LSM Newswire

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Critic Raves About Laitman's "Scarlet Letter" World Premiere

November 18, 2008
Critic Raves About Laitman's "Scarlet Letter" World Premiere

Ellis Widner of The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette was ecstatic in his praise of last week's world premiere of Lori Laitman's opera The Scarlet Letter: "Composer Lori Laitman has written gorgeous music that works hand-in-glove with the words of librettist David Mason and underpins the very essence of this psychological-social drama."

"Based on its world premiere Thursday at the Reynolds Performance Hall at the University of Central Arkansas, this great story seems be on its way to becoming great opera..... It is mostly sung dialog, but the few arias are at key moments are stunningly effective...Laitman's music can turn on an emotional dime, from the tense and emotionally complex confrontation between convicted adulteress Hester Prynne (soprano Christine Donahue) and Roger Chillingworth (baritone Robert Holden), the resurfaced husband determined to learn the identity of the child's father, to the achingly tender lullaby she sings to her daughter after Chillingworth departs. Laitman also shows great skill in the combination and repetition of motifs to heighten tension and revive a social-emotional subtext. At times, her music suggests the lushness of Stephen Sondheim."

The opera, based on Nathaniel Hawthorne's 19th century American masterpiece, was commissioned by The University of Central Arkansas. The composer was thrilled with the performance: "As a composer you are always dependent upon others to make your music come to life. For an opera, one is dependent on a whole community of talent. I was very fortunate to have found a fantastic community at The University of Central Arkansas. The amount of talent and dedication each person gave to "The Scarlet Letter" was staggering. It was my true pleasure to work closely with all involved, and a thrilling sensation to watch everyone give their all to "birth" this opera."

Lori Laitman is represented by Jona Rapoport Artist Management.


Jona Rapoport
Jona Rapoport Artist Management

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

RCM Pandora's Locker

World Premiere of
At The Glenn Gould School of The Royal Conservatory

The Glenn Gould School of The Royal Conservatory has commissioned a new opera, PANDORA'S LOCKER, from the multi-talented young Canadian composer and librettist Dean Burry, to be premiered at the new TELUS Centre for Performance and Learning in early December.

The contemporary youth opera, PANDORA'S LOCKER, is inspired by the Greek myth of Pandora's Box in which a young woman's curiosity leads to the unleashing of all the world's evils. It is a simple, archetypal myth, which reflects humankind's own hunt for knowledge and the potential for disaster upon its discovery. This search for information - keys to the future and past - is never more tangible than in the "up-and-down" lives of the average high school teenager.

PANDORA'S LOCKER, the first major operatic commission by The Glenn Gould School, was written specifically for a high school audience. Through the use of themes such as gender issues, sexuality, and gun violence, and a musical ensemble including modern "urban music scratch electronica", the opera places the Pandora myth within a contemporary, inner-city high school setting. It reveals the many elements of people's lives they seek to keep locked up, but which demand, sometimes violently, to be released. The composer/librettist Dean Burry (who also teaches a contemporary Canadian music class at The GGS) did not shy away from any of the hardcore issues, nor gritty language, in order to make an impact and to have the work resonate with teenagers.

The performances will be conducted and directed by two other talented young Canadians, the award-winning composer Brian Current and director Jennifer Parr. Current is presently the artistic director of the New Music Ensemble at The GGS and received rave reviews for his latest CD, This Isn't Silence. Parr, an accomplished director, well known for choreographing the sword fights for Opera Atelier, will also direct The GGS spring production of Mozart's Cos fan tutte.

