NEW YORK - Following the success of last season’s collaboration, New York City Opera and the SchomburgCenter for Research in Black Culture present two new programs celebrating the African-American experience in great operatic repertoire and distinguished African-American artists who have enriched the opera world.
City Opera will showcase the dynamic career of African-American mezzo-soprano Betty Allen in ATribute to Betty Allen on Monday, February 28, 2011 at 7:00pm. An active singer during the 1950s through the 1970s, Allen [17 March 1927 - 22 June 2009]achieved wide success and remained influential in breaking down the barriers of racial discrimination in opera. She made her City Opera debut as Queenie in Show Boatin 1954 and between 1973-1975, her roles at City Opera included Azucena, Mistress Quickly in Falstaff, Jocasta in Oedipus rex, and Eurycleia in Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria.Ms. Allen later went on to sing internationally at major opera companies and concert halls.She served as Executive Director and later President of the HarlemSchool of the Arts and on the Board of Directors for New York City Opera for more than 16 years.City Opera and the SchomburgCenter will honor the extraordinary woman, artist, and pioneer through historical film and sound clips, as well as live musical selections.
On Monday, June 6, 2011 at 7:00pm, City Opera will present an abridged concert version of Treemonisha, the groundbreaking opera by famedcomposer Scott Joplin.The opera tells the story of Treemonisha, a young, educated freed slave who leads a campaign to educate her community, rather than accept the societal superstitions placed upon it. The opera was never fully staged during Joplin’s life; it was only performed as a concert reading with piano in 1915 at the Lincoln Theater in Harlem. Treemonisha received its world premiere in 1972 when the score was rediscovered, and has gone on to be performed at opera houses throughout the United States and on Broadway.
ABOUT NEW YORK CITY OPERA
Imaginative, adventurous, accessible, American and young, New York City Opera was founded with the purpose of making great opera available to a modern, popular audience, and of keeping opera great by maintaining a modern, popular touch. For more than sixty years, since Mayor Fiorello La Guardia established its reputation as “The People’s Opera,” the company has stayed true to its original promise: introducing generation after generation of young singers who are stars in the making, bringing the public exciting new works and compelling, fresh interpretations of classics, acting as a champion for American composers and performers and ensuring that today’s opera, and tomorrow’s, can be a part of everyone’s life. City Opera’s expansive repertoire spans five centuries, from the Baroque operas that have become signature productions to commissioned works by some of today’s most important composers. The company has given its audiences 29 world premieres to date, as well as 61 U.S. or New Yorkpremieres. City Opera also helps to generate future repertoire through its annual VOX Contemporary American Opera Lab,presenting free public readings of previously unproduced works performed by City Opera’s soloists, orchestra and chorus.
A pioneer in restoring dramatic urgency and theatrical flair to opera performance, City Opera is celebrated for its marriage of first-rate acting and singing, in stagings that bring new insights and new life to the repertoire. An advocate for emerging directors and designers and extraordinary new singers, City Opera is the place where opera engages the heart, the mind and the imagination. And with its innovative programs—such as concert series that explore the non-operatic works of composers represented during the season—City Opera is breaking new ground in the way opera is brought to audiences. Audiences throughout the world have learned to look to New York City Opera as a showcase for young artists. To date, the company has helped launch the careers of more than 3,000 singers, including stars such as José Carreras, Phyllis Curtin, David Daniels, Plácido Domingo, Lauren Flanigan, Elizabeth Futral, Jerry Hadley, Catherine Malfitano, Bejun Mehta, Sherrill Milnes, Samuel Ramey, Gianna Rolandi, Beverly Sills, Norman Treigle, Tatiana Troyanos and Carol Vaness.
More than one-quarter of City Opera’s tickets cost $25 or less. City Opera does not just reach a diverse and committed audience by being affordable, but the company also builds tomorrow’s audiences by being a national model in arts education: presenting lectures and workshops, offering family programs and conducting an in-school education program that serves thousands of students each year throughout the New York metropolitan area.City Opera makes its home at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, in the recently renovated David H. Koch Theater. The company is proud to be a part of the world’s greatest campus for the performing arts, and to perform in a landmark Philip Johnson-designed theater with state-of-the-art performance capabilities and comfort.
ABOUT THE SCHOMBURG CENTER FOR RESEARCH IN BLACK CULTURE
The SchomburgCenter for Research in Black Culture, a research unit of The New York Public Library, is recognized as one of the leading institutions of its kind in the world. A cultural center as well as a repository, this Harlem-based modern research library also sponsors a wide array of interpretive programs, including exhibitions, scholarly and public forums, and cultural performances. For over eighty years The Schomburg Center has collected, preserved, and provided access to materials documenting black life, and promoted the study and interpretation of black history and culture.