Elmer Gantry, an American Opera Based on the Seminal Novel by Sinclair Lewis Premieres in Nashville on November 16, 2007 and in Montclair on January 23, 2008

Featuring Keith Phares as Elmer Gantry and Jennifer Rivera as Sharon Falconer A Co-production between Peak Performances @ Montclair and the Nashville Opera

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 performing arts.

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 Camille Assaf.

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.

For information about the Nashville Opera performances please go to www.nashvilleopera.org.

Media Contact:

Alfred R. Fredel 973.655.3004

Released: October 8, 2007