"Dean Burry is one of the most dynamic and relevant compositional voices in Canada and is writing, almost exclusively, for opera. His past works hold records for the greatest number of repeat performances for a Canadian opera and his work for the Canadian Opera Company's after-school outreach program has set the standard with its quality and power to engage young audiences. He writes in a style that is both relevant and accessible, and his original libretto for PANDORA'S LOCKER is powerful and uncompromising in its honesty and inspiration." David Visentin, Associate Dean of The Glenn Gould School

Music & Libretto by Dean Burry
GGS New Music Ensemble and Glenn Gould School's Opera Division
Conductor: Brian Current
Director: Jennifer Parr
Friday, December 5, 2008, at 8:00pm
Thursday, December 11, 2008, at 11:00am
Saturday, December 13, 2008, at 2:00pm
Doors open 30 minutes prior to performance. General seating, first come first serve
At Mazzoleni Hall, The Royal Conservatory, 273 Bloor Street West, Toronto
For more information call 416-408-2824 x321 or visit

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Lori Laitman's Opera The Scarlet Letter World Premiere

For Immediate Release
Friday, August 15, 2008
Opera by Lori Laitman
November 6, 7, 9, 2008
Donald W. Reynolds Theater
University of Central Arkansas
The Scarlet Letter, Lori Laitman's opera adaptation of Nathaniel Hawthorne's literary masterpiece,
to premiere at The University of Central Arkansas November 2008

  This canopy of trees,
 Once sheltered us in love.
Why must we suffer here?
 What must we prove? 
Acclaimed American composer Lori Laitman has teamed up with award-winning American poet David Mason to create a new dramatic opera, The Scarlet Letter.

The opera is based on Nathaniel Hawthorne's 19th century American novel.
Commissioned by the University of Central Arkansas, the opera will see its world premiere on November 6, 7 and 9, 2008, at UCA in Conway, Arkansas

Robert Holden, co-director of the UCA Opera Theater, developed the idea for the commission
"We are beginning a commissioning project for new operas based on classic American literature. 
In The Scarlet Letter, Lori Laitman and David Mason have created something spectacular that should become part of standard operatic repertoire." 

Hawthorne's book was published in 1850 and is considered a milestone in American literature. The story takes place in seventeenth century Boston and revolves around Hester Prynne, who is convicted of adultery and forced to wear a scarlet letter "A" on her chest as a sign of her sin. Hester's strength of character and refusal to reveal the father of her child creates enormous psychological tension amongst all the main characters: Arthur Dimmesdale, the Reverend who is the secret father of the child; Roger Chillingworth, Hester's husband, who had been presumed dead but has reappeared in the community; and the judgmental Puritan townspeople.

Themes of self identity versus community perception have presented poet David Mason with a fertile ground for the challenge of creating his first opera libretto.  "The Scarlet Letter is better suited to opera than any novel I have ever read. To begin with, its dramatic structure has particular clarity and resonance Ķ.This is an exciting story about duplicity and love, the tragic possibility of America. Hawthorne's prose has offered me several lines for adaptation, but my primary goal has been to use spare, often lyrical verse as a way of revealing character and heightening dramaĶ.. I want to make sing-able lines, but also lines the performers will feel proud to be singingĶ I was hearing a kind of music when I wrote which corresponds very closely to what Lori Laitman has been composing. This is one of the most natural collaborations I have ever engaged in. It's an opportunity for me to grow as a poet, and a profound honor to find words I have written taken up and transmuted by other artists".
For Lori Laitman, a prolific composer of art song, creating this opera has also been an experience of tremendous excitement and growth. "I am so thrilled to have had this opportunity. My collaboration with David Mason has been one of the greatest joys of my life. His talent awes me and his beautiful words gave me all of the inspiration I needed. Although this was my largest musical undertaking to date, the approach to the composition was the same one I always use: to compose dramatic music that underscores the emotional content of the words but that also creates musical lines of great beauty. From start to finish, there is a consistent universe of sound. Scored for three main leads and chamber orchestra, the opera is set in two acts: Act I with four scenes and Act II with two scenes. Approximately 2 hours in length, the dramatic pacing of the music follows the dramatic pacing of the narrative, and although there are no recitative sections, there are several major arias that emerge from the drama. Musical motives are used and reused, and combined in different ways, creating a psychological underpinning for each of the characters."

