Opera on Tap Presents: The Longest Night

JUST ANNOUNCED:

In honor of the solstice and batting an eyelash towards holiday-triggering depression, Opera on Tap returns to HERE to present a female-driven cabaret of contemporary classical songs. 

Featuring commissioned world premiere songs by Obie-award-winning composer Diedre Murray with text by Samantha Nahra and Beth Morrison Projects Next Generation Finalist composer Laura Jobin-Acosta with text by Joanie Brittingham.  


The Longest Night

Everything is not as it seems, and everyone’s journey is not as aesthetic as we are led to believe.

Performances: December 21 @ 7pm, December 22 @ 7pm
The Dorothy B. Williams Theatre @ HERE (145 6th Ave, New York, NY 10013)
Tickets available November 24, starting at $21. BUY HERE


The Longest Night is a compilation of three concepts: Bitterness, Solstice, and finally, Witchcraft. The entrancing voices of Joanie Brittingham, Kayleigh Butcher, Victoria Davis, Rocky Duval, Mary Rose Go, Joy Jan Jones, and Samantha Nahra accompanied by Candace Chien, will take you through the journey of being “that girl”. Follow the story of being a woman in New York City, PC (Post Covid), and the emotional journey from then until now. 

The cabaret will feature an eclectic array of solstice-ready songs by Paul Ayres, Christopher Berg, William Bolcom, Tom Cipullo, Raphael Fusco, Whitney George, Ricky Ian Gordon, Benton Hess, Lori Laitman, Libby Larsen, Kamala Sankaram,  Kirsten Volness, Joelle Wallach, and Philip Warton.

Direction and Set Decoration by the Opera on Tap Coven
Song Curation: Joanie Brittingham and Victoria Davis
Projection Design:  cari ann shim sham* 
Stage Management: Alex West

Performed by Joanie Brittingham, Victoria Davis, Rocky Duval, Mary Rose Go, Joy Jan Jones and Samantha Nahra, and with piano accompaniment by Candace Chien

ABOUT THE COMMISSIONS

“The Divergent Night” with music by Diedre Murray and “Apprentice Crone” with music by Laura Jobin-Acosta are pieces based on the unique experiences of the poets, Samantha Nahra and Joanie Brittingham. In Apprentice Crone, Joanie expresses both vulnerability and empowerment seen through the lenses of women. She leaves the age of the woman to be interpreted by the audience, but with a nod to changes that come with age, and societal expectations of an aging woman.  Her inspiration is found in Jody Day’s Gateway Women, inspiring her to turn a painful experience of involuntary childlessness into one of power and fearlessness. In Samantha’s poem, “The Divergent Night,” she too takes back her power. In recent years, neurodivergence has entered social awareness. Many people use these disabilities as an “out” for moments when they don’t fit into societal norms. For Samantha, this sonnet is written with her former and present self in mind. Written sonnet style reversed, she writes an ode to herself in nature.

Opera on Tap (OOT), now 12 years old, was one of the pioneers in the movement to bring opera out of the opera house and into alternative venues. OOT has made a name for itself by presenting laid-back, entertaining, and irreverent operatic concerts that break out of the stereotypical mold of opera. By doing so, Opera on Tap shines a light on the core elements that make opera great: the beauty of the music, the (often bizarre) stories, and the incredible talent it takes to sing operatic repertoire. Opera on Tap’s credo is that the power of the human voice is best appreciated about 20 feet away, with a beer in hand.

