Kamala Sankaram's Thumbprint
PROTOTYPE – OPERA/THEATRE/NOW is an annual festival of visionary opera-theatre and music-theatre works by pioneering contemporary artists from New York City and around the world. PROTOTYPE is a co-production of Beth Morrison Projects and HERE, two leaders in the creation and presentation of contemporary, post-classical, multi-disciplinary opera-theatre and music-theatre work. The festival is the only of its kind in New York City - presenting both complete performances as well as works-in-progress through partnerships with local performing arts venues.
Historically, the marriage of music and drama has been something composers tackled further along in their careers. Fast forward to today: serious young composers are now creating new works of opera-theatre/music-theatre, and we are in a second golden age of creation for the art form. It is poised to become the most exciting live arts medium in the 21st century, embodying a modern day notion of Wagner’s gesamtkunstwerk.
PROTOTYPE gives voice to these composers whose works would generally be categorized as “contemporary classical” or “post-classical” rather than the more commercial musical theatre idiom that is being explored by other producers in New York and elsewhere. The festival provides a recurring showcase of these visionary chamber-sized opera-theatre and music-theatre pieces that are currently flooding the New York scene and are ready to explode at the national and international levels. The festival also presents exciting new works by international artists, and hopes to be a global reference of artistic excellence in the field of opera and music-theatre.
With 40 performances of 10 different productions, PROTOTYPE 2018 was the largest festival to date. This festival presented new works by Gregory Spears & Greg Pierce; Michael Gordon & Deborah Artman; Mikael Karlsson, Elle Kunnos de Voss, & Kathryn Walat; Roman Gryhoriv & Illia Razumeiko; Matthias Bossi, Jeremy Flower, & Carla Kihlstedt; Claron McFadden; Dylan Mattingly & Thomas Bartscherer; Tori Wrånes; Alicia Hall Moran; and Dez Mona — at HERE and our partner presenting venues — Gerald W. Lynch Theater, Baruch Performing Arts Center, Gelsey Kirkland Arts Center, Roulette, National Sawdust, and Joe's Pub.
Observer claimed, "Season after season, PROTOTYPE introduces to New York pieces that shift the whole paradigm of what opera is and can be."
PROTOTYPE’s fifth anniversary season boasted 37 performances of 10 different productions for an audience of nearly 10,000. Our most ambitious season yet, PROTOTYPE 2017 saw the world premiere of Mata Hari by Matt Marks & Paul Peers; the New York premiere of Breaking the Waves by Missy Mazzoli & Royce Vavrek; the New York premiere of anatomy theater by David Lang & Mark Dion; the world premiere/multi-media concert of Secondary Dominance by Sarah Small; the New York premiere/multi-media concert of Funeral Doom Spiritual by M. Lamar & Hunter Hunt-Hendrix; the multi-media concert, Silent Voices by The Brooklyn Youth Chorus; the work-in-progress concert of Rev. 23 by Julian Wachner & Cerise Lim Jacobs.
PROTOTYPE 2017 also included a spectacular fifth anniversary Soireé and the launch of a new line of programming, PROTOTYPE: Out of Bounds, which is a series of short, free performances of new works in Public Spaces. 2017’s Out of Bounds performances were curated by Ashley Tata and featured three emerging female composer/performers: Leah Coloff, Amirtha Kidambi, & Erin Rogers.
The New York Times claimed that our fifth anniversary season “championed diversity in its presentation of new music theatre.” Further, The New Yorker exclaimed PROTOTYPE was “essential to the evolution of American Opera,” and the New York Classical Review described the 2017 festival as “Far and away the best place to experience contemporary opera.”
In its fourth year, PROTOTYPE furthered its reach and influence with 38 performances of seven groundbreaking works. The world premiere of Angels Bone by Du Yun & Royce Vavrek; the New York premiere of Dog Days by David T. Little & Royce Vavrek; a first-look presentation of The Good Swimmer by Heidi Rodewald & Donna Di Novelli; the American premiere of The Last Hotel by Irish artists Donnacha Dennehy & Edna Walsh; the U.S. premiere/multi-media concert of Saga by Flemish artists Dez Mona & B.O.X.; a concert reading of La Reina by Mexican artists Jorge Sosa & Laura Sosa Pedroza; and an opera-cabaret presentation by Bombay Rickey.
In 2016, Opera News called the PROTOTYPE Festival “A major leader in opera theatre for the twenty-first century,” and The Washington Post described PROTOTYPE as “The best news in opera in New York...an intense annual burst of new and cutting-edge opera that’s presenting and generating some of the most interesting work around.”
The third year of PROTOTYPE once again continued and capitalized upon the success of the previous two festivals and featured 34 performances of seven productions and events: the world premieres of The Scarlet Ibis, by Stefan Weisman and David Cote and Sunken Cathedral, by Bora Yoon; the American premiere of Toxic Psalms, by Slovenian vocal-theatre company Carmina Slovenica; Kansas City Choir Boy, by Todd Almond; work-in-progress concert presentations of Winter’s Child, by Ellen Reid and Amanda Jane Shank and Aging Magician, by Paola Prestini, Rinde Eckert, and Julian Crouch; and a one-night-only performance by punk-opera band Timur and the Dime Museum.
The New York Times called the 2015 festival “bracingly innovative…a point of reference,” New York magazine called it "One of the 10 Best Classical Performances of the Season - an extravaganza of lyrical and high-tech miniatures…show[ing] how much life there is in New York’s underground opera scene,” and Opera News proclaimed, “Now in its third season, PROTOTYPE Festival, co-produced by HERE and Beth Morrison Projects, has become a major leader in opera theater for the twenty-first century."
In its second year, PROTOTYPE gained momentum among audiences and critics alike. Presented between January 8 and 19, 2014, the 29 performances of seven projects included the world premiere production of Thumbprint, the American premiere of Lithuanian phenomenon, Have a Good Day!, New York premieres of Paul’s Case and Visitations, a concert reading of Angel’s Bone, and live performances from Brooklyn-based Sky-Pony, and the internationally acclaimed Elizaveta.
With one sold-out house after another, the 2014 festival turned this opera upstart into a can’t miss annual tradition.
The inaugural PROTOTYPE Festival was presented between January 9 and 18, 2013. It included 29 performances of five projects, with one world premiere, one international presentation, one national presentation, one multimedia concert event, and one work-in-progress concert, as well as a series of field conversations on the state of 21st century opera and music-theatre.
The press joined our audiences in the praise of the seductive aesthetics of Bluebeard, the courageous relevance of Soldier Songs, the raw emotional turmoil of Sumeida’s Song, the avant-garde glam sounds of Timur and the Dime Museum, and the darkly imaginative landscape of Aging Musician.
As a whole, the festival was praised for its adventurous programming in the field of new opera, as stated in New York Magazine:
Prototype is the teenage hacker of the opera world, and in its first public action, it’s left a message blinking on Big Opera’s screen: CAN YOU DO THIS?
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