In old Boston a young woman, Hester Prynne, has been charged with adultery and forced to wear the scarlet letter 'A' embroidered on her breast. Just as she mounts the scaffold to receive her sentence, her husband, long presumed dead and newly escaped from captivity among the Indians, arrives and recognizes her. This man, renamed as Roger Chillingworth, begins a quest to discover the father of Hester's child. As the community wrestles with whether or not to allow Hester to continue raising her daughter, Chillingworth moves in with the pale young minister, Arthur Dimmesdale, who hides the fact that he is the father of Hester's child. In a dark night of the soul, Arthur is taunted by a local witch, and it becomes clear that he is overcome with guilt and inner conflict about his past with Hester. The two lovers meet in the forest, plotting their escape, sure they can escape the laws and mores of men in this new world. But Dimmesdale cannot forget his guilt, and during an election day ceremony he confesses his sin to the crowd, exposing a branded letter 'A' over his own heart. Dimmesdale dies at the moment of his confession, and the opera moves out into a broader, lyrical sense of time in which its stories are at least partly resolved.
Structure: Opera in two acts for chamber orchestra , three principal singing roles, three secondary roles, chorus and one non-singing role
Music:  Lori Laitman
Libretto:  David Mason
Creation:  2007-2008
Production:  The University of Central Arkansas Opera Theater, World Premiere
Conductor: Israel Getzov
Stage Director:  Diane Kessling
Set Design, Costumes, Lighting: William Henshaw
Principal roles will be sung by UCA faculty members:
Christine Donahue, Soprano:  Hester Prynne, a seamstress
Wolfgang Oeste, TenorArthur Dimmesdale, young minister
Robert Holden, Baritone:  Roger Chillingworth, a doctor
Martha Antolik, Mezzo-soprano:  Mistress Hibbons, a witch

Performance Details:
Public opening performance:  November 6, 2008
Pre-performance talk: 6:45 pm
Opera performance: 7:30 pm
Closed performance:  November 7, 2008
Pre-performance talk:  12:15 pm
Opera performance:  1 pm
Public performance:  November 9, 2008
Pre-performance talk:  6 pm
Opera performance:  7 pm

The Donald W. Reynolds Theater, University of Central Arkansas, Conway, AR
Tickets will be on sale as of October 1, 2008 at the UCA Ticket Central Box Office.
Tel:  (501) 450-3265;  Email:

Jona Rapoport
Jona Rapoport Artist Management

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Laitman's Latest Song Cycle Commemorates 40th Anniversary of Deaths of Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr.

March 23, 2008

For Immediate Release

A new song cycle by acclaimed composer Lori Laitman, commissioned to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the tragic deaths of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, will premiere on April 18, 2008 at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

For this commission by the Lyrica Society for Word-Music Relations, Laitman selected two unpublished poems which reflect on life, death and the notion of legacy. Titled "And Music Shall Not End," the cycle includes the works of poets Anne Ranasinghe and John Wood.

Holocaust-survivor Anne Ranasinghe's poem, "Partial Lunar Eclipse, September 7th, 2006," reflects on the mystery and timelessness of the universe, as well as her realization that she is nearing the end of her life, while John Wood's poem, "A Pastoral Lament," dedicated to a colleague upon his death, is a message of love and grief and a celebration of an enduring legacy.

Mezzo Soprano D'Anna Fortunato will perform the works with composer Lori Laitman at the piano. The performance will be presented at the Lehman Hall Music Room of Dudley House, Harvard Yard, at 4pm on Friday, April 18, 2008. Admission to the event is free of charge.

Jona Rapoport
Jona Rapoport Artist Management

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

World premier of Poet and Prophetess

Welcome to the world premier of Poet and Prophetess!

