Music by Sidney Marquez Boquiren
Libretto by Daniel Neer
You can hear. Do you listen?
Race, identity and acceptance in America:
Past, Present. Future.
Saturday, June 3 at 8 p.m.
Sunday, June 4 at 2 p.m.
Friday, June 9 at 8 p.m.
Saturday, June 10 at 8 p.m.
Sunday, June 11 at 2 p.m.
Tickets are $37 General Admission
At Signature Theatre’s ARK Theater
On Sale Now!
ABOUT INDEPENDENCE EVE
Comprised of three unrelated scenes, each of which takes place on July 3 in an unspecified American city, Independence Eve focuses on the stories of three black males (baritone), and three white males (tenor), who struggle with identity and acceptance amidst race issues that span one hundred years of the American experience.
Independence Eve is a study of black and white America, offering commentary on the intricacies of race relations and the insidious and persistent stain of racism that has remained consistent throughout American history. The characters in each scene are products of their upbringing, and constrained, to varying degrees, by outside influences and ideals that shape their attitudes regarding race, masculinity, education and religion in their respective generations.
The setting for each scene is the benign location of a single park bench in three different urban locations; the characters in each scene try to connect over a shared love of baseball, with varying degrees of success.
Scene 1: “Seventh Inning Stretch”
Lou, on break from a local four-star hotel where he is the chief porter, is spending his usual lunch break on his favorite shady bench. Accompanied by a small transistor radio, he has tuned into a baseball game, which draws the interest of a Policeman walking the beat, eager to find a bit of shade in the July heat. They share stilted small talk: about baseball, the stifling heat and the frequent race riots occurring in their city. But the casual conversation soon comes to an abrupt halt when one man expresses his anger, confusion and pain about the changes happening in his community, exposing his fear and bewilderment during dawn of the civil rights era.
Scene 2: “Full Count” (“Stop and Frisk”)
Joe (a Caucasian man) and Sean (and African-American man) have been friends for years. They grew up together in an affluent suburb, went to high school together, attended the same Ivy League school and pledged the same fraternity. As they meet for lunch in the park, Joe expresses his concern for Sean’s wellbeing after a recent brush with the police. A few days earlier Sean became a victim of a random search by police, a “stop and frisk” procedure conducted because of a “reasonable suspicion”. Sean describes his frustration at Joe for not understanding the impact the event has had on his life, and as both men struggle to find meaning in the incident, their friendship is tested as the conversation turns to aspects of race that have changed Sean’s way of looking at the world.
Scene 3: “Benched”
Max and Phillip have finished a game and are waiting to be picked up by their parents. Little League is still an American fixture in the year 2063, but whole a lot else has changed. A global government called ‘The Federation’ is now the new world order, the Polar Ice cap has melted, citizens are chipped at age 10 for identification purposes, and the public school system has become obsolete, leaving children on their own for a nationwide exam that will determine which of two basic career tracks best suits them. The stakes are very high for Max and Phillip, who struggle to come to grips with the overwhelming pressure to succeed in a world that is increasingly more competitive. Race plays an enormous role in the likely outcome of these two American boys, but like everything else in the future, racism is no longer just a black and white issue.
Developed in American Opera Projects’ First Chance and Composers & the Voice programs, through the support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Brandon D. Snook
Conducted by Robert Wood
Directed by Shaun Patrick Tubbs
Scenic and Projection Design by Steven C. Kemp
Lighting Design by Alberto Segarra
Costume Design by Kristina Martin
Watch excerpts from American Opera Projects’ Workshop of INDEPENDENCE EVE below:
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Composer Sidney Marquez Boquiren grew up in the Philippines and Saudi Arabia but has spent most of his life in the United States. As a Composer Fellow for American Opera Project’s Composers & the Voice Series (2011 – 2012) and in collaboration with librettist Daniel Neer, he has written representative arias for several different opera treatments as well as a full scene which was premiered in September 2012 with subsequent performances at the BEAT Festival (Brooklyn, NY) and by Two Sides Sounding. Recent commissions include a duo for violinists Sarah Plum and Hal Grossman, a quintet for AnyWhen Ensemble, and a new work for American Modern Ensemble. Sidney is an Associate Professor and the Chair of the Department of Music at Adelphi University in Garden City, New York, where he teaches music theory and composition.
