Jan 10 – 18th, NYC : THUMBPRINT: a world premiere Opera based on the story of Mukhtar Mai.
by manu narayan
I am excited to make my opera debut in the world premiere of THUMBPRINT. A newly commissioned opera by Kamala Sankaram, composer and Susan Yankowitz, librettist, THUMBPRINT is based on interviews with Mukhtar Mai, a gang rape victim who was the first Pakistani woman to bring her attackers to justice in 2002. The score is heavily influenced by Hindustani and Western Classical music and the Libretto is in English. THUMBPRINT is part of the PROTOTYPE: OPERA/ THEATRE/ NOW Festival.
Featuring Kamala Sankaram, Soprano; Manu Narayan, Lyric Baritone; Steve Gokool, Bass; Theodora Hanslowe, Mezzo; Leela Subramanium, Soprano; and Kannan Vasudevan, Tenor.
Musical Direction by Steve Osgood ; Directed by Rachel Dickstein
at the Baruch Performing Arts Center, Nagelberg Theater, 55 Lexington Avenue (between 24th and 25th), New York, NY 10010.
90 Minutes. Tickets $25 ($16.30 & $15 through PROTO pack).
January 10 & 12 / 14 through 18 at 7:00 pm and January 11 at 4:00 pm **
**A panel on International Human Rights with esteemed panelists will follow the January 11 (4PM) show. Moderated by Peter McCabe, the discussion will feature Maitreyi Das, Lead Social Sector Specialist, World Bank; Mohammed Naqvi, director of SHAME, a special Emmy winning documentary about Mukhtar Mai; Shantha Rau Barriga, Director of Disability Rights, Human Rights Watch; Kamala Sankaram, Composer & SusanYankowitz, Librettist; and Ms. Mukhtar Bibi will join the conversation via Skype.
THUMBPRINT poetically explores the deep family ties and tribal traditions that shape Mukhtar’s story. Through acts of courage that astonish even her, Mukhtar is transformed, and so is the world that watches.
Composer Kamala Sankaram (Soprano) sings the lead role, bringing to life Mukhtar Mai’s courage, fortitude, and independence of thought. I portray the role of Faiz Muhammed (Lyric Baritone), the antagonist who as a leader in the Village is ultimately charged with ordering the Honor “Crime” against Mukhtar. Steve Gokool, Bass and Theodora Hanslowe, Mezzo portray Mukhtar’s Father and Mother, Leela Subramaniam, Soprano -Mukhtar’s sister Annu, and Kannan Vasudevan, Tenor – Mukhtar’s Brother Shakur. Each cast member portrays multiple roles in the telling of the story.
Thumbprint started as a song-cycle commissioned by Beth Morrison Projects for the 2009 21c Liederabend at Galapagos Art Space, was further developed for the 2011 iteration at The Kitchen, and will now receive its final development and world-premiere in this co-production by BMP and HERE.
PROTOTYPE: Opera/Theatre/Now is Beth Morrison Projects and HERE’s “wildly promising new opera and music-theatre festival” (The New York Times), showcasing the boom of new work by pioneering artists from New York and around the world. Launched in January 2013, the Festival produces, presents, and commissions fully realized chamber-sized pieces. On the inaugural launch, NPR noted “The rise of small-scale, more experimental presentations of opera is hugely exciting” and New Yorkmagazine concluded that PROTOTYPE “should quickly evolve into a New York institution,” adding, “The contemporary mini music drama has found its impresarios in Kristin Marting, Beth Morrison, and Kim Whitener.”
The inaugural Festival featured the world premiere co-commission of Mohammed Fairouz’s Sumeida’s Song, the New York premiere of David T. Little’s Soldier Songs, the U.S. premiere of 33 1/3 Collective’sBluebeard, and LA’s dark glam opera band, Timur and the Dime Museum. The 2014 Festival calendar, credits, personnel, synopses, libretti, images, videos, biographies, and more can be found at http://prototypefestival.org.
A B O U T T H E C R E A T I V E T E A M
As a performer, Kamala Sankaram has collaborated with and premiered pieces by the Philip Glass Ensemble, the Wooster Group, Anthony Braxton, John Zorn, eighth blackbird, Phil Kline, David T. Little, Corey Dargel, Taylor Ho Bynum, Tristan Perich, Fred Ho, the Dogs of Desire, and Anti-Social Music, among others. She has recorded with Anthony Braxton (TRILLIUM E: Braxton House), Phil Kline (Around the World in a Daze: Starkland Records), End (The Sick Generation: Hymen Records), Death Comet Crew (Dominatrix), the Albany Symphony Orchestra and Anti-Social Music.
As a composer, Kamala Sankaram’s music has been praised as “strikingly original” (Allan Kozinn, NY Times), and performed as part of American Opera Projects “Opera Grows in Brooklyn” series, at HERE Arts Center, the Stone, the Bang on a Can Summer Festival, the Santa Fe New Music Festival, and the Lucerne Festival, among others. She had the featured commission on the 2009 21C Liederabend, selected as one of Time Out’s 10 Best Classical Concerts. Her music for SOUNDING (directed by Kristin Marting) was praised as “gorgeous pop-rock interludes” (Time Out NY). She was the 2011 Con Edison/Exploring the Metropolis Composer-in-Residence at the Brooklyn Youth Chorus Academy and the 2012 Composer-in-Residence at the Eugene O’Neil Theater. She has received grants from the MAP Fund, the Foundation for Contemporary Art, Meet the Composer, and the Asian Women’s Giving Circl e, as well as residencies at the MacDowell Colony and the Hermitage. As a resident artist at HERE Arts Center, Kamala created MIRANDA, a steampunk murder mystery opera called “enjoyable, utterly original opera” (NY Post) and “among the very best theater achievements of 2012” (NYTheater.com).
