Opera Saratoga announces the world premiere of The Selfish Giant, playing for free in seven venues across Saratoga Springs and the Capital Region beginning June 3, 2023. This parable about a Selfish Giant who learns to share his garden is based on a story by Oscar Wilde, and was adapted by Palmer and Assad into a 45-minute opera for children and their grown-ups. Free Tickets for The Selfish Giant are available online at https://www.operasaratoga.org/the-selfish-giant. Advance reservations are highly recommended, and masking is encouraged but not required.
Lila Palmer explains the impetus to make Wilde's work into an opera: "As a young woman working as a secretary I moved to London and often took the bus past Hyde Park and through Chelsea, past the lovely green spaces and its most elegant Georgian neighborhoods. With my Bird's Eye view, I could stare down into the many private, iron gated railings of the private squares, to which only homeowners of the square possess keys. You almost never see a living human in them, except for a paid gardener. Meanwhile, in the government high rises tucked away in these affluent parts of the city, children are bussed miles from their schools in order to be able to access green space, play football (soccer) or even a game of tag. It was during these bus rides that I first got the idea for adapting The Selfish Giant as an opera."
Palmer says, "The themes of the piece are timely: the isolationism borne of difference and fear, the very British preference for things that grow over people, and the opportunity for connection and healing afforded by green spaces and by the choice to offer love and friendship, even in unlikely circumstances. We have all of us, become giants in our own gardens these last years. This little opera is as much a prayer as an entertainment, a belief that across our differences we can choose to share, to live together, and thrive."
The Selfish Giant was commissioned by American Lyric Theater in New York City, and transformed into a virtual offering which was sent for free to schools during the 2020 season. Finally, Opera Saratoga will produce the opera in a production by Brazilian-American director Jen Pitt, music directed by Nathan Cicero.
Because no one feels left out in spaces that are built for everyone to belong, there will be an area of the audience that is sensory-friendly, where children can walk around during the show. After each show, children will have an opportunity to take pictures with the cast and on July 1 & 8 at Universal Preservation Hall, Saratoga Tea and Honey will pour tea for all before the show, starting at 10am.
Opera Saratoga's new Artistic and General Director Mary Birnbaum details "We are very fortunate to be able to share Clarice and Lila's opera with our audience this summer. This important piece reminds us to be better neighbors, to care for each other regardless of our differences. Clarice's innovative and fresh setting of Lila's funny and poignant text will make for a deeply satisfying opera experience for audiences of all ages."
Saturday, June 3 at 11am at Saratoga Library, Saratoga Springs, NY
Sunday, June 11 at 1pm at Schenectady Civic Players, Schenectady, NY
Wednesday, June 21 at 3pm at Saratoga Farmers Market, High Point Park, Saratoga Springs, Saturday, July 1 at 11am at Universal Preservation Hall, Saratoga Springs, NY
Wednesday, July 5 at 11am at Pitney Meadows, Saratoga Springs, NY
Saturday, July 8 at 11am at Universal Preservation Hall, Saratoga Springs, NY.
The Selfish Giant was commissioned by American Lyric Theater in New York City (Lawrence Edelson, Artistic and General Director) and developed under the auspices of the Composer Librettist Development Program at American Lyric Theater, which is made possible through lead funding from the Mellon Foundation, the Howard Gilman Foundation, the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music, the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.
ABOUT OPERA SARATOGA
Opera Saratoga, formerly known as Lake George Opera, began with a production of Die Fledermaus at the Diamond Point Theatre on July 5, 1962, playing to an audience of 230. The Company now calls Saratoga Springs home and performs for more than 25,000 people annually. Opera Saratoga celebrates its 60thAnniversary this season. The company serves the communities of Saratoga Springs, the Lower Adirondack and New York State Capital areas by providing access to world-class opera through the production of an annual Summer Festival, as well as year-round activities including extensive educational programs, mentorship of emerging operatic artists, and unique opportunities for the public to experience opera in both our home theater and non-traditional venues that leverage and embrace the unique cultural, historic, and natural resources of the area. To date, the company has performed 106 different fully staged works by 66 different composers, including 42 works by American composers and 14 premiere productions. In 2023, the company hired its 10th Artistic and General Director, Mary Birnbaum. For more information, visit http://www.operasaratoga.org
ABOUT CLARICE ASSAD
A powerful communicator renowned for her musical scope and versatility, Brazilian-American Clarice Assad is a significant artistic voice in the classical, world music, pop, and jazz genres and is acclaimed for her evocative colors, rich textures, and diverse stylistic range. A prolific Grammy Award–nominated composer with more than 70 works to her credit, she has been commissioned by internationally renowned organizations, festivals, and artists and is published in France (Editions Lemoine), Germany (Trekel), Brazil (Criadores do Brasil), and the U.S. (Virtual Artists Collective Publishing). An in-demand performer, she is a celebrated pianist and inventive vocalist who inspires and encourages audiences' imaginations to break free of often self-imposed constraints. Assad has released seven solo albums and appeared on or had her works performed on another 34. Her music is represented on Cedille Records, SONY Masterworks, Nonesuch, Adventure Music, Edge, Telarc, NSS Music, GHA, and CHANDOS. Her innovative, accessible, and award-winning VOXploration series on music education, creation, songwriting, and improvisation has been presented throughout the world. Sought-after by artists and organizations worldwide, the multi-talented musician continues to attract new audiences both onstage and off.
ABOUT LILA PALMER
Lila Palmer is an Anglo-American librettist whose warmth, clarity, and stylistic flexibility have made her a favoured partner of established and emerging composers alike. An advanced vocal performer herself, Lila's skill in advocating for and writing to the classically trained voice has enabled her to bridge the gap between the world of interpreter and creative. She is proud to be the only dual graduate of both the Royal Opera House London - Guildhall Opera Makers MA program and American Lyric Theater's Composer Librettist Development Program.
Upcoming performances of Palmer's work include The Fox Sisters, with Marc Migo for Teatro Liceu in Barcelona; In Her Own Valley, with Grace Mason for Liverpool Philharmonic; and American Apollo, with Damien Geter for Des Moines Metro Opera. Holy Ground, also with Geter, will be excerpted as part of the Guggenheim's Works & Process before receiving its world premiere at the Glimmerglass Festival. Lila's song cycle for soprano Golda Schultz, This Be Her Verse, is out on Alpha Classics, and has been hailed by Opera News as "a new repertoire staple." The cycle will receive national premieres in Canada, Scotland, Switzerland, and France, where Lila will also attend the 2022 Aix-En-Provence Women's Opera Lab.
Future works coming in 2023 & 2024 include her children's opera with Clarice Assad, The Selfish Giant (Opera Saratoga); Shell Shaker with Chickasaw composer Jerod Impichchaachaaha' Tate and Splintered with Jorge Sosa and Justine Chen.