World premier!
29 March at NorrlandsOperan, Ume - Sweden
Teatern 6 pm, introduction 5.30 pm in the Bar, NorrlandsOperan

Poet and Prophetess
is a story based on two real-life tales of Europe vs. Africa in a time when the future of both continents was shaped, though with very different results. This newly written opera is about the young 18th century Swedish poet Bengt Linder, who was forced to travel with the East India vessel Terra Nova. The opera Poet and Prophetess is the culmination of NorrlandsOperan's successful collaboration with Cape Town Opera. NorrlandsOperan's resident composer Mats Larsson Gothe has contributed the music, with the libretto being written by Cape Town Opera's general manager Michael Williams.

Conductor Jonas Alber I Assistant Conductor Albert Horne I Music Mats Larsson Gothe I Libretto Michael Williams I Production Matthew Richardson I Scenography Lars stbergh I Costumes Annsofi Nyberg I Masks Robin Karlsson I Choreography Sibonakaliso Ndaba I Vocalists Gran Eliasson, Thomas Lander, Elisabet Strid, Philisa Sibeka, Richard Mbovane, Aubrey Lodewyk, Miranda Tini, Xolela Sixaba, Rouel Beukes, Lars Martinsson, Kosma Ranuer, Stefan Dahlberg, Anna Johansson I Choirs NorrlandsOperan's choir, Vocal Ensemble I Chorus Master Kjell Oscarsson, Albert Horne I Dancers Bruno Wani, Nosiphiwo Samente, Owen Manamela I The Symphony Orchestra at NorrlandsOperan

Sung in english with swedish subtitles

Time & Place: Teatern, NorrlandsOperan, Ume - Sweden

  • PREMIERE Sat 29 mar - 6 pm
  • Tue 1 apr - 7 pm
  • Thur 3 apr - 7 pm
  • Sat 5 apr - 6 pm
  • Wed 9 apr - 7 pm
  • Fri 11 apr - 7 pm
  • Sun 13 apr - 4 pm
  • Wed 16 apr - 7 pm
  • Fri 18 apr - 7 pm
  • Sun 20 apr - 4 pm


  • 30 minutes before the performance, The Bar, NorrlandsOperan

For further information, please contact:

Johanna Mattsson, Marketing Manager
Phone number: +46(0)90 15 43 23 or +46(0)70 361 77 09

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Monday, February 11, 2008

Breiner and Feidman performing together


February 11th, 2008

Peter Breiner 3 in 1 - Conducts, Plays and Composes:

World premiere with special guest Giora Feidman

New York, NY Two of Breiner's major compositions, Slovakian Dances. Some Crazy. Some Sad. and Concerto for Giora and Orchestra will have their premiere on March 6th, 2008 at the Kosice Spring Music Festival in Slovakia.

The Slovak State Philharmonic conducted by Peter Breiner, will present four out of sixteen Slovakian Dances. These represent a colourful addition to the long-lasting tradition of writing symphonic versions of folk songs and dances, akin to Brahms' Hungarian Dances and Dvorak's Slavonic Dances. "The inspiration for Slovakian Dances came through Klaus Heymann, the manager of Naxos, at the moment when he commissioned me to write the new instrumentation of Brahms' Hungarian Dances," says Breiner about the origin of his idea.

Concerto for Giora and Orchestra was inspired by no one less known than Giora Feidman, who is, fittingly so, playing the clarinet solo in this world premiere. Leonard Bernstein saluted: "Long live Giora, his clarinet and his music! He builds bridges between generations, cultures and classes, and he does it with perfect artistry!" Similarly, Giora enchanted Breiner to the extent of the Concerto creation. "This concerto is, in fact, a sinfonia concertante with an homage to formal plan of Mahler's 1st Symphony, but built on music blocks that both Giora and myself grew up with. That would be classical music, tango, klezmer, jazz Ķ" declares Breiner. "I pick up the clarinet to share a message with mankind Ķ and it is, of course, a spiritual message Ķ" admits Feidman.

