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Thread: American Opera Composers

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    Senior Member arpeggio's Avatar
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    Default American Opera Composers

    In another thread a member claimed he could not name 31 American opera composers (I think he can but was being sarcastic.) Came about because of discussions concerning John Cage and the operas he composed (These were new to me).

    I thought of how many American composers I was familiar with that composed at least one opera. Off the top of my head I came up with:

    Mark Adamo*
    John Adams*
    Dominick Argento*
    Samuel Barber*
    Mark Blitzstein
    Aaron Copland*
    Carlisle Floyd*
    Lukas Foss*
    George Gershwin*
    Howard Hanson*
    Stephan Hartke*
    Richard Danielpour
    Jake Heggi*
    Robert Kurka*
    Gian Carlo Menotti*
    Nico Muhly (Met will be doing his latest opera, Marnie, next season.)
    Elliott Carter
    Daron Hagen
    Edward Thomas*
    Douglas Moore*
    Tobias Picker*
    Andre Previn*
    Ned Rorem*
    William Schuman*
    Deems Taylor*
    Virgil Thomson*
    William Grant Still
    Robert Ward*
    Steven Stucky
    Philip Glass
    Leonardo Balada
    Roger Sessions (Yeah I know some think Montezuma was a dud but I heard a good recording of it on YouTube)
    John Corigliano
    Peter Westergaard*
    Leonard Bernstein*
    Jack Beeson**
    William Bolcolm
    Norman Dello Joio
    Louis Gruenberg**
    Lowell Liebermann
    John Harbison
    Ulysses Kay
    Todd Machover**
    Stephen Paulus
    Gunther Schuller
    Ellie Seigmeister
    Randall Thompson
    Henry Hadley
    Amy Beach
    Hugo Weisgaard**
    Jennifer Higdon
    Bernard Hermann
    *I have recordings of their operas.
    **I am not familiar with these composers music but I do know of some of the operas they composed

    I am sure we can come up with a few more.
    It is impossible to make anything foolproof because fools are so ingenious. And I am a very ingenious fellow

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    Senior Member elgars ghost's Avatar
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    Here's one - Michael Daugherty, who wrote an opera called Jackie O back in the 90s. It's a work I like - it's campy but also poignant, especially the second act.
    '...a violator of his word, a libertine over head and ears in debt and disgrace, a despiser of domestic ties, the companion of gamblers and demireps, a man who has just closed half a century without a single claim on the gratitude of his country or the respect of posterity...' - Leigh Hunt on the Prince Regent (later George IV).

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    Senior Member arpeggio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by elgars ghost View Post
    Here's one - Michael Daugherty, who wrote an opera called Jackie O back in the 90s. It's a work I like - it's campy but also poignant, especially the second act.
    Missed that one!!! Big fan of Daugherty. Met him once.
    It is impossible to make anything foolproof because fools are so ingenious. And I am a very ingenious fellow

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    I also have recordings of:

    Robert Aldridge: Elmer Gantry
    Anthony Davis: X
    Don Davis: Rio de Sangre
    Scott Joplin: Treemonisha
    Bernard Rands: Vincent

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    Some other additions to the list:

    Ricky Ian Gordon (A Coffin in Egypt - written for Frederica von Stade, who came out of retirement to perform it)
    Clint Borzoni (Copper Queen - premiere by the Arizona Opera)
    Charles Wuorinen (Brokeback Mountain - premiered in Madrid in 2014 and being performed this month at the New York City Opera)

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    I thought about it for fifteen minutes and came up with 23 off the top of my head (without looking at this thread, so I only saw and ignored John Cage). Those on my list but not yet mentioned:

    Mason Bates - The (R)Evolution of Steve Jobs which premiered last summer at Santa Fe was his first opera
    Laura Kaminsky - I really loved As One and am looking forward to Today It Rains, about Georgia O'Keefe, set to premiere in 2019 by Opera Parallèle in SF
    Hannah Lash
    Tod Machover - One of the first operas I ever owned on CD was VALIS, his adaptation of a novel by Philip K Dick.
    Matt Marks - He just passed away at 38. His opera Mata Hari is being performed this summer by West Edge Opera
    Missy Mazzoli
    Dorothy Rudd Moore
    Meredith Monk
    Kurt Rohde
    Bright Sheng

    Even with all those 'M' last names I swear I was not cheating!


    Oh, and upon editing I see that Tod Machover had been named already. Oops.
    Last edited by mountmccabe; May-18-2018 at 00:26. Reason: add some info!

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    Oops,

    I forgot my recording of Plumpjack by Gordon Getty.

    I have Gregory Spears' Fellow Traveler and Lori Laitman's Scarlet Letter on my want list. Looking at this thread I may have to add a few more.

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    I recently listened to The Scarlet Letter and thought it was very good. I would really like to see a production of it.

    I'm not sure how I forgot Gordon Getty; I've seen his Usher House and see him around often enough, at the opera house, symphony, and other such events. I really don't recommend this opera, though!

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    Ainadamar by Golijov

    (Sorry. I didn't read the heading carefully. I thought you were looking for 21st C composers, not just American ones) Golijov is, of course, Argentinian.)
    Last edited by nina foresti; May-18-2018 at 03:20.

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    Another addition to the list should be Conrad Susa. I saw his Transformations performed by two different companies many years ago and really enjoyed it - I've always wondered why it's not performed more.
    Last edited by Thomyum2; May-18-2018 at 15:09.

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