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Center for Contemporary Opera Presents TESS, in its "Prima Le Parole" libretto reading series.
the cell theatre
New York, NY, NY
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If you receive this note PRIOR to January 14, tickets are sold out. We suggest you come to the theater on the 14th in case seating is available due to no-shows. Please understand, however that due to the size of the theater, we have definite restrictions on the number of people we can admit. If you receive this note ON Jan 14, tickets may be available at the door on a first come, first served basis.


Center for Contemporary Opera Presents TESS, in its "Prima Le Parole" libretto reading series.
The Center for Contemporary Opera (CCO), dedicated to the development and production of new opera and music-theater, presents two contemporary composers take on Thomas Hardys Tess of the DUbervilles, one of English literatures most highly regarded writers, Wednesday January 14, 2009, 8:00pm at The Cell 338 West 23rd Street, New York City.

Selected scenes from composers Annie Pasqua and Matthew Harris operatic versions Tess of the DUbervilles, a somber tale of lifes injustices, will be presented side by side illustrating each composers vast stylistic differences that juxtaposes Ms. Pasquas Broadway idiom with Mr. Harris more traditional operatic approach.

Directed by Kira Simring, Tess of the DUrbervilles introduces audiences to CCOs new program Prima Le Parole (First, The Word).  Prima le Parole gives librettists and lyricists a chance to hear their work read by professional actors--a chance for writers, composers and the public to assess the role words, text, plot, story and character play in the evolution of new opera and music-theater.

ABOUT Matthew Harris, composer  Matthew Harriss orchestral works have been performed by The Minnesota, Houston, Florida, Jacksonville, Chattanooga, Spokane and Modesto Symphony Orchestras; chamber works by the Lark Quartet, New York New Music Ensemble and League-ISCM; and vocal works by Sheryl Studer and Faith Esham. New York City Opera presented scenes from Matthew Harris's opera Tess on their American Composers Showcase series. Three Arias from Tess was premiered by The Lake George Opera Festival and Three Choruses from Tess was premiered at Carnegie Hall.

Mr. Harris's choral works have been commissioned or premiered by leading choruses including the Dale Warland Singers, Phoenix Bach Choir, Los Angeles Chamber Singers, Western Wind, and Cantori New York. Other commissions have come from the Fromm Foundation/Aspen Music Festival (where he was a Composer-in-Residence), Verdehr Trio, Modesto Symphony Orchestra, Haydn-Mozart Orchestra, American Composers Forum and US-Mexico Cultural Fund.  

Twice awarded a Composer Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, he has received awards from the New York Foundation for the Arts, Tanglewood, Meet The Composer, the MacDowell Colony and Yaddo.  Mr. Harris studied at The Juilliard School, New England Conservatory and Harvard University.

ABOUT Annie Pasqua, composer Annie Pasqua is an award winning singer, pianist and composer whose performance credits include Carnegie Hall, Nassau Coliseum as well as an appearance on Good Morning America with Kenny G. She is recent winner VH1's "Song of the Year" International Competition. Annie began playing the piano at age four and by age seven was composing work for the piano. In 1988, Ms. Pasqua studied classical piano with Morton Estrin, who also taught Billy Joel and Deborah Gibson. In 1994, Annie Pasqua was nationally recognized with the PTA Reflections National Scholarship for her orchestral work Lullaby.    

With a B.S. in Music Education from NYU and Masters in Composition from Queens College, Annie Pasqua first began writing music for Tess, studying composition with Dr. Joseph Church, conductor and musical director of Broadway's Tommy and The Lion King. Annie earned the Tisch School of the Arts Award for Best Film Score for her work on the film Portrait. Annie Pasqua has also composed music for television, notably PBSs JFK Remembered with Walter Cronkite and Don Hewitt. In 2006, Ms Pasquas musical directed Wallenberg for the New York Music Theater Festival and later worked with show creators Laurence Holzman, Felicia Needleman and Emmy Award winning director Annette Jolles on That Time of the Year which just completed a successful run at the York Theatre.

ABOUT Tess of the DUrbervilles Tess Durbeyfield is a plain country girl, but when her parents discover they may be related to the genteel dUrbervilles, she is sent to plead for assistance. Her parents unwittingly send her into harms way, however, as the powerful and rich Alec dUrberville seduces and rapes Tess. Dishonored, she returns home and gives birth to a child, Sorrow, who soon dies. Time passes, and Tess meets and falls in love with an apprentice at a dairy, Angel Clare. She repeatedly refuses Angels requests to marry her, ashamed of her past and worried about his reaction. When she finally succumbs to her feelings and to Angel, Tess confesses the rape, and things are never the same between them. As Hardys plot draws to a close, we are left with the somber realization of lifes injustice, and question the ability of love to alleviate human suffering.  

ABOUT Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) Hardy was born in Dorset, England to a working-class family and began work as an architects apprentice at the age of sixteen eventually leaving it to attend Kings College, London. He returned to Dorset to become a writer and turned out a number of poems and novels, among them Tess of the DUrbervilles, Jude the Obscure, and Far From the Madding Crowd. Hardys writing drew both praise and criticism, with some applauding his brutally honest depictions of rural life and modern values, and others decrying his departure from traditionally conservative Victorian literature.

UP NEXT: Wednesday, February 11, 2009 8pm
Atelier Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, music by Barry ONeal; libretto by Robin Jones


the cell theatre
338 W 23rd St
New York, NY, NY 10011
United States



Kid Friendly: No
Dog Friendly: No
Non-Smoking: No
Wheelchair Accessible: No


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