The Longest Night has been a labor of love, in more ways than one. “As singers and leaders and curators in the industry who identify as women, we have been through several transformative moments over the last year or so. The Longest Night is a compilation of our feelings, thoughts and even struggles with what we have gone through. From grappling with identity, suffering through loss and mourning from dreams that were once so clear to us, we share it all here. Unfortunately, the general public still has not come to terms with the multifaceted nature of women. And we don’t plan to explain ourselves here. In this space, we want you to laugh, cry, sit in stillness and even join us in expressing your woes.”- Co-Curators Joanie Brittingham and Victoria Davis

“When Joanie and Victoria approached me with this concept for a cabaret, I was immediately intrigued. In my mind I keep envisioning this program as sort of a ‘Wiccan Winterreise’.  They have put together a really incredible list of songs, and I am so proud that we have been able to commission Diedre Murray and Laura Jobin-Acosta especially for this program.  Audiences can expect a rollicking good time, soaked in bitterness, silliness, sadness and everything else that comes along with being ‘that girl’ in today’s society. Equally exciting will be the projection design integration by cari ann shim sham*.  I have had the honor of collaborating with her on multiple projects and her work is always gorgeous, thoughtful and truly immersive.”Opera on Tap Executive and Artistic Director, Anne Hiatt

ABOUT OPERA ON TAP

Opera on Tap began as a small monthly gathering of ambitious, classically-trained singers looking for more performance opportunities. OOT has grown into a producing organization that has gained a loyal audience base and national recognition as an innovative force on the classical music scene. Through its Chapter program, which now has twenty-five vibrant national and international chapters, OOT has created the world’s largest network of operatic performers, creators, and supporters. Visit our chapter page to view our chapters. 

Along the way, Opera on Tap has developed the Immersive Opera Project, New Brew, and other programming that commissions living composers, performs works of contemporary composers. Our flagship education program, Playground Opera, educates children in the world of opera, music and theatre across the globe. We are headquartered as a national organization in Brooklyn, NY and, in addition to supporting our chapters around the world, present locally produced programs intended to adhere to our mission of community engagement through opera.  Learn more about our programs here.

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ABOUT OUR PARTNERSHIP WITH HERE:

Since 1993, HERE has been one of New York’s most prolific arts organizations. Today, it stands at the forefront of the city’s cultural scene, producing and presenting daring, new, multidisciplinary performance experiences.

HERE builds an inclusive community that nurtures artists of all backgrounds as they disrupt conventional expectations to create innovative performances in theatre, dance, music, puppetry, media, and visual art. By providing these genre-blending artists with an adaptive, flexible home for developing and producing their work, we share a range of perspectives reflective of the complexity of our city. 

HERE welcomes curious audiences to witness groundbreaking performances, responsive to the world in which we live, at free and affordable prices.

HERE strives to create an equitable, diverse, and inclusive home in which all people have fair access to the resources they need to realize their visions. We acknowledge structural inequities that exclude individuals and communities from opportunities based on race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, class, age, and geography, and seek to counter those inequities in our work. Through mindful actions on sustainability and regenerative practices, we work toward climate justice, and a safe, livable planet for present and future artmakers and audiences.

Opera on Tap has collaborated with HERE on projects including the Grammy-nominated LOOKING AT YOU by Rob Handel and Kamala Sankaram, and the upcoming project JOAN OF THE CITY co-created by Kamala Sankaram and Kristin Marting. 

ABOUT THE ARTISTS:

Joanie Brittingham

Joanie Brittingham, soprano, has been praised for her “dramatic versatility” (Opera News), “meltingly beautiful” interpretations (Forbes), “lucid diction” (New York Times), “captivating stage presence” (New York Classical Review), and “full-bodied voice” (Tulsa World), all while demonstrating “strength and resistance” (Opera Wire) throughout her “outstanding solo work” (New York Concert Review). Brittingham has performed at Carnegie Hall, Merkin Hall, and Symphony Space and with Riverside Theatre, Fresh Squeezed Opera, New Amsterdam Opera, Opera on Tap, IconoClassic Opera, Hartford Opera Theater, and Chelsea Opera, the New Works Festival with OPERA America, American Lyric Theatre, Opera Lancaster, New York Lyric Opera, Light Opera Oklahoma, Peach State Opera, and Wichita Grand Opera.  In addition to performing, Joanie is the Development Director for Opera on Tap, Associate Editor for Classical Singer Magazine, and a piano technician.Brittingham’s recordings can be heard on all streaming platforms.

Kayleigh Butcher

Described as a singer with “commanding interpretive depth” (New York Times) as well as having a “pure vocal talent” (Opera Wire Magazine), Kayleigh Butcher (mezzo soprano) has gained critical and audience acclaim as a soloist and contemporary chamber musician.

