On November 16 at 8pm, the Nashville Opera will
give the world premiere of Elmer Gantry, a work by composer Robert Aldridge and
librettist Herschel Garfein. On January 23, 2008 @ 7:30pm, the work will make
its Tri-State Premiere in the Alexander Kasser Theater as part of Peak
Performances @ Montclair State University.
The opera based on the famous book
by Sinclair Lewis (and the movie version starring Burt Lancaster), brings this
vivid and powerful American story to the stage. Herschel Garfein and Robert
Aldridge have crafted an operatic interpretation of Sinclair Lewis' classic
novel Elmer Gantry as less a critique of revivalism as exemplified by Aimee
Semple Mcpherson (the inspiration of the novel) than an exploration of
Evangelical Christianity in America. The
deeply moving power of American religion is reflected in a bold and mesmerizing
score that incorporates gospel, Appalachian folk song, brass band music and
several original hymns.
Elmer Gantry is a co-production
between Peak Performances @ Montclair State University and the Nashville Opera
where Peak Performances is creating and underwriting the cost of all sets,
costumes and lighting as well as the design for the production. Robert Aldridge,
Director of the John J. Cali School of Music at Montclair State University has
joined the ranks of American composers including Michael Nyman, David Lang,
Harry Partch and others who have had their works produced or premiered by Peak
Performances @ Montclair.
Peak Performances @ Montclair, an
educational affiliate of Opera America, has provided considerable resources to
help fund this project. Part of the
mission of Peak Performances and Montclair State University is to foster
creativity for artists and to serve as a laboratory where these individuals or
companies can experiment with new ideas and take risks. Also part of the
mission is to allow the students an opportunity to learn and grow while gaining
new experiences alongside some of the most innovative minds in the world of the
Elmer Gantry fits comfortably
within this dynamic mission, where the students of the John J. Cali School of
Music at Montclair State University will have the opportunity to perform this
work alongside the young professional performers who will premiere the work in
November in Nashville. The opera will
feature Keith Phares as Elmer Gantry and Jennifer Rivera as Sharon Falconer,
considered to be two of the finest young professional singers today. This production is directed by John Hoomes
with sets by Takeshi Kata, lighting designed by Robert Wierzel and costumes by
The Montclair, NJ performances
will be conducted by Paul Hostetter and Jeffrey Gall will coach the young
singers from Montclair State University. Heather J. Buchanan directs the choir
for the New Jersey performances.
Peak Performances @ Montclair is a
program administered by the Office of Arts and Cultural Programming at
Montclair State University; Jedediah Wheeler, Executive Director. Tickets are available in
Montclair, NJ for performances on Wednesday, January 23 & 25, 2008 at 7:30PM, January 26, 2008 at 8:00PM (All student
cast) and January 27, 2008 at 3:00PM.
All seats are $15 for all performances.
To order your
tickets call the Box Office at 973-655-5112 or order online at www.peakperfs.org.
Alfred R. Fredel