Daniel Neer is a librettist, lyricist, playwright and poet with interests ranging from vocal chamber music, art song and staged cantata works to musical theater, contemporary opera and multimedia projects. His collaboration with Sidney Marquez Boquiren on the opera Independence Eve began in 2012 and has been developed by American Opera Projects since that time, with a series of rewarding workshop productions along the way by AOP First Chance, OPERAtion Brookyn, the BEAT Festival, Two Sides Sounding, Ensemble Pi and in residence at the Harlem School of the Arts. Daniel’s other collaborations as librettist include And Here We Are with Matthew Welch for Experiments in Opera, Mercury Falling with Chandler Carter for the at the Long Leaf Opera Festival, and Odes to Earth And Air, also with Sidney Marquez Boquiren, which received its premiere at Adelphi University. As a lyricist for new chamber music and song projects, Daniel’s collaborations include Brooklyn Queens Expressway with Robin McClellan for the Queens New Music Festival, Bruce Bailey with Daniel Felsenfeld for Two Sides Sounding, Metamorphosis with Scott Gendel for the Narkissos Project, Gitchee Gumee with Jonathan David which premiered at the Bar Harbor Music Festival, Summer 1976 with Kim Sherman and Gursky Songs with Alex Burtzos for music/poetry|poetry/music at The National Opera Center, The Good Doctor Windhager by Ronnie Reshef for The Secret Opera song competition (winner), MASKS by Alex Burtzos for The New Song, HAIKU NYC with Ellen Mandel at the Brooklyn Historical Society and Cornelia Street Café, and Ellis Island with Jennifer Bernard Merkowitz which was recently premiered at Otterbein, University in Ohio. Daniel’s first play, The Interview, received a world premiere as part of the New Works International Festival for Short Plays at the Richmond Shepherd Theater in New York City, directed by Ted Gorodetzky.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Baritone Jorell Williams has been hailed by the New York Times for being “magnificent” and “rich toned”, as well as having “perfect” comedic timing. He is the 2015 1st-prize winner of the American Prize competition and was awarded the 2nd-prize Silver Medal in the 2014 American Traditions Competition. Last season included debuts with the Bay Chamber Music Festival as Escamillo in La tragedie de Carmen, PORTOpera as Morales in Carmen, Rochester Lyric as Frediano/Ippolito in John Musto’s Bastianello, a return to the Chautauqua Institution as soloist with Wynton Marsalis and Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra for Marsalis’ Abyssinian Mass, a concert performance of “Songs America Loves to Sing” with Copland House Center for American Music at the Caramoor Music Festival, Dvorak in America with the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra, and soloist for Ginastera’s Estancia with the Eugene Symphony Orchestra for their 50th Anniversary season.
Engagements for the 2016-2017 season include his debut in a co-production with On-Site Opera and Atlanta Opera as Nardo in Mozart’s La finta giardiniera, Hannah-Before in Laura Kaminsky’s critically acclaimed As One with Seattle Opera, Baritone soloist in Durufle’s Requiem and excerpts of Joplin’s Treemonisha with the Kingston Chamber Choir. He reprised the role of Vernon Addams, a role he created with UrbanArias, in a production of Hilliard and Boresi’s Blue Viola.
Recent engagements include his apprenticeship with the Santa Fe Opera for productions of La fille du regiment, Rigoletto, and the world premiere of Jennifer Higdon’s Cold Mountain, Matt Aucoin’s Crossing with the American Repertory Theater, Hilliard and Boresi’s Blue Viola with UrbanArias, Dancairo in Carmen with Finger Lakes Opera, Pallante in Handel’s Agrippina with Operamission, Jake in Gershwin’s Porgy & Bess with Syracuse Opera, Younger Barber/Josh Gibson (cover) in Daniel Sonenberg’s Summer King, Shaunard in La Boheme with Opera on the Avalon, Jennifer Hidgon’s Dooryard Bloom with the Philharmonic of Southern New Jersey, soloist with the National Chorale at David Geffin Hall (formerly Alice Tully Hall), Baritone soloist in Ein deutsches Requiem with the Omaha Symphony Orchestra, and an evening Holiday concert with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s.
Tenor Brandon Snook is proud to be part of the Independence Eve world premiere, having been a part of the opera since its inception in 2012 with American Opera Projects. A stalwart of new and contemporary American opera, Brandon has performed the role of Vietnam POW Jim Thompson in Tom Cipullo’s Glory Denied, with performances in NYC, Philadelphia, Memphis, and Boise. He has also premiered several other operatic roles and productions, including Robert Paterson and David Cote’s Three Way: The Companion, Michael Bergman and Stefania de Kenessey’s Bonfire of the Vanities, Phil Kline and Jim Jarmusch’s Tesla, and Kabir Sehgal and Marie Incontrera’s Angela’s Ring. More traditional operatic roles include Count Almaviva (Barber of Seville), Don Ottavio (Don Giovanni), and Nemorino (Elixir of Love). Mr. Snook has sung at Cincinnati Opera, Opera Theatre of Connecticut, Des Moines Metro Opera, Opera Idaho, Opera Ithaca, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Michigan Opera Theatre, Opera Memphis, and Sarasota Opera. Additional performances have taken him to Canada, Germany, Switzerland, and Israel. Equally at home with musical theatre, last year Brandon performed the role of Tony in West Side Story, in South Carolina. A native of Dallas, Texas, he has voice degrees from The University of Kansas, and The University of Michigan.
Shaun Patrick Tubbs is a director, actor, and playwright. Shaun’s recent directing/assisting credits include the world premiere of hop tha A (Ars Nova), Artney Jackson (The Lark), The May Queen (PlayMakers Repertory Company), The Harvest (Lincoln Center LCT3), King Hedley II (Arena Stage), Julius Caesar (Oregon Shakespeare Festival), Don Giovanni (The Tank), and Disgraced (Asolo Repertory Theatre). His international credits include assisting on The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny (Royal Opera House, London), and Here I Go (La MaMa Spoleto, Italy). Shaun has received numerous awards and fellowships including The Drama League of New York’s Fall Directing Fellowship, Asolo Repertory Theatre’s Directing Fellowship, 2015 Kurt Weill Fellowship in Opera Direction, the SDC Observers Program, and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival Fair Directing Fellowship. His holds an MFA from The University of Texas at Austin and a BFA from Wright State University. Shaun is a proud member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers (SDC), Actors Equity Association (AEA), and SAG-AFTRA. www.shaunpatricktubbs.com