Kayleigh is also a founding member and the director of Quince Ensemble, an all-treble, acappella vocal quartet that explores experimental vocal techniques and improvisation. She is also a founding member of Shepherdess with Hajnal Pivnick, an NYC-based violin and voice duo. And lastly, she is a member of LOVELERVLUV, a musical, performance art trio with Paul Pinto and Bonnie Lander.

Kayleigh received her Bachelor of Music from the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory, where she studied with Dr. Anne DeLaunay and Dr. Denise Knowlton.  She was a graduate teaching assistant to Dr. Jane Schoonmaker Rodgers at Bowling Green State University, where she earned her Master of Music.  She currently resides in Kensington, Brooklyn with her fat cat, Cherubino.

www.kayleighbutcher.com

Candace Chien

Lauded for her “particularly lovely” playing, collaborative pianist, Candace Marie Chien is a graduate of The Juilliard School, studying with Jonathan Feldman and Margo Garrett.  She received her Master’s degree in piano performance at the Manhattan of School of Music with the guidance of Jeffery Cohen and obtained her undergraduate degree in piano performance at Temple University under Professor Harvey Wedeen, and also completed an undergraduate there in Music Education, cum laude.

An avid chamber musician, Candace regularly performs with chamber groups Alighieri Duo, a violin piano duo, and piano trio Trio Portinari.  Her chamber music performances have taken her all over the east coast of the US, Canada, and Sweden, and has performed with members of the New York Philharmonic and Sydney Symphony.  She has coached with members of Juilliard String Quartet, American String Quartet, Tokyo String Quartet and Nash Ensemble.  Other influential mentors include JJ Penna, Gina Levinson, Lucie Robert, Kenneth Cooper, and Charles Abramovic. Recent engagements include appearances at Kaufmann Center Merkin Hall, Kimmel Center Academy of Music, Carnegie Hall Weill Recital Hall, WMP Concert Hall, Rutgers University’s Mallery Room, Islip Arts Council and Heliconian Hall in Toronto and concerto appearances with New Westchester Symphony and New York Session Symphony.  She has participated in masterclasses with Lambert Orkis, Warren Jones, and Czech pianist Ivan Klansky. 

In her spare time between private teaching, Juilliard, and concertizing, one can also find Candace in the kitchen.  Her personal connection to music and food can be seen on Food Network tv show, Cooks Versus Cons, Season 4 in the episode “Fry, Fry Again!”.

Victoria Davis

Victoria Davis, Soprano, is a recent Graduate of Mannes College of Music. She has been a featured soloist in many concerts and events including the Welcoming of the First lady of Russia with Michelle and Barack Obama and the Kennedy Center’s Young Artist in America presentation. She had also participated in the Washington National Opera’s Juneteenth celebration as a soloist.

Ms. Davis has been seen in the roles of Lady Billows in Albert Herring and Die Sändmanchen in Hänsel und Gretel in The Oberlin Opera theater. Ms. Davis is a proud alumni of Oberlin Conservatory where she studied with Soprano Marlene Rosen. Ms. Davis has been a recipient of many awards including the fifth place winner of Opera Ebony’s vocal competition as well as a prize winner of the Premiere Opera Foundation’s Vocal Competition. Recently, Ms. Davis has been seen in the role of First Lady with Opera On Tap’s Playground Opera Program. She has also performed with the Masterworks Chorus as the Soprano soloist for the Brahms Requiem. In addition to that, Ms. Davis performed the title role in Puccini’s Suor Angelica with Opera Susquehanna in August of 2019. In the upcoming season, Ms. Davis will speak on a panel for Black Women In Opera: Community in Opera. Ms. Davis will also make a virtual appearance with the Kirsten Lewis Foundation, for their Gala Performance. In addition to this, Ms. Davis is proud to announce her participation with the Metropolitan Opera Guild and All Star Outreach, in giving back to the community through the arts. Victoria currently studies under Michael Paul. In addition to her vocal talents, Ms. Davis enjoys trying new recipes and writing poetry.

