PROTOTYPE Festival: Fellow Travelers by Gregory Spears (New York Premiere)
Friday, January 12, 2018 at 8pm
Saturday, January 13 at 2pm and 8pm
Sunday, January 14 at 2pm
Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College of Criminal Justice | 524 W. 59th St., NYC
Tickets & Information:
VIP Memberships now available. Single tickets are available for VIP Members after Labor Day and for the general public after September 18, 2017.
Gregory Spears, composer
Greg Pierce, librettist
Kevin Newbury, director
George Manahan, conductor
Braden Toan, assistant conductor
G. Sterling Zinsmeyer, executive producer
with American Composers Orchestra
Timothy Laughlin: Aaron Blake
Hawkins Fuller: Joseph Lattanzi
Mary Johnson: Devon Guthrie
Senator Potter & Bartender: Vernon Hartman
Estonian Frank, Interrogator, & Sen. McCarthy: Marcus DeLoach
Potter’s Assistant, Bookseller, & Priest: Christian Pursell
Tommy McIntyre: Paul Scholten
Miss Lightfoot: Alexandra Schoeny
Lucy: Cecilia Violetta Lopez
At the height of the McCarthy era in 1950s Washington, D.C., recent college grad Timothy Laughlin is eager to join the crusade against Communism. A chance encounter with handsome State Department official Hawkins Fuller leads to Tim’s first job, an illicit love affair with a man, and an entanglement that will end in a stunning act of betrayal. Based on Thomas Mallon’s 2007 novel, Gregory Spears and Greg Pierce’s Fellow Travelers is an extraordinary personal journey through the intriguing, gut-wrenching world of the 1950s American witch-hunts, and the often overlooked “Lavender Scare.” Directed by Kevin Newbury and featuring American Composers Orchestra in the opera’s New York debut, this acclaimed Cincinnati Opera production pairs American Minimalism with Medieval troubadour melodies, reflecting the tension between two men’s professional, public lives and their private, forbidden longings.
“Opera thrives on stories with rich subtext, where characters cannot fully express themselves in words,” states Spears. “Both politicians and gay men and women in Washington, D.C. in the 1950s lived in a world full of coded sensibility – a culture operating under the surface and in counterpoint with the rigid formality of 1950s mores. In both the fraught political world of the McCarthy Era and the private world of Hawk and Tim, dialogue could only tell part of the story. My goal was to craft a musical language for Fellow Travelers that would foreground the undercurrent of clandestine machinations and forbidden longing churning under the surface of Greg Pierce’s elegant adaptation. My hope is that the nuanced machinery of opera might play some small part reminding us of this history, while also preserving in music the sensibility of doubleness that so often defined gay experience in this era.”
Gregory Spears writes music that blends aspects of romanticism, minimalism, and early music. His work has been called “astonishingly beautiful” (The New York Times), “coolly entrancing” (The New Yorker), and “some of the most beautifully unsettling music to appear in recent memory” (The Boston Globe). In recent seasons, he has been commissioned by The Lyric Opera of Chicago, The Cincinnati Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Seraphic Fire, and the JACK Quartet, among others. Spears’ children’s opera Jason and the Argonauts premiered in summer 2016 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago and was performed on tour that fall. His opera about space exploration, O Columbia, premiered in 2015 at Houston Grand Opera. Spears’ first opera, Paul’s Case, described as a “masterpiece” (New York Observer) was developed by American Opera Projects and premiered by Urban Arias in 2013. It was restaged at the PROTOTYPE Festival in New York, and presented in a new production by Pittsburgh Opera in 2014. He has won prizes from BMI and ASCAP as well as awards and fellowships from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Vagn Holmboe Competition. He holds degrees in composition from the Eastman School of Music (BM), Yale School of Music (MM), and Princeton University (PhD). His music is published by Schott Music and Schott PSNY.
Fellow Travelers is a Cincinnati Opera Production, developed and co-commissioned by G. Sterling Zinsmeyer and Cincinnati Opera, and co-presented by PROTOTYPE Festival with John Jay College of Criminal Justice and American Composers Orchestra.
Photo by Philip Groshong