Heartbeat Opera’s daring adaptation of Beethoven’s Fidelio pits corruption against courage, hate against hope in this thrilling 90-minute work. The imaginative staging features five singers, seven band members, a chorus of recorded audio and video of more than 100 incarcerated singers and seventy volunteers from six prison choirs in four states across the Midwest.
Dubbed “singularly unconventional” by Opera News, “a radical endeavor” by Alex Ross in The New Yorker, and “pioneers” by The Wall Street Journal—Heartbeat Opera is a young company intent upon reimagining opera in intimate spaces for a new generation. Employing a minimalism that allows the emotional integrity of the music to shine through, the company’s work focuses on the body of the singer and the visceral power of the music. Co-Artistic Directors Louisa Proske and Ethan Heard, who trained together in the Directing program at the Yale School of Drama, are committed to nurturing the actor in every singer they work with. The company creates productions of classics and new pieces that are daring and visceral, and manifest the emotional grandeur and theatrical power of opera with minimal means. Co-Music Directors Jacob Ashworth and Daniel Schlosberg lead potent chamber ensembles whose playing and bodies become part of the storytelling in Mr. Schlosberg’s imaginative re-orchestrations of the score.
In its first three seasons, Heartbeat Opera has presented six fully realized productions: Kurtág’s Kafka-Fragments (“A flat out triumph”— Opera News); a new orchestral arrangement and new English translation of Offenbach’s Daphnis & Chloé (“Stellar young cast”— The Wall Street Journal); a new orchestral arrangement and 90 minute adaptation of Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor (“Ingenious”—The Wall Street Journal); Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas (“Elegant, boisterous and melancholy”— The New Yorker); new orchestral arrangements and 90 minute adaptations of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly (“Bold and vivid”—The New York Times) and Bizet’s Carmen with new English translation of dialogues (“Gripping music theater”— Opera News). Other recent projects include Mozart’s Don Giovanni (“No holds barred”— Opera News), Beethoven’s Fidelio (“Powerful and poignant”— The New York Times); the first ever opera show on the High Line (“Singularly unconventional”— Opera News); and five fabulous Drag Extravaganzas: Dragus Maximus: a homersexual opera odyssey; All the World’s a Drag!Shakespeare in love…with opera; Queens of the Night: Mozart in Space; Miss Handel; and Purcell’s The Fairy Queen.
Heartbeat Opera’s commitment to outreach led to the launch of “Heartbeat For All” which provides the opportunity for students to attend opera productions for free. They also collaborate with organizations such as A BroaderWay and Atlas DIY: Developing Immigrant Youth to bring opera education to young people from underserved areas in New York City.
From the drama at the core of each work, Heartbeat Opera grows vivid theatrical worlds through revelatory adaptations, radical rearrangements, and ingenious design. Through an inquisitive collaborative process with a diverse community of artists, they break down traditional barriers to reimagine opera for artists and audiences of the twenty-first century.
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