The world premiere of Charles Strouse’s new work, “The Future of the American Musical Theater,” will take place at 8 p.m. on Nov. 4 in Kilbourn Hall. This performance will mark the beginning of Eastman Opera Theatre’s new season.Strouse, an Eastman alumnus, is one of Broadway’s most prolific composers. Strouse is probably known best for his musical, “Annie.” He is also known for “Bye Bye Birdie” and a number of scores for television, movies and the concert stage.”The Future of the American Musical Theatre” will be performed in conjunction with a performance of Strouse’s 1995 opera, “Nightingale,” which is based on the Hans Christian Anderson story of the same name. The two operas are being billed together as “East and West.””East,” which is based on the “Nightingale” fairytale, will be told with a modern twist. “The musical style of ‘Nightingale’ is very ‘Broadway’ – very jazzy, slick, witty and clever. This provides a most engaging entertainment with a very touching ending,” “East” and “West’s” musical director Benton Hess, said.”The Future of the American Musical Theatre,” representing “West,” is about the complexities of theater relationships. The story takes place in a new performing arts center in Florida. “It’s a very crafty and sardonic piece,” Hess said. “[It] has fascinating characters and provides an equally engaging entertainment with an equally touching ending, albeit not so happy.” A storyteller will link the “East” and “West” operas together. Strouse’s new score was arranged for orchestra by Jairo Daurte-Lopez, an Eastman graduate student studying composition, and Michaela Eremiasova. The music will be performed by an Eastman student orchestra under the direction of Hess. The opera will also be directed by Stephen Daigle. There will be two alternating casts for the four performances of the operas. Both operas have combined historical techniques with modern concepts and ideas. “Nightingale” is stylistically more traditional. It uses traditional operatic conventions. Its characters, however, are typical of Broadway characters. “The Future of the American Musical’s” music is a combination of both musical theater and opera. When performed side by side, the two operas draw attention to mixing of opera and musical theater. Hess said, “To describe the evening, the work ‘chiaroscuro’ comes to mind, with ‘Nightingale’ providing the light and ‘Future’ providing the dark.”In addition to the Nov. 4 perfomance, “East and West” will be performed on Nov. 5 and 6 at 8 p.m. and on Nov. 7 at 2 p.m. The Friends of Eastman Opera will sponsor a pre-performance talk about “East and West” by Russel Miller, a member of Eastman’s voice and opera faculty. The free talk is open to the public and will take place in Room 120 of the Eastman School at 7 p.m. on Nov. 4, 5 and 6 at 7 p.m. and at 1 p.m. on Nov. 7.Tickets for “East and West” can be purchased online or in person through the RPO Box Office located at 108 East Ave. In addition, they can be purchased by phone at 454-2100 or at any Rochester-area Wegmans Video Departments. Any unsold tickets will be available for purchase at the Kilbourn Hall box office inside of the Eastman School one hour before every performance.Gorode can be reached atkgorode@campustimes.org



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