Author: Jessie Bauters

CU NOW to present Mark Adamo’s “The Gospel of Mary Magdalene”

(Above: Composer Mark Adamo comes to Boulder for CU NOW this summer. Photo by G. Schirmer)

This summer, Eklund Opera’s trailblazing new works program—CU New Opera Workshop, or CU NOW—pulls out all the proverbial stops in its latest quest to bring what’s fresh and exciting about opera to the campus of CU Boulder.

Since CU NOW’s founding in 2010, the likes of Herschel Garfein (who returned to Eklund Opera to direct “The Magic Flute” in March), CU Department of Theatre & Dance alumnus Mark Campbell and opera titans Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer have called this three-week workshop home.

This year is no different. Continuing the momentum of 2016’s workshopping of Heggie and Scheer’s “It’s a Wonderful Life,” CU NOW 2017 will host composer Mark Adamo for a retooling of his opera “The Gospel of Mary Magdalene.” Adamo describes the work—which was met with controversy at its premiere in San Francisco—as a reimagining of the story of Jesus Christ “through the eyes of its most substantial female character.”

Adamo will be in Boulder next month to breathe fresh life into the opera.

“CU NOW allows the composer to not just workshop a piece but also rework it,” says Jeremy Reger, CU NOW music director. “Because Mark has such strong feelings for this piece, he’s reworking it using CU NOW as his forum.”

Ron Mueller, Eklund Opera technical director, says CU NOW’s mission has always been to expose students and audiences to the cutting edge of an art form so defined by its history.

“We also want to create an avenue to give composers a place to try out works in progress. Our slogan from the first year was, ‘Bringing opera from score to floor.’”

The other arm of CU NOW, the Composer Fellows’ Initiative, ventures into new territory for 2017 as well. CFI connects composition students with singers and opera professionals to perfect scenes they’ve written. This year, for the first time, CFI partners with the CU Film Studies department to develop film footage to accompany the scenes.

“Projection use in opera production is a brand new field that is enjoying lots of innovation and experimentation,” says Daniel Kellogg, associate professor of composition. “We’re all excited to see what [these filmmakers] come up with.”

Exploration and innovation don’t just define CU NOW. They’re also ideas that run through the fabric of Eklund Opera Program.

Says Reger, “Many colleges and opera companies are just jumping on this exciting bandwagon of new opera, but [Eklund Opera director] Leigh Holman’s insight into this progressive movement established Boulder as a forefront for new opera.”

Performances of Mark Adamo’s “The Gospel of Mary Magdalene” are Friday, June 16 and Sunday, June 18 in the Music Theatre at Imig Music Building. The Composer Fellows’ Initiative’s showcase is Saturday, June 17 in the ATLAS Black Box Experimental Studio. All CU NOW events are free and open to the public.

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