"There has not been anything for a long time I would look forward to as much as to this concert." confesses Breiner.

New York based Peter Breiner is a Canadian-Slovak composer, conductor, pianist and arranger. He is known internationally for a multiplicity of recordings, broadcasts, telecasts and concert appearances. He began to play the piano at the age of four.

Peter Breiner's original compositions include two symphonies, as well as orchestral, chamber and choral music. He is one of the most recorded classical musicians in the world. The upcoming release of three CDs Janacek's Operatic Suites on Naxos arranged and conducted by Breiner will increase the account of his recordings over 150.

Breiner's clever arrangements are perhaps the best known. They include music of Bach, Tchaikovski, Gershwin, award-winning Baroque versions of the Beatles and a similar adaptation of Elvis Presley and of popular Christmas music. Breiner's distinctive arrangements of all national anthems were used during the Olympic Games in Athens 2004.

Breiner has conducted, often doubling as a pianist, the Royal Philharmonic in London, UK, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, the Moscow Symphony Orchestra, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestra National de Lille, France, to mention just a few.

Born and raised in Argentina, Giora Feidman grew up in the Jewish Klezmer tradition. After studies in classical music he joined the Israeli Philharmonic as the youngest appointed clarinettist. He presents his audience not only with a very personal interpretation of Klezmer, but with a boundless homage to life. Feidman has played with many world renowned orchestras such as, the Berlin Symphony Orchestra, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the Munich Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra, the Munich Radio Orchestra, the Kronos Quartet and the Polish Chamber Philharmonic. Together with Itzak Perlman, he contributed to the soundtrack of Schindler's List. Giora will celebrate his March birthday by playing the solo in the world premiere of the composition carrying his name.

The Slovak State Philharmonic, Koice was established in 1968. The Philharmonic achieved great successes with its concerts in many European countries but also in important cities of Asia and Mexico. The orchestra has performed at international music festivals held in important cultural centres of the world. In 1994 The Slovak State Philharmonic, Koice was the first Slovak professional symphonic orchestra performing in North America.

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Media Contact:

Radka Poliakova, Sympho Inc.

Tel: 416-489-5038


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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Calgary Opera Announces Participation in New Opera Commission of Moby Dick

January 15, 2008 08-08

For Immediate Release

Calgary Opera Announces Participation in New Opera Commission of American Classic

Calgary AB Calgary Opera is thrilled to announce its participation as a partner in the co-commission and co-production of a new opera by an acclaimed creative team: composer Jake Heggie and librettist Gene Scheer. Mr. Heggie, whose masterpiece Dead Man Walking (2000, with Terrence McNally) is one of the most frequently performed contemporary operas in the world, and had its Canadian premiere at Calgary Opera in 2006, will create a brand-new work based on a landmark of the 19th century American fiction: Herman Melville's Moby-Dick (1851).

Moby-Dick is a co-commission and co-production with Dallas Opera, San Deigo Opera, San Francisco Opera and Calgary Opera. It will have its world premiere in Dallas in April/May of 2010 in the Inaugural Season in the much-anticipated Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House at the Dallas Center for the Performing Arts.

"Calgary Opera is thrilled to be participating in this co-commission and co-production with The Dallas Opera, San Diego Opera and San Francisco Opera," says W.R. (Bob) McPhee, General Director and CEO of Calgary Opera. "We have become known as a leader in the development of new works in Canada, having commissioned five new operas, and we look forward to our first collaboration with US partners.

"Calgary audiences responded with great appreciation and enthusiasm when we presented the Canadian premiere of Dead Man Walking in 2006 and we know our community will be excited about Jake Heggie's opera Moby-Dick. We look forward to introducing Calgary and Canada to this operatic version of a great classic as told through Heggie's music and the words of the accomplished librettist Gene Scheer.