Rocky Duval

New York based opera singer, performance poet, actor, and TEDx speaker Rocky Duval has been performing professionally since the age of 11 and has appeared in opera, television, stage, concert, and off-Broadway. Ms. Duval has performed with many companies, including The Metropolitan Opera Guild, The Glimmerglass Festival, Festival Bach Montréal, Opera on Tap NY, Frequent Flyers Aerial Dance, The Westchester Baroque Festival, The Colorado Music Festival, The Seattle Symphony, Opera Steamboat, The Barcelona Opera Studio, among others. She has performed at a wide range of venues internationally including, The Apollo Theatre, The High Line, on Spanish National Television (La1), CBGB, WQXR’ s The  Green Space, Opera America, Monestir Pedralbes Barcelona, Schauspielhaus Bochum, The English Theatre Frankfurt, as well as ARTE television, Germany.
Other highlights include: The Flower Power Duet with OperAerobics, with over 30K views, which was described as “What the world was waiting for” and “what the [redacted] did I just watch?”. Since March 2020, Rocky has taken to the screen and is passionate about opera innovation. As a specialist in early music and contemporary classical music, she has been in three filmed operas, one opera podcast with Experiments in Opera, and an exciting virtual learning platform that takes Rossini’ s La Cenerentola to children all over the world. Rocky is an Executive Producer for Opera on Tap, and has a thriving business as a public speaking coach. Her clients have gone on to do TED talks, book launches, and successful webinars. She holds a Bachelor’s of Music from the University of Washington, and a Diploma in Coaching from NYU.

Mary Rose Go

Born in Los Angeles and raised in Honolulu, Mary Rose Go is a classically trained coloratura soprano and actress. Recent credits include Columbina/Rapunzel in RagTag Theater’s Rapunzel, Cindy in an virtual performance of Cindy the Dreamer (Or No Small Potatoes) with Hudson Stage Company, Hope in a staged reading of Inside Siberia (Root Beer Occasion Theatre) and Queen of the Night in Die Zauberflöte with Opera on Tap’s Playground Opera at PS 129 in Harlem. Other roles include 17th century diva La Rochois in La Maupin with Fresh Fruit Festival, Amor (L’incoronazione di Poppea), Despina (Cosi fan tutte), Nella (Gianni Schicchi), Suor Genovieffa (Suor Angelica), Rosina (The Barber of Seville).

Ms. Go has participated in a Hamilton Project Residency with Barn Arts Collective, OperaWorks, Bay Area Summer Opera Training Institute at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and the Hawai’i Performing Arts Festival. Equally comfortable in solo concert, Ms. Go has given numerous solo and joint recitals with Civic Morning Musicals and Cantanti Project singing difficult cycles such as Bernstein’s La Bonne Cuisine, Ravel’s Histoires Naturelles and Strauss’s Brentano lieder. She also debuted a jazz arrangement of Walter Loving’s “Beloved Philippines” at Cave Canem with Guggenheim Fellow Patrick Rosal. Other engagements include solo and collaborative public performances with Tuesday Night Project, Lompoc Valley Orchestra, and the Cantanti Project. Ms. Go has been recognized by the Art Song Preservation Society, the National Association of Teachers for Singing – Central New York, the Performing Arts Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara, and the Bay Area Summer Opera Theatre Institute.

Follow Mary Rose on Instagram at shortnmorose or subscribe to her permaculture gardening YouTube channel for kids called Auntie Mary Rose – her last video features an Italian disco song about beans and farting!

Laura Jobin-Acosta

Laura Jobin-Acosta (Composer commissioned for this event) is a motivated and passionate composer. She recently graduated with her master’s degree in classical composition from SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Music, where she studied with Laura Kaminsky and Kamala Sankaram. Laura Jobin-Acosta is a 2021 IDEA Opera Resident Artist hosted at the National Opera Center, where she will be under the mentorship of composer, Jake Heggie. Laura is also a 2021 BMP: Next Generation finalist as part of Beth Morrison Projects.

