Fort Worth Opera’s reimagined fall virtual season under the company’s new online initiative FWO Green Room. On Tuesday, Sept. 15, FWO will present the digital debut of the Fort Worth Opera Chorus, with a performance of 20th-century choral icon Moses Hogan’s epic work His Light Still Shines, honoring Martin Luther King Jr.
In October, the opera will present the world premiere film of opera Artistic Director and composer Joe Illick and Pulitzer Prize-winning librettist Mark Campbell’s Stone Soup, set in Blessing, Texas during the Great Depression.
The work takes the popular European fable of yore and gives it a Texas twist. Filmed entirely on green screens with full costumes, set, and props, Stone Soup is the opera’s first foray into the world of cinema, and will be streamed on the company’s website.
The opera also announced the 2020-2021 Lesley Resident Artists, soprano Megan Koch and tenor Darius Thomas, both of whom will be featured in Stone Soup, and Festival Artists Online, the company’s new platform for thrilling concerts and fascinating discussions.
Commissioned by the Choral Arts Society of Washington in honor of King, His Light Still Shines premiered in 2002 at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
The opera said in light of the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and others, coupled with fierce discussions on racial injustice, police brutality, and the ever-expanding wave of Black Lives Matter protests, the 15-minute choral medley is still relevant,
Under the baton of opera Chorus Master Alfrelynn Roberts, 39 singers and eight speakers will bring Hogan’s vision to life, as three spirituals (Done Made My Vow, Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen and Hold Out Your Light) are interwoven with his original music (His Light Still Shines and A Song of Reflection), and inspiring spoken word passages.
“Singing with Moses Hogan was truly a highlight of my career,” says Roberts. “When I first performed His Light Still Shines with the Moses Hogan Singers, I was gripped by a text that challenged the decency of a just America, concepts poignant then and definitely now.”
Following the success of the opera’s 2019 world premiere, Frida Kahlo and the Bravest Girl in the World, composer Joe Illick and librettist Mark Campbell teamed up once again for Stone Soup, a new family opera with an enduring message of kindness
Led by a resourceful young hero named Sally, this timely tale teaches the value of sharing and collaboration. Initially set to take the stage this fall, the opera’s live performances were hindered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Opera Manager of Education Sheran Goodspeed Keyton (Virtual Project Producer), Producer Charles W. Bush of Appointed Productions (Film Producer), and FWO Head of Music Charlene Lotz (Music Producer) have teamed up to create something infinitely more imaginative for the inaugural production of FWO’s 75th anniversary season.
Under the direction of Theatre Arlington’s Executive Producer Steven D. Morris, five talented singers were filmed individually, then seamlessly edited together to bring Illick and Campbell’s charming opera to life.
Starring 2020 District Winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, soprano Flora Wall as Sally, Australian bass-baritone Christopher Curcuruto as Max, and mezzo-soprano Kayla Nanto as Edna, this Texas-themed work also features opera Lesley Residents artists Darius Thomas and Megan Koch as Stan and Delia.
Soprano Megan Koch returns to Fort Worth Opera as a Lesley Resident Artist in 2020-2021, as part of the company’s 75th anniversary season. Koch was part of the FWO Studio Artist program, and premiered the role of Marianna and Grandmother in composer Joe Illick and Pulitzer Prize-winning librettist Mark Campbell’s family opera, Frida Kahlo and the Bravest Girl in the World.
She’s joined by tenor Darius Thomas, who throughout DFW as a Fort Worth Opera Lesley Resident Artist, and be featured online through the company’s digital platform FWO Green Room, where he will perform the role of Stan in the world premiere film of Joe Illick and Mark Campbell’s Stone Soup.
Stone Soup will be available for booking to view after Oct. 1
As with all of Fort Worth Opera’s Arts in Place educational programming, a detailed study guide will accompany the performance piece. Virtual story time and Stone Soup book distribution are also available for Title I kindergartners within Fort Worth.
Official Stone Soup Page
Official His Light Still Shines Page
¬– FWBP Staff