News & Press

Apr 27, 2018
OperaWire Review: Medea
Medea and Contemporary Ideas Combine for Intriguing Overall Concept By Santosh Venkataraman Opera Omaha was handed a dilemma in its inaugural ONE Festival when it was forced to replace the title role in Fiona Shaw’s version of “Medea,” a co-production with the Wexford Festival Opera, due to illness less than three weeks before the show. The solution was inelegant but probably the best that could be mustered under the circumstances with an unusual bit of double casting. Soprano Jessica Stavros sang the role from a stationary position while actress Lacey Jo Benter performed it simultaneously. The result was less than ideal but wasn’t the biggest issue for a performa...
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Apr 27, 2018
Musical America: ONE Festival, Part II
Omaha's ONE Festival, Part II By Thomas May "Proving Up, by composer-librettist-director team Missy Mazzoli, Royce Vavrek, and James Darrah, was staged at the ONE Festival in the unconventional KANEKO space. The second opera was presented in the elegant Orpheum Theater dating from 1927, where the main stage season takes place. But even that, like the Mazzoli piece, was not standard rep: Cherubini's Medea (in the Italian version), known by many opera lovers solely from Maria Callas's famous recording under Bernstein. Only two performances of this co-production with Wexford Festival Opera were given.
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Apr 26, 2018
Musical America: ONE Festival Proves Up to Its Ambitions
Opera Omaha's Inaugural ONE Festival Proves Up to Its Ambitions By Thomas May The only professional opera company in Nebraska, Opera Omaha crowned its 60th-anniversary season by launching a brand-new, genuinely insight-provoking festival this month. ONE Festival, which takes its name from the abbreviated city and state, culminated over the weekend (April 20-22) in back-to-back presentations that made it possible to take in all of the main offerings. The highpoint was the world premiere, in its fully staged, professionally sung version, of Proving Up, the latest collaboration from the remarkable composer-librettist-director team Missy Mazzoli, Royce Vavrek, and James Darrah.
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Apr 26, 2018
I Care If You Listen: Proving Up
Mazzoli and Vavrek’s Proving Up at Opera Omaha ONE Festival By Megan Ihnen A makeshift sawhorse, an oval stock tank, miniature flowers, and a collection of liquor bottles dotted the long thrust stage filled with dirt in The KANEKO in Omaha, Nebraska as the lights came up for the opening scene of Missy Mazzoli’s Proving Up as part of Opera Omaha’s April 2018 ONE Festival. The audience sitting in a hodgepodge collection of kitchen chairs on both sides of the narrow stage slowly noticed the miniature flowers sat atop two small graves in the dirt as John Moore‘s baritone voice resonated from offstage singing the prologue – an arrangemen...
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Apr 24, 2018
OperaWire: Proving Up Review
Proving Up: Mazzoli and Vavrek Masterfully Explore Migration Hardship in the Heartland By: Santosh Venkataraman Is there a better way to spend an opera festival in Nebraska than to see an opera set in Nebraska? My weekend at the inaugural ONE Festival presented by Opera Omaha was highlighted by seeing the brand-new “Proving Up” by the dynamic duo of Missy Mazzoli and librettist Royce Vavrek on two occasions. The opera is based on the short story of the same name by Karen Russell and finds its basis in the Homestead Act of 1862. That arcane law signed by President Lincoln granted free land for Western migrators willing to settle for a five...
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Apr 23, 2018
Omaha World-Herald: Medea Review
Review: Opera Omaha's 'Medea' is a hauntingly beautiful production By Drew Neneman “If walls could talk...” or so the saying goes, and they most often don’t, but sometimes they sing. At the Orpheum Theater on Friday night, Opera Omaha presented Luigi Cherubini’s “Medea.” Shadows sang and voices danced as the adaptation of a 2,400-year-old myth came to life chillingly on the set and its towering walls. Andrew Eggert directed this interpretation of Fiona Shaw’s 2017 Wexford Festival Opera production. He is to be congratulated on a heartfelt and heart-wrenching presentation. The soprano Medea, sung by Jessica Stavros in her Opera Omaha debut, remained upon or at least magnetically drawn to a sto...
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Apr 19, 2018
Opera Omaha Presents "Medea"
Opera Omaha Presents “Medea” By Corbin Hirschhorn, KVNO News April 19th, 2018 Omaha NE—Baritone Weston Hurt has played many of the principal roles in popular operas by Verdi, Puccini, and Donizetti, and now he’s taking on Creonte in Cherubini’s Medea, Opera Omaha’s next performance as part of the ONE Festival. Hurt’s music education began with his mother’s decision, a choral director herself. His early life was split between music and sports, but after success in choirs landed him a position in the Texas All-State choir, the importance of music changed. Cherubini originally wrote his version of the Greek tragedy in French, having spent most of his time in Fran...
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Apr 17, 2018
Schmopera Review: Proving Up
Schmopera Review: Confusing & Creepy: Proving Up Little House on the Prairie meets The Shining. This phrase truly encapsulated the visceral experience that is Opera Omaha's production of Proving Up. Composer Missy Mazzoli and librettist Royce Vavrek have crafted an opera that captures the dark side of the American dream that is so often glossed over. Based on the short story by Karen Russell, Proving Up focuses on settlers who struggle against adversity, work hard, and still do not succeed. This goes against the vision of the American West that has been idealized for years, but let's be real. For every pioneer that beat the odds, there had to be ...
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Apr 16, 2018
Wall Street Journal Review of Proving Up
An Opera Festival's Local Focus By Heidi Waleson April 16, 2018 Opera Omaha’s inaugural ONE Festival, running through April 22, embraces opera’s roots with its tentpole production, Cherubini’s Medea, which plays next weekend in the Orpheum Theater. But more importantly, the festival expands the boundaries of the form with artist-led events ( James Darrah is its overall artistic director) and relates it explicitly to this Midwestern city. Proving Up, a harrowing 75-minute new opera by Missy Mazzoli and Royce Vavrek, performed at Kaneko, an arts center in a converted warehouse, is a dark meditation on the region’s past. Based on a story by Karen Russell, it examines 19th-century western migration through ...
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Apr 11, 2018
Opera "Proving Up" tells Nebraska Story
Omaha World-Herald: Opera "Proving Up" tells Nebraska Story By Betsie Freeman For staffers and supporters of Opera Omaha, this year’s inaugural ONE Festival is the culmination of a dream. The centerpiece of the event, a new opera called Proving Up, itself centers on a dream, though it’s a dream that for many is far less attainable than was the festival. "Proving Up is about the harsh realities of the American Dream, about the role of fate in our destinies and also about people who are erased from history,” the opera’s composer, Missy Mazzoli, said in program notes. The opera premieres Friday in the Bow Truss Ga...
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