​Jobin-Acosta realized her compositional skills by attending the Walden Creative Musicians Retreat in 2017, where she wrote a piece for Mivos Quartet that was premiered. While still in graduate school, she was commissioned to compose The Seven Last Words of Christ by Calvary-St. George Episcopal Church in Manhattan. As part of her Opera America Residency, Jobin-Acosta is currently working on an opera miniature about paleontologist Mary Anning with librettist Kaitlin Sullivan, as well as a full length opera about Puerto Rico’s Doña Felisa Rincón de Gautier with librettist Sandra Flores-Strand. Laura is also working on art song commissions for Opera on Tap and Five Boroughs Music Festival in collaboration with On Site Opera.

​Jobin-Acosta’s unique multi-cultural upbringing and singing background is reflected in her music, which can be described as beautiful, weird, and full of layers and dialogue. She has significant local and international singing experience that expands to Munich, Vienna, and Israel, and regularly performs new music in New York City, where she resides.

Joy Jan Jones

Joy Jan Jones is a versatile performance artist in high demand. She is an independent, multi-genre singer, instrumentalist, writer, producer, & model. NYC based, she has been featured @ Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, New York Fashion Week 2018-2020 & NYC’s annual Village Halloween Parade 2021. She has been featured in TimeOutMagazine twice & became a contributor to Classical Singer Magazine last summer, w/ her provocative & very personal article, The Four Corners. Born and raised in Houston, TX Joy has a Bachelor of Music Performance from Sam Houston State University & a Master of Music Performance from the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam. While in Potsdam she won 1ST PLACE in the New York State MTNA vocal competition & 1ST PLACE in the Classical Singer vocal competition (graduate university level). Additionally, she completed her Graduate Thesis & initial training in Music Therapy w/ adolescents. Particularly those bereaving, or living w/ neuro-divergent & neuro-developmental disorders.

Joy is a professional singer, recording artist, & songwriter. She curates live performance art pulling from several genres of music, from Coltrane to Baroque, Gospel to German Lieder, & Yacht rock to Dream-pop.

Currently, she is collaborating w/ New Brew: A collective of OperaonTap.org performers & creators that present original, curated concerts of new music w/ a focus on local emerging & established composers.

Diedre Murray

Diedre L. Murray (Composer commissioned for this event), is a Pulitzer Prize finalist, two-time OBIE Award winner, innovative composer, cellist, and producer. From the 1970s through the 1990’s she pioneered the use of the cello as a jazz instrument, playing domestically in the USA and extensively throughout the world. She’s best known for her work as a cellist with Hannibal Marvin Peterson’s Sunrise Orchestra, The Fred Hopkins/Diedre Murray ensemble and The Henry Threadgill Sexette.
Musical and theater work: score for Best of Both Worlds for A.R.T.; Unending Pain, a jazz oratorio, copresented by the Performance Garage and the Whitney Museum of American Art; Let’s Go Down to the River, a score for octet, Willasau Jazz Festival in Switzerland; The Eyes of Nhor, a string trio for National Dutch Radio and De Effenaar Festival in Eindhoven, Holland; Kamerados, for mixed ensemble, The Women’s Improviser Festival in New York; Five Minute Tango, a score for the inaugural concert at the Danny Kaye/Sylvia Fine Playhouse, performed by the Manhattan Brass Quintet; The Conversation, for the Seattle-based New Performance Group at the Walker Arts Center in Minnesota; You Don’t Miss Your Water, a music theater piece, in collaboration with Cornelius Eady, produced by the Music-Theatre Group (MTG); Women In The Dunes, a dance piece created by Blondel Cummings at the Japan Society; score for Strings Attached, a dance piece choreographed by Risa Jaraslow at The Joyce Theater; music adaptation and arrangements for The Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess at The Richard Rodgers Theater in 2012; MTG produced  chamber opera Running Man, for which she wrote the original story and score with libretto by Cornelius Eady, Here Theatre in New York City (two OBIE Awards, finalist for the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for Drama); original music and arrangements for Eli’s Coming (OBIE Award) Vineyard Theatre.
Ms. Murray wrote the score for the MTG/Kathryn Walker coproduction of the Rage of Achilles and the Odyssey which were performed at the 95th Street Y and the Lensic Theater in Santa Fe; The Blackamour Angel, an opera written by Carl Hancock Rux, Bard College; score for an adaptation by Diane Paulus of James Baldwin’s Another Country, Columbia University; score for an adaptation of The Voice Within with Marcus Gardley, Harlem Stages and the Apollo Theatre. 
Recent projects include scoring Chesney Snow’s The Soil Beneath, a streamed choreopoem produced by Primary Stages. In collaboration with Regina Taylor, Ms. Murray did the new arrangement for Crowns, produced at the Long Wharf and McCarter Theaters, and scored Oo-Bla-Dee, produced by Three Rivers Theater. Score for Patient Zero, an opera, libretto by Cornelius Eady and Ms. Murray for MTG. She is currently in production with choreographer Dianne McIntyre, writing the music for a dance retrospective of Ms. McIntyre’s career.
Ms. Murray has received numerous grants and awards for her work as a composer. She received a B.S. degree from Hunter College in ethnomusicology, and has appeared on over 50 recordings as a cellist, composer, arranger and/or producer.

