Pre-Performance Artist Talk An operatic forensic investigation-the creation and production of "The Priestess Of Morphine"

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Thu, 06/09/2022

6:00 PM

Goethe-Institut Chicago

A Pre-Performance Artist Talk

The writings of Marie-Madeleine (pen name of Baroness Gertrud von Puttkamer, ) are full of ecstatic highs and terrible despairs, with sensational depictions of lesbian eroticism and narcotics. Likewise, her life contained both the heights of scandalous success in early 20th-century Germany, and her mysterious but tragic death in a Nazi sanitarium. Her rediscovery is a welcome revival, in the form of a 2016 publication, translating her works to English for the first time, which inspired the creation of "The Priestess Of Morphine", a chamber opera Rosśa Crean and Aiden Feltkamp. Subtitled "A Forensic Investigation Of Marie-Madeleine", the work uses powerful song and a twist on the monodrama format to explore her inner and outer worlds. What else does it mean to investigate such an individual through opera?

This pre-concert talk members of the creative team (and new music collective Sound Of Fools) in advance of a restaging of the opera at the International Museum Of Surgical Science on June 17 and 18th, in which they will discuss the process of bringing their forthcoming production, and Marie-Madeleine, to life.
Moderator: Ben Zucker

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Rosśa Crean_neu (c) Rosśa Crean Rosśa Crean (they/them) began their professional career as a Bass- Baritone, specializing in avant-garde and Contemporary Classical music, many of which were their own compositions. While pursuing their Masters at Illinois State University in Composition, they have studied with Stephen Taylor, David Feurzeig, and Nancy Van de Vate. They have trained in several vocal styles, including rock, opera, sean-nós (traditional Gaelic singing), and Indian and Middle Eastern vocal ornamentation. Composing and creating music with a focus on the evocative and lyrical, their works have been performed worldwide. Their opera The Great God Pan won the American Prize in Opera Performance in 2019, and the recording is now available through Navona Records. Their most recent commission, The Priestess of Morphine, a monodrama in song cycle style, was commissioned and premiered by the International Museum of Surgical Science in Chicago in June 2019.

Jessie Lyons (c) Jessie Lyons Jessie Lyons is a Chicago-based soprano who has been enthusiastically received by audiences in the United States and abroad.  Described as “simply terrific” and with a “bright, youthful soprano” by Chicago Classical Review, she has become increasingly involved in Chicago storefront opera and new-music scene.
Lyons has appeared in productions with numerous opera companies, as soloist with orchestra, and in recital.  Most recently, she was seen as Azrael in Rosśa Crean’s The Harbingers, Lucia/Lucia II in Chicago Fringe Opera’s production of Hindemith’s The Long Christmas Dinner, to name only a few.
She has also partnered with her husband, Jordan Mandela, in presenting classical voice and guitar duo recitals.

​​​​​​​Katherine Bruton (c) ​​​​​​​Katherine Bruton Katherine Bruton has a clear voice and vibrant characterization that brings opera and art song to life. Her musicality and vocal fireworks have earned her the roles with Chicago Opera Theater, Chicago Fringe Opera, Forte Chicago, Pasadena Opera, the critically-acclaimed Pacific Opera Project, and Thompson Street Opera Company, among others.
An advocate for new opera, Bruton has been a part of many operatic premieres.
She also appears on the original recording of The Great God Pan by Rosśa Crean, which is also released on Navona Records, and was a member of the original cast with Chicago Fringe Opera.
Bruton also has a passion for art song, especially new art song. Her passion for art song extends to Russian art song, which she has performed consistently since Russian baritone Vladimir Chernov introduced her to the language and repertoire.
In her non-work time, Katherine enjoys cooking (and using her friends as testers for new recipes), coffee, snuggling with her cat Sunny, and buying things on Etsy.  

Benjamin Zucker (c) Benjamin Zucker ​​​​​​​Ben Zucker practices acts of conceptual juxtaposition and experiential speculation, as an intentionally wide-ranging composer, audiovisual artist, and multi-instrumentalist. He has contributed to experimental music scenes of the Bay Area, Connecticut, London, Chicago, and beyond, working with musicians including Anthony Braxton, Gareth Davis, Myra Melford, Karen Borca, The Crossing, The Vocal Constructivists, Rinde Eckert, and the San Francisco Choral Artists, in addition to frequent performances as a soloist, bandleader, and ensemble contributor. Their composed works have received awards and performances by ensembles including the Mivos Quartet, the Los Angeles Percussion Quartet, Khorikos, Ensemble Entropy, and the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, as well as being performed at DOCNYC, the Darmstadt Fereinkurse, Art Omi, Trinity College Dublin, Nordic Percussion Festival, Ostrava New Music Days, Ear Taxi Festival, and the Banff Centre. He has been acclaimed as a "master of improvisation" (IMPOSE Magazine) and “more than a little bit remarkable” (Free Jazz Blog) for his solo albums combining brass, percussion, voice, and electronics, released on labels including Whitelabelrecs, Dinzu Artefacts, Amalgam, and Fallen Moon Recordings. They currently live in Chicago, working as doctoral student at Northwestern University, labor and cultural organizer, Vice President of New Music Chicago, and as varied and caffeinated a freelance life as possible.