Date & Time: Sunday, September 30th at 3:00 PM
Ticket Cost: $29.00 – General Admission
Venue: Deane Hall at the Calderwood Pavilion
at the Boston Center for the Arts
Composer: Kamala Sankaram
Librettist: Jerre Dye
Conductor: Lidiya Yankovskaya
Stage Director: Alison Moritz
Featuring: Wes Hunter (tenor), Laura Intravia (soprano), David Kravitz (baritone), Rebecca Krouner (mezzo-soprano), Thea Lobo (mezzo-soprano), and Dana Varga (soprano)
Taking Up Serpents
Taking Up Serpents is an exploration of faith, both as it relates to religion and family, told through the lens of three family members in a snake-handling Pentecostal church. The story centers around Kayla, who is the estranged daughter of a fire-and-brimstone preacher who is dangerously bitten by one of his own snakes. Kayla’s journey home forces her to confront her troubled upbringing. This story is operatic in that the characters’ faith imbues the world with meaning that is larger than life.
“This piece is something of a homecoming for both me and Jerre.” says composer Kamala Sankaram. While I’m not a Southerner (like Jerre is), I grew up in a small town in the desert in Southern California. I knew girls like Kayla- they were my classmates, they invited me to their churches, and they never would have seen themselves as worthy subjects of an opera. So, this piece is really for them.”
Join us for a post-show reception, after the workshop performance and talk-back, at MASA, located only two blocks away at 439 Tremont Street.
Director, American Opera Initiative, WNO
Taking Up Serpents
Flute: Orlando Cela
Oboe: Anna Bradford
Clarinet: Wolcott Humphrey
Bassoon: Rachel Elliott
Horn: Neil Godwin
Piano: Yukiko Oba
Guitar: David Wade
Violin 1: Maria Gorkun
Violin 2: William Joo
Viola: Drew Ricciardi
Cello: Ming-Hui Lin
Bass: Nathan Varga
Percussion: Nate Tucker
Deane Hall at the Calderwood Pavilion
at the Boston Center for the Arts
527 Tremont St, Boston, MA 02116
INTERVIEW WITH LIDIYA YANKOVSKAYA
How did you first hear about Taking Up Serpents and how did you become involved?
I’ve known Kamala and her music for some time, so I was thrilled when WNO invited me to conduct this work. Both Kamala and Jerre are spectacular artists, at the forefront of what I view to be a current golden age for American opera.
What is it like being the Music Director of major company like Chicago Opera Theater? How has the move and transition to Chicago been for you?
The goals and opportunities for the company align perfectly with my experience and interests, which makes my job incredible. We also have a really superb staff and board, all of whom are fully dedicated to bringing our art form into the 21st century. It’s been very exciting to launch new programs like our Vanguard Initiative (which includes an opera composer mentorship program), to program some exciting works like Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta (its Chicago premiere!) and Jake Heggie’s Moby Dick, and to work with young living composers at the forefront of opera, like Stefan Weisman, Justine Chen, and on an upcoming project with Boston’s own Dan Shore. I also adore the city of Chicago and it’s wonderful to spend so much time here!
Congratulations on your new baby Artemis! Has having had a baby made you look at music and your work differently?
Actually, not really. People kept telling me that having a child will transform how I live my life, but it’s more like a really fun addition! We take the baby everywhere–she’s already an avid concertgoer at two months old, taking advantage of Chicago’s many outdoor summer venues, and loves going to the Art Institute! I am also fortunate to have an amazing support system, so baby is able to easily travel with me or have other people to rely on when needed. Little Artie and I are having a blast, already on the road and into a new production season!
Boston was your home for many years. How does it feel to be coming back to conduct with MassOpera once again?
I love the important work that MassOpera has been doing to promote young talent in Boston and am so thrilled to be back with this company for a third time. I feel so fortunate to have landed in Boston in grad school and just after—this city is filled with incredible musicians doing great work, and I would never be where I am had it not been for the vast experience I received in my years in Boston, at small-budget companies like MassOpera, conducting full productions of repertoire spanning all genders, all with superb musicians.
What exciting projects, in addition to Taking Up Serpents at the Kennedy Center, do you have coming up?
Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta and Jake Heggie’s Moby Dick at Chicago Opera Theater, development for a new work at Minnesota Opera (to premiere in 2020), performances in NYC with National Sawdust and Trinity Wall Street, several exciting projects with the Refugee Orchestra Project (which I also lead), some standard repertoire with Mobile Symphony, two projects in London, and the world premiere of Ricky Ian Gordon’s Ellen West at Opera Saratoga, are some highlights, but there is a whole lot more. Visit www.LidiyaConductor.com for more info.
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