"The other wonderful happenstance in this collaboration is that Moby-Dick will open the new Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House in Dallas, as I was a central player in the building of the Francis Winspear Centre for Music in Edmonton, which opened in 1997. I have a great deal of affection and respect for the Winspear family for their most generous support of the arts."

The eagerly anticipated new work will have its world premiere in Dallas in April/May of 2010 with subsequent performances by the other co-producing companies in future seasons.

To access the Dallas Opera announcement of this exciting project, please visit

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For further information, please contact: Brian O'Neill, Calgary Opera 403-802-3409, or

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Monday, January 14, 2008

[Montreal] Hold the dates: Houdini, The Leanor and Alvin Segal Theatre- February 10-March 2

Hold the Dates!

The Leanor and Alvin Segal Theatre,

The Montreal Highlights Festival and Ernst & Young



Book by Ben Gonshor

Music and Lyrics by Elan Kunin

Directed by Bryna Wasserman

Mark these dates in your winter calendar

Sunday, February 10 Sunday, March 2, 2008

An all-new, Montreal-created, musical production.

This exciting show is part of the Sun Life Financial performing arts section of the Montreal Highlights Festival.

88.5 CBC Radio One presents the Sunday-@-the-Segal lecture for Houdini on Sunday, February 10, 11 a.m. With Dr. Joe Schwarcz.


The Leanor and Alvin Segal Theatre

At The Segal Centre for the Performing Arts at the Saidye

5170 Cote St. Catherine Rd.

Monday to Thursday at 8:00 p.m.

Saturday at 8:30 p.m.

Sunday at 7:00 p.m.

Matines: Wednesdays, 1:00pm and Sundays, 2:00 pm

Reservations: (514) 739-7944

Press release to follow.

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Friday, December 21, 2007


December 20, 2007
Libretto in Cree and narration in English by Governor General award winning Cree writer Tomson Highway. His newest work since 2005!
Music by Montreal based Chinese Canadian composer Melissa Hui.
Featuring a narrator, soloists, chorus and chamber orchestra.
Presented in co-operation with the Elmer Iseler Singers, Lydia Adams, conductor.
Japanese kuroko inspired movement and puppetry choreographed and directed by Canadian National ballet alum and renowned Cree actor and dancer, Michael Greyeyes.
Featuring rising Opera star, Xin Wang and a virtuoso ensemble of Canada's most talented musicians heralding from the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra.
Weesageechak (the Trickster) and Misigoo (The Eagle) journey across the river to a magic island where the Spirits of the Dead dance every night by the light of the moon. The Trickster and his companion try to capture the spirits in a basket but on their way back, one by one they begin to escape.

Tickets are $37 adult/ $29 senior/ $10 student and are available through The St. Lawrence Centre Box Office at 416-366-7723 or online at
About Soundstreams
Soundstreams is a hub for new directions in music, programming culturally provocative concerts and festivals by weaving together music and ideas from globally diverse genres, artists and eras. Founded by renowned oboist Lawrence Cherney in 1982, Soundstreams has presented hundreds of unique and compelling concerts, from intimate chamber music events to multi-choral spectaculars, operas, music-theatre works and 6 highly successful international festivals. A recognized national leader, Soundstreams Canada is one of the largest and most dynamic organizations of its kind anywhere in the world.
Soundstreams Canada gratefully acknowledges the support of TD Canada Trust Music, the Laidlaw Foundation, the Metcalf Foundation, the Department of Canadian Heritage, the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, the Toronto Arts Council, SOCAN Foundation, the Creative Trust, the Julie-Jiggs Foundation, the Lloyd Carr-Harris Foundation, the Koerner Foundation, the John D. McKellar Foundation, Roger D. Moore, the Charles H. Ivey Foundation, the Hal Jackman Foundation, the EJLB Foundation and the McLean Foundation for their generous support.
For more information please contact:
Allison McColl
Soundstreams Canada, Marketing and Public Relations Manager

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