LSM Newswire

Monday, January 12, 2009

Gotham Chamber Opera presents L'isola Disabitata at John Jay College - 2/18-28


in collaboration with the Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College


the New York City stage premiere of

Joseph Haydn’s


(Desert Island)

February 18 – 28, 2009


Wednesday, February 18 at 7:30pm

RSVP to Michelle Brandon Tabnick, (646) 765-4773,


In February of 2009, in honor of the bicentennial of Joseph Haydn’s death, Gotham Chamber Opera will present the New York City stage premiere of L’isola disabitata (Desert Island) in a new production staged by Mark Morris at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College.


L’isola disabitata is Mark Morris’s first collaboration with Gotham Chamber Opera. The work, with a libretto by Metastasio, calls for four singers and a typical early classical orchestra, but neither chorus nor dancers. L’isola disabitata features sopranos Takesha Meshé Kizart and Valerie Ogbonnaya, tenor Vale Rideout, and bass-baritone Tom Corbeil, and is conducted by Neal Goren, artistic director of Gotham Chamber Opera. Set design is by Allen Moyer, costume design is by Elizabeth Kurtzman and lighting design is by Michael Chybowski.


“This is the quintessential Haydn score: sunny, invigorating, with virtuosic vocal and instrumental writing, and its brevity makes it all the more appealing. Add Mark Morris and four spectacular, gorgeous singers and I don’t think opera gets any better,” said Neal Goren.


Thirteen years before the action begins, Costanza and the infant Silvia were shipwrecked on a deserted island. Costanza has raised Silvia to hate and fear men. Now a man arrives…


L’isola disabitata had its premiere at the Esterhazy palace in 1779 and was Haydn’s favorite of his own operas.


Founded by conductor and Artistic Director Neal Goren in 2000, in its short history, the Gotham Chamber Opera has presented six U.S. premieres of 18th- and 20th-century operas, including such masterpieces as Mozart’s Il Sogno di Scipione; Darius Milhaud’s Les Malheurs d’Orphée; Czech composer Bohuslav Martinu’s Dada opera, Les Larmes du Couteau; and Swiss composer Heinrich Sutermeister’s Die schwarze Spinne. In February 2005, Gotham presented the U.S. stage premiere of Handel’s Arianna in Creta. Also in 2005, Lincoln Center Festival and Spoleto Festival USA presented Gotham Chamber Opera’s U.S. premiere of Ottorino Respighi’s fantastical puppet opera, La bella dormente nel bosco featuring the puppetry of Basil Twist. In the spring of 2006, Benjamin Britten’s Albert Herring received its first professional staging in New York in more than 30 years, and in winter 2007, Rossini’s Il signor Bruschino received its first major professional New York staging in over a half century. Last season, the Gotham Chamber Opera celebrated dance with productions of Astor Piazzolla’s tango opera María de Buenos Aires, directed by David Parsons and featuring Parsons Dance, and with a new work entitled Ariadne Unhinged, directed by Karole Armitage and featuring members of Armitage Gone! Dance.

In the future, Gotham Chamber Opera will present Haydn at the Hayden: Il mondo della luna, an operatic trip to the moon in partnership with the American Museum of Natural History, followed by Montsalvatge’s El gato con botas (Puss in Boots), a collaboration with Basil Twist and Moisés Kaufman.


Performances of L’isola disabitata are made possible in part with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs; the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency; the National Endowment for the Arts; and through generous gifts in honor of Donald Gellert from his family.

Mark Morris was born on August 29, 1956, in Seattle, Washington, where he studied as a young man with Verla Flowers and Perry Brunson. In the early years of his career, he performed with Lar Lubovitch, Hannah Kahn, Laura Dean, Eliot Feld, and the Koleda Balkan Dance Ensemble. He formed the Mark Morris Dance Group in 1980, and has since created more than 120 works for the company. From 1988-1991, he was Director of Dance at the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels, the national opera house of Belgium. Among the works created during his tenure were three evening-length dances: The Hard Nut; L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato; and Dido and Aeneas. In 1990, he founded the White Oak Dance Project with Mikhail Baryshnikov. Morris is also much in demand as a ballet choreographer. He has created seven works for the San Francisco Ballet since 1994 and received commissions from American Ballet Theatre, and the Boston Ballet, among others. His work is also in the repertory of the Pacific Northwest Ballet, Ballet British Columbia, Dutch National Ballet, New Zealand Ballet, Houston Ballet, English National Ballet, and The Royal Ballet. Morris is noted for his musicality and has been described as “undeviating in his devotion to music.” He has worked extensively in opera, directing and choreographing productions for The Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, English National Opera, and The Royal Opera, Covent Garden. Morris was named a Fellow of the MacArthur Foundation in 1991. He has received eight honorary doctorates to date. In 2006, Morris received the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs Mayor’s Award for Arts & Culture and a WQXR Gramophone Special Recognition Award. He is the subject of a biography by Joan Acocella (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) and Marlowe & Company published a volume of photographs and critical essays entitled “Mark Morris’ L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato: A Celebration.” Morris is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. In 2007, he received the Samuel H. Scripps/American Dance Festival lifetime achievement award.

L’isola disabitata will run from February 18-28, 2009 at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater, John Jay College, with performances Wednesday, February 18 at 7:30pm (Opening Night); Saturday, February 21 at 8pm; Wednesday, February 25 at 8pm; Friday, February 27 at 8pm; and Saturday, February 28 at 8pm. The Gerald W. Lynch Theater, John Jay College is located at 899 Tenth Avenue, NYC. Tickets are $75-$30 and are available through Ticket Central at (212) 279-4200 or Opening Night and after-party tickets are $300 ($200 tax-deductible) and are available by calling (212) 868-4460.

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