Samantha Nahra

Soprano, Samantha Nahra, has sung the roles of Micaela in La tragedies de Carmen, Donna Anna in Don Giovanni, Laetitia in The Old Maid and the Thief, Suor Dolcina in Suor Angelica and Bianca in La Rondine. She has covered the role of Arinyae in the premiere of A Metamorphosis with the Christman Opera Company and she has sang scenes from Tosca, Der Fliegende Hollander, and Die Walküre with the New York Dramatic Voices. She has been involved in Oberlin in Italy, CoOPERAtive, Operaworks, Sherrill Milnes VOICE Studio, Le Chiavi di Bel Canto, International Vocal Arts Institute, and Utah Lyric Opera program UVAA. Recently she received an honorable mention in NJS International Vocal Competition, was a finalist in the Elaine Malbin competition and a semi-finalist for the SAS Vocal Competition. She is the creator of “A Dramatic Soprano Tries Cooking…” on YouTube, and the librettist for “A Dramatic Soprano Tries Cooking…The Opera” composed by Philip Wharton. Currently her YouTube show has partnered with Opera on Tap in NYC.

cari ann shim sham*

cari ann shim sham* is a wild artist working at the intersections of dance & technology. She experiments with still & moving images, movement, sound, experiential interactive spaces & street art stickers. Her art engages the dream world through light, movement, nudity and impossible bodies across the mediums of film, immersive installation & interactive media design, theater, dance, video art, virtual reality, xr, and artificial intelligence. Her live work and interactive video art has shown at notable venues such as Jacob’s Pillow, BAM, PS 21, Peak Performances, the Joyce Soho The Krannert Center, Clarice Smith Art Center, Danspace in NYC, Dance Place, DC, REDCAT Los Angeles and she was commissioned by the Trisha Brown company to be the first video artist to redesign the set/sound and video art of Rauschenberg’s Shiner for Set & Reset, Reset. She is actively engaged in the disruption of negatively addictive crowd sourced platforms that expect user generated content for free in a scheme to sell advertising to manipulate & influence its users and currently teaches a Big Ideas Course on “The Ethics of Big Tech and Social Media: Technoethics”, school wide at New York University. As a curator she creates spaces that cultivate new ideas for sustainable arts practices. with a curation practice over a decade deep, her commitment offers free submission and innovative programming for new artists with a focus on dance film, vr, ar, xr, and interactive installation, with the recent launch during the pandemic of The museum of Wild and Newfangled Art, online worldwide digital art museum that hosts a biennial, a store, a collection, a blog, screenings, artist talks, private events and parties at www.mowna.org.

She is honored to serve as a guide to young artists at NYU, Tisch School of the Arts as an Associate Arts Professor of Dance & Technology. www.cariannshimsham.com