Susan Yankowitz is a playwright, novelist, lyricist and librettist. Among her plays are THE REVENGE, PHAEDRA IN DELIRIUM (winner of the QRL poetic play competition); UNDER THE SKIN; TERMINAL and 1969 TERMINAL 1996, both pieces collaborations with Joseph Chaikin’s Open Theatre (Drama Desk Playwright’s Award); A KNIFE IN THE HEART (O’Neill Conference winner; West Coast Premiere October 2002 at Sledgehammer Theatre); and NIGHT SKY, presented throughout the United States and internationally. Her plays have been translated into French, Japanese, Catalan, Dutch and German; they have been widely published and anthologized. She is also the librettist/lyricist of SLAIN IN THE SPIRIT, a gospel-and-blues opera with music by Taj Mahal; CHERI, an opera/music theatre work with Michael Dellaira; and bookwriter/lyricist of TRUE ROMANCES, a musical fantasia with Elmer Bernstein.
In addition to her work for the stage, she has written a novel, SILENT WITNESS, published by Knopf, as well as several films and television plays. Her teleplay, THE PRISON GAME, was aired on PBS, as was SYLVIA PLATH: ARROW TO THE SUN, which won her a WGA nomination for the best-written documentary of the season.
Her work has been honored by grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, NEA, NYFA, TCG, Berilla Kerr, McKnight and Rockefeller Foundations. She is a frequent fellow at Yaddo and MacDowell, and is a member of New Dramatists, PEN, the Dramatists Guild, and WGA.
P R O T O T Y P E
T H E P R O D U C E R S
Creative producer Beth Morrison Projects identifies and supports the work of emerging and established composers and their collaborators through the commission, development, and production of their work, taking the form of opera-theatre, music-theatre, and multi-media concert works. Relying on the core values of collaboration, exploration, experimentation, artistry, and excellence, BMP provides a nurturing structure that allows artists to push the boundaries of their art form. Founded in 2006, BMP rapidly developed a reputation for “envisioning new possibilities and finding ways to facilitate their realization” (New York Times). In 6 years, BMP has commissioned, developed, and produced more than thirty operas and music-theatre pieces that have premiered or been performed in New York, across the country, and around the globe. The Wall Stre et Journal said, “Ms. Morrison may be immortalized one day as a 21st-century Diaghilev, known for her ability to assemble memorable collaborations among artists.” BMP is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council for the Arts, the Department of Cultural Affairs of New York City, Meet the Composer, The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, the ART NY/ JP Morgan Chase Fund for Small Theaters, The Map Fund, a program of creative Capital supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. http://www.bethmorrisonprojects.org
Since 1993, HERE has been one of New York’s premier arts organizations and a leader in producing and presenting new, hybrid performance work. Over 20 years, HERE has come to occupy a unique and essential place in the landscape of downtown live arts, and to be known as a home both for risk-taking artists in all disciplines, and for their adventurous audiences. HERE has served thousands of emerging to mid-career artists developing bold new hybrid performances, which are cross-disciplinary works that challenge existing boundaries among media and forms of expression. In the face of cookie-cutter art making, HERE has created a commissioning, development and production model that addresses many of the challenges faced by artists working in these hybrid forms. HERE makes it possible for artists to work at varied levels or scales, depending on what they individually need for their project, and to do it within a community of fellow artists who provide peer support and inspiration through the HERE Artist Residency Program (HARP). One major focus is on hybrid music- theatre/opera works, often involving multi-media and other genres such as dance and film. Recent examples are Corey Dargel’s Removable Parts (2007 & 2009), Christina Campanella & Stephanie Fleischmann’s Red Fly/Blue Bottle (2009), Nick Brooke’s Border Towns (2010), Yoav Gal’s Mosheh (2011), Kamala Sankaram’s Miranda (2012), Joe Diebes’ Botch, and upcoming, Stephan Weisman & David Cote’s The Scarlet Ibis, Hai-Ting Chinn’sScience Fair, Bora Yoon’s Sunken Cathedral, and Rob Roth & Lady Rizo’s Soundstage. HERE is located at 145 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10013. http://here.org
T H E P R E S E N T I N G P A R T N E R S
Baruch Performing Arts Center presents programming that reflects the various interests of the college for both the college community and general public. BPAC and the Weissman School of Arts & Sciences support programming on an individual basis such as: the Joel Segall Great Works Readings, the Aaron Silberman Concert Series, the Alexander String Quartet Residency, the Milt Hinton Jazz Perspectives Series, and the Weissman Talks Onstage Dialogue Series via the Baruch Jewish Studies Center. BPAC programming is presented by professional musicians, theater and dance companies. BPAC is located at 55 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10010. http://www.baruch.cuny.edu/bpac
T H E C R E D I T S
PROTOTYPE is part of “January in NYC is the Place to Be for the Performing Arts,” celebrating the unmatched convergence of performing arts professionals, audiences, and events in New York City. Every January over 45,000 people from around the globe flock to New York City for public festivals and industry gatherings, featuring over 1,500 performances by thousands of world-class artists of all disciplines and genres, including world music, theatre, dance, classical, and jazz. These Festival presentations and additional conversations coincide with the Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP) and International Society for the Performing Arts (ISPA) conferences, and the Opera America New Works Forum. More at www.JanuaryNYC.org.
Leadership funding for PROTOTYPE has been provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, with significant support from the Francis Goelet Charitable Lead Trusts, The Charles and Cerise Jacobs Fund for New Opera, and The Reed Foundation.