical talent, was found dead last Saturday in her London home. What’s more, she was only 27 years old.
I’m sure you recall that Winehouse was propelled to fame with her hit album “Back to Black,” whose blend of jazz, soul, rock and classic pop was a global hit.
How hot was it? Well, it won five Grammys and made Winehouse, with her black beehive hairdo and old-fashioned sailor tattoos, one of music’s biggest and most recognizable stars.
Police confirmed that a 27-year-old female was pronounced dead at a home in Camden Square in northern London. The cause of death was not immediately known. London Ambulance Services said Winehouse had died before its two ambulance crews arrived at the scene.
“I didn’t go out looking to be famous,” Winehouse told the Associated Press when “Back to Black” was released. “I’m just a musician.”
But in the end, the music was overshadowed by fame and Winehouse’s demons. Tabloids lapped up her erratic stage appearances, drunken fights and her stints in hospitals and rehab clinics. What’s more, many of her performances became unfortunate, stumbling train wrecks that were watched around the world via the Internet. However, despite her many negative incidents, I still say that Amy Winehouse was a very gifted singer and performer.
May she rest in eternal peace.
Wishing you, your family and friends a great week ahead.