Heartbeat Opera announces LADY M, an online fantasia of Verdi’s MACBETH (May 11–16)

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HEARTBEAT OPERA—the daring young indie opera company whose unconventional orchestrations and stagings of classic operas have been called “a radical endeavor” by Alex Ross in The New Yorker—concludes its sixth season with its first adaptation of Verdi: LADY M, a reimagined and re-orchestrated work-in-progress, envisioning the story of Macbeth through the eyes of Lady Macbeth.

In light of COVID-19, Heartbeat Opera takes its LADY M rehearsals and performances online. Rather than cancel its production, the company launches a 10-day Remote Residency (April 20–May 1) with their artists rehearsing at home, followed by a series of intimate Virtual Soirées through Zoom video conferencing from May 11-16. The full production arrives in Spring 2021.

Each 45-minute Soirée will include: a welcome toast, introductory remarks, brief live performance by one cast member, and Q&A. Each Soirée will also feature two videos, newly unveiled for this project: a short documentary showing a behind-the-scenes look at Heartbeat’s Remote Residency; and a music video of Lady M’s “Sleepwalking Scene” sung by Felicia Moore, played by the six-piece band, and featuring the five other cast members of LADY M. Recordings of individual artists will be edited together as Heartbeat did in its recent acclaimed “Make Our Garden Grow” virtual performance.

This one-page FAQ sheet explains more.

LADY M features six singers, including a trio of soloists as the shapeshifting Weird Sisters, six instrumentalists, and electronic sound design. The band is the superb Cantata Profana. Daniel Schlosberg once again creates a brand new re-orchestration that weaves in sound design and electronics. Jacob Ashworth music directs.

Stripping away the clichés that have accumulated around Lady Macbeth and her story, Heartbeat’s version explores ambition, gender, and violence through a contemporary American lens. Heartbeat Co-Artistic Director Ethan Heard, known for his socially conscious adaptations of classics like a Fidelio that recruited real prison choirs as the chorus, directs. His LADY M holds a mirror to NY in 2020: hedge fund managers and escorts, in glass towers and back alleys; the ferocious ambition and the nonstop drive.

Music & Sound Design

Music Director Jacob Ashworth, Arranger Daniel Schlosberg, and Electronic Sound Designer/Performer Senem Pirler collaborate to breathe fresh life into Verdi’s music. The band features piano, violin, clarinet, trombone, guitar, percussion, each doubling on an impressive array of additional instruments. Their adaptation distills Verdi’s chorus of witches down to a virtuosic trio, the Weird Sisters, honoring Shakespeare’s original text and endowing each sister with a soloist’s importance. Picking up where Heartbeat Opera’s Der Freischütz left off, Lady M continues to explore the realm of electronic music and sound design, especially as it pertains to evil and magic. Audiences can expect processing, contemporary vocal techniques, and other experimentation with electroacoustic sounds.

Cast

Ethan Heard directs a superb cast that includes singers from the Metropolitan Opera and Fort Worth Opera as well as graduates from several of the nation’s finest Young Artist Programs.

Soprano Felicia Moore takes on Heartbeat’s title role of Lady M. Ms. Moore recently drew wide acclaim as Susan B. Anthony in Louisa Proske’s The Mother of Us All at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Critics compared her authoritarian presence and voice to Wagnerian roles, and Parterre wrote that she was “spellbinding, her enormous voice and expressive face carrying the evening, conveying a woman who, even as she creates it, is already thinking about how she will fit into history.” Ms. Moore makes her Metropolitan Opera debut in Nabucco in 2021.

Baritone Quentin Oliver Lee, who made his Heartbeat debut as Killian/Ottokar in Der Freischütz earlier this season, performs the role of Macbeth. He was recently seen as a featured soloist in the Met Opera’s 2019 Porgy & Bess.  Bass Tyler Putnam, who previously played Masetto and The Commendatore in Heartbeat’s production of Don Giovanni, returns in the role of Banquo. Mezzo-sopranos Sishel Claverie (Heartbeat’s Carmen) and Taylor-Alexis Dupont, and soprano Jamilyn Manning-White (Heartbeat’s Lucia) serve in the role of the iconic masters of fate, the Weird Sisters.

About Heartbeat Opera

Dubbed “singularly unconventional” by Opera News—is a young company intent upon reimagining opera in intimate spaces for a new generation. Employing a minimalism that allows the emotional integrity of the music to shine through, the company’s work focuses on the body of the singer and the visceral power of the music. Co-Artistic Directors Louisa Proske and Ethan Heard, who trained together in the Directing program at the Yale School of Drama, are committed to nurturing the actor in every singer they work with. Co-Music Directors Jacob Ashworth and Daniel Schlosberg, both Yale School of Music alumni, are committed to bringing operatic music to life in fresh ways, often through new chamber instrumentations.

Recent projects include Weber’s Der Freischütz (“A bold production”—The Financial Times); Stradella’s La Susanna (“fascinating and gorgeous”—The Observer); Mozart’s Don Giovanni (“no holds barred”—Opera News); Beethoven’s Fidelio (“powerful and poignant”—The New York Times); Puccini’s Butterfly (“bold and vivid”—The New York Times); Bizet’s Carmen (“gripping music theater”—Opera News); Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor (“ingenious”—The Wall Street Journal); Purcell’s Dido & Aeneas (“elegant, boisterous and melancholy”—The New Yorker); Kurtág’s Kafka-Fragments (“a flatout triumph”—Opera News); Offenbach’s Daphnis & Chloé (“stellar young cast”—The Wall Street Journal); the first ever opera show on the High Line; and six fabulous Drag Extravaganzas: Hot Mama: Singing Gays Saving GaiaDragus Maximus: a homersexual opera odysseyAll the World’s a Drag! Shakespeare in love…with operaQueens of the Night: Mozart in SpaceMiss Handel; and Purcell’s The Fairy Queen. Heartbeat Opera’s Managing Director is Amrita Vijayaraghavan.

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